Thursday, January 20, 2011

Getting Centered

When I was 14 years old, my neighbor got married. This wasn't just any neighbor, this was Liz. Liz moved in next door when I was 6. I think she was just out of college, which made her young by my current standards, but it gave her a goddess like status for me at the time. She was the coolest neighbor a girl could ever hope for. For my birthdays she would give me handmade gift certificates for things I could redeem all year: free slurpee, free dinner at Chi-Chi's, free ice cream cone, etc. I always loved the stuff, but the best part about those presents was getting to spend time with Liz. I wanted to grow up and be just like her. When I was 14 she got married and it was so exciting, it was one of the first grown up weddings I had been to and I loved every minute of it.

From where I stood she was the perfect bride: creative, crafty, beautiful and happy. It shouldn't surprise anyone that I thought of her wedding when I found out I would be having one of my own. One of the things from her wedding that I always remembered were her centerpieces. Liz could make anything. Her basement craft area used to be my favorite place to sit for hours. I would look at all of her materials and crafts while she worked away. She decided that she didn't want flowers as the traditional centerpiece and instead had lovely wicker like wreaths with beautiful ribbon bows around a candle in hurricane glass. Fast forward 22 years to my own wedding and I decided that I would have something similar.

I kept the wreath idea, and the candle in the hurricane class. I looked at many lovely wicker and wood like wreaths, but none of them looked the same way I remembered hers looking. Reading through many blogs I came across the idea I later settled on: a ribbon wreath. Beautiful and simple, made from grosgrain ribbon - it was perfect.
Here's my mom showing their elegance!

Again - these work great for a wedding, but they would work great for a number of occasions. Depending on the color of ribbon you choose, they could work as wreaths you hang on the wall for all holidays.

I have a few tips for you so that you can avoid come of the mistakes I made along the way.
The Supplies:
Grosgrain Ribbon 50-55 strips 16" in length (This is a lot of ribbon, but very affordable if bought in bulk at
Styrofoam Wreath, Extruded Ring (available at Michael's for around $5)
Good Cutting Scissors
A Lighter

My mom was amazing and cut all of the ribbon for 15 wreaths for me. When I started to assemble the wreaths, I hit a road block. What is the one thing I have never liked about grosgrain ribbon, a fabric I otherwise couldn't live without? It frays! And on a wreath that is only made of one thing, the fraying was a big deal. After searching on line for advice, the only choice was to seal the ends with a lighter. It sounded daunting at first. 15 wreaths, 55 ribbons per wreath, 2 ends per ribbon meant sealing 1650 ends of ribbon. Luckily we learned this after the ribbon was bought and cut, or I might have backed out. I am so glad I didn't! In the end it took one evening plonked in front of the TV with my sister to get them sealed. And if you are making only one, it shouldn't take longer than 20 minutes. And you'll be so happy that you did it!

Cut Ribbon into 16inch strips

Heat seal with a lighter all of the ends (just run the edge of the ribbon close to, but not touching, the flame. It will immediately melt and seal ... in fact it becomes kind of addicting after a while. Beware if you get the ribbon too close to the flame, it can ignite or darken the ribbon if using a light color)

Once cut, take a strip of ribbon and tie it tightly around the ribbon. Following the same method (right over left or left over right), tie a second knot to secure. Repeat 50-54 times until wreath is full and beautiful.

That's it - it's that easy and the results are beautiful. We used the same color for all 55 strips, but at the end we ran out of one color and had to mix the ribbon colors. That looked great too. It might be fun to make a Halloween one out of black and orange or an Easter one out of pastel colors. The possibilities are endless!

(please excuse the can of Guinness, it was after all, an Irish wedding)!

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