This project uses the technique behind making a garland but transforms the garland into a modern wreath. The most common type of lei or garland is made by piercing the materials with a needle and stringing them on thread. Often you see carnations, marigolds, plumeria, jasmine, or roses strung together in this fashion. Abandoning the traditional needle and thread, I used
floral wire as the needle and thread to create this wreath, which adds strength and stability to its shape. I used sage green manzanita leaves to make this wreath. Manzanita grows wild in the western United States. The tough leathery foliage is an ideal material for this wreath, because its pointed roundish leaves dry perfectly in place. A suitable alternative would be eucalyptus, which is widely available at florists.
A small versatile wreath to make any time of the year.
Give this small wreath as a gift, in the tradition of the lei, at a housewarming or at a holiday gathering. The versatility of this wreath is due to its size and neat appearance. The petite nature of this wreath, at just over seven inches, allows it to be displayed just about anywhere. The leaves start out fresh, but dry over time and remain attractive. I’ve had one up for almost a year and it still looks great.
- Fresh manzanita or eucalyptus branches (A)
- 22-gauge florist wire (B)
- Pruners (C)
- Needle-nose pliers with wire cutters (D)
Using the pruners, cut the leaves off the branches, leaving the stems attached to the leaves. Once you’ve amassed one pound of leaves you’ll have enough to begin constructing the wreath.
Cut a length of wire about a foot long.
Make a loop at one end of the wire and twist the end back around the wire a few times to secure it.
Begin threading the leaves onto the wire. Poke the wire through the center of the leaf. Face the leaves in the same direction—there will be one side that is the front. Keep the stems pointed in the same direction, but you can also adjust them later. The wreath looks best when all of the stems face inward. Continue threading the wire through the leaves until you can make a tight circle of leaves with at least a 7-inch diameter.
Pull the wire tight and twist it around the looped end with the needle-nose pliers in order to securely close up the wire circle. The loop functions as a hook to hang the wreath from or to hang a ribbon from.
Straighten any leaves that have flipped over in the wrong direction.
Now it’s your turn to get your hands dirty!
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