Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How To: golden deer antler wreath

Shannon's sweet winter wreath
A good seasonal wreath can be hard to come by. This was brought to my attention when I saw Shannon a few weeks ago. She was keeping her Christmas gifts this year imaginative, crafty, and thrifty and made wreaths for all her loved ones using rolled felt flowers and eucalyptus sprays. They were great. She taught me a lesson as she made them, saying she didn't want to gift Christmas wreaths, which could only be enjoyed for a limited time, but rather winter wreaths: something that spoke to the glittery cold, the heartiness of the season, and the simplicity of these winter months. This got me itching to try my hand at some winter decor for our front door, whose summery straw wreath desperately required hibernation. With a few simple purchases and some digging through old craft supplies, I was able to assemble a wreath to last us through winters cold stretch. Read on for the details after the jump!

-small set of deer antlers (found at the local antique mall)
-gold leaf set
-pine tree trimmings
-2 branches glittery silk berries with leaves
-birch twigs
-1 brick OASIS floral foam
-floral tape
-small, sturdy wooden sheet (a pre-made, unfinished wooden plaque worked for me)
-2 long and 2 short wood screws
-any other embellishments: tallow berries, yarn, bows, etc
-craft knife with decent length
-wire cutters
-pruning shears

It's important to remember that any flowers, berries, or even boxwood will die outside if the temperature dips below freezing. Only evergreen branches can withstand that cold. Keep this in mind if you intend to keep the wreath out-of-doors. This is why everything else I used was silk.

Start by applying the gold leaf to the deer antler. You may need to clean them a bit first. The process can be a bit lengthy but the result is quite stunning. You can use the paint-on gold leaf or use the kit with gold leaf sheets, which I prefer. Be sure to paint the adhesive on a half hour before you plan to work on your project so that it can become tacky. While you are working on the antler, go ahead and get your floral foam soaking in some water. This is important as it will hydrate your pine once you stick it in there and it will cut down on the dust released from the foam when you go to cut it.

Once both of these items are prepped, you're ready to combine them. Take the floral foam and set it on a flat surface. Place the gold deer antler on top and press down lightly to imprint the general shape of the base into it as a guide. Remove the deer antler. Cut a hole in the shape of the deer skull into your floral foam. There is no need to cut all the way through. This will decrease the strength of the foam. Cut just deep enough so that the skull is covered but the base of the antlers are sticking out. Nestle the skull into the foam and tack by wrapping floral tape around. Next, place the foam on top of your piece of wood. The wood backer should be slightly bigger than the foam. Mark with a pencil where the bottom of the brick sits on the wood. Drill the two long wood screws into points equidistant on the line: this will help to support the floral foam when you turn it vertical. Flip the wood over and drill the two short screws into the back top. You will thread a wire between these to hang your piece when it's done.

Flip the wood back over. Place the Oasis brick with the antlers on top, with the base resting on the long screws. Tape around the entire piece with floral tape lengthwise and crosswise. It should feel pretty secure. Next, take your two silk branches. These should have wired stems. Stick each stem into the foam right next to wear the antlers are coming out. Bend the stems around each respective antler.

Now it's time to green. Gather your pine trimmings and start sticking them in symmetrically on both sides of the piece. Keep going until the floral foam and wooden backer are obscured. Add some birch branches in the top back, almost like a shadow to the antler. They will add a nice rustic feel to balance the gold glitziness. Make sure they aren't too long or they will get caught in the top of your door when you go to close it. Finally, add embellishments. I had some green and gold tallow berries and stuck those in to accent along with a yarn bow. Hang it on the door and enjoy all winter long!

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