Crafting is my joy, which I started soon after we moved to the States around 2 1/2 years ago (back to the States for my hubby, but first time for me). But to be honest, my first year crafting wasn’t very pleasant. Having moved to a new country with a different decorating culture coupled with my lack of knowledge in crafting, I was utterly a lost cause… I will never forget an article I read in one of the magazines. “What is a seasonal decoration without a wreath?” the article started, and continued with the pictures of all these beautifully arranged donut-shaped decorations hung on the doors or above the mantel.
Not only is English my second language, but I’ve never seen anything like a wreath before in my life. It was my first time living in the USA, and I never came across one in any of the other countries that I lived in. What was a wreath? How could I prepare one? Was I even pronouncing it right? Was it pronounced like ‘Breath’ but with a ‘W’? It was such a tongue-twister for me… Just like the state’s name we live in, Connecticut… With these questions in mind, I remember feeling totally panicked and searching for the definition and images of wreath on Google. Then after a week of hard work, I came up with this thing for Halloween 2013, which was supposed to be round shaped but turned out looking like an egg. Meet ‘The Bad Egg:’
Little did I know, I used only pipe insulation to prepare the form for the wreath, while other people would use proper wreath forms, such as wire or vine forms. Oh well… I consider those days as ‘Fun times!’
While the Bad Egg disaster taught me how to pronounce ‘wreath’ correctly, it discouraged me a lot, and I stayed away from wreaths for a looong time. But last summer I saw a full tutorial for a wine-themed wreath on Joann’s website, so I tried making one for Greg’s home office. Surprisingly it turned out well and made me feel like I was back in the game.
Since the score for the “Wreath vs Handan” match was 1-1, I decided to make a Christmas wreath this year. But seeing so many wreath styles out there, I just couldn’t decide on what I wanted to do…until I saw this in a Ballard Designs catalog!
With fingers crossed for a ‘somewhat acceptable’ wreath, I started gathering the materials: two pre-lit noble fir garlands, one 22-inch noble fir wreath which I found at Put & Take last year, one set of mini Christmas lights, and four wire hangers. Since mine wasn’t going to be a fresh wreath, I didn’t want it to be too plain. To spice it up a bit, I collected some pine cones from the woods and found a ribbon, some faux berries and a Dollar Store cardinal in my crafts room.
Note: If you are planning to do a similar project and don’t have the garlands in hand, then I recommend you to wait until next year to do it, because at this time of year, the garland prices spike. But the day after Christmas, all the shops tend to have sales up to 70%. This is how I bought my two garlands from Bed Bath and Beyond. A 6 foot pre-lit garland (2-pack) dropped down to $19.99. Besides I had 20% discount coupon so I only paid $16 for two garlands.
First I started making the wreath forms for the letters ‘J’ and ‘Y’ using wire hangers. For this step I had to use pliers, as the wire hangers I chose were rather on the strong side, so they were a bit harder to bend.
When I started doing the ‘Y’, I finally had enough of the strong wire hangers, so I changed them with a plastic coated wire hangers. Even though it was slightly thinner wire, it was still strong enough to hold the shape, and much easier to bend.
Now it was time to wrap these ‘J’ and ‘Y’ forms with the garland. I did not use any floral wires because the garland itself is like wire, so I just twisted the garlands’ twigs to cling them on the forms.
While ‘J’ was pretty easy, I have a little hint for the ‘Y’: I first opened the garland full length and found the center point. I laid the bottom point of the form at the center point of the garland. Then I bent the garland over the wire form and secured it on the form by twisting the garland twigs. After I finished the bottom part, I moved on to the branches and secured them to the form again by twisting the twigs.
So far so good! All the letters are nicely puffed up and looking full.
Next step was to add some pine cones and some faux berries to give the whole thing a dressed-up look. So one here and one there, I started hot-gluing the pine cones and berries sparingly to the ‘J’ and ‘Y’. Then I put some faux holly leaves with red berries for the ‘O’. Again I used hot glue as it is much easier than using floral wire.
And here is the finished J-O-Y wreath. Looks pretty good, right?
I guess the new score of the “Wreath vs Handan” match is now 1-2.
Since I ended up with a better than ‘somewhat acceptable’ wreath and nobody was calling it names, I found the courage to take it a step further: I wanted to make a frame for it… a frame that would bring some neutral color to the whole thing and give it a wall-art look… and for that, birch branches and chicken wire was the way to go!
But the birch branches I had were not straight, and some were thinner than others. Even if I managed to make a frame out of them, hanging it and stapling the chicken wire to it could be an issue. Easiest solution to that was to make a simple frame with boards thinner than the birch branches, then install the chicken wire on that frame and tie the birch branches on top of the frame.
Greg, in the middle of his Thanksgiving preparations, precisely just before putting the bird in the oven, cut me the thin boards I needed for the frame. He is the best hubby in the world! As soon as I (the luckiest wife in the world) had the boards ready, I started putting the frame together.
Then one by one I tied the birch branches on to the frame…
… and ta-daaaa!
Now it was time to marry the rustic frame with the J-O-Y wreath. I hung the letters with wire.
It looks like I nailed this down pretty good!
And with the lights on…
I love how it hangs over the mantel!
I am so proud of myself! Now I think I can call it a match with “Wreath vs Handan.”