Deck the Halls: Handmade holiday creations provide personal touch
by Marie Nesmith
Dec 02, 2012 | 2508 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Encouraging people to think outside the box and use natural elements, the Adairsville Public Library and Bartow County Master Gardeners are helping individuals create one-of-a-kind holiday decorations.

On Thursday, the Adairsville Public Library will present the Make Your Own Holiday Ornaments program from 4 to 5:30 p.m. At no charge, adults will learn how to transform items — provided by the library — such as dried fruit, glass ornaments and pine cones into personalized works of art.

“I just thought that it would be nice to try a crafting program,” said Becky Stiles, branch manager for the Adairsville Public Library, 202 N. Main St. “I know that there are a lot of holiday ornaments that you can go in and purchase that are nice, but I thought that people might like the chance to give it a personal touch and create their own decorations for the Christmas tree in addition to the ones that people can buy.

“What I have in mind [is] for people to have a chance to use ... some of the clear glass ornaments that we’ve already purchased ... to either paint or put ribbon inside or decorate however they want to. I’m [also] going to try to have some nature crafts as far as some pine cones that can be spray-painted and also some ribbons that people can tie. Another thing that I have seen before with the glass ornaments that I thought people might like is they can be sort of like a yearly ornament as far as you can put messages in them for that particular Christmas so that when they bring that one out in future years, they can think back on that [holiday].”

While the library will be focusing on trimming the tree, the Bartow County Master Gardeners recently have been lending their wreath-making talents. Hosting a class on Nov. 17, Susan Butler and Kate Posey and numerous volunteers showed 15 participants the ins-and-outs of creating a wreath from natural materials.

“It was so much fun and people were so excited to be able to do it,” Posey said. “I think they were just amazed because you actually can order them [for around] $75 and we actually made it for way less than that. It was just the cost of the ribbon and the form and then the paddle wire. And then, people just were very creative. It was really interesting how each [wreath] was very different. People didn’t really have a preformed idea of how it would work.

“They just thought they would let us help them and luckily we had plenty of people that had volunteered to work with us. ... The idea is really once you learn how to make it, you can make your own anytime you want to. And because you’re using natural greenery, if it’s indoors [and you] keep it sprayed like with a water mist it’ll last about three weeks. If it’s on your outside door, you don’t even have to spray it. And then, of course, if you’re using nandina berries [and] they get dry and they fall off, you can just go and cut some more and put them in.”

Promoting natural items that can be found outdoors, the Master Gardeners provided numerous materials for the wreaths, some of which included holly, Leyland cypress, hemlock and magnolia leaves. Using a metal wreath frame, Posey said greenery can be layered and attached with paddle wire.

“[One tip is] you don’t want to make it using all just one kind of tree branches or leaves,” Posey said. “You don’t want to make it all white pine or all hemlock. You want that variety because it makes it stand out better. It’s almost got a 3-D effect.

“[You use] larger pieces on the base and then you add the shorter and smaller pine needles. [You start by taking] three or four small branches maybe 6 to 8 inches long and you wire those together individually. When you have about 20 of those, then you start laying them and overlapping them. And you go in one continuous motion all the way around the metal form. It’s absolutely beautiful.”

Describing herself as a novice in the arts-and-crafts arena, class participant Jean Hollaran was delighted to make a wreath, adorned with fir, boxwood and cedar greenery as well as berries, Christmas ornaments and pine cones.

“They made it real easy because they had different kinds of greenery that they had already cut and bundled. And they had the Christmas decorations ... [such as] natural materials that they had sprayed like the hydrangea or [other] natural [items] that you get out of your yard,” said Hollaran, a resident of White. “... They showed us how to make the wreath with the greenery and they showed us the techniques on tying the bundles on and attaching all of our other things to the wreath.

“... Then they helped us with making a very professional bow. It was a great experience for everybody that participated. [I] think we made a very professional looking wreath for our [homes]. I surprised myself by the quality of wreath that I made and everybody else’s looked like it was a very high-quality [wreath] when they got through with it. And the ladies, the Master Gardeners, made it so much fun.”