Re-Inventing A Wreath

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Making a wreath for the door is always fun.  Coming up with ideas, gathering the materials, pulling it all together, and finally hanging the finished wreath is one way I celebrate the change of seasons.  And not just at Christmas; I make wreathes throughout the year.

I remember many cold December days, when I wandered around the garden with clippers and a large bucket of water, pruning the evergreens in preparation for making Christmas wreathes.  I usually attach bundles of mixed greens to straw wreath forms with U shaped wire pins.  And oh, my hands get so cold and sticky and scratched in the process, though the evergreen branches smell wonderful!

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Holly

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Today has been sun-drenched and passably warm, after the morning’s frost burned off.  As the day wore on, I decided it was a pretty good day for the annual cutting of the greens, and went in search of my supplies.

A spur of the moment decision to make our wreathes ended up demanding yet another trip to the craft store.  I need two wreathes for our front porch, and could only find a single straw form.  This of course drew comment from my partner about the dozen or so retired wreathes hanging in the garage.

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A finished wreath from 2013

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But we headed out to the store anyway, and I searched aisle after aisle for the forms I had in mind.  Finally, in the back corner of the place I found three sizes of straw wreath:  huge, small, and tiny.  None matched the medium wreath form waiting at home.  What to do? 

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A wreath in progress…. 2013

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We walked around the store for another 10 minutes or so with two large straw wreath forms in the cart.  And all the while I was weighing the effort it would take to rehabilitate some not-so-gently-used retired grapevine wreathes resting in the basement, against the too many dollars it would require to buy these jumbo straw hoops.

A look at the long line waiting for check-out clinched the deal.  We left the new wreath forms for someone else, and headed home to see what could be done with what we had.

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Now, the grapevine wreathes waiting for us in the basement  were lovely when they were new.  And I have remade them at least once since.

But the hot glue which once held them together was pulling loose, the bright green reindeer moss had faded to grey, and they were a sad lot, to be kind.  I pulled the remaining shells away and cleaned them up a bit, before taking them out to a patch of sunshine in the front yard.  It was barely warm enough to gild them, but gild them we did.

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2014

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Gold paint makes most things a bit better, or at least a bit more interesting.   I left the wreathes to dry in the sunlight, while I set off with the clippers for a bit of green.

My first stop was the Eucalyptus.  It froze back to the ground last winter, but has come out strong again this year.  Knowing that it might be ruined again by cold weather, I didn’t hesitate to cut quite a bit of the newest growth.

Next, I pruned the lowest branches from a rogue seedling of Virginia red cedar.  The tree is about 6′ tall now and a bit of limbing up did it no harm.

Finally, I gave the large old Rosemary in our front garden a good trim.  The cold will darken this summer’s leaves soon enough.  I cut a generous portion for our wreathes.

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That was plenty of greenery for the design I had in mind, which would allow some of the grapevine and original decorations to show as well.

That said, I quickly realized that the pins I’d gotten last month for the wreathes were going to be a challenge to use on the grapevine frame.  Basically, there is nothing to grip them.  But a bit of tweaking with needle nosed pliers soon bent the ends around the strands of vine, at least enough to hold my bundles of greenery in place.

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If you are making this sort of wreath, simply combine 6 or 7 sprigs into a bundle, wrap it with a bit of wire, and secure it to the form.  Each bundle should be about 5″-7″ long, depending on the circumference of your frame.   I used the same three plants in each bundle, in the same order, for a fairly uniform appearance.  But you might also alternate the bundles for a different effect.

I covered about two-thirds of the form with greenery, leaving the original wreath to show in the open space.  I re-attached some of the gilded moss and woody flowers, and also glued the shells back to the wreath before finishing with a fresh sparkly gold ribbon bow.

I’m rather pleased with how they turned out, and even more pleased that I recycled, rather than retailed, for this project.

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Have you made your holiday wreathes yet?  If not, I hope that you draw some inspiration from this little effort, and craft your own this year.

I ended up buying our front door wreathes last year.  They were beautiful, but I also missed the DIY Christmas I’ve grown to love.

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Making a wreath is simple and satisfying.  I challenge you to DIY this year, and create something uniquely yours.   Once you’ve made your holiday wreathes, please photograph them and share their beauty with the rest of us.  Please post photos on your site, and leave a link in the comments so I can enjoy them too!

