Runawaykiwi getting excited over Christmas Wreaths

There is only one thing that can cause that facial expression (well…two things but only one is blog appropriate), that would be the magical mince pie flavoured world of Christmas Wreath making. For someone who doesn’t decorate her flat at Christmas, making a wreath and donating it to work is my token lovebug for the season. After last year’s traditional wreath this time I decided to do something a little different, a red barked dogwood air plant wreath.

Ok that might have been a little blog lie, when I say ‘decided’ I actually mean that I wanted to hang out with Angloyankophile and she happened to be going to a Geo-Fleur wreath class. Like the original gate crasher that I am I went along too.

Redbark dogwood Christmas wreath

The thing I really liked about the dogwood wreath as opposed to a traditional one is that you don’t have to go to the bother of amputating a fir tree in order to make it. And side benefit, a dogwood wreath won’t die away with your end of year regrets, you can use it again and again.

Step one is to chill out after a glass or two of wine and order dogwood sticks, a copper wreath ring and some decorations off the internet. Let’s all be a little honest here, unless you are half cut you are not likely to actually have the motivation to spontaneously make a Christmas wreath…so wine is, as ever, important.

Once you have sobered up and your internet supplies have arrived it’s time to get your craft on. Start by weaving the dogwood sticks in and out of the copper circlet, no glue or wire here it’s the weaving of the dogwood that will keep it in place. Don’t worry if they don’t appear to hold fast at first, just keep weaving the dogwood in and out until it starts to build up. Now it is super important at this stage to pretend you are Harry Potter and try to conjure a patronus, and then stop when Angloyankphile looks at you with concern.

Once you have built up your wreath (or used up all your dogwood, whichever comes first) it is time to start decorating. If you are using live plants (like the air plants we used) then you will need to use special florist glue, but for anything else just hot glue those suckers on. I would say let your imagination run wild with the decorations, but then your wreath would most likely end up with half a box of crisps and a wild fox glued to it…so try to stick to Christmas themed stuff.

We had berries, eucalyptus and air plants to play with and I have to say I am pretty damn happy with my finished wreath. I have (as always) donated it to work where I will attempt to keep the plants alive until Christmas!

Flor Unikon

Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas, there are lights up everywhere and it is now 100% acceptable to drink during the daytime as long as its ‘mulled’. I had somehow avoided any festive fancies until last week, where I kicked off Christmas with an event hosted by Three Mobile. They gave each blogger a Samsung Galaxy Alpha and then took us to Flor Unikon to learn to make traditional Christmas wreaths. It is such a bizarre activity that I had never considered, but the inner crafter in me was instantly up for it.

Pruining a tree for a Christmas wreath

There were a few bumps on my road to the wreath…I left the phone on my desk at work and a colleague took it thinking it was theirs. Normally not a problem, however a massive problem when they are about to get on a train at Paddington and the event is that night. In a bit of a panic I ran (YES RAN) to the tube, and went a bit James Bond as I tried to race to Paddington before the train left. About the time the tube got to Kings Cross I knew I was doomed, the train was leaving in two minutes. But then I got a cryptic text (love the wifi on the underground) telling me that when I got to Paddington to leave the train, go to the top of the stairs and ask for Phil. I followed the instructions and the lovely TFL man handed me the Alpha – It was a true Christmas miracle!

Christmas wreath being wired

Anyway, now that I have given the Three PR a heart attack…onto the Christmas wreath making! Flor Unikon is the cutest little florist just near Angel Station. It is the nursery rhyme version of a florist with wooden floors, and at this time of year Christmas bits and bobs everywhere. After a quick glass of mulled wine and a tutorial to get us started it was wreath time.

As with most journeys in life, you start with a little pruning. Each of us was given a branch from a Christmas tree and the task was to cut it into manageable wreath pieces. The trick was to first go for the pretty short pieces, and then cut up the bigger bits of the branch by using clever angled cuts to the back; that way all you see is green and no ugly brown branch shows through.

