Sunday, December 20, 2015

Holiday Wreath: How to make a horse head wreath!


My apologies for how long it has taken for me to sit down and write this post. Hopefully, the information has been worth waiting for!

Last year I saw a few photos of horse head shaped wreaths on Facebook and Pinterest so I decided to make my own. Searches for information on how to make them led to unsatisfactory instructions so I struck out to figure things out for myself. This is what works for me and I really like the look of my wreaths but I encourage you to try something different and let me know how it goes!

Tools: garden sheers, wire, wire cutters,
floral picks and preservative.

Start by determining the shape and size of your wreath. Mine are quite large. I like to really fill in the door. I've seen them with more extreme curves through the neck, smaller, all kinds of shapes. Using a large piece of paper (I use pattern drafting paper but anything that will accommodate your desired dimensions will work), draw out your horse head. This took me awhile. I have some great tools from my work in fashion which helped me perfect my curves. Don't obsess TOO much but getting the shape right from the start makes everything else much easier.

Once you have your shape, you can cut out your frame. I use a plastic coated chicken wire I buy in a package from Home Depot. With the dimensions I chose, I can cut about 10 frames from one package. Lay the paper pattern on top of the wire and using wire cutters, cut the approximate shape.

The first layer of greens is wired onto the frame.
Next you will add your greens. I use Fraser Fur for the base and white pine for the forelock and mane. I use regular floral wire to attach the bits of greenery. Start at the tip of the nose and the bottom of the body and work your way up layering the greens. I find you can't just plop branches on and be done. It won't be full enough everywhere. You need to cut bits off the branches and wire them into the bare spots. This takes me about two hours. I'm very picky. This year the Fraser Fur was not great so it took more time. I really had to fill in where branches were sparse.

Once all the greens have been wired on and
the mane and forelock have been added, spray
with preservative.
For most of the wiring, I find smaller pieces of wire - 2 - 3" - are easier to handle. Longer pieces leave too much excess at the back of the wreath. When adding the White Pine on top, you will need slightly longer pieces of wire since they will have to wrap around more than just the wire frame. White Pine can grow in long or short branches. I like to take advantage of the different lengths to make a more natural look for the mane. I will cut several branches of different lengths, wire them together at the top and then wire them onto the wreath. The White Pine is a bit tougher to put onto the wreath securely without having messy wire showing.

Once your greens are secure cut a very long piece of wire, about 3 - 4 feet, fold it in half, put the loop end into the back of the wreath frame and bring the ends of the wire through the loop, around a piece of the frame. This will be your hanger. I put mine close to the mane so that my wreath hangs with its nose pointing down a bit.

I spray all my wreaths at this point. I use a preservative purchased at the garden center which will keep my wreath looking fresh and green for most of the winter. Considering the amount of work that goes into making this wreath, you will likely want to keep it up as a decoration well past Christmas. It is worth preserving. Last year I kept mine up into March and it never turned brown.

Next you will want to decorate your wreath. I find it easiest to do the crown first, followed by the halter and then finish with the nose and eye. It is easier to place the nose and eye properly once the halter is on the head.

For my crown pieces I like to do a mixture of pine cones, berries, juniper, and a cinnamon stick but the crown decor can be whatever you like. I have seen one large, glittery flower which has great punch and is visible from a distance. Last year I went with more natural, subdued tones. Regardless, the purpose of this decoration beyond making the wreath more lovely, is to cover up the ends of the white pine which make up the forelock and the mane. Be careful not to fully cover your ear with your crown decoration. Some of the items I use come on a pick with wire, some I add a pick and some I add using long pieces of floral wire.

Now for the halter. I believe what sets my wreaths apart from all others are the awesome halters I make. You can use ribbon to make a simple ribbon halter as shown in the photo below. It looks nice and is very easy to do with a hot glue gun. However, I think it is worth going a step further and making halters to fit the wreaths, as seen to the right. To make the halter you need 1" wide webbing, ribbon less than 1" wide, velcro and brass rings. When the greens are on your wreath, measure to determine how long each piece needs to be. I make mine in 4 pieces. The nose band and throat and crown pieces velcro in the back. I add an extra brass loop as a faux attachment for a lead rope. When cutting the webbing, be sure to use a hot knife or burn the ends a little with a match so they don't fray. I suppose I could write an entire how to on making the halters but basically, I cut the ribbon lengths longer than the webbing and use the ribbon to wrap around the brass loops, stitching down the ends of the ribbon.

Once you've determined the halter type you will be using, place it on the wreath.  If you are using the more permanent webbing type halter and choose to add a brass name plate as I have done, you may need to use wire or picks on the back of the name plate to secure it to the wreath so that it doesn't droop from the weight of the metal. Once the halter is securely in place, add your eye and nose. I love the seed pod for an eye but they are rather large. If you use a seed pod, just cut a long piece of wire, push it through the back of the pod and wire it into place. I use a pine cone nose and use floral wire wrapped around the pine cone to attach it to the wreath.

Please let me know if you have more questions or would like better instructions for making the halters. I'm contemplating making a kit for people which would include the frame, a halter and possibly the decorations for the crown, eye and nose. I sold my wreaths this year and it was a ton of fun but shipping them was a bit crazy. I shipped one to my sister in Oregon and it cost over $60 to ship. The box, bubble wrap and other shipping supplies were also a little nuts. However, I shipped 3 wreaths and all 3 made it in good shape! I may try to redesign the wreath size and shape for shipping for next year to find something a little easier to box up.

If you have one of my wreaths or plan to make one, I encourage you to recycle. It does take time to undo all that wire on the back but the plastic coated chicken wire holds up really well. Once you have the frame and the halter, making your wreaths year after year is pretty simple and just takes a little time.

I have seen wreaths made with fake greens. If you insist on having an artificial wreath, buy the more expensive, branch style greens and wire it together as I've explained above. If you use the fake garland and snake it onto the frame you just cannot get that lovely, natural layered look that is so pleasing.

I love my wreaths. I love making them and now, I hope you will as well!




5 comments:

  1. Brilliant details you have kept in your article, I am truly impressed. Salisbury Farms

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  2. very nice illustration on horse wreath. Visit Horsi for getting information of horse training and education center. It is the biggest equestrian community of Australia.

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  3. As always, a simple concept, accessorized properly, makes a stunning presentation. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Wow, this is really a great post, Going to share it with my wife as she always look for something like that to experiment. Thank you for posting it

    ReplyDelete