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My second wreath today

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We will enjoy a walk through Colonial Williamsburg one day soon to enjoy their beautiful seasonal wreathes.  When we do, I’ll take lots of photos to share with you again this year.  I am always delighted by the fresh takes on using fruit and greens, nuts, cones, shells and other natural (and manufactured) items in the wreathes in the historic district of Williamsburg.

Whether you love glitz and glam at the holidays, or prefer something handcrafted or inspired by nature, there are a million ways to express your holiday spirit.

I hope you will join the holiday wreath challenge this year!

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Woodland Gnome 2017

A Circle Unbroken

December 17, 2014 wreath 001

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It is evening of the seventeenth of December.  Those of us who celebrate Christmas have entered “crunch time.”

The preparations feel endless sometimes.  Our shopping lists and “to do” lists telescope.  After the second visit this week with our friends at the main Williamsburg post office,  I am breathing a bit easier that “Christmas” is in the mail to loved ones who live far away.

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The final wreath I plan to make this year is complete, and in place on the dining room table.  It is an old grapevine wreath I made years ago from "found" vines.  I added reingeer moss and oyster shells.

The final wreath I plan to make this year is complete, and in place on the dining room table. It is an old grapevine wreath I made years ago from “found” vines. This year I’ve added reindeer moss and oyster shells.

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It is, perhaps, the repetition, year to year, of those small family rituals of the Christmas season which make this such a special time.  Every December we are drawn back to the music, the aromas, the tastes, and the much loved Christmas decorations we have enjoyed so much in years passed.

Saturday’s task was making fruitcake for my parents.  They love our recipe, passed on from Grandmother,  based on an applesauce spice cake she loved to make when my mother was a child.   We add many different fruits and nuts, jam, cherries, and pineapple to this basic cake recipe.

I found my notes from the epic batches I used to make in the 1980’s.  That recipe called for two dozen eggs.  The other ingredients were measured in pounds.  It took an entire day of effort, and yielded at least a dozen cakes.

I only doubled the basic recipe this year, a modest effort.  Yet from cooking down the apples for applesauce to wrapping the finished cakes felt like a day’s work.

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Moss fern will thrive here in bright, indirect light.  It is in a "semi-terrarium;" partly, but not fully grown in glass.

Moss fern will thrive here in bright, indirect light, in the center of the wreath.  It is in a “semi-terrarium;” partly, but not fully grown in glass.

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Fruitcake is one of the flavors of Christmas in our family.  Tomorrow I’ll make another batch of blond fruit cakes, which Mother calls “Dundee Cake.”  It will be rich in cherries, walnuts, pecans, and dates; perfumed with a little fresh orange zest.

We’ll  have this cake ready to serve friends who stop in and to enjoy ourselves with a cup of chai.

Wreathes speak of this repetition; the unbroken circle of the year turning back to Christmas once again.

Every December I go out early in the month to cut fragrant Cedar and collect pine cones.  I cut herbs, and sometimes roses, for the year’s Christmas wreathes.  Cedar is one of the aromas of Christmas which speaks to me most poignantly.

We always went out to cut a cedar tree from a friend’s field when I was a child, and then brought it home on the roof of the car, and set it up in the living room where it filled the house with its fresh spicy green aroma.  We knew it was finally “Christmas” once our tree was lit and decorated in the living room.

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We always had an Advent Wreath on the kitchen table when I was growing up, and lit the candles each night at dinner. We lit an additional candle each week as we counted the days until Christmas. This is a gesture towards remembering that beautiful Advent wreath my mother always made for us.

We always had an Advent Wreath on the kitchen table when I was growing up, and lit the candles each night at dinner. We lit an additional candle each week as we counted the days until Christmas. This is a gesture towards remembering that beautiful Advent wreath my mother always made for us.

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Every family has its own cherished customs.  Our expressions of Christmas are as unique as our thumbprint. 

And in the spirit of sharing our unique expressions, I offered a Holiday Wreath Challenge this year for anyone willing to share photos or a post about the wreathes and decorations you have created this year.

One of the first responses came from Jenny, who hosts the One Word Photo Challenge on her photography blog.  Jenny created a beautiful wreath from the clay she uses to construct her amazing miniature scenes.