Christmas wreath with no decorations

You start building around a straw base, holding a few bits of green at a time against it and wrap wire around the ends to keep it all in place. Then you layer the next bits of green on top and again wire in place. Making your way around the base (stopping for a short gingerbread break) you keep going until all the straw is covered. Once I had tied off my wire and had a perfect green wreath, Mr Flor Unikon came over and told me that it was very tight and symmetrical and looked like the first wreath he ever made…when he was six. I choose to take this as a compliment.

Then was the tricky bit, deciding what to decorate it with. There were nuts, dried fruit, berries, shiny baubles and all sorts of other Christmas decorations lining the shelves in the florist. We could just grab what we wanted…but what the hell did I want? Honestly, when you have a perfect bushy wreath anything you put on it looks too try hard.

Christmas wreath bring glued

I started by dotting some super mini pine cones around, then layered on berries, crab apples and cinnamon. Then was the final test, we could choose to be traditional and individually wire all the ornaments on, but after one go where I mangled a berry and stuck myself with wire I got a bit hangry and decided to hot glue gun the rest. A good life choice me thinks.

The wreath making class is such a unique fun thing to do in the lead up to Christmas, I highly recommend as a gift for the person who has everything. And as for the Samsung Galaxy Alpha? After being a devoted iPhone user for so many years I found it really hard to navigate, I swear swiping in any direction took you to a new part of the phone. But the camera on the night seems light-years ahead of the iPhone (and the camera is after all all that a blogger cares about) and I was raving about it up until I got the photos back from the PR…I think rather than the camera being better it might actually be the screen resolution which makes the pictures appear so much better. Looking at them on a computer screen and comparing them to the iPhone photos I took on the night they look much of a muchness.

Have you got any super Christmassy crafting planned?

Traditional Christmas Wreath

Postcard photo

My parents both turned 60 this year (they first met when they failed science together in high school) and for ages I was stuck for how to celebrate with them. I mean I was across the world, not so easy to plan a party, make a speech or even just hug them on their birthday. So I came up with quite possibly my most elaborate craft product to date, this is the story of the 60 postcards.

I took it back to the most basic form of communication we have from across the globe, not even a heart filled letter just the simple picture postcard. But these were, of course a little different. I designed the 60 postcards to be an elaborate birthday speech from my sister and I, with a few messages from their friend as well, and then got them all printed by the Big Robot at Moo.

IMG_3859
The postcards started with photos from the trips we had taken together, with text hidden in billboards or on menus. Then we had the messages from their friends. Remember that scene in Love Actually when that guy from the Walking Dead declares his love for Keira Knightly? Well those cards were the example I used when asking all their friends for help. What I got back were pictures of everyone who loves them holding some of the funniest, most sincere and downright rude birthday messages I have ever seen.

So one by one I sent these messages across the globe, between them all they covered 1,099,500km and not a single one went missing!

My parents were vastly confused at first when they started receiving one post card a week, and I can only imagine what the postman thought as he delivered them in ones and twos over five months. But they loved them (I think!), and without doubt it made me feel one hell of a lot more involved in their celebrations from the other side of the world.

My favourite pair of shoes I have ever owned were a pair of silver sequined Alice & Olivia Keds. They looked like I was wearing disco balls on my feet and made me feel awesome in any outfit (admittedly to others I may have looked like an overgrown 3 year old).

But after wearing them non-stop for about a year, the sparkly Keds came to an unfortunate yet predictable end. What is a skint girl in London to do? Make her own!

Sparkle Shoes

I found some white canvas flats from Office that were on sale for £8.  Next step was to go to a dodgy haberdashery under a railway arch and be taken into a back room to be shown sparkles. Yeah, pretty much as bad as it sounds. However I did leave with some pretty blue sparkles for £5.

I used my industrial Araldite glue in the hopes that it would hold the shoes together on these mean London streets (check back in a few weeks to see how that pans out). The other crucial bit of tech was the old ‘bluetac on the end of a makeup brush’ – it made it so much easier to grab the little sparkly suckers!

Rather than covering the entire shoe, I went for the ‘kicked a bucket of sparkles’ technique…love the finished look!

Finished Sparkle Shoes