I am very excited to show you all my winter wreath! I actually finished it a couple weeks ago but decided to save it to share after all those little Christmas trees. Do I sound crazy when I say that I made a wreath out of trash bags, light bulbs, twigs, & bottle caps? Yep, this wreath was made entirely of recycled materials – and cost me $0!
I started off with an 18″ floral/craft ring from Michael’s, which I spray painted white. Now technically, this doesn’t count as upcycled. But I was making use of something that I already had, because I originally bought this for a few dollars to use for my fall wreath, but it didn’t work out because I needed a more dimensional base. SO, if you want a truly upcycled wreath, you could use a couple wire hangers molded into a circle for your base.
One of our friends told us about a trash bag wreath that his mom has, given to her by a student. I just had to try it for myself! Not only is it eco-friendly, but it’s also a great material to hang outdoors because the plastic is water resistant. So I started chopping up plastic grocery bags and a few white kitchen trash bags. I used a variety of kinds because some were more white & others were more clear. I tried to salvage as much as the bag as I could so that I would be throwing away as little as possible.
I cut out large rectangles, maybe 4″ x 5-6″? There’s no need to be very careful about this, it won’t make a difference in the end.
I tied each one in a knot – this gives you a good spot to glue it down later, and it helps the pieces to crinkle & stand up. But if you are using a wire base, you could just tie it around the wire instead of knotting & then gluing.
Then I started gluing the pieces all around the inside ring, using a dot of hot glue on the knot.
I kept them fairly close together, but I think I could’ve gotten away with spacing them out more.
I alternated the different types of plastic bags as I went to mix together all the different opacities and textures. Not sure if this even mattered in the end…but it made sense to me.
Then continued gluing all the way around the outside –
Ignore how horribly frilly it looks at this point. But see how much larger it appears by gluing them directly out from the side edges? I love that. I’m not into wimpy wreaths…my wreaths have to be massive.
Then I just filled in the center area –
Notice the bald spot at the bottom? I left that part unfinished to make room for the focal point. I was about to use some Christmas ornaments, but then I decided to fully commit to the upcycling theme. So I took some old burnt-out light bulbs (I had been saving them for awhile for a Christmas craft, which never happened) and coated them with spray primer –
Then I sprayed them in varying shades of gray.
These were the 3 winners (all leftover from previous projects) –
I made a few speckled bulbs too to mix in the bunch. All I did was spray the bulb in the darker gray (Krylon Smoke Gray) and then mist it from far away with the metallic silver (Krylon Rust Tough Enamel). I love the way they turned out!
With the bulbs stuck in their locations temporarily (the gaps would later be filled in with more plastic bags) –
I decided I wanted some sort of branchy/leafy shapes to snake up the side. That’s when I turned to our backyard to find some shapely twigs to spray paint –
These ones were lookers, but I thought they needed a little something extra. So, continuing the upcycled theme…I collected some bottle caps, and bent them with mini pliers until they had a nice organic shape –
Glued them to the twigs –
Spray painted them metallic silver –
And glued some silver glitter to the insides of the bottle caps –
Then I arranged them in between the plastic bag layers and secured them with hot glue.
I love the way these turned out. I hope to make a taller version eventually to put in a vase somewhere.
At this point, I should have been finished…but instead I found some things to finesse. The first issue was that I felt like the wreath overall looked a little flat…if you saw it from the side, it looked like it got squashed. All it needed was some taller plastic bag pieces in the front. So I cut up a couple more bags in larger shapes that were more leaf-like –
And situated them within the other pieces –
That definitely helped to make it more dimensional and less uniform. I snuck in some bubble wrap too for a fun texture & some shine.
In total, I used 19 plastic shopping bags, 3 white kitchen trash bags, and a piece of bubble wrap that I found. I don’t think you actually need that many bags though. If I were to do it again, I think I would use less pieces, but cut larger, leafy shapes, like I did later.
The next issue I noticed was that I thought I needed more light bulbs.
For me, “less” is very rarely “more”…more is always more 🙂 Not a problem – I just spray painted a few more bulbs and snuck them in with the others. Looks better, don’t you think?
I decided to stop there…even though I secretly wanted to add more branches. But I’m glad that I called it quits so that we could have something festive to hang on our front door for Christmas!
I’m happy with how it turned out! And even though the light bulbs are very ornament-esque, I’m glad that it’s neutral enough that I can keep it out well beyond Christmas. What do you guys think? Anyone else make a wreath this winter?