Wreaths of the Heartland
South Dakota Wreath
This lovely wreath was inspired by the ring-necked pheasant, introduced as a game bird to South Dakota in 1898. The pheasant became the state bird in 1943.
To make this wreath: Begin with a pre-made twig wreath (ours was 22 inches wide). Using hot glue and a glue gun, attach tiny pheasant pinfeathers to a few twig ends. Using hot glue, attach Brazil nuts (found in grocery stores) around the center opening. Insert medium-size pheasant feathers, all facing the same direction as the twigs. Attach with hot glue. About a dozen long tail feathers are used in the lower third of the wreath. Divide the feathers, using half on one side, half on the other, gluing them horizontally so they resemble whiskers on a cat's face. A large bow of brown satin, attached with florist's wire, is centered above the large feathers.
We left the husks on burgundy miniature popcorn to reflect the nickname Cornhusker State. Referring to the early method of harvesting corn, the moniker is carried by today's University of Nebraska athletic teams. Dried materials could substitute for our fresh orange kumquats and green boxwood.
To make this wreath: Begin with a premade grapevine wreath (ours was 10 inches wide). At a grocery store, buy enough small strawberry popcorn cobs (with husks left on) to cover the wreath. Place florist's wire around each cob and attach to the grapevine form. Thread wires through fresh kumquats (or around dried ones) and attach to the form. Wrap wire around small bouquets of fresh boxwood or dried greens before attaching to the wreath. We added a burgundy velvet bow at the base.
The Prairie State was the first to designate the cardinal as its official bird, in 1929. Ohio and Indiana followed (plus Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia). Our grapevine wreath could adorn a coat hook or doorknob. We tucked in sprigs of white tallowberries and a pair of male cardinals (ours aren't territorial!).
To make this wreath: A 7-1/2-inch premade grapevine wreath is the base. Add an upsweep of dried twigs 7 to 8 inches long on one side; attach with hot glue. Insert white tallowberries around the wreath, securing with hot glue. The cardinals come with wire on their feet, which you attach to the wreath form.
The scarlet carnation, this state's official flower, perks up our three wreaths on silver platters. They're easy to make with moistened floral foam wreath bases, and will last up to a week. The flower serves as a memory of native son President William McKinley, elected in 1896 and assassinated in 1901. He usually wore one in his lapel.
To make this project: Soak the floral foam wreaths in water (we used three 12-inch forms) until saturated. Place each form on a plate that's slightly wider than your completed project. Cut the stems of red carnations close to the base of the bud, gently pushing the short stem into the floral foam. Add a dozen red spider gerbera daisies, if you like. Completely cover the form with flowers. The number you'll need depends on the size of the flowers (we used 24 to 30 medium- size carnations for each). Buy ornaments with wire attached to their base and insert them into the wreath wherever you like. Place an ivory candle and glass hurricane lamp in the center of the wreath form.
North Dakota Wreath
The state's heritage of horses, cowboys, Native American culture and the frontier inspires our wreath.
To make this wreath: Find stainless steel barbed wire at a hardware or farm supply store. Wear heavy leather gloves and long sleeves while you wrap the barbed wire around a round form, such as a plastic bucket, as many times as you wish. Finish by looping more barbed wire around the circle (ours was 15 inches wide). Draw a star pattern on paper, then trace it on leather and cut out several. Cut more leather to form a bow and "ribbon" in proportion to the size of your wreath. Attach the leather stars and toy sheriff's stars to the wreath with hot glue and florists' wire. We wired spurs and a child's cowboy boot to the center opening.
When you think of "Delicious" apples, think of Iowa. In the late 1800s, a tree near Winterset bore the first fruits, which were strawberry red streaked with yellow, much smaller than today's brand. Our apple-laden wreath will last about two weeks.
To make this wreath: This project can be made with fresh or dried materials. If using fresh apples, soak the heart-shaped floral foam in water until saturated. Cut apples in half. Use a florist's pick to push each fresh apple half into the floral foam. If using halved plastic apples, use a dry foam heart shape and hot glue to attach the apples. After the apples are in place, cover all the empty spots with hypericum berries (again, you can use fresh or dried) that you wire to a pick and then push into the foam.
