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FURNISHINGS : A Natural Wreath for the Holidays


Take a walk in the fields and woods, and gather some cones, nuts and hard seed pods. Then, with a bit of time and effort, a few tools and basic materials, you can make some attractive and inexpensive pine cone wreaths to use as Christmas decorations.

The entire family can be involved in the collecting part of the project.

A reminder: Don't trespass--get permission from landowners before wandering on their property.

Before working with cones, nuts and other plant material, bake them for an hour to eliminate worms, beetles, borers and other insect pests that might have taken up residence and might emerge into your home as the materials warm. Arrange your gatherings in a thin layer in a shallow pan and set the oven at a low temperature.

Your tools should include pruning shears, tin snips, long-nosed pliers, kitchen shears, and a drill with a 1/8-inch bit. Wire frames for shaping your wreath are available from florists. So is No. 26 to 28 florist's wire.

For fashioning a large wreath on a wire frame, gather enough uniformly large cones for the background. Insert the stem end of each cone between the outside top and bottom wires of the frame until it hooks behind the inside top and bottom wires. Keep the cones close together all the way around, with the ends extending outward about the same distance from the frame.

Wire smaller cones, some rosettes and nuts against the large cone background. Rosettes are made by snipping cones crosswise with the pruning shears. To fasten nuts to the wreath, drill them near the stem end so you can poke a wire through each one.

Use a small wire frame for a smaller wreath. Brown florist's tape will help dress it up. Wire small cones, all about the same size, to the inside and outside of the ring. Then fill in with smaller cones, nuts and rosettes.

For a smooth finish, spray it with lacquer or varnish.

Holly sprigs and berries, bittersweet, imitation fruit, Christmas tree ornaments, bows, bells, tiny gift boxes and other items can be wired to your wreath.

If you plan to hang a wreath outdoors, use only waterproof materials.

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