Fall is the rustic and cozy season, to me it means stacks of woolly blankets and tattered old books, a warm mug in hand and a fire crackling, cinnamon or maple homemade goodies and apple picking, candlelight dancing off piles of pumpkins and dim, very dim, shadowy evenings. Adding little touches around our home that are a nod to these images and the glorious beauty of a dormant nature is one of my favourite seasonal things to do this time of year. Natural items that you can find right in your own backyard or neighbourhood provide a quick and easy way to do this, all you have to do is make time for a little foraging. With a little creativity they can be turned into beautiful simple displays or statement arrangements.
So with this personal inspiration from the season that is upon us, I recently set out to create something decorative that was simple and rustic, not in any way fussy, shiny or appearing new. I wanted it to represent handmade, worn, the countryside and natures starkness, all elements that come fall I am super drawn to. I gathered random items I knew I wanted to use (nearly all from our own yard) and started thinking about how I could combine them, it wasn't long before I knew I wanted wreaths of some sort, it was just a matter of figuring out how to create the style I was looking for. In the end, after a little bit of tinkering I came up with these adorable simple mini wreaths made of dried cinnamon apple slices with cloves, willow branches, jute twine and poplar leaves-I'm so happy with how they turned out and I hope you are too! Here is the step-by-step process of how I made them.
Materials: Clippings of willow branches with some leaves still on (willow is a super soft wood and so their branches bend with ease-ideal for this type of project-length needed depends on the size of wreath you will be making), cloves, ground cinnamon, apples, floral wire, large leaves (I used poplar), jute twine, garden sheers.
-Preheat oven to 250 degrees
-Start with slicing and drying apple slices. I did this by cutting up two apples thinly ( I knew we would be doing more crafts utilizing them so I figured I would save myself the time later by drying them all at once).
-Lay apple slices on a parchment lined baking sheet and dust with cinnamon, then rub the cinnamon all over each apple slice with your finger (the moisture of the apples helps to dissolve it as you go). Do this to both sides of the slices. Bake in a 250 degree oven for 1 hour then turn over and repeat (checking on them as you go).
-I then took them out and let cool, for this craft you will want the apples to be slightly soft when you go to attach them to the wreath wire and when you also poke the cloves in. They will slowly dry more with time until they are completely hard.
Once cooled, poke cloves into the slices, you can do this using any pattern you wish, I did four around the centre of each one as shown. The smell of the cloves and cinnamon together is divine!
-Cut the willow branches to your desired length (you can figure this out by bending the branch into a circle about the size you desire and cutting the branch accordingly-you can make adjustments as you go too if needed).
-Secure the branch into the circle shape by wrapping floral wire around it's loose ends, overlapping slightly.
-Attach an apple slice to the top of the wreath by poking a hole and using the same floral twine to wrap around the already secured spot.
-Place two large leaves in opposite directions at the top of the apple slice/wreath and attach with jute twine tied into a bow (velvet ribbon would also be a pretty option too). Make sure to use the leaves to cover the floral wire.
Cut a short piece of floral wire and bend it into a hook shape, attach to the top loop of floral wire already on the wreath (this is one option for hanging the wreath, you could also make a large loop of ribbon instead and thread it through the wire or loop it over the entire wreath).
Hang the wreath in your desired location (I made two and hung each of them on our antique candle wall sconces as pictured)! I think this would also be beautiful hanging off the knob of a cabinet somewhere.
I also tried the wreath without the apple slice-a lovely option too that maybe I'll do for another year, but I opted for having it this time and the spicy aroma of cinnamon and cloves.