Jenny's beautiful wreath, handmade from clay.

Jenny’s beautiful wreath, handmade from clay.

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Please visit Jenny’s post to see how she constructed her wreath, step by step.

Then a dear friend and neighbor shared photos of the wreath she made around Thanksgiving time for her front door.

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Wreath by Farrokh

Wreath by Farrokh

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The berries came on a vine she found in the New Town area while shopping one day in mid-November.  She was amazed to find them lying on the sidewalk under a tree.

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wreath F1

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I’ve since found the same vine in the same area, but don’t know its name.  It makes for such a beautiful wreath of multicolored berries  mixed with cones.  An unexpected gift from nature; so beautifully used!

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wreath F3

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It was several weeks more before Eliza Waters shared photos of her Christmas wreathes.

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Eliza

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Eliza lives in Massachusetts, and has already enjoyed snow.  In fact, snow over Thanksgiving weekend brought down some large branches of Balsam Fir which she salvaged to use in a whole series of gorgeous Christmas decorations, along with pine and pine cones.  Please visit her post to see them all. 

Next, Barbara Scott, who lives in Amelia County, Virginia shared photos of her elegant Christmas decorations.  Barbara and her husband have breathed new life into a grand Virginia country home.  She has used Blue Spruce, sent by a friend along with Magnolia and other evergreen materials in her garden to craft several stunning arrangements indoors and out.

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Barbara

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These are pure eye candy, so please take time to enjoy Barbara’s posts.

Speaking of “eye candy,” you may also enjoy seeing photos Chris VanCleave, The Redneck Rosarian, posted of some stunning Christmas arrangements featuring red roses and red poinsettias.  Gwennie, at Gwennie’s Garden has also pulled together some elegant and lovely Christmas decorations.  She and I share a love for luminous blue glass, which she has used  so beautifully here.

It always fascinates me to see how friends and loved ones celebrate Christmas, and what is important to their joy each year.

I love exploring trees full of antique ornaments, and seeing the keepsakes friends bring out to enjoy each December.

I like tasting cherished family recipes and trying new concoctions with chocolate, nuts, and fruit.

And I’m always fascinated with the wreathes, door decorations, and light displays which brighten up the neighborhood in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

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December 17, 2014 wreath 004

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It brings us full circle. 

We close the year by re-visiting those things which bring us joy and comfort. 

We reach out to those people we hold dear. 

And we celebrate all things bright and beautiful in this season of light.

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Woodland Gnome 2014

 With love and appreciation to everyone who contributed to this post.

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My front door this December, decorated with bits from our garden and wooden birds.

Our  front door this December, decorated with bits from our garden and wooden birds.

By the Numbers

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

 

12/13/14.  Have you noticed the date today?  My partner tells me this date won’t repeat this century.

Our world is structured by numbers in so many ways.  Even the ancients explored the mysteries of number, and expressed their understanding through architecture, music, sculpture, and engineering those monuments which have survived for centuries or more to intrigue us still today.

And this wonderful technology we use is all based on numbers.  Not that I understand binary code. 

 

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

 

Frankly, it seems like modern day “magic” to type this on my computer and know that a friend in Belgium, Indonesia, or Australia can read it as quickly as my friends down the street.  And what pure pleasure to come to my computer at any hour of the day or night and enjoy photographs and ideas  just posted from people all over the planet!

 

December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 074

 

I began this morning by sharing photos of the dragonfly which visited LiJiun’s garden, with my partner.  It brought back such warm memories of the time I spent photographing dragonflies in our garden this summer.  (Dragonflies don’t startle easily, and don’t mind having their photos taken, I’ve found.)

Now in the WordPress Community, the link I just created for you to see LiJiun’s photos is called a “pingback.”  WordPress bloggers frequently create these to link the reader to another interesting blog we want to share with you for some reason.  And up until recently, they’ve always worked just fine. 

And part of the way they work includes sending a message back to the other blog’s author, so they are aware of the link you’ve created.

 

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

 

I’ve asked fellow bloggers who want to participate in the Holiday Wreath Challenge to just create one of these “pingbacks” in their own post about wreathes, so I know they are participating.  Then I’ll include  links back to their blog  in a post early next week;  so we can all find and enjoy one another’s photos of the wreathes we’ve made this year.

