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Archive for Sunday, November 25, 2007

Homemade wreaths make simple projects

November 25, 2007

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The holiday season is full of life as festive decorations spread holiday cheer.

And nothing says "Happy Holidays" like a homemade evergreen wreath. With a little time, a few supplies and some imagination, you can create a holiday centerpiece like no other.

Holiday wreaths usually are created with cone-bearing or needled evergreen branches. These materials can be bought or carefully pruned from plants in the home landscape. Some of the more suitable types of plants are Austrian pine, balsam fir, Douglas fir, false cypress, juniper, red cedar, red pine, Scots pine and white pine. Avoid using hemlock or spruce branches for indoor use as they dry out quickly and shed their needles. Pieces of broad-leaved evergreens such as boxwood, holly, barberry, Oregon grapeholly, English ivy, and rhododendron also can be used.

When harvesting, be careful not to damage the ornamental value. Use sharp pruning shears to cut the material and try to create the arrangement the same day as harvest.

Begin the wreath with a frame. A variety of wire, grape vine and other wreath frames are available at hobby centers and craft stores. To create your own, simply use a strong coat hanger or No. 9 hobby wire to fabricate the desired shape and size. The size of the frame will determine the size of the wreath.

A 10-inch to 15-inch diameter frame will make an average size wreath from 20 inches to 24 inches across. Make sure your frame is strong enough to support the weight of the material that will be attached to it.

Next, bind the greenery to the frame. Use either No. 22 hobby wire or strong twine.

Start by firmly attaching the binding wire or twine to the frame at the 9 o'clock position. Then start adding the greenery. Use foliage pieces that are the appropriate size for the wreath you are creating.

A common mistake is to use pieces that are too long and straggly. This gives the wreath a bare, unkempt look. Cut sprigs of branches into 4-inch or 6-inch pieces for an average 15-inch diameter wreath. Take time to cut all the pieces before getting started with the binding. It is best to minimize interruptions after the process has started.

Place three or four sprigs of greenery along the frame at the 9 o'clock position. The tips should be facing away from you and the cut ends should be closer to you. Firmly wrap the binding wire around the cut tips and frame three or four times. Place three or four more sprigs on top of the attached ones moving them closer to you so they overlap like shingles on a roof. Firmly wrap the wire around the cut ends. Continue this process, working your way around the frame. Do not skimp on greens. Experiment a bit with the amount of overlap. Keep the look full but not overflowing.

Once you have worked all the way around the wreath, hold back the tips of the first bundle of sprigs and bind the last bundle. This prevents binding the tips of the initial sprigs that were attached.

To complete the wreath, add trimmings, accents and other items of holiday interest. Ideas include pine cones, berries, fruits, ornaments, bells, ribbons and bows. Attach them individually using wire wrapped securely around the frame. Take care not to overdo the accents and allow the natural beauty of the wreath to shine through.

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