Tactile Craft: Wreathmaking

Green juniper wreath on our front door, wrapped with blue ribbon and with pinecones, etc. on it.Last week, Peanut, Sprout and I ventured to the Schlagle Library for an evening wreathmaking event.  I was impressed with how well this craft worked for Peanut–I’d honestly expected to do the bulk of the activity myself–so I thought I would share here how to make your very own fresh pine wreath.

Materials:

  1. A grapevine wreath base.  (It’s under there–honest!)  You can get these at any craft store.
  2. Pretty holiday ribbon.  Our ribbon has wire edges (it’s wire-edged/bendable ribbon), but that’s not necessary.  You can get ribbon for $1 a spool at Dollar Tree, or any craft store should have it.
  3. Green florists’ wire.  This should be available at most craft stores.
  4. A hot glue gun and glue sticks.  Both are pretty inexpensive for base models.
  5. Pine branches.  Ours are fresh juniper cut from Wyandotte County Lake Park.  You can pick yours up by pruning your or a friend’s trees or bushes (ask first!), or try asking at a local tree stand–a lot of Christmas tree sellers end up with spare branches as they cut the trees for customers, and they may be willing to give them to you for free or make you a deal for all the branches you’d like.
  6. Miscellaneous decor.  Ours includes both store-bought elements and things collected from nature.  This is a great opportunity to take a nature walk with your kids and pick up things that feel neat:  pine cones, acorns of all types, seed pods–anything that feels or looks neat is fair game!  You can pick up store-bought things at the craft store while you’re purchasing other items.  I recommend cinnamon-scented pine cones–they smell amazing with the pine of the branches.
  7. Scissors and wire cutters.

Instructions

  1. Take your pine branches and lay them around the wreath, basically following the wreath form.  You want them to all be pointing the same direction (i.e. the branches all lay the same way, with the cut ends pointing the same way around the circle.).
  2. When you like how it looks, take your florists’ wire and wrap the wreath.  Essentially, you’re wiring the branches down to the wreath base.  This doesn’t need to be super-tight; I’d say my loops are about 2-4 inches apart.  Once you’ve made it all the way around the wreath, cut the wire with the wire cutters and twist it to itself to secure it, like a twist tie.
  3. Pick your ribbon and wrap it around your wreath.  Mine’s tied at the back, where I made the ends into a hanger for the wreath.  Some people prefer to put a big bow on the wreath rather than wrapping it with ribbon–it’s entirely up to you.  Peanut was ecstatic to pick out the ribbon.  He’s on a huge blue kick at the moment, so our ribbon is sparkly and blue.
  4. Pick your tactile elements and glue them to the wreath, in between the ribbons.  Peanut was an eager participant in this part–he picked out stuff to glue on, and I did the gluing.  (Glue guns are easy to use, but they’re very hot, so they are not tools for little fingers.)  He decided when he liked how it looked, whether or not there was enough stuff, etc.–he loved picking out the different smells, sights and textures.

Once you’re happy with your gluing–you’re done!  You have created an excellent sensory wreath, with textures, smells and sights to delight the whole family.  Hang it on the front door and enjoy it for the holiday season!  (I would not recommend putting a wreath with nature-sourced items inside the house . . . our branches had little residents when we were putting our wreath together, and we’re just fine with the residents continuing to live outdoors.)  Peanut is very proud of our wreath, and he makes note of it every time the door’s open or we come in and out of the house–it’s given him a great feeling of accomplishment.

Best yet:  this is a totally recyclable/compostable project.  Heather at Schlagle tells me that everything on the wreath is compostable except for painted/plastic elements.  Simply cut the florists wire at the end of the season, keep your grapevine wreath base for next year, and compost everything else.  Viola!  Environmentally-friendly holidays!

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