What says "Kansas" better than wheat and sunflowers? The state ranks first nationwide in wheat production and third in sunflower production, and the sunflower has been a state symbol since March 12, 1903.
To make this project: This easy swag begins with a premade sheaf of wheat (ours was 26 inches long). Thread the sheaf through a foam wreath. Use a wet floral foam form if using fresh sunflowers, and a dry foam form for dried sunflowers. Wire the sheaf and ring together. Cut the sunflower stems very close to the base of the flower, then gently push into the floral foam to cover the form. Make a plaid bow, then tie it with florist's wire to the intersection of the sheaf and wreath.
Midwesterners know winter, especially the hardy residents of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, where the annual average snowfall piles up almost 185 inches deep. Our gorgeous ode to snow includes white foam snowballs, crystalline snowflake ornaments and ice-blue ribbons.
To make this wreath: Begin with a hard white foam circle (ours was 21 inches wide). Use a white feather boa to cover the foam, attaching it with U-shaped pieces of wire. Spray hard white foam balls with artificial snow to resemble snowballs. Buy several snowflake ornaments. Cut some in half, tucking the ornaments- edges into the hard foam wreath so some of the snowflakes appear to be coming from various directions. Hang others flat against the wreath. Fasten them with florist's wire. Add an ice-blue satin bow on the bottom, and hang with matching ribbon.
A checkered flag, the vroom-vroom of race-car engines, the cheering of 400,000 spectators. It's the famed Indianapolis 500, the world's largest one-day sporting event, held annually the last Sunday in May. Our wreath--a winner for a kid's bedroom door or wall--starts with a garden tractor tire.
To make this wreath: Scour lawn and garden shops for a small rubber tire similar to our 11-inch garden tractor tire. We wired and hot-glued toy race cars and red ribbons to the tire. (You can use an adhesive such as E-6000, but it may be more difficult to work with.) Wire a checkered cloth bow to the tire.
The Dairy State is also the nation's leading producer of cranberries. We wrapped strands of cranberries around a simple evergreen wreath and added a wire "floor" to the hole.
To make this wreath: Start with a grapevine wreath (ours was 18 inches wide). Create a "floor" for the wreath by stringing wire in a crisscross pattern across the bottom, attaching it to the wreath form. Wrap long branches of evergreens around the form, wiring the greenery into place. Using small-gauge wire, string fresh cranberries (make sure they're very firm, not mushy), and loop the string around the evergreen wreath. The length will depend on how closely you want the cranberry strings spaced apart. Thread four wires about 2 feet long with cranberries. (Make the wires longer if you're creating a larger wreath.) Wire each string to the wreath, spaced at equal distances apart. Leave extra wire at each end to join at the top to hang from a hook on a porch or inside. On the wire floor, place a glass bowl with a pillar candle.
It's hard to put a lake (much less 10,000) on a wreath, so we turned to Minnesota's north woods for inspiration. The state is home to the nation's largest jack pine, red pine and white spruce trees, and has the most recreational watercraft and sales of fishing licenses per capita.
To make this wreath: Attach wooden fish ornaments and fishing bobbers with florist's wire to a premade evergreen wreath (ours was 16 inches wide). If you can find a pair of real or fake antlers, attach them with wire at the bottom of the wreath. Make a plaid flannel bow that's proportionate to the size of your wreath, and attach it with florist's wire.
"Show me," they say in Missouri. This glittery wreath will take care of that!
To make this wreath: Buy a silver-painted wood frame 21 inches square, with a circular mirror. Pound several nails into each outside corner. Using a broomstick, wrap 10-gauge wire to make wire loops that you attach to the corner nails so the wire encircles the frame. Using glass or plastic ornaments with wired stems, make small clusters or "bouquets" that you attach to the wire until it covers the wooden mirror frame, leaving the mirror showing. Add crystals or prisms with florist's wire for sparkle.
Midwest Living Wreath
In addition to the wreaths devoted to each of our Midwest 12 states, we developed our own Midwest Living wreath made with juniper and fresh red roses. Click below for step-by-step instructions.