Making Decorative Wreaths

It's easy to get started making decorative wreaths for use indoors and out. Whether you're looking to create seasonal spring wreaths or fall wreaths or just want to bring some of the outdoors in, all you need is your imagination and a few supplies from your local craft store.

Wreath Shapes
Traditional wreaths are circular in design, but you can make your own wreaths in almost any shape you choose. While there are many bases to choose from-grapevine, Styrofoam, evergreen cutting, straw, twig and wire-you can also use everyday objects found in your home.

If you want to make a square or rectangular wreath, consider using a thin picture frame as your base. After you remove the backing and the glass, wrap the frame with florist tape and use a glue gun to affix dried flowers and herbs, seed pods, shells and other items. Hang inside in a window or suspend it a few inches in front of sheer curtain panels using the view into your yard for its backdrop.

Once you know what shape and size you want your wreath to be, the next step is to choose your wreath base. Keep in mind that the more elaborate your design and the heavier your materials (e.g., pinecones versus ribbons), the larger and heavier your base needs to be to support the finished wreath.

Good Wreath Bases

Grapevine and twig wreath bases also take decoration well. The surface is uneven and has a rustic, country quality to it. Choose grapevine or twig bases when you're looking to achieve an outdoorsy feel and want the base to be part of the overall visual effect.

Styrofoam wreath bases can handle just about any decoration you'd like to use and it's not uncommon to wrap the entire base in cloth or ribbon. Choose this base if your wreath designs incorporates a lot of elements; just be sure you have enough materials on hand to cover the Styrofoam completely.

Straw wreath bases are easy to work with and take decoration well. The surface of a straw wreath base is relatively flat, making it the best choice if you're looking to cover the wreath base entirely.

Wire wreath bases are more challenging to work with. These bases are always wrapped in cloth or ribbon unless you're making fresh wreaths with evergreen clipping  that will mold to and cover the base.

Living Wreaths
Living wreaths are started outside, using live plants in your yard or garden. When the growing season is complete, some living wreaths can be clipped from the plant and brought indoors to dry where you can continue to enjoy these natural wreaths.

How to Make a Living Wreath
Choose a wire wreath base in a shape you like. This example uses a heart-shaped wreath base. Begin by affixing a pencil or small garden stake to the bottom of the heart. Push the stake into the ground close to the plant you intend to use.

Gently separate the plant into two even sections. Then, following the bend of the heart shape, loosely wrap the plant around it, pausing to tie it loosely to the base at even intervals with the ribbon of your choice.

As the plant continues to grow, train it along the remainder of the heart. Over the course of time, the plant will grow to cover the entire base of the wreath. Trim regularly and save any clippings for sachets or potpourri.

Another way to make a living wreath is to use several different sizes of wire frames-preferable three-and wire them together to form a tube with gaps between the wires. Line the bottom and the sides of the tube with sphagnum moss and leave enough room for some soil to hold small plants, preferably herbs although tiny flowers can work too (choose ones that don't grow too tall or become leggy).

Living tube wreaths look beautiful hooked on fences or may also be used as centerpieces.

Dried Flower Wreaths
You can purchase dried flowers at your local craft store to make your wreaths or you can dry your own. If you're drying your own, be sure to pick them early in the morning, just after the dew has evaporated. Hang the flowers in a cool, dark place for several weeks. A good rule of thumb is to pick flowers and herbs just before they peak or are at peak. When your flowers are completely dried, they're ready to use. For added flair, try spray painting them white, gold or silver.

Decorating Your Wreath
When you're planning your wreath designs, think of decorative items in odd numbers (three, five, seven, etc.). Consider the theme of your wreath, the color scheme you want to work with as well as the color palette and style of the room or area you'd like to hang it.

Choose your materials wisely and stop to pause after you add a few to be sure you like the effect you're creating. It's always easier to add more as you go than have to remove several elements at the end. Depending on the wreath base you chose, your decorations can be attached with hot glue, wire, florist pins or inserted directly between the fibers in your base.

Depending on the theme, color, style and room you plan on hanging your wreath, decorations of moss, ivy, flowers, herbs, leaves, ribbons and an assortment of other decorations can be used. Depending on your base wreath, the materials can be attached with hot glue or wire, or with picks that can be slipped between the fibers of your base.

If you're working with Styrofoam or straw bases, you likely won't need a wreath hanger, but wire, grapevine and other heavy wreaths will need hangers to help keep them centered on the door or wall. If you need a hanger, be sure to make and attach it before you begin decorating.

Hanging Wreaths
Determine where the top of your wreath is going to be. Then, slip floral wire through the fibers of your wreath base at the top point (or around the wire frame itself if you're using wire bases).  Twist the ends of the floral wire together and keep it positioned at the top of the wreath. Make sure the ends of the wire loop are secure before hanging.

There are also some practical considerations when it comes to hanging your wreaths. Dried wreaths, especially, are brittle. Avoid hanging them in high traffic areas or anywhere pets or children can reach them or rooms, like bathrooms, where humidity levels change often (you'll be cleaning up wreath debris otherwise).

To enhance the color of and keep dried materials from breaking and falling off your wreaths, try spraying a layer of hair spray over the flowers, being careful not to spray the ribbon.

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