Magazine article Sunset

Our Western Wreath

Magazine article Sunset

Our Western Wreath

Article excerpt

WHAT YOU NEED

* 18-inch grapevine wreath base (available at craft stores)

* Twigs (at least 15, each about 8 inches long)

* Evergreen boughs (at least three types), cut into 4- and 6-inch sprigs

* Florist's wire (green)

* Wire cutter

* 12 to 16 cinnamon sticks

* Raffia

* 20 dried red chilies

* 9 to 15 small apples

* Florist's picks (green)

* 15 dried apple slices

* 20 dried orange slices

* Eucalyptus twigs, in 4- to 6-inch lengths

* Fresh nandina and pepper tree berries (or other berries, such as holly)

* 15-inch-long curly willow twigs

Capture the season's abundance with fruits and greens

* Last Christmas, we were captivated by the elegant wreaths designed by Jeff Thibodeaux for the Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe. They ranged from simple clusters of chilies to elaborate concoctions of exotic flowers and spiraling curly willows. He inspired us to make our own wreath that incorporates natural, easy-to-find materials and is a snap to make (in less than four hours).

"You don't have to be artistic [to make a wreath]," says Thibodeaux, who has taught classes on the subject. "What makes a wreath special is how you arrange the materials." Aim for a pleasing balance of foliage and fruit (or flowers), Thibodeaux suggests. If you space apples too symmetrically, a wreath will look stilted and formal. Opt for an uneven number of focal points, such as three or five clusters of fruit. Start at the 10 or 11 o'clock position and place large items casually around the circle, so the composition looks pleasantly balanced.

But just as important are the greens, fruits, and herbs you choose; different colors and textures are what give our wreath its richness.

For our wreath, we covered an 18-inch grapevine base with evergreens (Douglas fir, pine, and juniper, plus eucalyptus leaves to add paler shadings of green). Then we added twigs, small green lady apples, cinnamon sticks, red chilies, green (unripe) nandina berries and red pepper tree berries, and dried orange and apple slices, but you can use whatever seasonal foliage or fruits you like. Replace fresh ingredients (like apples) as needed.

DIRECTIONS

Assemble your wreath

Add twigs to the vine wreath base (a)

Space them evenly around the wreath's perimeter and set them at a slight angle (not straight out like the spokes of a wheel). Push them firmly between the vines.

Make a garland of greens (b)

1. Separate the evergreen sprigs into piles by type.

2. Make a bundle containing one sprig of each type of evergreen, with the lightest-colored greens on top. …

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