The concept of a wreath is generally credited right back to the Greco Roman era, where wreaths were made out of leaves, twigs, flowers and even small fruit. They adorned the heads of those who wore them and their make up signified rank, status, occupation etc. Probably the best known is the laurel wreath which was worn by victorious contestants of the Olympic Games.
Many centuries later the wreath was recast in northern parts of Europe and became integrated into Christian folk lore. The story goes that when evergreen trees were first hauled from the outdoors into homes to deck them up at Christmas time, they would have been trimmed to ensure a good shape; maybe triangular as this represented the Trinity. The left over sprigs were then woven together and made into something similar to the wreaths we know today. Other symbolism was added to this tradition as time passed; evergreens were said to represent strength of life, as they could survive the harsh conditions of a long winter and the circle was said to illustrate eternity.
Onwards a few centuries again, and Advent wreaths were developed. Decorated with five candles, one for each of the four Sundays leading up to Christmas and one for Christmas Day itself, these evergreen wreaths sat within churches and were lit one candle per week during Advent. Now they are found in many Christian homes too, as a good way of introducing the themes of hope, joy, peace and love as each candle is lit during the Advent season.
Maypole wreaths are another twist on the theme. While closely linked in with Greek traditions, they are also enjoyed here in the UK on May Day, where they bedeck the maypoles and the heads of the May Day celebrants. In this instance they are made from spring flowers or herbs and add a colourful accent after a long grey winter.
In our times, the humble wreath has been given a multitude of makeovers and can be a wonderfully creative invention using buttons, yarn, pottery, felt, and many other mediums. The one essential tool for wreath making is a hot glue gun!
So how could you adapt the wreath around your own particular craft business? Here are a few suggestions.
One of the joys of living in a temperate climate is the changing seasons. As human beings we generally thrive best on stability and reliably, but also need a certain amount change to pep up our lives. The gentle rhythms of the seasons provides just this; we know that winter will gradually give way to the warmer, greener days of spring, and this will in turn lead to the longer days of summer until the solstice when the days shorten and we head towards the mellow abundance of autumn before entering the darker winter days again. This cycle provides just the right amount of change within a predictable pattern. So, why not create a wreath which picks up on this and reflects all four seasons in turn? This would be ideal to sell at craft fairs and could be sold at any time of year. Just remember to get your craft market insurance in place before you head out.
Firstly you will need a base. A quick scroll through Pinterest will reveal there are a number of materials you can use for this. Your choice will depend slightly on the medium you will be using to decorate it. For example, if you are crocheting flowers, why not try a willow one?
Secondly, how can your unique craft skill be adapted to adorn a wreath, and how can your basic idea be modified to reflect the four different seasons? You may choose to make four unique seasonal wreaths yourself and sell them as spring, summer, autumn and winter wreaths individually or with a discount for all four. Or, you could put together a package: four sets of decorations and one wreath base for the customer to festoon as the seasons change. Either can be sold at any time of year at craft fairs and are sure to be show stoppers as they will be both unique and eye catching. You will almost always need craft market insurance in place, so remember to give us a call alongside booking your market stall.
Each set of decorations will need to capture all the good things of that season with a splash of nostalgia intertwined. You will give your customers a sense of excitement and hope each time they decorate or hang up a new wreath. Whatever has happened in the previous season, a new one is beginning with all the beauty of the natural world and the fun of the celebrations we observe within it.
Spring will probably involve bright colours, yellows, blues and fresh greens to reflect the new leaves and spring bulbs. Summer could involve a warmer version of these colours, or could have a specific summery theme; beach huts, camping, boats etc. Autumn, as a season of abundance and harvest, oozes rich oranges, yellows, golds and reds with autumn leaves, an array of hedgerow foraging finds, pumpkins, harvest or a lavish mix of them all. Winter, as a more barren season offers less to visually process, so would be better represented by a plainer, predominantly white themed wreath. Or, it could be a colourful and celebratory Christmas themed wreath with loads going on!
If you’re working in yarn, your decorations could be a profusion of actual flowers, knitted or crocheted. Flowers or birds could also be crafted out of felt or ceramics, as could beach huts, shells, autumn leaves etc. Or, you could use the colours associated with each season and create an ‘off piste’ freestyle work of art.
Finally, candles are a beautiful centre piece for any table, so if you own a candle making business, could you craft four different types of candle to adorn a seasonal table wreath? Maybe you could team up with a potter and design a seasonal wreath into which your candles could be placed.
I hope this blog has left you inspired! The months before Christmas are a perfect time for creative wreath making; so ensure your craft market insurance is in place, book some craft fairs and amaze your customers with your beautiful, seasonal wreaths.