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Wreaths ring in the holidays


Published December 1, 2007


Wreaths date to the ancient Persian Empire, where they were signs of power and victory. Originally they were fabric headbands adorned with jewels. The Romans adopted the custom and began to make rings of laurel leaves to crown the winners of Olympic competitions. Eventually wreaths became decorative objects, hung on walls or doors. As holiday symbols made of evergreens they represented new life in the cold and dark of winter - the circle of life, if you will. Today we offer four wreaths you can make in an hour or so. Fire up your glue gun and get out that spool of wire. May your holidays be wreathed in smiles.

Judy Stark, Times homes and garden editor

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How to create a holiday wreath

What you'll need

- One straw-covered foam wreath form
- Florist greening pins (usually available in packs of 50)
- Greenery (most tree lots will let you take home the clippings)
- Pruning shears and scissors
- Gardening gloves
- Newspapers
- Accessories

Directions

1. Spread old newspapers over your work surface; place your wreath form on them. Hint: Leave the plastic wrapping on the wreath form. This will allow you to use the wreath base again next year.

2. Make a hanger for your wreath. Cut a length of ribbon or wire and wrap it around the top of your wreath form. Secure it with a knot (ribbon) or twist (wire). Hint: This must be the first step. You don't want to thread the wire or ribbon through your finished wreath and risk displacing your greenery and accessories.

3. Decide how you want the greenery of your wreath to look. Do you want it to be thick and full, or wide with longer cuts of branches?Hint: Cypress works better for a wider wreath;the bushy sprays on a Fraser fir create a fuller wreath. We used Fraser fir sprays for this wreath.

4. Determine how long you want your cuttings to be; and use pruning shears to cut the greenery to the desired length. You can either cut as you go, or create a pile to work from. Cuttings that are 6-7 inches in length create a fuller wreath.

5. Choose a starting point on the side of the wreath form to attach the first spray. Gather 3 to 5 pieces of greenery and use a floral pin to tack the cluster to the base of the wreath. Pin this spray to the wreath with the leafy tips of the greenery facing out.

6. To conceal the tacks and make the wreath look full, gather 3 to 5 more pieces of greenery, and pin the spray along the inside curve of the wreath with the leafy tips of the greenery covering the tack from Step 5.

7. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 until you have greenery covering the entire wreath form. The tack of the last spray will be concealed by greenery already on the wreath. Hint: If I choose to dress up a wreath with another leafy-type spray (like the gold leaves here), I work the decorative sprays in with the greenery as I go, so I'm not trying to pin down tiny pieces after the fact.

8. If you didn't tack down any decorations already, now you can add your personal touches. Visit the faux floral aisle at your nearest craft store for the perfect holiday accoutrements. Use floral pins, glue and wire to attach any extra accessories. If you want your wreath to have some extra shine, use an adhesive craft spray to lightly coat the branches, then sprinkle glitter over the top.

The perfect finishing touches

Location, location. Often a wreath is created for a specific place. Choose a color scheme that complements - or contrasts with - your decor.

What's the theme? Whether you decide on angels or poinsettias, choose a simple theme and stick to it. You don't want it to look like you bought one of everything in the craft aisle.

Pick a color scheme and stick with it. Gather only ribbons, ornaments or faux florals that match your color scheme.

Time for fun.When adding larger decorations, work in clusters. Think of a clock face and add the items at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o'clock for a symmetrical look. If you want an asymmetrical look, place items in the 3, 9 and 12 o'clock spots.

Jennifer DeCamp, Times staff writer