Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Wreath Project

While Johnny was up north hanging out with Ian for a week, I was home making wreaths.  Here's hoping I'm better at this next year. Of course, Jim, from whom we've bought wreaths for Christmas gifts for most of the 25 years he has been making them, may not have a statice flower crop failure two years in a row and could be back to making lots of wreaths next year. But now that I've sort of learned what I'm doing, I may want to do it every year. Or not. There have been setbacks.

All the flowers from our garden that I dried this summer are not going into my wreaths. They look like, well, dead flowers. But the greens are all from our farm and look fine. I just wish I had more than one Noble Fir. Besides Noble Fir, I am using Douglas Fir, Giant Sequoia, Modoc Cypress and a pine that is not Japanese Black Pine but I thought it was. The cones are Sitka Spruce from an area on the coast where I survey Black Oystercatchers. Since I have no flowers or holly to complement the greenery, I am incorporating rose hips from neighbor Irv's wild roses. He has a variety that I don't have... bright red and huge.

But, alas, the hips started to go soft after I had them in wreaths so I had to pull some out. I planted those in the arboretum in hopes of getting them started here. My wild roses have little, rotting hips. I researched on the Web and learned that I could preserve rose hips for wreaths by coating them with clear furniture wax. I rummaged through the cupboard and found some... from who knows how long ago. (I can't remember the last time I waxed a floor.) Since the rose hips were already in wreaths, I could not dip them as recommended. I painted them instead. Here's hoping it works.

My workshop is my dad's stock trailer that he gave me years ago. Johnny created a work table and shelves and a way to hang the wreaths from the side. It's a wonderful place to work.

Each type of green had to be cut from its branch in lengths and sizes appropriate for a wreath. That was done outside the workshop, then I brought the boxes with each type of green inside.
My non-conventional method of adding rose hips is to use an entire branch and wind it around the wreath ring, then add greens on top. At least, that's how I started. After awhile I started with a layer of sequoia, then the rose hips, then the rest.
This was before I wired cones into the wreaths.
The production line after twenty wreaths were done... and redone... and redone...
Johnny modeling a finished wreath. At least, finished for this day. I can't seem to stop messing with them.
I read that with a wreath ring clamping machine, a person can make 80 wreaths in a day. My wreath rings are lightweight affairs with easily bendable closures needing no machine. I average an hour per wreath and have made no more than four in one day. As much as I like working in the stock trailer, my patience wears out quickly, as does my body.

Family and friends who get Jim's wreaths from us each year will be a little surprised at the difference this year. My wreaths are, um, unique. I just hope those rose hips don't rot before January.

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