Easy Christmas pinecone wreaths

Posted on December 6, 2010 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (3)

I've had a number of visitors complaining (in a nice way) that my Christmas posts have neglected nature. So, for those of you who love to craft and reuse natural materials, we'll start with pinecones (or pine cones). 

Like Chris over at Just a Girl (check out her pinecone wreath!), I collect my own pinecones, venturing out into the park behind my house and along the Rideau Canal (although, technically you're not supposed to pick those particular pinecones??) hoping that I beat the squirrels to them. Friends who live in the country also bring me bagfuls. 

An aside: I tend to choose projects where the finished product can be recycled or composted so I try to find ones that don't use glitter or anything else that is not suitable. If the instructions call for hot glue, if I can I use string or thin wire instead.

Image Just A Girl

Preparing Your Pinecones


If you've picked your cones outside off the ground, you may want to take some precautions to ensure that you don't bring in any undesirables. I usually leave mine out spread out over a picnic table in the sunshine. That's to ensure that whatever is in the cone, can leave. Then I place them in batches in a warm oven to open the 'leaves' and to dry the cones out. Then I'm ready to work. Here are some sites that have instructions for making Christmas pinecone wreaths.

Pinecone Wreaths

The wreath above is the kind I usually make. I wire the pinecones to a (you guessed it) a wire coat hanger pulled into a round shape. First I add on the big cones and the fill in any spaces with little ones. Then I add a bow or other decoration or sometimes just leave as is. Easy, peasy.

This is my latest version of a simple pinecone wreath--just cones and a wire coat hanger. I just attached each cone to my wire hanger base using floral wire and added a few twigs for interest. I made 6 of these and hung one in each living room window.

The one shown above is easy as well and Rocio over at Casa Haus shows you how to make it. Yay, she uses a wire coat hanger, too.

Image Casa Haus

More Christmas wreath ideas

Posted on November 20, 2010 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (3)

A friend asked me if I could come up with some easy-peasy wreath ideas besides that ones I've already posted. As well as watching her pennies, she didn't want a traditional evergreen or pinecone wreath or any that were too complicated. Well, I can't say that I came up with any original ideas but I did find a few that I liked.  I did modify some of the instructions and materials required so that the projects were quick, easy, and good for the environment. So here goes ...

Tinsel Garland Wreath

Probably the easiest to make, this wreath is made using spare or unused tinsel garlands that you can recycle into little holiday wreaths. It's good to recycle tinsel, if you can, as it's one of those things that's really hard to recycle. Creature Comforts has a DIY 5-minute tinsel garland wreath you can make in a few minutes. but you will need a glue gun and a needlepoint hoop. My version is easier as all you need is a wire coat hanger stretched into a round shape. Then you just wind the garland around the hanger. Easy, for sure, and better for the environment.

Image Creature Comforts

Christmas Tree Ornament Wreath

What about recycling some old Christmas ornaments into a wreath? Not as simple to make as the tinsel one but it looks spectacular. Eddie Ross has instructions for a simple enough one using a wire coat hanger as the base. Be careful if you are using old glass ornaments or balls as these shatter easily. I skipped the glue gun and just slipped the ornaments on to the wire hanger.

Image Eddie Ross

Recycled Newspaper Wreath

If you don't have any or don't want to use ornaments or tinsel garlands for your wreaths, why not make a Christmas paper wreath by recycling a newspaper. Sounds weird, eh? But it actually is pretty nice looking and all you need is your newspaper and, of course, the ubiquitous wire coat hanger. 

How to Make a Newspaper Wreath

You will need a newspaper, recycled plastic twist ties (or use floral wire), and a wire coat hanger. Stretch the wire hanger into a round shape - doesn't have to be a perfect circle as the newspaper 'flowers' will cover it. To make the wreath, cut 4" x 4" squares from three pages of newspaper. These will form the 'flowers' that cover the coat hanger form.

Fold each stack in accordion fashion and firmly wind the twist ties around the center of each stack. Fluff up each one and attach each folded stack to the wreath base by winding the ends of the twist ties around the base. Clip off any excess. Repeat steps until the coat hanger base is completely covered. You will need between 30 to 40 stacks.

