Crafts · Holiday

Tutorialish: Grapevine Wreath

I have Opinions about seasonal decorations.

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My entire Facebook feed beginning in mid-August. Calm down, Karen, we live in North Carolina and there won’t be any hoodie-wearing weather until December.

Now let me just say, if you want to keep your Halloween decor up all year around because that’s one of the few ways you can wring a drop of joy from this dismal world, then you do you. But am I the only one who thinks things are more special when they’re Limited Time Only? Hanging up Christmas stuff in August is like eating peaches in December – just really leaves you wishing it was time for the real thing. In our house, Halloween decorations don’t go up until October and the Christmas season doesn’t start until December.

Yes, I said DECEMBER.

That being said, I did find myself strolling through the fall stuff at the craft store. I’m only human. And it was all 40% off.

You will be shocked to learn, I also have Opinions about fall/Halloween decorations. I’m a pretty big horror fan, but I trend towards Gothic horror – give me that haunted mansion, dripping with cobwebs and freaking infested with Gray Ladies…

And dark birds shrieking harbingers of doom…

And the giggling ghosts of children whose tiny skeletal hands trail through your hair as you pass through an ornately carved doorway into a shadowed library with a guttering fire struggling to emit just the barest breath of warmth…

Where a mysterious group of attractive people has gathered in secret because this time, it’s all going to be different. This time, the curse will finally be broken.

*cough* Anyway, it happens that we are in the market for a fall wreath. I surveyed my options, looking for a festive wreath that really celebrated the death and decay of autumn, but, like, in a pretty way, and I landed on the one below. However, it was $40. “I could make that,” I muttered to myself, which is how I get myself into so many situations. I’m the kind of cheap where I won’t spend $40 on a wreath but I will drop $60 on supplies to make a wreath.

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My inspiration photo. I’m not crazy about cotton as a decorative element, though.

This was supposed to be a tutorial, wasn’t it?

The first thing you need to make a grapevine wreath is, well, a grapevine wreath. These are nice decorations all by themselves in a kind of Scandinavian rustic way, and they’re fairly cheap. You’re also going to need thin wire (there will be lots of colors to coordinate with your project), wire snips, pliers, and a hot glue gun.

Then you need stuff. This is where it starts to get overwhelming, because the average craft store is going to have a lot of stuff. That’s kind of their whole deal. I like to start with an inspiration photo, or a color palette, or even one special item around which I want to build the wreath. Keep the colors of your door/entryway/wherever you’re planning to hang the wreath in mind as well. We have a black front door, so dark wreaths don’t work.

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When I’m mixing colors, no matter whether fabric or in another medium, I like to plug in my earbuds and go into a kind of craft store reverie. This will seriously annoy your partner and/or children, so bribe them with whatever will get them to go away and let you wander in peace for a while. Then just start putting stuff in your cart. Mix and match. Hold up things together. Put stuff back. Stand away from your cart and observe it from a distance. Take a picture with your phone and look at that – it will give you a different perspective. People will think you’re weird. So what.

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I ended up with two floral swags (these are great; you can remove the flowers from the swag or just wrap the whole thing around the wreath, and they’re often cheaper than purchasing the same amount of individual fake floral items) and a cartful of other odds and ends. But it wasn’t until I found the string of outdoor-safe twinkle lights that I really started to giggle to myself. Note that these were nowhere near the floral section of the craft store! Wandering is essential. Do a lap around the store before you start making your selections.

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And do keep an eye on prices to avoid serious register shock. In all honesty, even with sales and coupons, the pre-made wreaths are probably going to be cheaper because you will need to buy so many individual elements to make your own. As you build up wreath supplies, you’ll be able to shop your stash a bit more (I already had the wreath base and the dark purple gingko (?) leaves), but this is, sadly, not a cheap craft. Sorry.

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To make the wreath, I twisted the two swags together and wrapped the lights around that, secured all three with the wire, then wired it to the wreath base. Remember it needs to resist gravity, so don’t be shy with the wire. I usually make my wreaths somewhat asymmetrical, so I liked that the swags were a bit larger than the base as it gave me a neat little overlapping fullness at the bottom, but I also could have trimmed them to fit the wreath.

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After adding the initial background elements to the wreath, stand back and assess. Just because something isn’t symmetrical doesn’t mean it can’t be balanced. Where is it too full? Where is it too sparse? Time to break out the glue gun – smaller elements can balance out the wreath while adding depth with coordinating colors. Let it sit again. Tszuj it a little bit.

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Then… stop. Knowing when to stop is just as important – if not more so! – than knowing when to add more. I think it’s a common impulse to keep jamming more crap onto a project, but at some point, especially with something like a wreath, it all gets to be too much. I like a little negative space on a wreath, a little trailing element here or there. Find your own balance based on your aesthetic.

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Making a grapevine wreath is not difficult. It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t really need a tutorial so much as permission to just start wiring and gluing. These are not time-intensive (actually making the wreath took about an hour), and it’s so satisfying to see your own handiwork on your front door.

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Try it!

 

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