 

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

 

And then last night, my friend Barbara sent me a message in the comments  about her beautiful post.  And she had a link in her post back here to Forest Garden.  But no pingback ever turned up.

And that is when I realized that the pingbacks aren’t working properly on WordPress in general.

 

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

 

Some of us have been aware that WordPress pingbacks haven’t worked properly for some of their own challenges in recent weeks.  But now I realize that pingbacks aren’t working at all…. and probably haven’t been for some time now.

 

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

 

It’s all in the numbers….  My guess is that the volume of traffic has grown so much on WordPress in general, that the sheer number may have overwhelmed this part of the system.  But that is only my guess.

But it leads me to wonder whether I might have missed some of your posts about your wreath and holiday decorations…..

 

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

 

If you have posted, and created the pingback I suggested to join in, just know that I didn’t get it.  Please follow up with an email or a link in the comments.  I’ve responded back to everyone whose posts I’ve found thus far.

I hope you are planning to share in this holiday wreath challenge. 

 

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

 

What fun if we could travel all around the world sharing the beauty of the season with one another, through the magic of the internet and our vibrant blogging community.

 

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

 

If you have already posted, please just send me your link (again) even though you created that “pingback.”    If you plan to post sometime this weekend, please just send me a comment or email with your link.

 

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

 

If you don’t have your own blog, you can still join in.  Just attach your photos to an email.  Please tell me know whether it is OK to use your name and location in the photo credit.

The excitement builds little by little all through December.  Each day brings us closer to the beauty and fun of the Christmas season.

 

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

 

Please watch for a compilation post of photos of all your beautiful creations, and links to your posts about them,  by next Wednesday, 12/17/14.  

Let us all share in the joy and beauty of the season.

 

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Woodland Gnome 2014

woodlandgnome@zoho.com

 

 

 

WPC: Twinkle In Glass

December 12, 2014 ornaments 019

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We bring these hand blown glass ornaments out early in December each year, to hang on our Norfolk Island Pine, draped in white twinkle lights.

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December 12, 2014 ornaments 020

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Most of these ornaments are from the Glass Eye Studio out of  Seattle, Washington.  I’ve added a few ornaments, hand blown in Portugal, to our collection in recent years.

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December 12, 2014 ornaments 021

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We love how these glass ornaments catch and reflect both sunlight and twinkle lights.

We enjoy them all winter, until the weather has settled enough for the tree to return to its spot out of doors in the spring.

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December 12, 2014 ornaments 022

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Woodland Gnome 2014

 

In response to The Weekly Photo Challenge:  Twinkle

Have you made a wreath for the holidays? 

Please share photos in our Holiday Wreath challenge! 

I will put together a post early next week with photos you send me or a link back to your blog post about your Christmas wreath and other holiday decorations. 

Join in this Christmas “blog hop” and share the beauty you have created this Christmas season.

Please create a link back to any of my posts about the challenge, or email your photos to woodlandgnome@zoho.com. 

 

Still Playing Around With Wreathes

December 9, 2014 wreathes 011

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Today I’ve translated my ideas for some unusual wreathes into substance.

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December 9, 2014 wreathes 012.

Eliza Waters makes the excellent point that we make our wreathes and arrangements for the joy of doing it.  We do it for our own pleasure, and the pleasure of our loved ones.  (in the comments, here)

The judgement or approval of others is not really a factor when we’re just “playing around.”

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December 9, 2014 wreathes 013

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And I’m still playing around with using moss, sticks, lichens and ivy in winter decorations.

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December 9, 2014 wreathes 014

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My partner likes these, and so do I.

We have so many birds in our garden that most years they’ve tried to build little nests in our wreathes.

We have to be very careful how we open our door that we don’t invite one inside accidentally.

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December 9, 2014 wreathes 016

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So we took it to the extreme, and peopled our wreathes with little wooden birds to begin with.

Do you think the real birds will still visit the wreathes? 

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December 9, 2014 wreathes 017

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I’m guessing they’ll find the moss irresistible for lining their nests, and I may need to patch these up from time to time!

The sticks are dead branches from Azalea and Mountain Laurel.  I gave the Mountain Laurel a light wash of white acrylic paint for contrast against our door.

