I collected lots and lots of vintage Christmas ornaments at estate sales this year — so this past weekend, I unpacked the stash and invited three friends to a wreath-making party at my house. It was a blast! Continue scrolling to see what happened after Christmas threw up in my living room…
Honestly. The photo above does not even begin to convey the mass of ornaments I had. Before I *organized* as shown here, all these ornies were in boxes. With friends scheduled to come over on Sunday, I spent all day Saturday taking ornies out of boxes and then putting them into laundry baskets by size and color. I filled three contractor bags with smushed icky boxes. I filled at least three laundry baskets with good boxes to use to make shadow box dioramas.
victims friends. From left, that’s Melanie Mowinksi (I’ve written about her here), Karen Arp-Sandel (my collage teacher) and Diana, friend and glue-gun novice. I did not end up making a wreath — I was the teacher and design coach. Everyone said I was a good teacher. That made me so happy!
Everyone’s prework was to read our complete tutorial and to watch the video, too. Everyone did their homework, so we got right to it!
They also brought vintage ornaments from home to work into their wreaths. And don’t forget the high-temp glue guns and lots of glue!
Their other homework was: What to bring for lunch? I bought quiche [1@broccoli and cheddar, 1@nicoise] and butternut squash soup [made with apples and maple syrup] from Guido’s… Melanie brought mesclun with blue cheese, walnuts and home-grown pears… Karen made cranberry walnut bread…
… and Diana brought Ice Glen and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Which no one drank. The *leftovers* are for me, which I kinda sorta needed after everyone left, because see the photo above — in all honesty, that’s what the day felt like to me. My head was spinning! It was actually kind of hard hosting this event. But very gratifying. Especially because I got to give tips to artists, which I think really helped them. And the wreaths turned out great. Everyone was very excited and said they loved the project.
Making a wreaths without “mistakes” is very challenging
I will repeat: This is a very tricky art form:
Making a wreath that doesn’t look like Christmas threw up all over it requires… very careful arrangement of ornaments of varying sizes, colors, designs, shapes and textures… with carefully crafted focal points… with balance and movement… with complementary content elements — all combined like a 3-D puzzle… (mind the gaps and your plane).. using valuable vintage ornaments… applied with high-temperature hot glue that once it’s down, there’s pretty much no undoing.
The biggest issue I’m working on, in terms of continuing to build my own skills: Getting all weebits, especially the larger pieces, to sit properly on the same plane as the others; on my wreaths, I am not satisfied when they are either “recessed” right onto the tinsel wreath sitting below the plane of the rest of the round ornaments… or, when they sit way on top of ornaments such that they brake above the plane…. or, when they kinda meet the right point but require too many little ornies all around them to make it work. Stuffing tinsel underneath solves for a lot of issues, but then, that can get overdone. What the heck, as you can see, I am not just cranking out wreaths, I am really working on the form. Just for the challenge of it.
- See our complete tutorial — with 30 tips — and a video, even — on making vintage ornament wreaths.
- Want to practice? See my story about how to make wreaths using new ornaments. I made two using new — I considered it “practice” — and now I am much more confident using precious vintage.
But — all that said, this project is also like a lot of Do It Yourself projects: Because you are the “Y” in “DIY,” you know your “mistakes” — you kind of fixate on them. But show the project to others, and they don’t see any mistakes. They see the overall effect — which is likely pretty darn awesome.
Seriously. Making these wreaths is so peppermint stick thrilling, I can barely stand it.