• DIY Upcycled Winter Wreath

    by  • December 31, 2011 • Crafts & DIY Decor, Holidays & Seasonal

    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!

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Then I started gluing the pieces all around the inside ring, using a dot of hot glue on the knot.

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    I kept them fairly close together, but I think I could’ve gotten away with spacing them out more.

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    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.

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    Then continued gluing all the way around the outside –

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    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 –

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    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 –

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    Then I sprayed them in varying shades of gray.

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    These were the 3 winners (all leftover from previous projects) –

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    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!

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    With the bulbs stuck in their locations temporarily (the gaps would later be filled in with more plastic bags) –

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    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 –

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    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 –

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    Glued them to the twigs –

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    Spray painted them metallic silver –

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    And glued some silver glitter to the insides of the bottle caps –

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    Then I arranged them in between the plastic bag layers and secured them with hot glue.

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    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 –

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    And situated them within the other pieces –

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    That definitely helped to make it more dimensional and less uniform. I snuck in some bubble wrap too for a fun texture & some shine.

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    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.

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    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?

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    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!

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    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?

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