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The shells come from the coast of North Carolina, picked up a few years back on vacation.

The moss is all purchased from the crafts store and glued on to the straw wreath forms with hot glue.

The ivy is all alive, roots tucked into a little plastic wrapped package of soil and wet moss.  I hope it will grow additional roots into the wet moss over the  next few weeks.

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We love having  these  living, growing wreaths for Christmas.  They reflect our garden and the things we enjoy. 

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December 9, 2014 wreathes 018

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Woodland Gnome 2014

 

Holiday Wreath Challenge 2014

3x3x3

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

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Have you noticed that art, like music, is mostly mathematical? 

As you scratch even a tiny bit below the surface of either discipline, you find yourself awash in numbers, fractions, ratios, and the metronome ticking of constant counting.

Take this beautiful wreath, for instance, hanging now in Colonial Williamsburg. 

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 152

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At first glance, you might register the color and complexity of design.    But if you take a deep breath, and hold your focus on the details for a few moments, the “3s” begin to pop out at you.

How many sets of “3” can you find?

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 151

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I only mention this in the hopes of getting your own creative juices flowing a bit. 

(You see, I can count on my fingers those blogging friends who have suggested they might send me a photo of a wreath they’ve made, or a link to their own post about making a wreath.)

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 150

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Until you’ve made one, it looks hopelessly complicated.  That is how I felt when facing my first dress pattern and yards of cloth back in Jr. High school!

But step by step, bit by bit, making a wreath like this isn’t as complex as it might appear.

Yes, you can do it, too!

Do you notice that there are three artichokes, three lotus pods, and three groups of  three oranges?  There are four pomegranates, just to throw us off a little, and five pine cones. The wreath is worked in only five colors:  green, red, orange, brown, yellow, and cream.

This wreath is composed from fruits, vegetables, dried flowers, pine cones, lotus pods, and evergreen branches.  It could be made on a straw, Styrofoam, or wire wreath base.  Any of the three would work, but Styrofoam would be the easiest to use.

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A similiar design hanging a ways down Francis St. from the first.

A similiar design hanging on Duke of Gloucester Street.   Drumsticks and Cinnamon sticks ornament this wreath, made on a grapevine wreath form. The components are attached with light weight florist’s wire and floral “picks,” and possibly hot glue.  Did you notice the three pomegranates, three artichokes, and three groups of three oranges?  See the triangles formed in the design? The color scheme is basically the same as the first wreath.

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Once you had all of the components assembled, it would take you less than an hour to pull this wreath together.

When working with a wire wreath base, thin, flexible wire is first attached to all of the components, and then those wires are twisted onto the base.  You would attach the branches first, then the large cones and fruits, finishing off with bunches of dried flowers to fill in the bare spots.  Small wooden skewers, already attached to thin wire (florist picks) are used to wire the artichokes, pomegranates, and oranges to the wire base.

This lovely wreath features mostly dried flowers and seed pods.  You could make this easily with a hot glue gun.

This lovely wreath features mostly dried flowers and seed pods on a grapevine base.  The green comes from dried hops.  You could easily make this with just  a hot glue gun.

 

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I prefer working on straw bases or Styrofoam.  I use long wire “staples” to attach the green branches to the base, and pieces of thin bamboo “shish-kabob” skewers (from the grocery store) to impale the fruits or vegetables and attach them to the base.  Wire little bunches of the dried flowers together, and attach them with the wire staples, too, as the finishing touch.

Some people use hot-glue in the assembly.  This works, too; especially for the light elements of your design.

I’m doing the mental work tonight on two wreathes I plan to construct tomorrow.  If they turn out well, I’ll share photos in a later post. 

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 034

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This fairly unusual wreath we spotted last week on our walk through Colonial Williamsburg inspired my design idea…

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 030

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Early December tends to be a creative time of the year for many of us.  We’re decorating, cooking, and maybe even making a few gifts.

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This wreath is formed on grapevines and a hollowed out gourd.

This wreath is formed on grapevines and a hollowed out gourd.  Okra pods, berries,  oranges, and dried flowers add color and interest to the design.  This hangs on Francis Street, west of the old Capitol.

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We enjoy making things for the coming holidays. 

