Christmas threw up in my living room — and then this happened

christmas-ornament-wreath-1I 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…

vintage-ornament-wreath-1-2Honestly. 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.

vintage-ornament-wreath-2Above: My 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!

vintage-ornament-wreath-5vintage-ornament-wreath-3vintage-ornament-wreath-6vintage-ornament-wreath-7Everyone’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…

christmas-ornament-wreath-1-2… 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.

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.

vintage-ornament-wreath-8Mr. Retro Renovation hid downstairs most of the day, but did emerge to check out the action mid-afternoon. By then, the wreaths were really coming together.

vintage-ornament-wreath-13vintage-ornament-wreath-26Starting out with some ornaments she brought from home, Karen made a wreath focusing on the colors blue, silver and red.

christmas-ornament-wreath-1vintage-ornament-wreath-2-2Melanie used aqua, silver and a touch of gold.

vintage-ornament-wreath-10vintage-ornament-wreath-1-3Diana did the classique red-green-silver-gold.

Seriously. Making these wreaths is so peppermint stick thrilling, I can barely stand it.

  1. Kahty says:

    “My name is Kathy and I am a vintage ornament wreath addict”
    I am so happy to see your great party and even happier to know that my dining room full of tubs or ornaments labeled in inch diameters, solids, multi-colors and wee-bits is not a one of a kind situation. I have tried to be very neat and clean during this process, however, after 13 of these beauties, I have given into the Santa’s workshop concept that the dining room is a MESS ,HAPPY, and CONSTRUCTIVE. It all cleans up and you end up with decking your halls with more beautiful wreaths and very special gifts . One more thing: When I design a wreath I usually have a theme. Not just a color theme but themes like playful with elves, religious, angels, whimsical, Santa, deer and bottlebrush trees, rustic, etc. Kinda brings the mass down to size. Love your site. Merry Christmas! Kathy

  2. tammyCA says:

    Your friends did nice work on the wreaths, so you taught well.
    I did make 2 wreaths last year (one as a gift) and they turned out pretty nice except for slight off center. I should’ve kept the wire hanger in view at all times for balance. I also used mostly new & retro looking ornaments since I fear breakage. And oh yeah I got a nasty glue gun burn & blister trying to rush the gift.

  3. Karen says:

    Beautiful pieces of art! I noticed that you always use silver to cover the Styrofoam. Is this a personal preference or does it just look better? Last year after Christmas, I nervously waited until the ornaments were down to 80/90 % off and stocked up on orange, black and purple but didn’t get around to doing any Halloween wreaths. (I’m now fairly certain that there won’t be a rush on those colors, they’re not very Christmasy in any combination:)
    Kate, I too am eager to do a new Putz house. I came across the cutest “putz style village glitter house Travel Trailer
    ( 251682811097 )” on ebay. Don’t know if you can access it.
    Thanks for all the glitter and glitz!!

    1. pam kueber says:

      I think that silver vs. gold is a personal preference. I do tend to prefer the silver since it’s lighter/more reflective.

  4. judith hall says:

    These are some great pieces of holiday art! I would lose all of my fingerprints with hot glue should I ever attempt a project that called for this mastery of a glue gun. Hail to the ladies who did and do! My money is on Diana’s wreath, what a “Christmas-y” look!

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