Always envied those beautiful, full green wreaths at your local farmers market, but didn't think you could do it yourself?
Stephanie Compton and her mother Marion MacDonald are lifelong foragers and makers. Compton owns and runs Kettlegrove Soapworks from her farm in Savage Harbour, and MacDonald produces wild blueberries.
The creative duo offered their step-by-step instructions to make a beautiful Christmas wreath.
1. Gather your supplies
What you will need:
- 12-inch double-wire wreath frame from craft store.
- Clear fishing line.
- Green floral wire.
- Balsam fir, white pine and juniper branches.
- Red berries such as Canadian holly, garden holly and/or wild rose hips.
- White pine cones (long).
- Ribbon — wired, mesh or burlap.
"We use whatever we find — whatever's in the garden this time of year. Interesting seed heads from shrubs in the ditch — as long as it will stand up to Savage Harbour winds," Compton says. "Look at the winter landscape and look for the beauty this time of year."
She harvests a lot from ditches.
"We have pruners in the car!" Compton laughs. If you don't have access to ditches or gardens, Compton suggests purchasing bunches of branches from a local farmers market.
2. 'Green' the back
"We green the back of the wreath — we want a thicker wreath."
First, anchor the fishing line onto the frame with a knot.
Cut and create small bunches of balsam fir — don't pre-tie them individually.
With your left hand, hold the first bunch onto the frame and with your right hand, wrap the fishing line around the bunch and the wreath form. Keep tension on the line, but don't yank on it — it can break.
Overlap the next bundle of fir on top of the last, leaving about four inches of the tips showing.
"You're layering it on like shingles," Compton explains. This process should take about 12 little fir bundles.
3. Create the front
Flip the wreath to the front side, keeping tension on the fishing line. Do not untie or cut the line.
Repeat the process on the front side, layering fir bundles for a nice, full look. You will end up with a plain, full green wreath.
Tie the fishing line to the frame or to a sturdy branch so it doesn't unwind, and cut.
4. Add decorative branches
"Now it's time to decorate!"
"I like the wreath to be asymmetrical," Compton says, using the rule of thirds — "things look more natural when broken into groups of threes." She likes the look of a wreath that is two-thirds decorated with berries, pods and the bow, and one-third left natural — but she encourages people to use their own creativity.
Weave three pieces each of juniper tips, dogwood branches and/or long-needle pine. Slide them into the fir branches so they're held by the tension of the fishing line.
Cones can be wired on individually with green floral wire. Make the wire long enough to reach around the back of the wreath. This will also help hold the wreath together. Twist the wire around the base of the cone, then wrap the tail around the back of the wreath. Twist several times to secure, and tuck the sharp ends into the branches.
Berries go on last. Similar to the juniper branches, slide the berry branches into the wreath and behind the wire holding on the pine cones, to help hold them in place.
5. The bow
Lastly, add a bow.
To make a bow, first cut about 40 centimetres of floral wire — enough to wrap around the wreath.
Leaving about 40 centimetres of ribbon for each tail, create ribbon loops using a figure 8 design. Compton overlaps six to eight loops in her left hand, then twists wire tightly around the centre point three or four times. Leave the wire tails long.
Compton also likes to leave one ribbon tail slightly longer than the other.
Attach the bow to the wreath using the wire from the bow itself — wrap it around sturdy branches or the wreath itself.
Hang the finished wreath on a purchased door wreath hanger, or make a loop from floral wire or rustic twine and attach to the wreath frame to hang it.
Part of a series of workshops
Compton and MacDonald will lead a wreath-making workshop Nov. 29 through The Mobile Makery, a new business that will offer creative workshops led by local makers.
"The Mobile Makery has two objectives — to host fun and unique events for participants, and to support and promote local artists, makers and venues," said Amy Seymour, a graphic artist who's launching the new business with Emilie Boucher.
Watch for more crafty fun from them, including workshops on creating art with sea glass and watercolour greeting cards.
"As long as people remain creative and curious, we should be able to provide a continuous flow of unique and interesting workshops," Seymour says.
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