Saturday, December 3, 2011

Use What You Have

There has been lots of decorating going on this week at the little yellow cottage, but I needed a wreath for our side door and it had to be somewhat flat since we have a storm door.  So many wreaths are too thick and the storm door won't close.  Ever have that problem?   But, I thought I had a solution and it was laying on the ground in our back yard.

I had been looking at these things laying all over the ground under out magnolia tree since the tree bloomed.  They are hard like pine cones but look slightly different.  Of course Dan is less than crazy about them because they litter the ground and create issues when mowing during warm weather.  Of course, I kept looking at them and thinking they had to be useful for something -- just wasn't sure what.   That's the way my mind works.

I did a little research on Wikipedia and found out these things are called carpels.  They are the big center in a magnolia flower.  After the tree blooms, they harden and fall to the ground.  They are what create new magnolia trees -- the seed.  At Thanksgiving the solution to how to use them came to me.  I can make a wreath from all those carpels.  Fortunately, our grandsons were MORE than happy to gather a bunch of them for me which made me very happy.  They managed to fill a medium sized box in no time (and there are still tons of them on the ground).  A special thanks to H and Z for all their work!!

I started by wrapping a wire wreath form with ribbon so they would have something to adhere to.  You have probably seen those wreath forms in the craft stores.  They are green and have several wires with big gaps between them.  Needless to say, I forgot to take a picture before I wrapped it.  This is how it looked after it was wrapped.
As  you can probably tell by the picture, these forms are very flat which is just what was needed to fit between the doors.  It is a 16 inch form and I wrapped it very tightly with ribbon like I did for the ornament wreath tutorial I posted earlier this week.

Next, I fired up the hot glue gun and began arranging the carpels on the ribbon in a random pattern.  I glued  them  in different directions for interest and then added a few small ones to the top of the first layer so that there would be some definition.  It looks like this.
Using the glue gun, I just spread a lot of glue on one side of the carpel and then attached it to the wreath form.  It took some playing around with them before they were glued down so that they looked the way I wanted.  After the whole wreath was filled, I decided to paint it to highlight the interesting textures of the carpels.  I had Krylon paint left from painting pumpkins for Thanksgiving.  There was shiny gold and a color called latte which is kind of a pewter color.  The latte went on first for a base coat and then the gold.  I used brown craft paper to cover the ground and sprayed away.  Here is how it looked.

Love the way the paint highlighted the textures of the carpels!  Now, it needed a bow.  Red velvet of course - my favorite.  I also added some jingle bells and then hung it on the door.  You can see the finished product in the picture at the beginning of the article.

This wreath cost very little.  The wire frame was just a few dollars at Michael's.  The paint was left from another project and the ribbon was used in all my other decorating.  You may have pine cones or a sweet gum tree with all those annoying things we always called gum balls, or even a magnolia tree.  Pods and large seeds are so interesting and cost nothing other than the effort to pick them up!  This is a great way to use what you have.  These would make lovely gifts - you could even make candle rings by using small wreath forms.  How about a wedding reception?  They could be sprayed white or any color and sprinkled with diamond dust.  How gorgeous that would be!

Hope this inspires you to look around and think about how you can use things you already have that would make your project cost very little.  It's all about inspiration!

Everyday Donna

Things to Remember:

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”  Arthur Ashe

1 comment:

  1. Donna, I really enjoyed your lesson on learning they were carpels-they looked like pine comes to me, until you pointed it out! I agree that often the best materials are already around us!