'Tis The Season to Attempt Wreath Making

It's been a long rainy day of indoor shoots, I don't feel like editing and my dog has wrapped her long body around my feet and desk chair, so I might as well get going with this lengthy wreath making discussion. Keep in mind there are probably an endless number of ways to make a wreath, but this is just a way I figured out, in an aesthetic I like.

Before we begin, as much as I'd like to say something idealistic like *Everyone Can Make a Wreath!*, that would be lying. I only recommend this activity if you have experience in crafting - ie, you are confident with making things with hands and have the patience to work with little bits of things. 

Raw Materials
One could buy plastic fake plant parts that reek of emporium craft store Cinnamon (does Michaels funnel Holiday Spice Scent through the vents?) or one could do the far more satisfying deed of foraging for real plant material (clandestinely) at the local park. So this might not work in San Diego. But in places where it gets cold, you'll find a selection of conifers that will do nicely. Here is what I look for in green stuff:

(A type) Tight Covering of Surface Area - this Fir (I think) has lots of branchings, which provides a good base cover.
(B type) Smaller Surface Covering for Tight Spaces - Juniper (I think) bends nicely to fit the inner edge of the wreath
(C type) Volume - this Mystery Shrubbery gives volume and width to the outer edge.
(D type) Decorative - Rosemary with flower buds adds color, scent and texture.
(E type) Spot Covering -Mossy moss will cover up gaps, as well as add visual interest and texture. If you don't have all types, no big deal. Work with what you've got.
(Other type) Berries, Flowers - If you have the time, dry flowers. Berries on my first wreath went dry and moldy, so use at your own risk.

When taking snippets off plants, I look for the youngest parts of the tree/ bush, as these will not yet be lignified (woody). They'll be nice and flexy to curve around your wreath base. I also select trees away from road/path ways; they'll be less dirty, and you can skip the extra step of rinsing them. Look out for slugs/caterpillars sitting on branches at the point you might snip. Moss I find under pine trees; it falls off in clumps after storms, or if you're lucky enough, a crow sitting in a pine tree might try to drop moss-covered twigs on your head as you circle the tree base like an indecisive dog.

Not Raw Materials - Shears for branch cutting, green foam wreath ($4.49 at Michael's for a little one), florists' wire, wire cutters, decorative ribbon. Yeah it would be nice to have a wreath base of bundled twigs. Oh well.

(1) Make Hanging Loop - it's tempting to jump right into attaching plant material, but save yourself trouble later and make a wreath hanging loop now. And, might as well snip a huge pile (like, 50) of 1 to 1.5 inch wire bits.

(2) Place your main Surface Covering A-type plant over the wreath base, to get an idea of placement and balance. Overlap ends. I like for all my bits to go  clockwise.

(3) Secure plant to base - make tight little U or hair pin shaped wire bits and "staple" the stems to the base. The wire should feel satisfyingly snug when pressed into the foam. I use maybe 2-3 per Fir piece. When Stapling, pin down only the stem and not the leaves, so the leaves can stay fluffy.

(4) Tuck the butt (cut) end of the stem under. It's fine to leave the head (uncut) end of the branch hanging off a bit.

(5) Secure all fir pieces, curving them. Stand back, and get a sense of what areas need more or less foliage to even the wreath out.

(6) Grab B-type plants and fit them into the inner edge of the wreath. I put bushier pieces where the wreath seems sparse, Secure with wire. Pin strategically, where the wire is hidden.

(7) Fill in entire inner edge so that foam base cannot be seen.

(8) Take C-type and fill in the outer edge. Generously overlap C-types, and allow branches to poke through A-types. Add more As and Bs as you see fit. Use small pieces to fine tune your coverage.

(9) D-type decorations - I add these over the A-type foliage, and intersperse with E-type Mossy Moss. The key is Balance, without looking planned or geometric. Cover any remaining visible foam base.

(10) Like when you get a haircut, the stylist will step back at the end and snip of missed strands. Same thing. Prune off anything that sticks out awkwardly.

(11) The wreath feels ungrounded. Needs a visually anchoring centerpiece, like a ribbon. I went with a modest red plaid ribbon,  and it took some five or more tries to get the bow just right. Have you ever tried to tie a bow on the back of someone's wedding dress? Well it's just like that. Don't want the bow to stick out weirdly, or be too droopy, or for the ends or loops to be too long, or for the loops to be twisted, or for the whole thing to look too tight, or like you tried real hard to get it right. Yeah, good luck.

Voila. Maybe it was bought it at Trader Joes. This is my third wreath; my first (featured previously) I now think is rather a mess, especially with the rotten berries. My second is OK. This one I knew what I was doing. Hopefully it will dry nicely. Already wreath 2, made less than a week ago has lost green vibrancy, and looks skinnier. So enjoy it while it's young!