DIY Sarah

Craft, Decor, Art, Garden, and Dessert

Vintage Ornament Wreath Tutorial

My mother made one of these years ago and I have always loved it.  I made my own after Christmas last year and documented the process for you.


Materials –

18 in foam wreath form
about 10 feet of 4″ wide ribbon or strips of fabric
50 large ornaments
30 medium ornaments
50 small ornaments
15 “ornate” ornaments
Hot glue gun and hot glue
sheet of poster board

Step 1:

Cover your wreath form.

Step 2:

Set form on top of posterboard and mark approximately where you should cut it based on the size of your ornaments.


You want to be about a half inch outside the center-line if your ornament


Sketch your circles and cut out the poster-board in a donut shape. Dont’ worry too much about the even-ness or size. You’ll have a chance to touch it up later.

Step 3:

Glue the wreath to the poster board and arrange your first row of balls.


Step 4:

Start glueing the balls down using the hot glue gun. Put dabs of glue on the posterboard and on the wreath form.

I put the hanger sides of the ornaments facing in towards the form since I didn’t want them showing.


Step 5:

Once they are all glued down, you can adjust the cardboard. I don’t want to see any cardboard so I carefully flipped over the wreath and cut out the cardboard between the ornaments.


Then I repeated steps 4 and 5 on the inside of the wreath. I used smaller balls but use what you have.


Step 6:

Now that you have a nice secure base, it’s time to get glueing. I built up another row on the inside of the wreath and then started working my “ornate” ornaments into the top layers. There is no real direction here, just a few tips.


  • Work all over the wreath at once instead of just concentrating on one spot. You will get a more even wreath shape that way.
  • Cover up your glue mistakes with small ornaments
  • Use the little ornaments to cover up as much of the wreath form as possible.
  • Use little ornaments to prop up your “ornate” ornaments to make them pop a bit more.
  • Don’t try to force the ornaments into nooks…it’s a good way to break the ornaments.
  • If you do break an ornament, try to cover up the breakage rather than trying to remove and replace it.
  • Don’t be afraid to use your best ornaments. This is a spectacular piece and your best ornaments deserve the most attention.
  • Don’t be afraid to sneak plastic ornaments into the mix. I’ve got a few and you wouldn’t even know.
  • Buy yourself a decent glue-gun for Christmas. This One is great.

There are a few more questions you should ask yourself before you start this project.

Where can I hang this baby?

I wouldn’t hang this on a door. Too much banging and bumping. It really shouldn’t be touched so over a mantle or somewhere over a piece of furniture is best, and if you want to get antique furniture you can go to  stores to shopping for antiques online. You can also line the back with felt or a bit of batting to help pad it if you have a lot of banging doors or if it vibrates when the laundry is going.

How do you store it?

Best question ever. The answer is – with difficulty. It needs to be covered. I use a dry cleaning bag which is nice and see through so I know what it is. It really needs to be stored hanging or you’re going to have to find some kind of box to keep it in. Good luck with that but if you do find the perfect box, please please please leave a link in comments! Keeping the wreath hanging in a closet is good. You could keep it with the “fancy” clothes like your wedding dress and Tux since you’re usually clean and careful when you get those out. Hanging in a safe place in the attic is great as well. I’ve got spare closets in the guest rooms that are going to be my super fragile wreath storage area for now and I’m hoping to eventually get Stefan to build me a dedicated Ball Wreath Cabinet in the basement.

Where do you get all those ornaments?

Well, mine are leftover from my wedding but that’s not the normal scenario. Thrift stores are good but in all honesty, you’re probably best off scouring after-Christmas sales at all the normal ornament places: Home Depot, Michaels, Target, etc. If you can do all the solid ornaments new then you can try to get some neat vintage ones for the “ornate” ones. Antique shops usually have them for a few dollars a piece before Christmas but they are getting harder and harder to find. You should also ask your parents/grandparents. They kind of went out of vogue for a while since they are so much more fragile than the new ones and there is no way to get the years and years of dust off them which brings me to my next question…

How do you clean it?

Don’t. The vintage ornaments can NOT get wet or they will lose their pigment. Hit it with a cool blow dryer to get rid of dust, a feather duster might work, but don’t use any cleaners or even hit it too hard with a swiffer. It’s going to be a little dusty. Call it Christmas Fairy Dust and get over it.

I can’t wait to see all your renditions. Please leave links in the comments! I think I’m going to make another this year with all plastic ornaments. Dollar Tree sells those tubes of them and I think I can make it happen.

Merry Christmas!

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Vintage Chandeliers are up!

We have light!!!!

It’s amazing how much you under-appreciate overhead light until you don’t have it anymore. I can’t even imagine pre-electricity. How annoying would that be!!

It was the day of the big Christmas Party, the weekend before Christmas. Sarah was cleaning all morning and then baking…lots and lots of baking. Those are perhaps normal things you would do before a party – clean and bake. But what about Stefan, surely he was helping? Nope..Stefan had an even more important job to do – finish the electric so we don’t freak people out with our exposed wiring. Yes, it is the day of the party and Stefan is re-wiring switch boxes, running around putting switch covers and outlet covers up, and oh yeah, hanging lights so that, you know, people can see each other!

