“At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough.” - Toni Morrison
I have always loved this quote and I feel like it really connects to the following unorthodox tutorial I am about to share with you.
I spend a lot of time imagining things before I sit down to create. So I have been building wreaths in my head for a few days now. I imagined going to the tree lot and buying some garland. Or maybe I would get lucky and the nice guys at the tree lot would just let me have at the pile of discards. I have been staring at my stash of ribbon and sash, peering into my drawer of ornamental berries and twigs. I even started toying with the idea of making a wreath out of the growing mountain of cardboard and collage bits and bobs that are taking over my studio and yet nothing was really exciting me. So I waited. While I waited I went to my local craft store and bought green floral wire, thin gauge gold wire, and 3 gold macrame hoops (one S, one M, one L). I knew that with those items I would be ready for whatever was coming.
So last night I was at my mom's house. The daylight was fading, the girls were jumping like wild sprites on the trampoline in her back yard, and my sweet mom, electric saw in hand, was cutting down part of an olive tree (long, crazy story, for another time). One olive branch after another was piling up by her boots along with two thick, bare branches. I walked over to the pile and looked at the long, thin leaves. One side a dusty evergreen, the other side the perfect shade of sage and the smell…..I knew I had the beginning of something special. Then my eyes darted to the back wall where my mom is growing this beautiful scarlet-leafed grape vine. It is a CA native that produces these pretty little aubergine grapes. I walked over and noticed that the grapes had started to dry out and darken in color, now resembling some mysterious berry. It wasn’t a walk in the woods. It was a walk through a backyard sparked by inspiration. Which brings us to …
green floral wire
thin gauge gold wire
needle nose pliers
gold macrame hoops in S, M, L
In the woods. In your neighborhood. At your local park. In your own backyard, In the floral section of Trader Joe's. Get out into the world and notice the things that are around you. Gather the items that speak to you and bring them home.
Remember how I mentioned that I already had my supplies ready and waiting? Well, that is your step 0. You need something to mount to and you need wire to attach it. This is where you lay out your materials on your base. Step back, see what happens when you move your sprigs around in different directions. What happens when you take a leaf off here or there or tuck one behind the other? This is intuitive. There is no way to do it wrong and no way to do it right. P L A Y.
When you find a combination that you like, take a snip of your floral wire, gold wire, or embroidery thread and secure the foliage to your base. There is no messing it up. You can re-wire. You can change your mind. Just start building.
Step back from your wreath
This is one of the keys to making…anything: get perspective. Look at it from a different angle. Breathe for a beat before you go back in. Are you listening to music? Are you listening to a podcast? You should be. I really liked working on 3 different wreathes at once because I would get paused on one and I could just jump into the other.
Wreath 1 - on a branch
I started with the branch wreath and it just came somewhat instantaneously.......a bunch of greens, one with little pink berries laying in one direction on top of an olive branch. I secured it with wire and then I wrapped some fuzzy twine around it. I loved the idea of black ribbon hung like a triangle because it adds a little graphic, geometric punch to an otherwise organic piece.
Wreath 2 - less is more
The second one I made was the sparse red leaf wreath. I started with a sprig of olive on the left side, then added one big red leaf, then a leaf turned backwards that had a mustard hue, then the dried grapes, and finally one more red leaf. Then I stopped. My brain started speaking LOUDLY at this point: "you can’t leave it like that!" But my eyes were so content. I loved the juxtaposition of the vibrant burst of color next to the simple gold hoop. So I stepped away. I called it done. I used twine to hang this one like this:
Wreath 3 - olive me
I started by looking for bendy olive sprigs that kind of fit my small loop and I just started securing them with the wire. I used the green floral and the gold with no real method, just instinct. Then I got this crazy idea to get some wooden beads and turn them into olives. So I started wiring them with the green floral wire like this:
I didn’t know if it was going to work but I ended up really liking it. So I made three more large olive beads and one small. Then I laid out the dried grapes, moved them around a bit, and attached them. I wanted a delicate thread that matched the aubergine of the berry so I used dark brown hemp jewelry string.
You guys, this one was all about process. I love the finished products too but the process was the best part. Are you feeling inspired? I hope so. Go forth and forage!