This is a guest post from Caroline at Belle Amour Boutique; you can find Caroline and her treasure trove of beautifully crafted giftware and home decor at Urmston Market every Saturday (and on Eden Square’s Christmas market on Saturday, 13th December), as well as at many craft fairs and artisan markets. Please pop over and admire Belle Amour Home’s Facebook page. Over to you, Caroline …
How to Make a Dried Fruit Christmas Wreath
Dried fruit garlands and wreaths not only look beautiful but they add fragrance and color to your Christmas decor. I love mine so much I think it will stay in the kitchen year round. Dried orange slices especially will fill your room with fresh citrus scents while providing a natural, country look to your home. Complementary scented items, like cinnamon sticks or bay leaves, add texture and ambiance to your wreath.
Our handmade dried fruit wreaths have been really popular this year. It struck me as I was making them that, as it was such a lovely activity, people would enjoy and gain great satisfaction from crafting their own wreaths. Next year I am going to supply wreath making kits in addition to taking orders for our ready made wreaths. But … if you can’t wait until then here’s how to make your own Christmas wreath.
What you will need:
Grease proof paper
The first thing is to decide if you are going to buy in or dry your own fruit. Drying your own is very satisfying and makes your house smell divine. I used a combination of both home dried fruit and, due to demand and time, also bought fruit ready dried. Citrus fruit ‘slices’ are by far the easiest to dry, (whole fruit are a little trickier ).
To dry your oranges:
– Cut your orange into slices about 1 cm thick and remove pips.
– Try to dry as much of the juice from your fruit as possible by gently pressing it using kitchen towel or a clean tea towel.
– For that extra delicious scent, sprinkle your prepared fruit with cinnamon powder or similar spice.
– If you want to be really fancy you can press cloves into the skin of the orange at this point.
– Place your prepared fruit on a sheet of greaseproof paper on a baking tray.
– Next you need to put your oven on the lowest heat setting possible and place the fruit in the centre of the oven, with the oven door propped open if possible; this allows moisture to escape and prevents the fruit from burning.
– The process can take up to 6 hours, filling your home with the most heavenly scent! You should check your fruit and rotate regularly ( I burned many batches).
– When its ready it should feel dry but still slightly pliable and not look burned. You may need to leave them somewhere warm to fully harden for a day or so.
– You can spray your oranges with acrylic craft spray for a glossy look but i chose not too as it reduces the scent.
To dry other fruit:
– To dry apples, use the same method as above but you must soak your apples in lemon juice first to prevent them from going brown as they dry, and as before pat dry with kitchen towel.
– Whole fruit is dried by scoring the skin downwards about 3cm apart then gently pressing out the juice and drying on low heat for about 10 hours
– You can also use limes, lemons, grapefruit, cinnamon sticks & chilles.
– I also used a lot of bay leaves fresh from the garden; they need to be fresh as dried will split and crumble.
If time is short and lets face it we are all pretty busy at Christmas time, dried fruit is readily available from craft stores or online.
Assembling your wreath
When you have all of your fruit ready it’s time for the fun part: putting your wreath together! You will need to use strong, plastic coated garden wire. The wire needs to be strong enough to hold a circle shape when full of fruit but pliable enough for you to work with (wire cutters and pliers are needed here).
Start by cutting approx 1 m length of wire, then twist a loop as small as you can into the middle of the wire. This is going to make the top of your wreath and you can loop your ribbon or string in at this point if you wish. Next, bend the two ends to form a circle shape. You are now ready to start threading your fruit onto the wire. A craft needle (I used an upholsterer’s needle) can come in handy for fruit that’s difficult to pierce. I found it worked best to fill both sides with fruit working alternately, with the loop (which will be the top of the wreath) resting on your knee. You can follow a pattern on each side so they match or be completely random!
Stop threading fruit leaving approximately 1.5″ (3.5cm) of wire on each end. Twist together the wire a few times until it’s secure (it’s tricky but pliers help) and snip off the excess wire with your wire cutters. You will then need to cover the join with pretty ribbon.
Lastly turn your wreath the right way around and add a bow as big or petite as you like, and voilà, your wreath is ready to hang on your door or maybe in the kitchen or hallway.
We added a hand cut and painted wooden heart to the centre of our wreaths for that extra special ‘Belle Amour Boutique’ touch! Your unique, handmade wreath will last you for years if kept dry. We also have available single fruit hearts and fruit garlands. Our products are available to buy from our Saturday stall on Urmston Market and you can see out full product range by popping over to our Facebook page.