Happy New Year: nature wreaths
Wow! What a great holiday season for The Wooden Bee! We were very pleased with our Etsy holiday sales & what we learned from our first holiday season as a green business! As we look forward to 2011, we wanted to close out the year with one more sustainable craft!
During our nature walks throughout the year we collect magnolia fruit also known as magnolia seed pods. Having done this craft project for the past two years, we have figured out where all the magnolia trees in our area are located. We would watch for the flower life cycle to begin after winter & then start collecting!
The Southern Magnolia flower life cycle is gorgeous! It starts with a bloom, which opens to a sweet smelling magnolia flower, then the petals die & fall off, leaving a magnolia fruit or seed pod. The fruit stays growing on the tree until it is mature & full of red seeds. In the south this usually happens in the late summer & fall making August – December the best time to collect the seed pods. Magnolias are different species & some flower earlier than others, so just keep an eye on your local trees.
Our best collecting tip… After a windy day or storm, you can always find tons of furry seed pods!
When the fruit matures the pod will disburse red seeds. We have tried to collect the fruit for crafting when it is filled with the pretty red seeds but the seeds will eventually wither & fall out (making a mess). We often wait until the pods have disbursed the seeds or we shake them out when we find one with just a few seeds still attached.
Once the seeds have been released & the fruit pods are lying on the ground, there is a window of opportunity to collect the furry magnolia fruit before it starts to decay. The image above shows the change in appearance as the pods start to decompose from lying on the ground. Bringing them indoors dramatically slows the decay process & the fruit looks great each year when we unpack our wreaths.
Magnolia Fruit Wreath Materials:
Magnolia Seed Pods: ALL different shapes & sizes. Be sure to collect curved, straight, tiny & large fruit to help fill in the gaps on the wreath.
Any Size & Type Wreath Base: You can pick up any type of wreath; grapevine, wire, Styrofoam or twig. We don’t use Styrofoam for environmental reasons so grapevine or twigs are normally our preferred selection. Remember wreaths don’t have to be round either, triangle, square, whatever you like!
Hot Glue Gun: with lots of glue sticks because securing the fruit can sometimes use a large amount of glue.
Accessories for Your Wreath: silk magnolia flowers, ribbon, ornaments, or anything you want!
At the end of our nature walks we would just toss the magnolia fruit into a paper bag in the garage. After collecting all year, our first step is to examine & sort the seed pods by size (which my four year old loved doing). After warming up the glue gun & laying down a protective surface (because the glue can drip through the grapevine wreath) we got started!
The wreath frame & size chosen will determine what size seed pods can be used. The larger the wreath circumference, the large the seed pods. The smaller the wreath, the smaller the seed pods needed to fit the wreath. The first year we chose one 18” wreath to cover with magnolia fruit. This year we chose two 9” wreaths. We felt that the 18” wreath allowed us to use more sizes of seed pods, where the two smaller wreaths limited the use of the largest pods. The VERY smallest of the seed pods are used in all sizes of wreaths to fill in gaps & put on the finishing touches. Even after the accessories are glued on we go back & add the tiny seed pods.
This is the perfect craft write up to end the year, since it takes some time to find & collect the magnolia fruit! Like all the crafts we post on, we love how it uses natural resources available in our environment & leaves room for creativity in the finished product.
So in 2011, start walking & looking for those magnolias! Happy New Year!