Friday, February 19, 2010

DIY Book Wreath Tutorial--My Lazy Variation

If you regularly read decorating blogs, you've likely seen enough DIY book wreaths to make your head spin. Blogger Lindsay, from Living With Lindsay was the troublemaker who started it all with her fabulous book wreath made from a Dollar Tree book, a foam wreath, a little paint, and lots of hot glue:
I was intrigued, inspired, and impressed... but unwilling to risk hot glue burns in the name of bibliocide. Then I saw a post by another blogger, the super-creative Wendy at The Shabby Nest. She posted this book wreath made from folded book pages which had been threaded onto a coat hanger:
Did I have enough skill and patience to stab a bunch of book pages onto a coat hanger? I flattered myself to think that I did, so I set about destroying a book to make my own Wendy-style wreath.

Don't hate me, but I chose to use a book from the Chicken Soup for the Soul series to make my book wreath. I'm not anti-soul or anti-chicken; I just wanted a book with true white pages rather than pages that had yellowed. Plus, it was the only book in our "donate" box. As it turned out, the book was printed on paper that was more like heavy copy paper than the typical, "pulpy" paper used in most books, and when I folded the pages, they didn't fold gracefully like Wendy's had. Instead the pages flattened, making my wreath look like a Rolodex, only homelier.

I tried six or seven different paper folds, and each one failed more spectacularly than the last. Observing my mounting pile of rejected folded book pages, my husband quipped, "Hey, here's an idea! Why don't you put all of those pages together and make a book?!"

Once I finally found a fold that worked for me, I was able to whip out a wreath in the time that it took to watch a Netflix movie. Here's how I did it:

  • Wire Coat Hanger
  • Wire Cutters
  • Book
  • Magic Marker
  • Thumbtack
  • Electrician's Tape
  • Ribbon For Hanging (Hanging the wreath, Silly, not yourself! Don't worry; this project isn't quite that difficult!)
1. Open the "neck" of your wire hanger, and bend it loosely into the shape of a wreath. (Not pictured.)

2. Color the edges of the book pages with your marker. This doesn't have to be perfectly even--you're just adding a little contrast. I used a licorice-scented "Mr. Sketch" marker. The same type that I first used when I was in preschool. Yes, I own some truly sophisticated craft supplies.

3. Pull a few pages out of the book. Take one page, and fold it loosely the long way. Left-brained people: you'll be folding it into fourths. Right-brained people: fold so that you have a "mountain" in the middle and a "valley" on each side:

4. Keeping your previous folds loose, fold flat in the middle so that you have a "fan":

5. Use a thumbtack or another sharp object to start a hole about one inch from the base of your fan. (Note: your "fan" will be more fanned out than the one in the picture below, with only the base flattened):6. Thread the paper onto your bent-open coat hanger:

7. Repeat the steps above until you have a full wreath! I chose to thread the "fans" onto the wire so that the "open" edges of the paper all faced down (underside pictured below) and the fans alternated left and right, but once the wreath was full, this little bit of compulsion made absolutely no difference, so you can just thread yours on any old way you like. The "fans" spin easily on the wire, so you can rearrange at any point:8. The best part is arranging & fluffing up the paper fans once your wreath is nice and full. The pages make a nice rustling sound too, like a petticoat.

9. To finish your wreath, clip off any excess wire and use electrician's tape (I used white electrician's tape) to bind the overlapping pieces of wire. I wanted to hang my wreath with a wide ribbon, but I didn't like how "lumpy" the paper fans looked under the ribbon. My solution was to fold several book pages the long way and coil them over the overlapping wire to give the ribbon a smoother surface to wrap around. Here's a photo to show you what this looks like behind the ribbon. You can't see this when the wreath is hung because the paper fans on each side conceal it:
Finally, I added a large button to the ribbon. It's hard to see in the photo, but the top layer of ribbon is cut into a point right below the button. Voila! The finished wreath!

What do you think? I'm satisfied. Or, as my Italian grandma used to say after a good meal, "I'm sodispied."

My favorite part is the fact that the papers kind of look like ribbon candy. Festive, in a kind of anti-literary way.

Happy wreath-making!

This post has been linked to: The Shabby Chic Cottage, A Soft Place to Land, Twice Remembered, Cottage Instincts, Tatertots and Jello, Funky Junk Interiors, Beyond the Picket Fence and Finding Fabulous