Thursday, December 24, 2015

Making a horse head wreath

Life pro tip from me, you guys: don't make something with the intent of posting a tutorial, take kind of bad pictures (without realizing it), and then put off writing the tutorial on the project for a year. Because not only will you only have crappy pictures to look back on, you will probably have forgotten a lot about how you made it. I guess that's a life pro tip and a caveat to keep in mind as you read this post.

So last Christmas, I was having absolutely no luck finding a gift for my mother. Both my parents are the typical "have everything they want and will just buy it if they find something they want during the year" people. As I've written before, she's really into horses--she has five or six--and she had shown me a picture of a horse wreath she liked a little bit before Christmas. That one suggested using candy cane wreaths turned a certain way to make a horse head shape, but she couldn't find any candy cane wreaths and neither could I. It eventually clicked that this was a gift I could get her, but at the time I didn't really want to make anything. That was kind of true for a lot of 2014. And 2015. But I digress. I looked into buying one, but the only ones I could find went for about $150. That is not in my budget, even for my mother, whom I love dearly. So, a day or two before Christmas, I decided to make one. I found this tutorial so I didn't have to reinvent the wheel, although I did make a few of my own changes. It wasn't that hard; I remember it being maybe three hours of work, most of which was tying the garland.

Most of the horse wreaths I saw were pretty understated. I didn't want that. The horse on my wreath would be dressed for the season. She's the type of horse that gets ribbons braided in her mane, preferably glittery ribbons. She was going to a Christmas party and wanted you to know. I kept this in mind as I bought my supplies. I got everything at Hobby Lobby, except for the hardware cloth, and of course it was all 50% off. I don't remember the exact cost, but I'm guessing under $20. I think right now all this stuff is 66% off at Hobby Lobby, so it would be even cheaper.

I bought two types of garland (a regular wired type for the head, and a finer type for the mane), a few types of wired ribbon*, floral wire, and some ornaments and pearl garland in red and gold, because that's my mom's favorite Christmas color scheme. I made sure to choose ornaments that weren't too round, since I knew this would hang between the front door and the storm door.

*The gold ribbon that I used wasn't wired, but that's because I had it already. If I were buying it new, I would have bought wired.

Start out by finding a horse head silhouette you like online and print it out. I don't remember, but I probably used the same method as here to change the size. Duck tape it to your hardware cloth. (The other tutorial uses wire mesh, but I used hardware cloth. No reason.)

I marked the outline with a Sharpie and left the paper in place for as much of the cutting as I could. I used tin snips to cut it out, then covered the outer edge with wide masking tape. I tried to cut off any sharp points that weren't necessary to maintaining the shape of the head. I think the ears were really the only place that I couldn't cut everything off; your garland will be doing a lot of the work of showing the shape of the head.

I followed the other tutorial as far as the pattern to attach the garland in (she uses a serpentine pattern). I think I'm showing you how I attached a new piece of garland here. Pull it through to the back and wire it flat.

Progress. Note that I'm leaving space for the mane.

Bend your floral wire into a C shape. Remember, cut it longer than you need. It's much easier to deal with excess wire than not enough.

Aaaaand I skipped a bunch of steps, so here's the finished wreath!

The "bridle" is made of wired ribbon, twisted and held in place (on itself, not on the wreath) with a dot of hot glue on the back. I honestly don't remember if I hot glued it in place or wired it in place. I probably hot glued it, but you could easily glue a C of floral wire to the back of some of the twists and wire it into place. That's probably a better idea.

In case you did not grow up making looped bows (with paper ribbon! Anyone else remember that? It was fun to untwist, unless you got too rough and tore it and your mom yelled at you) here's a tutorial. It was kind of a pain to make these bows because I was constantly fighting against the non-wired ribbon. If I were doing it again, I'd only use wired ribbon.

I put the ornaments on the wire I attached to the bow to wire it to the wreath. You might need to shorten the string on the front ornament to make sure the back ornament shows well enough, although both of mine were fine.

A better picture of the bottom of the wreath, though still not great. The reins are wired on the back on each side and are just loose on the front. I also used the wire that came with the hardware cloth to make a hanger on the back. I just cut a long piece and wired it at each end, next to the tape, just making sure to place it so that the wreath would hang straight.

I will try and get a better picture of this hanging up at my mom's. Baby Girl has pinkeye so we will be home for Christmas, but I'm pretty sure Mom will have her decor up for a little while longer. I just need to make sure it doesn't take me until Christmas 2016 to add the new picture.

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