A Quickie Festive Swag
Time and money seem to be at a shortage this time of year. Quick festive ornaments from the garden help with the budget and make pretty decorations.
Swags are easy to make as they are essentially a bouquet made of evergreens and such that are tied together with a bow. Just one pine or cedar branch with some ribbon will do for a really simple but effective swag. If you have lots of different types of branches, like I have, combine them for a lush look. A mixture of different types of foliage of conifers (pines, cedar, spruce etc.) with boxwood, rhododendron and other broadleaf evergreen branches steps it up a notch.
To make a swag, cut a number of branches approximately the same size. Place the branches on a table and stack them on top of each other. The longest one goes on the bottom, which become the back of the swag, then place shorter ones on top so you can see the layer underneath. Stagger one on top of another so a quarter of the bottom one is uncovered. If they are all the same length and aren't staggered, it lacks definition and doesn't look artsy.
Once happy with your arrangement, tie the ends together with wire or a zap-strap. Hang it on the wall and look for any stray and unruly branches. There’s no need to remove them, just snip them off where you need to. Alternately, if you need to add a branch or two, just wedge them inside and push them up into the base of the swag. Even when tied together there's usually some 'give', so adding some small stems isn’t an issue.
When done, finish off the swag with a ribbon. Wrap it around the cut ends, hiding the wire and tie it into a knot, making sure the ribbon is long enough that the ends hang down. Cut another length of ribbon and tie it around the base again, but this time make a bow. To make a puffy bow, use a wide ribbon or fabric and cut it two and a half times larger than the desired bow size. Make a circle with the ribbon overlapping the ends. Cinch the middle of the circle together and secure with wire. Cover the wire with another piece of ribbon, tying it around the wire. Attach it to the ends of the swag and puff up the 'bow' part of the ribbon, making sure it looks nice. And that's it. Your done.
Have fun trying different ribbon as it will change the entire look of the swag. First I tried some fancy silver and white fabric, then tried a canvas type red ribbon. I liked the natural look better, so I went with the red. A nice big red satin bow would be quite elegant. Add a few baubles or spray paint some funky twigs and the look changes again.
A few caveats. If you are hanging the swag on the door or where people come and go, avoid using thorny plants. If placed on a door, avoid dried flowers and berries as they easily fall off with the motion of the door opening and closing and with people passing by.
To help prolong the life of the swag, keep it outside, mist it daily or spray it with an antidessicant such as Wilt-Pruf. Hairspray also works if you have any handy.
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