Perfect materials for your holiday decorations may be in your backyard. Evergreens and greenery make great starting blocks for wreaths and garland. Cloverfields Farm & Kitchen's Janine Washle shows the best way to get started and keep these handmade decorations alive for the season.
Learning how to make a homemade pine wreath or garland (simple garlands are often called roping), is a rewarding fall craft project. Small wreaths can be made to adorn outside windows and garland can be made to specific lengths for doors, side lights, and porch railings. No matter the project, pine trimmings and other evergreens like boxwood and magnolia are needed.
Unfortunately, trimming evergreens in the fall or winter can harm the tree if done incorrectly so get professional advice before pruning your shrubbery. Small trimmings no more than 3-4" can be harvested with no ill effect to the landscaping. If you have a relative or friend in the country, the optimal solution to gathering trimmings is to cut a couple small evergreens like cedar to use for your projects. Cedar grows readily in the country side and many farmers will consent to your request.
By making your own wreaths and garlands, you not only save money but can customize lengths for your home's doorways and windows. Fresh greenery lasts about 4 weeks before it starts becoming brittle and brown. Outdoors there really is no maintenance involved but indoors it is important to follow a few rules.
First, do not hang or place greenery near an open flame such as fireplaces or candles. Even if the greenery is fresh it contains resin which is highly flammable. Do not place greenery such as an advent wreath on expensive wood finishes the resin, also known as pine sap, and the wires holding the greenery in place can damage the finish. Lastly, soak wreaths in the tub or at the very least place in a sink and spray with water once a week to keep it as fresh as possible. Of course, let the wreath dry by placing it on a large towel to absorb the water before returning it to a wall, mirror or table.
It is possible to extend the life of greenery without the mess of watering or misting. Before making the project, spray each piece of greenery all over with shellac or hairspray. Let each piece dry for several hours then proceed with the project. This technique holds in the moisture and eliminates the need for providing moisture.
While it is easy to purchase a premade wreath or garland, it is satisfying to know how to make these symbols of the season and gratifying to receive the compliments when asked, "where did you get this beautiful wreath?"
Wire wreath form
Pine Trimmings (a variety of greens makes a more interesting wreath)
Pine cones with at least a ¼" stems
Basic How To:
These instructions are very basic because once you have the general idea, you can get creative and make the wreath as simple or complex as you like.
Lay the form on a flat surface. Place a piece of pine against the wreath on the outer wire section then using the paddle wire like sewing thread, weave over and under the pine stem several times hiding the wire as much as possible behind the pine needles. Pull tight since the pine will dehydrate and become smaller. Lay a second piece of pine over the stem of the first and make several lashings of wire again. Continue until you come back to the initial stem.
Keep proceeding to the next wire sections and wire in the pine trimmings. It may be easier to cut a 2' length of paddle wire and lash on the trimmings.
After the wreath is covered in pine, hold it up. Any pine that hanging at an odd angle can be wired in place or cut away.
Take a pine cone and wrap wire around the stem leaving at least a 4-6" tail. Push the wire through the greenery and tightly tie it in place. Wire in as many pine cones in place as you like.
If you would rather have ornaments than pinecones, it is basically the same process. Wrap the wire around the ornament hanger leaving a length to wrap onto the wire form.
Most bows have wire on the underside or string. Simply wire or tie in place.
To create a hanger for the wreath, wrap paddle wire around three fingers 8 times leaving a 2' tail. Slide off the fingers and using the extra wire, wrap around and around the wire circle pulling tightly continue until there is about 4" of wire left. Using that bit of wire, wrap it around the wreath form pulling tightly.
Basic Garland or Roping
Sisal twine (can be purchased a hardware stores) cut to desired length
Basic How To:
Place 2 or 3 pine trimmings at the end of the twine and using the paddle wire wrap wire tightly around the twine securing the pine in place. Cover the stems with 2-3 more pine pieces and wire into place. Continue down the twine until it is the desired length.
Wrap several lengths of wire at the end or use fishing line to create a loop to help secure the garland around a banister. Wrap the garland around the banister or swag it as desired.
Full Lush Garland
This is more time consuming but creates a fantastic effect.
You will need a lot of pine trimmings.
½" hemp rope
Additional items: magnolia seed pods, pine cones, holly, ornaments, bows
Create pine clusters by cutting 8" pieces of pine. Wire together 6 pieces to create a cluster(florists tape can be used to wrap the clusters instead of paddle wire). For a 6' lush garland, you will need 45 pine clusters.
Place the rope on a flat surface. Starting at one end of the rope, position 3 clusters around the rope about 4" from the end. Wrap paddle wire securely along the length of stems pulling tightly to hold them against the rope. Position 3 more clusters around the rope hiding the stems of the first cluster with the greenery of the second cluster. Proceed down the length of rope. Use several lashings of wire to create a loop at the end to secure it to a banister. If using above the mantel or door way, make the loops at the appropriate position within the garland.
Hold the garland up. If any greenery is dangling at an odd angle, use additional wire to hold in place or trim it to a better length.
Wire in any of the additional decorations such as magnolia seed pods or pine cones. Simple wrap wire around the stems of desired items several times then thread into the garland and secure around the rope or stems. It is best to place a wire on the bows and wire into the garland.
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CloverFields Farm & Kitchen
3720 Mt. Olive Rd.
Hardin Springs Area
Big Clifty, KY 42712
Janine Washle and her family live at the Cloverfields Farm and Kitchen in Big Clifty, Kentucky in Hardin County. CloverFields Farm & Kitchen, part of a century old farmstead, is our home and business. The McGuffin house, the original farmhouse, is a registered state landmark. CloverFields Farm has a prosperous farming history. They are continuing this rural story in their own unique way by the addition of CloverFields Kitchen a place to explore the past through food and merge it with our modern lifestyles.