Actually, the lights and evergreens help distract me from the grey skies, fog, and cold winds this month brings.

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 035

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By focusing on beauty, it makes the wintery reality of December a little easier to endure.

What are you creating this December?

Take whatever comes to hand, and please, make something beautiful!

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Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

 

Holiday Wreath Challenge 2014

 

WPC: Gone, But Not Forgotten

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

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In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Gone, But Not Forgotten.”

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 077

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

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Holiday Wreath Challenge 2014

The Season of Wreathes

December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 015

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It is December in Williamsburg, and wreathes are appearing on front doors everywhere.

I love early December when it is still warm enough to walk around the colonial area and enjoy these unusual and beautiful decorations.

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 016

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

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Known as “della Robbia,” these unique decorations are made from natural, easily accessible materials which would have been available to the residents of Williamsburg during the 18th Century.

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 065

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These wreathes, garlands and sprays reflect the evergreens and berries available in our Virginia woods, shells collected from the James River and Chesapeake Bay, feathers from local birds, dried flowers and pods grown in Colonial gardens, and the many fruits and vegetables either imported from the Caribbean colonies, or grown locally.

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Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

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No, we don’t grow pineapples, lemons and oranges in Virginia.  But these exotic fruits were readily available to the colonists through trade with the rest of the British Empire.

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Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

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The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation produces all of the wreathes and decorations used on their buildings each December.

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 119

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It is a huge undertaking for their staff each year, and draws visitors from across the United States and around the world.

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Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2014

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I was in good company with lots of other photographers as I took photos on the eastern end of things, near the Colonial Capitol, yesterday.

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 130

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We’ll make another trek to capture the decorations on the western end of Duke of Gloucester Street, near The College of William and Mary, one day soon.

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December 3, 2014 CW wreathes 145

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Some of my companion photographers planned to use their photos to produce their own Christmas cards.  Others just wanted souvenirs.

I’ll share photos with you over several posts during December.

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I’ve made the first of my own wreathes for this year, in the della Robbia style, and they are hanging now at our neighborhood community center.

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I made this wreath on Saturday.

I made this wreath on Saturday.

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These are made on purchased straw wreath forms.  I begin with a base of Magnolia leaves, then add mixed bunches of evergreen which includes Cedar, Rosemary and Lavender  from our garden, and trimmings from the Christmas tree we purchased on Saturday.  Step by step instructions, with photos, may be found here….

These wreathes are trimmed with pine cones collected near College Creek on Saturday afternoon, Red Delicious apples, and some feathers from the craft store.

I hope you’ll construct some beautiful wreathes of your own this year, using whatever materials you can collect locally.

Colonial Williamsburg 2014

Colonial Williamsburg 2014

Please send me photos of your creations (by December 13)  to include in a round-up post later this month.  I can’t wait to see what you come up with! 

If you blog, please send a ping back and I’ll include a link to your post from mine.

This is a tiny little rebellion against Christmas “Made in China.”  Let’s make our own Christmas cheer, from the materials close at hand, just as our grandparents did.

It is a lot more interesting, and a lot more fun!

 

Colonial Williamsburg 2014

Colonial Williamsburg 2014

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Photos by Woodland Gnome 2014

Holiday Wreath Challenge 2014

One Word Photo Challenge: Pine

The Homestead Garden Center November 29, 2014

The Homestead Garden Center November 29, 2014

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Roping made from fresh pine will adorn many homes this Christmas.

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November 28, 2014 thanksgiving 014

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Pine fills our fields and forests, ever-green and bright all year long.

 

One Word Photo Challenge:  Pine

With appreciation to Jennifer Nichole Wells

Photo by Woodland Gnome 2014

Colonial Williamsburg, 2013

Colonial Williamsburg, 2013

Holiday Wreath Challenge 2014

Holiday Wreath Challenge

Last year's creation.

Last year’s creation.

I love making holiday wreathes.

Wreathes date back millennia as one of our most ancient floral decorations.

They symbolize eternity.  Wreathes, as perfect circles, have no beginning and no end.

They symbolize the circular progression of the seasons;  our Earth’s orbit around the sun.

Traditionally made from cut greens, they symbolize eternal life.

