Monday, November 28, 2011

Wooden Cut-out Christmas Wreath

I love wreaths.  Last year I wanted to make about 15 different kinds and hang them all on one wall in my living room as a giant wreath statement.  I wound up not doing that because between a full-time job, raising a then 3-year-old and 16-year-old and living my life, there wasn't a whole lot of free time for making 15 different wreaths.  But this year, I decided to go for one-I-can-do-this-with-my-kid-and-it-will-be-fun-wreath.  And do you know what happened?  We did do it and it was fun, and it was finished before December 1st!  

Emily and I had a lot of fun making this.  It's super easy, and a great project for mommies, daddies, big kids and littles alike.  It's great for any skill level and can be customized to any color scheme.  Keep reading for instructions on how we made ours:

Materials used:
Acrylic paints
Glitter paint
Wooden cut outs (we used an assortment of paint-yourself Christmas ornaments, pre-painted wooden cut-outs and a bag of wooden shapes)
17" styrofoam ring (we used one with flat sides instead of rounded)
Glue gun and glue sticks
A bit of ribbon
Plastic/paper to cover surfaces
A little person (or people) to help

First, sort out all of your materials.  Everyone should pick what they are going to paint so that fighting is minimized during the process.  
Next, begin to sort out the wooden shapes.  We picked this bag up for about $6 and it had an assortment of hearts, stars, squares, circles and leaf/petal/oval shaped wooden pieces.  These are really great for little hands who might only have the attention span for 5-10 minutes.  Emily managed to sit and paint for about 3 hours before losing interest for other things.
Sorting the shapes was great for Emily, and she enjoyed the process, but it'd be equally fun for 2-year-olds and a way to help reinforce/teach what the different shapes are.  We used the petal/oval shapes to make leaves on the wreath and we wound up using almost all of the ovals in the bag.  So if you go this route, make sure that you have enough of your base color because between this and the styrofoam, you go through a LOT of paint.
Emily's gingerbread men (she was very proud of the dots)
Next step - start painting!  Anything goes.  I wanted a toy/kid theme for our wreath.  Combined, it took both of us painting throughout one afternoon and me finishing up some more detailed pieces the next morning to get everything done.  Of course, if you do a smaller wreath or less detail or go with more of the finished cut-outs, it will take less time.  More hands would also help to decrease the time.
(my breakfast session)
After painting, you can begin the assembly.  I started with the leaves.  I simply stuck the leave shapes in the side of the wreath.  I didn't measure, or try to line things up evenly.  I staggered them so it looked more layered and I pointed some at different angles.  The color variation in the pictures is from Emily and I mixing some yellow and white into the green paint just to give it a little variation.  We used foam brushes to paint the styrofoam, and even though it made for quick application, it destroys the brushes, so just keep that in mind if you decide to go that route.
After all of the leaves have been inserted, you can begin to place all of your cut-outs.  Again, I didn't get technical with this - I just placed things around and re-arranged items until I liked the arrangement.  Emily had a lot of opinions on where things should go, so we had fun compromising. 
After getting the right arrangement, it's time to glue.  I used a hot glue gun and worked in small areas.  I kept all of the pieces on the wreath, and only removed 3-5 pieces at a time.  You can see that I have a lot of overlap, so if you go the same route, just be sure to start gluing from the bottom up.  Emily's job during this phase was to hand me new glue sticks and help wipe away the "spider webs" that the glue gun glue creates.  I used a small piece of ribbon on the back and glued it down in a loop in order to hang the wreath.
And here's the finished piece with my very sassy Dora nightgown model.  She was very proud of her pieces and there are even some cut-outs that we painted together.  It's definitely something all ages can enjoy!

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