We always get a little jolt of excitement when a brown-paper book package arrives in the mail, heralding the arrival of a brand-new design title. This month—while knee-deep in holiday decorating—we were doubly jazzed to get our hot little mitts on The Wreath Recipe Book by Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo of the ever-creative Studio Choo in San Francisco. Though the title is a bit of a misnomer, this smart little how-to hardcover is packed—and we mean wall-to-wall, and then some, packed—with original ideas for creating conversation-starting wreaths, swags, garlands, place settings and napkin rings, centerpieces, and floral arrangements.
The Wreath Recipe Book, by the same authors at The Flower Recipe Book, is split into two main sections. The first covers the supplies you’ll need (many of them—like grapevine wreaths, thread, fishing line, ribbon, wire, glue, and spray paint—are common), proper branch-cutting technique, how to attach blooms and other extras, how to keep your flowers hydrated and looking fresh, and basic step-by-step instructions for building hanging forms and vase arrangements. The second part is divided into seasons, with a variety of wreaths and arrangements you can craft from in-season branches, flowers, and foliage.
The only minor drawbacks are that while the plant material used in the book is plentiful in the western United States, some of it may not be so easy to source from florists or nurseries elsewhere. And several recipes contain branches with fruit and/or berries that can be toxic if eaten, so the finished projects need to be kept out of the reach of kids and pets.
That said, we love that instead of guiding you toward some elusive ideal of domestic-goddess perfection, Alethea and Jill acknowledge that certain plants can be a bit challenging to tame, and they encourage you to let nature—including any plant and flower combinations in your local area that resonate with you—take its own shape. The result is wreaths, swags, and arrangements that have a rustic, organic, effortless look, as if they spontaneously came together on your wall or table. We’re also inspired by their mix of the unusual (nandina, pepperberry, pistachio leaves) and the common (bittersweet, marigold, maple leaves) in harmonious, well-balanced arrangements that make you look twice. And what’s not to love about their philosophy on wreaths, which they describe as a way to “celebrate day-to-day living and bring the outdoors into our homes even when the holidays are far off”?
Want to get crafty with us this weekend? We’re making this Acacia Wreath. Here’s how:
Acacia Recipe 3: Wreath
Excerpted from The Wreath Recipe Book by Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2014. Photographs by Paige Green.
- 6 branches of ivy
- 6 branches of acacia
- 3 wired succulents*
- 3 wired amaryllis blooms*
- Double-ring wreath frame
- Paddle wire
1. Attach two ivy branches to the upper left of the double-ring wreath frame with paddle wire.
2. Wire two acacia branches to the frame just below the ivy, and secure them with paddle wire.
3. Continually wrapping with paddle wire, alternate two ivy branches and two acacia branches as you work your way around the frame.
4. Attach the wired succulents to the bottom of the frame using their wire ends, and finish by attaching the wired amaryllis blooms, two on the left side of the succulents and one on the right side.
* Wiring is a way to attach a piece of fruit, a flower, a leaf, or another object to a project. A straight wire can be wrapped around an object or stem, or threaded through the base, then secured in place by twisting the wire around the back side of the project.
Like what you see? We’ve partnered with Artisan Books to give one lucky reader their very own copy of The Wreath Recipe Book! Check out the Rafflecopter entry form below for 4 easy ways to enter! Contest ends on Sunday, December 28 at 11:59 p.m. EST. Continental US/Canada entrants only. View the full details.
Congratulations to our winner, Nancy from Puerto Rico!