We sure know how to kick ourselves into gear.


Just the week before, I purchased this chandelier at a Salvation Army for $7.99. I figured for $8 we could use it as a temporary light in the piano room but after we got it installed, I have to say I like it!


It would have originally called for hurricanes and bowl shades something like this one:

But Stefan had the great idea to pop some 4″ globe bulbs into it since we didn’t have the shades and I Love the look. The 4″ bulbs only come in 60 Watts which is a bit bright for an exposed bulb but we installed a dimmer and it looks great.


Adding 4″ bulbs to a vintage fixture is my new go-to way to modernize. I’m a big fan. The only downside is that they don’t come in CFL or LED so they are power sucking monsters but I’m hoping that in time I’ll be able to find them.

In the dining room, we installed a typical colonial style chandelier. It’s a 12 light with the little candles.


It was left in the house by our neighbors when they thought they were buying the house. Long story but we basically acquired this beautiful brass chandelier and it looks great in the room.


It was missing all the sleeves that go over the electric candle part and I found them to be cheapest at Lowes but once we put them up, they were a little transparent. I just cut some paper to size, formed it into a tube and slid it inside the covers before putting them up and that did the trick.

Some candelabra bulbs, a wipe down with a swiffer, and she was good to go. I’m hoping to add a dimmer to this switch as well. 12 bulbs is a bit bright!

Now we just need to install the fixture we’ve picked out for the front entry and we’ll be good to go on the first floor!



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Fun Finds – Craigslist Guy edition

A friend of ours was scouring craigslist for a library card catalog when he stumbled upon a listing with no picture but what sounded like a great piece. He went out to take a look and it was awesome. Not only that, but the guy was an older man, a collector, and he was moving. He was selling almost everything in the house and adjacent barn. Our friend John knew it was right up our alley and the three of us went back to pick up the card catalog and pick through the treasures in this guys house.

We came back with the motherload.

This is one cool piece.

Any guesses what it is?

It’s some sort of gas auto lantern. Either for a car or a stagecoach of some sort. Think a gas headlight. Soooo cool!

We got 2 cool chandeliers:

2 really neat old floor lamps

An ammo box and a library ladder chair

And this neat misson-style or mission-ish-style umbrella stand

And to top it all off, we got this big box full of lamps and obscure gas to electric conversion pieces that we would never be able to find otherwise.


I’ll be posting more details as I get things cleaned up and re-wired but I couldn’t help but share my find with you now while they are making a big mess in my kitchen.

What a great way to spend a Sunday!


  1. 5/16/2013 | 11:41 am Permalink

    Stefan went back yesterday and got even more! Wait until you see the pictures from round 2!

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

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New England Demolition & Salvage and other New Bedford highlights

This past week I started a new job.  It’s been going great and it’s super exciting to get to meet new people and learn new things.  As I mentioned, I took a week off between jobs to relax, catch up on house stuff, and have some fun.  On Thursday of that week, we went somewhere awesome: New Bedford. It is a sea-coast town about an hour and a half south of us.

New England Demolition and Salvage had all manner of cool things. They are definitely one of the best companies for demolition. Like 100s of bathtubs

Or toilets of every variety.

Including a PURPLE one!

And this awesome pink kitchen sink.

Unfortunately we were on the hunt for a pair of pedestal sinks but no luck in that department. They looked pretty cleaned out and it’s actually cheaper to buy new.

We also hit 1 of 5 or so big antique malls in the area. I’ll definitely be going back to scope out the rest of the malls!

New England Antiques Co.
127 Rodney French Boulevard
New Bedford, MA 02744
(508) 993-7600

This was just the “furniture” neighborhood. It was this big…times about 5. HUGE.

We came across this Eastlake Furniture set that we really liked. We decided we didn’t have the time to take on the project but we will keep our eyes peeled for a similar set in better condition. I don’t mind re-upholstery but the house is not in a state where I can take on that project right now. Stefan loved the style though and the diminutive size will be perfect in the piano room. This particular style was popular from the 1870s to 1890s and was named for it’s creator, Charles Eastlake. Though victorian by timeframe, the style is a deviation from the gaudy baroque revival of the time. After looking at the pieces in the furniture store, we were able see the Eastlake influence in some of the architectural details of the house. It is clearly a turning point from the romantic curves and classic influences of the late 19th century to the angular art-deco designs of the post-war 1920s. I’d love to find a good book on the history of furniture design. It’s fascinating to see the progression of design as circumstances change over time. Let me know if you have any recommendations!

After Thursday in New Bedford, we left Friday for a weekend in Saratoga Springs. It was a great trip and lots of fun family time. I had fun with my nieces and nephews swimming and coloring birdhouses. To top it off, I came home with the great cloche. Just the right size:

Stay tuned for the saga of the kitchen cabinets!