I had planned this post to be a decorative door wreath tutorial, taking you step by step through the process of drying orange slices, decorating pine cones and bringing them all together with cinnamon sticks tied with gold twine, epitomising a traditional Christmas wreath. Idyllic.
However, back in the real world, as I have a tendency to do when starting a project from scratch, I tried to cut corners resulting in a glorious wreath #fail! Instead of starting with a wreath blank – a wire frame, a polystyrene ring or some sort of structure to my wreath, I tried to create my own. I envisaged a hexagon design using wooden skewers (to hold the orange pieces) tied together Boy Scout style creating a rustic base which could be adorned with my handmade decorations.
Looking back, it was never going to work, but mid-project I ploughed on with hopeful (or rather misguided) optimism and continued adding more pine cones, cinnamon sticks and dried orange segments.
The main problem with the wreath was that I never learned how to tie knots like a boy scout so some of the sticks were held together at the joins more with love and hope than an actual functional knot. And when the moment came to observe my masterpiece and take it to the front door where it would be hung in all its glory to receive admiring glances and approving comments, the whole thing lost its shape and looked a very sorry state indeed.
Undeterred – as ever I am when working on a homemade craft project – my creative brain took over and thoughts of Christmas tree decorations, table decor or a mantelpiece makeover swirled round my head. However, I settled on a simple solution that meant I could keep the so called ‘wreath’ intact and create an eye-catching centrepiece for my Christmas display. In its new life, my wreath became a candle ring.
I placed a pillar candle in the centre of a glass cake stand, surrounded it with dried sliced oranges and placed the ‘wreath’ ring around the candle. I added a string of battery fairy lights and ta da!! A beautiful festive decoration that looks as if it was always meant to be a candle ring.
And as if that wasn’t satisfying enough, I found a beautiful wooden wreath at the saw mill where we bought our Christmas tree and discovered a paper bag full of sliced orange segments, complete with their festive scent, in the draw with the tree ornaments. My brain is already whirring away planning Christmas Wreath Project Part II.
How to make a festive candle wreath.
Warning: This is not a quick project. However it is perfect for picking up in between other jobs as each stage in isolation doesn’t take very long. Each step is a mini tutorial in its own right – drying orange slices, adding copper foil to pine cones and constructing a candle ring.
Step 1 – Drying Orange Slices
Choose oranges that are not too juicy – I asked my greengrocer for the driest oranges he had and he looked at me perplexed! He said all his customers want juicy oranges *giggle*. Basically the juicier the orange, the longer they will take to dry.
Slice five large oranges and blot the slices with kitchen paper to remove some of the moisture. You need to keep them consistent thickness and should get about five or six slices out of each one.
You will need a baking tray with a rack so that the warm air in the over can circulate around the orange slice. Or you could use a cake rack. Don’t let the oranges touch when they’re drying. I threaded a few onto wooden skewers (which will need soaking in water before they go in the oven). However this step can be skipped as, once dry, the oranges can be threaded onto the skewers easily).
The oven should be on the very lowest setting. You don’t want to cook the oranges, just dry them. This will take an age! I left mine in for 24 hours and were still a bit sticky to touch in places (which is fine). You could maybe try leaving them in an airing cupboard once you’ve laid them on the racks, or even in a proving drawer. Let me know how you get on if you try this.
Once dried the oranges will be a lovely deep orange colour and will smell delicious.
Step 2 – Decorating Pine Cones
Cover the tips of your pine cone in foil applicator glue – I used Trimcraft First Edition Foil Glue. It will then need to dry. I left mine for a few hours. You’ll know it’s ready when the foil becomes translucent.
I used copper foil for my cones but you could use any colour – there’s a whole range of Trimcraft coloured foils.
I’ve created a short video to show you how to apply the foil once the glue has become tacky rather than wet. You can watch the video here.
Step 3 – Attaching the decorations and creating the candle ring
Thread two orange slices onto each skewer and attach the skewers together using twine. I am sure there is a technical name for the knot used to tie two sticks together but I am now aware of it. I just kept wrapping the twine round until it felt secure and finished with a basic knot.
Tie twine around the base of the pine cones and tie onto the skewers. Repeat all the way round until you have an even spread of pine cones.
To add the cinnamon sticks lay decorative twine on your work space. Lay a piece of natural twine on top. Tie the decorative twine into a bow and use the natural twine to attach the cinnamon to the skewers. Repeat filling all the gaps with cinnamon.
As I said at the beginning of this post, this was originally a wreath project but it turned into something different, but equally beautiful in the end. I have every intention of completing a wreath for my front door but whether I actually find the time to do is anyone’s guess. I’m not promising anything!