Wreath Making 101
October 29, 2008
“Take what you need. Pay your respects. Leave the rest.” Harvesting advice from the First Nation Tribal Elders
The past two Monday evenings my sister Deb and I were fortunate to spend learning about wreath making in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, in a class taught by Julie Miedtke, an Itasca County Extension Educator, and Janet Christensen, a professional wreath maker.
The gathering of balsam boughs and their manufacture into evergreen holiday products is a long-standing heritage of Minnesota’s North woods. The Minnesota wreath industry produces about $23 million dollars of wreaths and holiday greens in a short two month period each year. In class we learned the guidelines of harvesting; how to obtain permits, how to harvest the boughs in a sustainable manner, which species are desirable such as balsam, white pine, northern white cedar, and princess pine, and how to store them once they are harvested. Did you know that fresh boughs retain their needles best if harvested after the second hard frost? Nature is so amazing!
During the second class we learned a method of wreath making, called layering, which produces a very full, high end wreath. In this technique, small bunches of about 6-8 stems varying in length from 5″ to 10″ are wired around a hoop in a layering method; each wreath takes about 10 pounds of balsam or greens, and more than a couple of hours to complete. The smell of Christmas and the Northwoods filled our class room, and then enveloped us during our 3 1/2 hour drive home.
The ideas we have are flowing, growing, and bursting at the seams; our husbands will shake their heads and wonder again why we love to make more work for ourselves. But it’s not really work if you love it, is it?