Monday, February 4, 2013

First Craft: Christmas Ornament Wreath (Part 1, Beginner)

November 2012 was my first foray into the "world of crafting." I was inspired by Pinterest and a specific type of wreath I had seen in some of the "big box" stores.

These wreaths featured multi-colored Christmas ornaments. Some were fuller than others: most definitely the handmade ones! The manufactured versions I saw were sparsely decorated with ornaments, and used filler like tinsel and garland. I was shocked that these were selling for retail between $39.99 and $59.99 for what I'd consider a "medium" size. 

Somewhat spontaneously, I decided I was going to try making my own Christmas ornament wreath based on a "DIY" tutorial I had seen via a post on Pinterest.  I had very little concept of how many ornaments I'd need, or how expensive that could be. Thankfully, since it was November, finding the ornaments was easy. Doing the shopping around for the best price was what was most time-consuming, though! Eventually, I found that the following stores had really good deals on packs of shatterproof ornaments: Big Lots, Wal-Mart and Home Depot. You could get 50 to 100 ornaments for around $30. This may sound like a lot of ornaments, but the tutorial told me I would need about 100, so I made sure to buy plenty.

I decided that I was going to make this wreath for my mom. I thought: if it turns out nicely, she will have something pretty to hang at Christmas (I planned to give it to her as an early present). She's impossible to shop for, so I thought she might appreciate something handmade that was NOT a deformed statue of Kristi Yamaguchi! ;) I also figured that if it turned out to be a disaster, she would A) Pretend to like it or B) I could throw it away and never speak of it to anyone. :)

I decided on using red, gold and green ornaments because red is her favorite color, and this seemed like a traditional and "safe" choice for this wreath.

In addition to the ornaments, I needed:

  • A straw wreath (14 inches)
  • Glue sticks 
  • Glue gun (I "borrowed" my mom's glue gun - my sister pretended she needed it and passed it on to me to use. :))
  • Ribbon (the wider the better!)
  • Some sort of garland/decoration to use in any empty spaces
I found the wreath, glue sticks and garland at A.C. Moore. I did shop around to see what craft store would have the best deal: we have JoAnn's, A.C. Moore, Michael's and Hobby Lobby locally. Honestly, the prices were very similar at each; I was sure to use a coupon at A.C. Moore that took 40% off the price of my wreath! (They're normally $3.99). Note: these stores will all accept competitor coupons. So, look online, in your newspaper or on an app for your smartphone to get coupons for every time you go to a craft store. Seriously, they ALWAYS have coupons floating around, so there should never be a time you go into a craft store and pay full price! (end of money-saving rant:)).

I did find that the ribbon at the craft stores was more expensive than what I could find elsewhere. Wal-Mart can have slightly lower prices on ribbon. Various dollar stores also carry seasonally decorated/colored ribbon - they had autumn themed rolls when I was there that were, unfortunately, the wrong color for what I needed.

I ended up finding a fabulous deal on red sheer wire ribbon at The Christmas Tree Shop. The tutorial said it could be sheer or solid, and the $1.99 price for a huge roll sounded great to me! Unfortunately, I didn't know at the time that I would be doing a crafting blog, or I would have kept better track of exact prices and how much ribbon, etc. I think it was a 10 yard roll and I used about half to wrap the wreath.

Thankfully, I did take photos during my wreath-making process, even though I didn't document every single step. I'll try to be more thorough now what I know people will be reading my instructions (if I ever get anyone to read this blog, that is! :)). Here is a very brief run-down of how I made the wreath, followed by progress pictures as I went along.

1. Take the plastic off of your straw wreath.

2. Hot glue the start of your ribbon to your wreath, then wrap the wreath (without cutting the ribbon until the end!) - when done, cut the ribbon and hot glue the end of the ribbon down.

3. Take ribbon and make a "hanger" for the wreath. Hot glue the ribbon in place.

4. Take the little "metal tops" off of your ornaments. 

5. Make sure the holes at the top of the ornaments are facing down (not visible). Hot glue your ornaments to the ribbon-wrapped wreath.

6. Add garland/decorations - ta da!!!

Now, this is an EXTREMELY simplified version of the process! When I made this wreath, I burned myself twice (I have a scar from one burn, still!). I hot glued the wreath to the table on more than one occasion. 

The entire thing took more than 8 hours to complete.

So I'm definitely acknowledging that it wasn't as straightforward as the process above, but that's the general idea, and I learned some tricks as I went along. I also learned more each time I made another ornament wreath. Yes, I made more - because this one turned out quite nicely, to my surprise. Also, the response when my mom and other people saw it-- wow! I had to make some more for loved ones or they would have disowned me! 

In my next blog, part 2, I will share more of the Christmas ornament wreaths I made (with pics). I'll also share some of the lessons learned as I made more wreaths; lessons that made the process a bit easier but also improved the quality of the finished products. 

Here are the photos from this project: enjoy!

P.S. - I did end up trimming the gold garland down considerably before I gave this to my mom. They looked like cat whiskers. :)))

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