Sunday, December 4, 2016

So I Made a Wreath

What would the holidays be without a bit of unnecessary crafting angst! Crafting angst is actually one of the four primary pillars of the classic American Christmas, which, of course, are as follows:

1. Twitchy Forced Conversation with Distant Relations
2. Crafting Angst
3. Fighting to Get the Damn Christmas Tree to Stand Straight
4. Burning the Stuffing

Crafting angst is so important to the holidays that several companies have built entire empires on its hot glued sequined back (looking at you Michaels and AC Moore).

       I was feeling far far behind the holly jolly power curve this morning, we haven't even gotten our tree yet! We've only watched Elf once so far this year! And thusly to do appropriate holiday penance, I made a wreath with which to stage a lovely vintage tea table for a photo shoot, and then to hang on the front door, as a Proclamation of Crafting Prowess, for all who pass by.

         I've always admired wreaths made from magnolia leaves, both in their natural green, when they dry and fade to a soft olive green, and painted gold. There's a vast array of wreath-y triumphs on Pinterest, so I started with some inspiration there-
 I was shooting for something about like this:

About mid morning I put another coat of poly on three projects I'm slogging away on and evacuated the workshop so as not to pass out from the fumes, with an hour to kill, the wreath seemed a perfect time filler.

        Now as with any good craft project, it is absolutely essential that you have many many chores that you really should be doing, but are instead ignoring in favor of uselessness. I had both a sink full of dirty dishes and an entire house that desperately needs to be swept and dusted.
Perfect craft timing, then.

        I grabbed my pruning sheers and stalked towards one of the two towering magnolias in the front yard.  It was then, shivering in the yard that I remembered that I have rhododendron not magnolia. Close enough? Close enough. I cut huge armfuls of the branches- the things haven't actually been pruned since we moved here eight years ago. Two birds with one crafting stone!!

          If you don't own a magnolia OR a rhododendron to harvest, you're going to have to sneak into one of your neighbor's yards to get your supplies. If they catch you, you can always pretend to be searching for your missing cat, Mr. Mittens. OR if the neighbors spot you ravaging their shrubbery just beat your chest, make aggressive eye contact, and assert your dominance. It is now your shrubbery, annexed for all future wreath making ventures. Well done.

Other than stolen greenery, here's what else you'll need
-green florist wire
- pruning sheers or scissors, a butcher knife? Something sharp for the cutting.
- a glue gun
- a martini
- a metal ring or embroidery hoop, or wreath backer- any of those will work fine as your base.

        To start I picked all the very best looking leaves off my rhododendron branches. I think about every sixth one was good enough. I made a pile. It turned out that pile was too small by more than half. Bear this in mind if you're stealing from your now annexed neighbor's shrub, you'll want way way more than you thought, best to get it all at once to avoid multiple trips...and confrontations.

        Once I had a healthy pile of leaves, I cut the green wire into 3 or 4 inch lengths and made an equally big stack, again grossly underestimating just how much I would need, and just what I was getting myself into.

          With the tip of the wire, I poked a hole in the base of the leaf, about 1/4 of an inch from the top of the stem, and to the side of the center vein. I threaded it through until there was about a 1 inch "tail" on the back of the leaf. I wrapped the "tail" around the stem a few times, I wrapped the longer front section of the wire around the stem a few times. The leaf was then fully attached to the wire. I then wrapped the long section of the wire around and around my metal ring base. I did this over and over and over again.

            By about half way (or approximately 324,000) leaves in, I realized this was not going to be the quick one hour jaunt down crafting lane that I had foolishly anticipated. It was a slog. About 30,000 leaves further in the Christmas music was no longer pleasantly diverting and my mind began to wander. Interesting things to consider in the doldrums of leaf application-

      - Did ancient aliens actually build the pyramids?
      - What actually happened at the end of Inception?! I'm still so very unsure
      - Will Eddie Redmayne be impressed by my wreath-making skills? (Obviously yes.)

Somewhere around this point I had to go back out for more leaves. In retrospect I really should have been nicely tipsy for the whole process, would have been much more pleasant, even at 11am. That's why booze is on your supply list. Highly recommended, very boring work, the solitary confinement of crafting projects.

Still I continued on, a champion of holiday spirit, the hero Pinterest deserves. I poked my fingers with the wire quite a few times, so also you should factor that in when calculating your crafting holiday angst score.

           The last bit was fiddly, trying to tuck the wire around without mussing the other leaves up too much. When I was finally done I first checked to see if man had invented flying cars or self washing dishes while I'd been buried in rhododendron leaves, then I tried hanging my wreath up. The leaves shifted all over the place like bastards. It was a dark moment. So I hot glued a thin strip of fabric on the back of the metal ring, thereby securing all the wirework and wholly solving the problem, which was a good thing because I was about to cancel Christmas forever.

         As a recap:

Cost - literally nothing...except what I could have been making by doing actual work rather than this silliness.
Duration - Several hopeless empty eons.
Enjoyment Level - Abysmal (insert martini here)
Holiday Crafting Angst Score - 12/10. Would do again.

Bonus- The madhouse mess I made of the kitchen island. Yay Christmas.


  1. " bastards." Pure awesome.

  2. I love how the wreath turned out and your kitchen island is so gorgeous even with the mess! You always say it like it is. No beating around the bush with you!