How to Make a Wreath
by Susan Hight Rountree
Drawings by Elizabeth Hundley Babb
This article is reprinted from the book “Christmas Decorations from Williamsburg,” available through www.williamsburgmarketplace.com.
Wreath of Boxwood or other Greens Made on a Flat Wire Wreath Frame
Supplies and materials needed:
- flat 2-wire wreath frame (available in sizes from 10 to 36 inches)
- #22 gauge spool wire
- wire cutters
- chenille wire or pipe cleaner
- 5-inch sprigs of conditioned boxwood or other plant materials (see below)
- Note: Approximately 1 to 1 1/2 bushels of 5-inch boxwood are needed to make an 18-inch wreath.
STEP 1. Wrap the end of the spool wire securely around the outside wire of the wreath frame as shown. Leave the wire attached to the spool.
STEP 2. Hold 3 to 6 sprigs of boxwood (depending on fullness) close to the frame and wrap these cut ends tightly with the spool wire.
STEP 3. Wrap the wire around the boxwood and the frame several times so that the boxwood is securely fastened to the frame.
STEP 4. Hold another bunch of boxwood sprigs close to the one you have just attached to the frame and wrap these ends as in Step 2. Place the second bunch of boxwood on the frame, just overlapping the ends. Repeat Step 3 to secure the second bunch to the frame.
Continuing in the same direction, repeat Steps 2 through 4 until you have covered the frame entirely with boxwood. The last bunch of boxwood should be wired underneath the first bunch you attached by lifting the foliage end and wrapping the last bunch tightly under it. Cut the spool wire and wrap the end securely around the frame. This allows the first bunch of boxwood to cover the wire wrapped ends of the last bunch.
Be sure to keep the size of the clusters and the distance between them uniform. On the back make a hanger with a chenille wire or pipe cleaner and secure it to the wire frame. Trim any uneven areas of the wreath with clippers.
Double-Faced Wreath of Boxwood or Other Greens Made on a Flat Wire Wreath Frame
To make a double-faced wreath, secure the wire and follow Steps 2 and 3 above, first on one side, then turn the wreath over and secure bunches of boxwood on the back. Proceed to Step 4, wiring bunches on both front and back of the wreath form. Continue to cover both sides of the form. Follow the directions to attach the last bunches. Securely wrap a chenille wire or pipe cleaner hanger onto the frame.
Note: Although these instructions are for a wreath of boxwood, other plant materials can be used if boxwood is not available in your area. Just follow the same steps for conditioning the plant materials and for constructing the wreath. Short-needled pines and firs, hemlock, spruce, Alexandrian laurel, arborvitae, and cedar are but a few of the possibilities.
Pine Cone Wreath
To make a pine cone wreath, use a three-dimensional wire box wreath frame. This frame looks like a flat 2-wire wreath frame that is connected to a slightly larger flat wire wreath frame beneath. White pine cones are recommended for a base because they fit easily in the space between the top and bottom of the frame. Place the cones crosswise on the frame with the stem ends toward the center. Cones soaked briefly in water will close and thus will be easier to insert. Once the basic round shape is made, allow the cones to dry. When the cones dry, they will open and the wreath will be tight and full. You can then wire or hot glue the cones, pods, and nuts onto this base. Allow your materials to face in different directions, vary the colors evenly, and use the heaviest materials in the center of the wreath. This will result in a pleasing design.
Evergreens with woody stems: holly, magnolia, pines, boxwood, firs, cedar, arborvitae, and hemlock
Evergreens with non-woody stems: ivy, Alexandrian laurel, periwinkle, new growth aucuba, cleyera
Always use clean, well scrubbed, and disinfected containers. Household bleach will kill most bacteria and other organisms. Rinse well.
When cutting, it is best to carry pails of water so that the cut materials can go directly into water. Carry deep or small pails depending upon the materials being cut. Do not crowd the plant materials in the containers. Cut all stems at an angle. Remove any broken or dead stems and leaves. Allow the materials to condition overnight in a cool place before you arrange them. After conditioning, mist the materials frequently or use a floral shield.
When you return from cutting, recut the stems, slit them about 2 inches with a sharp knife, scrape off the lower bark, and pound the stem ends to increase the plant's water intake. Submerge your materials, if possible, in warm water mixed with floral preservative (or 1 tablespoon glycerine per quart of water for smaller amounts) in a set tub, large pail, or even a bathtub for large amounts. The next day, cut the pieces to length with stems cut at an angle, remove all foliage below the waterline, and put the freshly cut stems into clean water until ready to use.
After returning from cutting, recut the stems. Submerge the materials, if possible, in warm water mixed with floral preservative in a set tub, large pail, or even a bathtub for large amounts. After overnight conditioning, cut the stems at an angle to length, remove all foliage below the waterline, an immediately stand in warm water until they are ready to be used. Ivy may be soaked in liquid floor wax and dried on newspapers.