When I devised to do a Winter Solstice themed shoot, I knew I had to realize my Winter-version-of-a-flower-crown fantasies. The things that stumped me were: What plants or branches to make them out of? How can I make them not look too bulky or too much like a wreath? How do I make them look eye-catching from the side view? (<-- As opposed to the angle wreaths are normally hung) Can I make striking flower crowns without using flowers? Where do I get the branches/ supplies? Lumbering through the process, I definitely spent longer than I planned to figure out my methodology.
In the end, a devised a few different varieties of the crowns and was super pleased with the end results. Each style has a different feel but they all fit together, without looking too wreath-like.
This is really kind of a 2-day thing. Allow a day to let the branches mold and set to the circular shape before weaving them. The weaving itself might take up to 2 hours per crown depending on how thick and intricate you want yours to be. Have a mirror handy and constantly check your progress to see if the branches fall in the right spots and how to make them look most flattering.
* * * * * * * * * H o w - t o * * * * * * * * * *
Step 1: Get supplies.
* Branches/ Berries / Pinecones: Cedar, Boxwood, Pine, Holly, Nandine
* Clear lanyard or dark green colored thin gauge wire (scissors necessary for lanyard, wire cutters for wire)
* Clamps (to mold branches, could be anything from 'chip clips' to photography studio setup clamps)
* Optional: Base for the design - circular metal pipe fitting purchased at a hardware store, or a thick strip of fabric (2 inch or wider? And long enough to allow slack after fitting with branches to tie in a bow or knot around your head. Choose a color that will hide well, or not, depending on your vision)
Living in the city center and car-less, there aren't many outdoor Christmas tree business I could easily get to, nor are there those big one-stop-shop hardware, lawncare mega stores, or tree nurseries. As a 21st Century girl, I naturally took to the internet. I first looked at Christmas wreath DIYs that were all over the blogosphere that time of year to see what branches were typically used in wreaths. To my surprise, it wasn't just pine, but cedar, holly, boxwood, and nandina were all branches with a lovely holiday feel for wreaths. Several etsy shops sold boxes of wreath supply branches shipped in priority mail boxes and one large priority box stuffed with branches was absolutely perfect... it yielded about 5-6 crowns worth (about the size of small wreaths). I bought my branches from etsy shop: HPShabbyCottageChicRoses. I learned that finding etsy sellers that sell real herbs and plants is actually really difficult in their search engine.... Etsy should really fix that as fresh greenery is a great DIY supply for so many projects. Search queries to try: "fresh branches" "real greenery" "real branches" "fresh plants" "live branches" "live plants" "fresh wreath branches" "fresh cedar" "cedar bundle" "fresh pine branches". Make sure the shop sells you freshly cut branches only.
Step 2: Mold branches overnight.
I found cedar to be the most pliable and holly to be the most delicate (the berries easily fall off). After ordering your branches, be sure to use them as soon as they arrive. Fresh-cut branches and berries dry up quickly, so they are most pliable/flexible as soon as they are cut and less likely to fall apart as you handle them. Gather the branches, pruning anything unnecessary or unsightly, and flex them into a curved shape in your hands until you start to feel them take the soft curved shape. Decide the sizing of your flower crown opening based on where you would like them to sit on the head. The ones I used with the pipe ring base just sat barely on the back of the head. The opening of the pipe ring wasn't very large, but they had a very regal effect sitting high and pretty, though not super secured to the head. The crown with the fabric base was super secure and wrapped completely around the head, allowing to adjust the fitting. Begin bending the branches into a circle and clamping them at various parts to secure them in an infinite ring shape. Leave the clamped branch rings to sit overnight.
Step 3: Weave the branches into crowns.
Unclamp the branch rings slowly and the branches should remain somewhat in place.
Without a base: Start picking apart, bending, trimming, and arranging the curved branches into a placement you like. You may even want to completely take apart the ring you molded last night and start from one simple branch, slowly tying on each one with lanyard or wire. Fit it on your head as you go, carefully adjusting sizing and placement. The lanyard/ wire can be wrapped in one continuous strand weaving in and out of the branches every few inches as you create each layer of the ring, or short pieces can be tied to each necessary spot, trimming the excess wire from the knots. Keep the shape a bit wild and fun, and don't worry about rogue branches which can be either trimmed, tucked in, or clamped at the end for further molding. Optional: After finishing, clamp the ring again for a few hours or another night to further mold it into shape.
With a metal ring base: Metal rings with holes are perfect for securing the wire/lanyard through. After removing your clamps, pick the branches apart and begin looping the lanyard/wire through the hole and around the branches to secure. Trim excess from the knots. Fit the crown to your head after each layer of branches to check the fitting. Rogue branches can be trimmed, tucked, or clamped at the end for hours of further molding.
With a fabric headband base: ((Use a color that blends with either the hair color of the wearer or blends with the branches themselves if you want the attention only focused on the branch arrangement. I used a mustard velvet for my fabric headband, and while the fabric showed awkwardly in a few places under the branches, it looked lovely tied around the back of the head.)) Unclamp and pick apart the branches. Begin to tie the branches to the front, middle section of the fabric strip by looping the lanyard/wire around the branch and fabric and securing with a knot. Trim the excess from the knots. Focus the center of attention and the bulkiest layers of branches toward the middle, securing the ends more demurely at the sides. The strategy I used was to trim branches so that some go from the left side and ended in the center of the strip, and some went from the right side and ended in the center of the strip. When placing the headband on, you get a lovely, wild arrangement in the front of the headband with the branches neatly gathered toward the sides. Leave plenty of empty fabric space at the ends of the strip for tying in a knot or bow around the head.
Step 4: More flare.
If necessary, you may want to add a little more attention to the front, back, or sides of the crown. So many variations can be made: Berries, tiny pine cones, ribbons, bows, winter flowers like Poinsettias... Loop things in, tie things, etc etc.
See the complete Winter Solstice photoshoot with these crowns HERE.