LIVING NORTH LONDON: Wreath Making Workshop

Written by: Sophie Taylor

What exactly is a wreath when it’s at home? Well, some believe that initially wreaths were hung on doors in Ancient Rome to represent victory. In Christianity, the Christmas wreath was used to symbolise Christ. The circular shape, with no beginning or end, represents eternity or life never ending. They also look mighty fine chilling on your front door. Particularly if they’re handmade.

From the Yorkshire Dales to the allotments of Wood Green, florist expert Helena Willcocks showed us how to make our own unique festive wreath. I made mine on the tail end of an unrelenting double hangover, but under the expert guidance of the Allotment Florist it didn’t look as remotely tired and twisted as my insides.

We had plans to scrap it out in a mini competition between writer, creative director and creative director’s Mum. But the afternoon of lavender fumes and therapeutic craft quelled our competitive streaks to be replaced with mutual admiration and respect for one another’s foliage rings. Ooh er.

Our hunger for pastry could not be quashed however, particularly as Helena’s homemade filo mince pies wafted past our noses. With mossy hands we swiped a couple over the table of thistles, berries and wire cutters. Yep, her baking skills are as adept as her green fingers. The Christmassy spirit and act of wrapping earth around some wire managed to thwart my gin soaked headache for the rest of the evening. No mean feat- kudos to you Helena.

Having studied floristry and gaining lots of industry experience, Helena is now queen of her own allotment in Wood Green and entirely au fait with hosting foliage based workshops. But once upon a time the green fingered goddess was a Shakespearean actor no less, making her a natural born performer and teacher. The whole process is a warm and generous piece of Christmas cake. Read on for her step by step instructions to make your own circular masterpiece at home.

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Materials you will need:

– wire frame

– sphagnum moss

– strong scissors

– reel wire

– German pins

– foliage – pine, eucalyptus etc.

– decorations – cones, berries etc.

Step 1

Take the wire frame and attach the reel wire to the outside by wrapping it around a few times, so that it’s nice and secure.

Step 2

Take a good handful of moss, and make it into a loose sausage shape. Then lay it on the frame, and wrap your wire round as tightly as you can to secure the moss. Continue around the whole frame until it feels nice and thick.

Step 3

Cut your foliage into small manageable bunches (depending on how wild you want your wreath to be) then lay it on the moss base in the direction you would like it to go. All your bunches should face the same way to create that lovely wreath effect. Attach your foliage in the same way by wrapping the reel wire tightly around each bunch. Repeat this process until you have a lovely full wreath. Just tuck the end of the wire back into the wreath.

Step 4

Now the fun part! Decide how you want your wreath to look, and choose your decorations. Attach each one with a piece of reel wire or a German pin. When using the reel wire, thread it round the decoration, and attach it securely by tying the wire together at the back.

The German pins are great for things like orange slices. Just thread it through, and push it right down into the moss base. Continue until you are happy with your creation. You will then have with your very own beautiful Christmas wreath!

Have a look at our creations and judge for yourself who wins the prickly crown. Not sure if mine was pretty enough to be stolen from my own door like Helena’s was one fateful day. I mean, who does that? Make your own for goodness sake, like us. Bah humbug!

Fancy trying your hand at making your own with some expert one-on-one guidance? Book a workshop with Helena!

Upcoming date: December 11th – 1:30 pm- 3:30 pm 

At: Pretty Shiny Shop, 67 Stroud Green Road, Finsbury Park, N4 3EG

Cost: £55 inclusive of all materials.

www.theallotmentflorist.com

You can also check out Helena’s work IRL as she was also commissioned by Davies & Davies Estate Agents to create 12 metres (that’s a lot of metres) worth of Christmas garland by hand for their lovely Grade II listed shopfront on the Stroud Green Road. The garland was made using natural materials such as pine, wood and dried fruits.

We’ve included some pretty photos but we recommend peering into the windows yourself. Or the more brave of you can walk into the shop to have a good old stare, we’ve been reassured that these particular estate agents do not bite and they promise not to blind you with their shiny suits.

Photos by Claire Holly Davies and Mike Barry.

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