Bay Leaf Wreath

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It’s getting to be that sort of holiday season, isn’t it?  I have a post coming up for you about some decorations on the cheap that I did last year, but in the interim, if you’ve got a bit more time, why don’t you make yourself a new wreath?

For some reason, at some point my mother bought an enormous bag of bulk bay leaves.  And she has used probably three of them in the past five years.  And even dried bay leaves don’t hold their flavour for five years.  Rather than throw them out, however, I thought I would make a seasonally-appropriate wreath with them instead.

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Normally when I’m making a wreath I buy a cheap ugly pre-made one from a second-hand store and then I take it apart. This time I bought a styrofoam wreath form from Michaels instead. I was SHOCKED at how expensive they are! This 11″ one cost me a whopping TWELVE DOLLARS. For a piece of styrofoam. Next time I’ll cut my own out of computer packaging or something, thank you very much … Fortunately I also found a bag of assorted jingle bells at Value Village for two dollars so that saved me. And of course I had my trusty glue gun on hand.

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The first thing I did was spray the wreath form all over silver with spray paint. Which was when I learned that even craft spray paint will dissolve styrofoam a little bit. Yikes.  I did this just in case there were any gaps in my leaves.  I wanted the whole thing to be silver.

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I wanted my jingle bells to stand in as pseudo-berries, so I wanted to spray them red. However, I wanted them to be a frosty red, so I only sprayed one side of each one with red spray paint. If you wanted to spray all sides of each jingle bell I would recommend threading them on a long string so you can get all sides evenly.

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Next I sorted out my bay leaves (pitching the broken ones) and sketched out a rough plan.

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Then I started gluing. I used smaller leaves on the outside and inside edges of the wreath, so they would fit better.

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Once I finished gluing on the leaves in the centre of the wreath, I started shoving random leaves in here and there, to fill in gaps but also to make the whole thing look a little less perfect.

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So that’s with all the leaves glued on. If my bay leaves had been fresher I would have left this as-is for a nice festive green, but of course mine were past their prime and thus looked a little sickly.

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This is my idea for how the bells were going to fit on. I was just going to group them in little batches and glue them on.

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So after I sprayed the wreath silver again to cover up all the green bits, I got my bells ready to go.

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To my dismay, however, I discovered that hot glue doesn’t stick to spray-painted bay leaves.

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In fact it just peels the paint right off.

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New plan. I grabbed my old spool of fishing twine and got to work with it.

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I strung a handful of assorted bells on a loop of twine and tied the twine in a knot to keep them tight.

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Then I simply tied the twine around the wreath form, weaving it under what leaves I could to hide it for the most part.

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Then on the back I added a spot of glue to each twine loop to hold it in place.

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And glued a nice blue ribbon on the top.

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And then I hung it up. TADA!

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Adding Festivity, the Lazy Way: Paper Wreath

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Seeing as we’re in Ottawa and not St. John’s for the majority of the holiday season, the Pie and I rarely trouble ourselves to decorate Elizabeth for Christmas.  But this little thing was so easy, and so quick, and the days here in St. John’s have been so very gray, I needed a little festivity … but I was too lazy to do anything too complicated.

So I have here some rolls of wrapping paper that I picked up from IKEA about seven years ago, and which I rarely use (seeing as I still have a chunk left).  The nice thing is that the wrapping paper, since it came on a roll, has a natural curve to it that I used to my advantage.  I also have a large paper plate with an extremely ugly design on it.  I don’t even know how I came to own these things, but I was cleaning out a cupboard and there they were … You will also need a pair of decent scissors and some tape.  Any kind, really, as you won’t see it.  A ribbon is optimal but also optional.

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First, we need to make a wreath form out of the paper plate.  If you want something bigger (or less ugly), you can make your own ring out of cardboard or whatever is handy.  With the paper plate all I had to do was cut out the middle section.

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Then I cut about a 5″ wide strip from the roll of wrapping paper.  I folded it in half lengthwise, so it was then about 2.5″ thick, and then folded it across itself widthwise a couple times, until I had a small rectangle about 2.5″ x 5″.  Or whatever works for you.  This just makes it easier to cut a bunch of leaves at once. This is where having a nice sharp, strong pair of scissors comes in handy.

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Then I cut a leaf shape out of the rectangle, leaving the bottom a little flattened (for optimal tape-age), and ended up with a handful of little leaves.  I did this twice for each colour of wrapping paper I used, so six times in total. I have no idea how many leaves it was, but it was exactly enough for the size of my project, which was pretty convenient — almost like I had a plan.

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Then I started taping them onto the plate, putting a wee bit of tape at the flattened end of the leaf, and making them kind of flow around the circle.  Don’t worry about making them arrow straight, and try to pick up different colours at random.

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When you put on the next haphazard row, it overlaps the first and hides the tape (this is called imbrication – like the layering of scales or roofing shingles).

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Imbrication … (I learned the word today so it’s rather convenient that I have this project for you)

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When you come full circle (and I don’t mean that metaphorically this time), just fold up the leaves already there and tuck the new ones into the space to fill the gap.

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So that’s the whole thing.

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I had a scrap of blanket binding leftover from the baby blanket I made for the Incredibly Little Hulk way back when, so I tied that on as ribbon.

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Then I added another ribbon to hang it on my door.

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This took me half an hour, from start to finish.  Change the colours of the paper leaves and I’m sure you could apply this wreath to any season (black and orange for Hallowe’en, purple and green for spring …).  Easy peasy, blamo kablam, it’s done!

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Imbricaaaaaaaation: an overlapping of edges as in tiles or scales.