Sunday, December 7, 2014

Wreath Decorating: Day 4

Here's my final wreath. I had several hours to work on it, and I enjoyed them all. It was "designer's choice," meaning I could do anything I liked, and it will hang on a front door in the South End.

The wreath was nicely shaped and full to begin with. I pulled, primped, and pruned to make it more perfect, and attached the bow at the 10 o'clock position.

By the last day, the best materials are running out or have disappeared. But sometimes they've only disappeared into a tray on your neighbor's table, and if ye ask nicely, ye often shall receive on the last day. I also received unsolicited donations, and used almost every one. For example, someone handed me clumps of pheasant feathers, so I tucked them around the bow. You can barely see them sticking up here and there.

For greens to augment the balsam, not much was left besides sticky pine and some kind of bristly... cedar* covered with loads of yellow cones, or seeds, gathered from an old tree in Connecticut. I used plenty of both, dusting some of the pine lightly with gold paint and fashioning fan-like sprays.

I'd hoarded a pile of gold pinecones and a pile of natural ones. As I was trying to choose, someone offered me two of the fused pinecone clusters I love, which were sprayed gold, so I took them. A third one materialized. I added many more gold cones on the front and along the sides, plus a few gold lotus pods near the bow.

I had planned all along to use artificial fruit on this wreath because it can be both dramatic and challenging. You have to be careful with quantities and relative sizes and colors, or your wreath turns into fruit salad. Larger fruits can be tricky to wire; you often have to drive an awl through them and hope they don't split open, and then you can then pull a wire through. I gathered a pile of the last of the fruit, including little red apples, clusters of "sugared" pastel pears and oranges, and lots of sticky little green things trying to be limes. I settled on the apples, which mercifully came on short sticks that just needed wiring to florist picks. I also found a couple of nice, fat clusters of red plastic "currants," so those went on, too. I love berries, and found a few sprays of big red ones, and quickly collected more from stashes on nearby tables. 

Someone handed me a bag of dried mimosa pods — hard corkscrews that are velvety olive-brown on the outside, and rough ivory on the inside. They're hard to wire to a pick but I found a way. They're tucked in all over the wreath but they're hard to see in the photos. They're subtle but interesting.

Finally, I added smaller red berries mixed with gold pearls on wires for more color among the greens. You can see many of the materials here:

As I worked, many better wreath decorators came by to ooh and ahh, and tell me how different this wreath looked from my usual efforts. That was what I'd hoped to hear. It was delightful to work slowly and thoughtfully, and to have so many interesting materials at my fingertips. I'd fussed over this wreath for nearly four hours and it was pure pleasure.

I took it upstairs for delivery and then helped everyone clean up. By 2 o'clock, the basement was clean and empty. Wreath decorating is over for another year, although I'll be getting a couple of plain ones for our apartment. One will be decorated with only a bow. The other one... hmm.

* I call greens "cedar" when I'm clueless, although I suspect that stuff might be some kind of juniper, my other catch-all label.


  1. I would happily hang any (or all) of your wreaths on my front door, but this one is my favorite. It evokes not just the natural beauty of winter but the feasts to be shared with family and friends: one thinks of roast pheasant and apple stuffing. Brilliant!

  2. Now I think I am going to compulsively collect pine cones when ever I come across some and send them to you randomly through out the year.. :)

  3. You saved the best for last. Kind of like soup, when you throw in a little of this and some of that.


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