Wreathes have been given as trophies to the victor.  Wreathes have been hung around the necks of horses, worn as a head dress, hung on front doors, used as table centerpieces, and sent as gifts.

Wreathes may be made of living plants, cut greens, vines, straw, wire, cloth, paper, plastic, porcelain, or fruit.

This week, I’ve been  planning and sourcing materials for  a set of wreathes which I’ll construct later in the month.

And I am interested in seeing what wreathes you make, this holiday season, as well.

Nov 9 wreathes 005

And so I’m issuing a “Wreath Challenge” to my community here at Forest Garden.

Post a photo of a wreath you make this holiday season  by December 13.   Tag your post, “Holiday Wreath Challenge,” and include a link back to this post.

Please let me know in the comments that you plan to participate so I can be watching for your post.

I’ll pull together a “holiday blog hop” of all the posts you create.

Your post can show how you constructed the wreath and describe the materials you used, or can simply include a photo.  It would be great for you to describe your wreath and explain why you chose the materials you did.

November 29 Thanksgiving 010

In fact, for this Holiday Wreath Challenge, there will be two separate categories of wreathes. 

One category will be of wreathes made entirely of natural materials.

There is a strong tradition in Colonial Williamsburg of fresh, living wreathes hung on each building.   Visitors come from all over the world each December to view these unique wreathes.

Made entirely of fresh, living materials, our “della Robbia” wreathes include: evergreens, fruits, vegetables, berries, nuts and cones, feathers, herbs, seed pods, leaves and twigs, shells, and dried flowers.  

The wreathes often include symbols of a particular person or trade.  Since they are made from whatever is close at hand, they are very personal and use materials in novel ways.

A della Robbia wreath displayed in Colonial Williamsburg in December of 2013.

A della Robbia wreath displayed in Colonial Williamsburg in December of 2013.

The della Robbia wreathes displayed each year in Colonial Williamsburg are inspired by engravings  of 18th Century Virginia holiday decorations, and are made only from materials available in the 18th Century.

Ribbons traditionally are not used on these wreathes.

Colonial Williamsburg, 2013

Colonial Williamsburg, 2013

A second category will be for wreathes which include modern man-made materials.

If your wreath includes ribbons, floral picks, Christmas ornaments, and other fabricated items it will fall into this other category.

You may use any materials you like to enter a wreath in this group, and may be as creative and unconventional with your  wreath as your imagination allows.

Many of the wreathes I've made over the years begin with grapevines.  This one includes silk ivy and  porcelain birds.

Many of the wreathes I’ve made over the years begin with grapevines. This one includes silk ivy and porcelain birds.  I can keep this one and use it year to year.

I’ve included a few links to inspire you and get you started with your own wreath making:

Step by step instructions on constructing an evergreen wreath maybe found here, along with photos of a wreath I made last year.

The history of wreathes, and more photos of wreathes I’ve made are here.

A tour of della Robbia wreathes from Colonial Williamsburg may give you some ideas. (Two separate links)

Wreathes and wreath bases are offered at our Homestead Garden Center.  The staff has already begun work towards the hundreds of hand made wreathes they will sell this season.

Wreathes and wreath bases are offered at our Homestead Garden Center. The staff has already begun work towards the hundreds of hand made wreathes they will sell this season.

Now, I feel as though I’m leaving some of you out.

Some of my blog visitors don’t have a blog of their own.  You might want to share your wreath, but not know how to do it.

And I want you to include you, too. 

So for you non-bloggers, please email photos of your finished wreath to me at :  woodlandgnome@zoho.com  and I will include photos of your wreathes in my post.  Please tell me in your email whether I may use your name and where you live.

The Homestead Garden Center, last December.

The Homestead Garden Center, last December.  Each live Christmas tree  has its own little water dish to keep it fresh until it is sold.

Ready or no, here the holidays come, once again.

Whether you love them or endure them, they are as perennial as mosquitoes in a Virginia summer.  So lets just decide to enjoy them this year, plan ahead, and have some fun. 

I hope you will accept my challenge to make a beautiful wreath for yourself this year, and share it with the rest of us.

Who knows, you might have so much fun that you decide to make a bunch of them!

Colonial Williamsburg, 2013

Colonial Williamsburg, 2013

Woodland Gnome 2014

 

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