Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ribbon Poinsettias, Bows, and Pinecones

I made a variety of trims for the pillow boxes I wrote about last week, but there just wasn't enough space to include them in that post. I'm sure there will be plenty more adornments to come between now and Christmas, as I find more random things that look pretty glued to a box. I should mention that for wrapping and bow-making, I love ribbon found in the floral section of craft stores. It comes in a wide array of colors, sheer and solid, and it's usually much cheaper per yard than decorator ribbons.

We are lucky enough to live in a building with large pine trees in the courtyard, so several weeks ago I gathered pinecones with dreams of natural winter crafting. I researched the most common ways to prepare pinecones for crafting, and generally I found two methods: washing and baking. Washing will actually remove the sap, baking melts the sap and sort of glazes the pinecones. I did not find the thought of washing dozens of pinecones with a scrub brush in a bucket full of soapy water very appealing. Instead, I preheated the oven to 200 degrees, lined a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spread the pinecones in a single layer on the sheet pan. I checked the pinecones after 30 minutes and ended up letting them bake for another 10 minutes because they were especially sappy. After the pinecones have cooled, they can be sprayed with a clear coating (although if you are planning on using the pinecones as fireplace kindling or coating them with scented wax, this isn't necessary).

The bow that I affixed the pinecone to was much more simple to make than it appears. I used 1" sheer ribbon that was not wired, but for a bow any larger I would definitely recommend wired ribbon. I cut a piece of cardboard to the size I wanted the diameter of the finished bow, then I wrapped the ribbon around the cardboard (three wraps gave me three loops per side, six total). I made two marks in the center of my ribbon loops (see picture) then slipped the loops from the cardboard. I cut the ribbon along the lines, being careful NOT TO cut all the way through the loops (about the middle third of the ribbon should remain uncut). I slipped thin florist's wire through the slits and wrapped it tightly around the center of the loops. Then I separated the layers on either side, fanning the loops out. Because I was using unwired ribbon, I flipped the loops inside out to make them fluffier, but this shouldn't be necessary with wired ribbon.

The poinsettia is my version of a project I saw in a Martha Stewart book some time ago, but was unable to find again. To make my poinsettia, I cut three diamonds from velvet ribbon (mine is 2.5" wide). I found the ribbon I used at Big Lots and got a great deal ($3 for 50 ft)! Note, the pictures will probably be easier to follow here than the written instructions. I'll use mountain/valley terms to explain the folds for the poinsettia petals. First, I folded the diamond in half lengthwise, wrong sides meeting, creating a mountain in the middle. Then, I pinched the portion of ribbon on either side of the ridge in the middle (this should create a valley, then another ridge, with the edge of the ribbon on the outside). Ultimately you should end up with three ridges, one in the center and one on each side of it. I used a hot glue gun to secure the folds, applying small dabs of hot glue in the creases; then I flipped the ribbon over and secured the creases on the backside. Once all three diamonds were creased and glued, I folded each in half and secured it with another dot of hot glue. Then I glued the three together, forming a six-petalled flower (although yes, I do realize poinsettias have more than six petals). Then I glued small beads in the middle (I wanted silver to match the pillow boxes, but gold would be more realistic).

These trims could be used in a wide variety of ways. As mentioned above, the pinecones could be placed in a basket by the fireplace to be used as kindling, or dipped in scented wax and used to scent a room. The poinsettias could be affixed to napkin rings (I think Martha Stewart may have done this), holiday wreaths, or pillar candles for display on a mantle. Be creative and enjoy!

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