Holiday Card Wreath

Kathy of Merriment Design created a wreath using polaroids but you could do the same thing with postcards or Christmas cards. Very easy and a good way to recycle stuff into something festive. 

Image Merriment Design

Pompom Wreath

Finally, if you've got time on your hands, unravel some old sweaters and socks to make a pom pom wreath. I'm kidding--maybe. But if you've got some wool around from projects you never completed or even started, here's a quick way to make a pretty nifty yarn pom pom wreath. And it doesn't have to be red and green.

Image BleuBird

I know, I know, I seem to be depending a lot on wire coat hangers. If you don't have any on hand, try your local dry cleaning establishment and ask if they have some to spare. Most are now going over to cardboard (yes!) or plastic (why, oh, why??) hangers and probably have some wire ones to get rid of. My local establishment had a boxful for me to pick up when I called. 

Recycling, reusing ideas - once is not enough!

Posted on April 10, 2010 at 11:10 AM Comments comments (0)

I've been traveling for the a couple of months and will be for a good while still so I don't have my studio and tools to play in and with. So, instead I've been surfing the net to find others who are doing outstanding work by recycling, reusing, and reinventing what we all think of (normally) as trash, rubbish, waste, garbage, etc. I hope you take some inspiration from these talented folks and come up with original ideas of your own.

Michelle Brand makes the most amazing screens by recycling plastic bottles. She uses the bottom of these bottles to create window, room, and garden screens that are beautiful from every point. It's hard to believe they're made from rubbish. The one shown is called "Flowerfall" and reminds me of a cascading waterfall or a long bridal veil. Photo courtesy Michelle Brand.

Meanwhile, textile and product designer Lori Weitzner makes wallpaper from 100% up-cycled newspapers, cleverly titled “Newsworthy." Photo courtesy Lori Weitzner.

And how about this ping-pong lampshade from Studo Kleefstra

My favourite has to be the "Sculpture of Paper-clad Wire Clothes Hangers" – hanging from the lobby ceiling at BYU Museum of Art. ‘Untitled’ sculpture by Dan Steinhilber; photography by Royce Bair.

I am no way near as creative or original as these artists but I do feel that my humble projects can also serve as idea centres for those who want to recycle, reuse, reduce. 

Send me pics of what you've been inspired to recycle.

3 Top Ways to Recycle Wire Clothes Hangers

Posted on February 22, 2010 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (2)

I've decided to become more practical this year and offer up ideas that people have been asking me. I recently got a surge of searches for how to recycle or reuse those pesky metal wire clothes hangers

Although they are made of steel, most metal hangers have a petroleum polymer coating on them that makes recycling the metal more of a challenge. Contact your town's environment department to check if they will accept the wire hangers. If you live in an area that accepts metal hangers as part of curbside recycling, take advantage of it. You can also drop them off at scrap metal recycling facilities.

Because of this polymer coating, I wouldn't recommend using these to roast marshmallows, hot dogs, or 'smores. Besides, metal is a great heat conductor and you could get a nasty burn.

1. Recycle

So for safe and useful ways to recycle them, drop them off at local dry cleaners and they will by reuse them again. While you’re there ask them to consider cutting down on their hangers. Our local dry cleaner now only folds items like sweaters, shirts, and blouses rather than put them on hangers, and packages them in paper bags that are easier to recycle.

You can give your metal hangers to any charity shop or second hand store. They use them for hanging clothes on their sale racks. You can also offer them up on Freecycle or similar web sites. Someone will want them and this will keep them out of the landfill.

2. Reuse

Reusing your metal clothes hangers is a great option. If you have been following this blog, you'll have seen my Thanksgiving maple leaf wreath. But there are loads of other, more creative, ways to repurpose these metal hangers at home. You can use them in the garden, in the house and in your arts and crafts projects. Just use your imagination!

3. Upcycle

Of course, if you are an artist, metal clothes hangers are just raw material for your latest project. Be inspired by this untitled sculptures of paper-clad wire hangers by Dan Steinhilbe and David Mach.