Monday, December 2, 2013

Who Sat on My Wreath?

Have you ever seen or do you have artificial wreaths, roping or swags that look like a 200 pound elephant sat on them?  It's the result of packing them away all year in cramped boxes, dirty garages, damp basements or hot attics.

Often these decorations are used year-after-year without ever bringing them back to pristine condition.  It's a mighty sad wreath that is all scrunched up, with faded ribbons and smelling faintly of mildew.

There's some inexpensive answers to restoring your artificial greenery to look like real live greenery and it isn't all that difficult.

This is a photo from the Distinctive Gardens (Dixon IL) Facebook page.  This live wreath was created by Bud LeFevre.  This is what a wreath (live or artificial) should look like - full, loose and natural.

To turn old artificial greenery back into a display piece, try these hints:

Remove all decorations (ribbons, bulbs, lights and etc.) until it's just the greenery and frame.  Throw away any damaged, stained, or non functioning decorations.  

Determine if the greenery is made of plastic or paper.
If plastic:  Fill the tub with warm water containing a mild dish washing detergent and about a cup of white vinegar.  Swish the greenery around in the mixture until dirt and mildew are released.  Don't let it sit or the metal frame may rust.  Rinse and let totally dry.
If paper:  Take outside and gently bang it on the side of a fence or pole.  This is only to shake the dirt loose.  If the paper has mildew, throw it away because there's no way to bring it back and it's not healthy to have in the house.  Using a soft dry cloth, gently wipe over the branches.  Shake again.  Let hang outside (out of the elements) for a few hours to freshen.   Paper greenery may never look new again but if you enjoy the vintage look, they're perfect.

Once the pieces are clean and dry, it's time to shape.  This is the process often neglected.

Start working your way from one point.  Gently take each branch and straighten it out from the frame.  Do this for the entire piece.  If the piece hangs against a flat surface, bring all branches out to the front and sides with none in the back.   If the greenery has pine cones or twig branches, make sure they are also pulled out even and not crunched up against the piece.  

Step back to observe if any branches need to be moved to make the piece even with no bare spots.

This is when you may add decorative pieces.  The sky is the limit and these decorations (or none if you choose) are all about your taste and whimsy.  Some of the things I've used and how:

I use ribbon with wire edges if I want a certain design.  I use without the wire edges if I want a more elegant drape.  Ribbon should be removed at the end of the season and smoothed so it will be in decent shape next year.

Pine cones may be used (either natural or painted) by wrapping wire around the stem end.  Wire these cones to the frame.  I take these off at the end of the season and put in a zip lock bag to keep from attracting insects or having sap stick to other things.

I pack my artificial greenery away in plastic tubs but they'll require straightening each year.  There is other storage made for wreaths or they can be covered in a plastic bag and hung on the wall.  I wouldn't store where they get too hot and never where they could get damp.

Does it take effort to have artificial greenery look like an interior designer's creation in your favorite magazine?  Yes it does, but, unless you want "the elephant sat on my greenery" look, it's worth the effort.  For those of you with an economical side, you can take most any artificial greenery from your neighborhood thrift store and bring it back to beauty.  Yes, it's worth the effort.


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