Happy Holidays + Holiday Wreath by Swallows & Damsons

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For the first time in my life, I feel like I blinked and an entire year passed. From writing a new book and building a new team to adding a new puppy to our family and working on a very old house, this year felt like one exciting to-do list after another — and I have never been more excited to take a deep breath, pause and look forward to plan what is going to be the most exciting year we’ve ever had here at Design*Sponge. Next year will bring a new print project, a new book and book tour, an expansion of our writing team and an even bigger push for great, original content covering everything from decorating and interior design to makers, business advice, entertaining and more.

Design*Sponge is entering its 12th year and I can’t think of a better time to evolve, strengthen and expand with new ideas, exciting projects and greater connection with our community. I can’t wait to show you what we have in store for the coming months, but until then, stay tuned to our social media feeds for a sneak peek and stay tuned here on the main website where we’ll be sharing brand new (free!) downloadable artwork and wallpapers created just for you all — just for the holiday break. That will start tomorrow and we’ll be back with brand new posts on Monday, January 4th. Until then, from all of us at Design*Sponge, we thank you all for your support and your voices and wish you the very best for a safe and happy holiday and an incredible New Year. xo, grace

*I’m so happy to end this year with a gorgeous holiday wreath project from Anna at Swallows & Damsons. Instead of a weekly wrap-up, I hope this post will provide some inspiration if you want to get outside, gather natural materials and make something beautiful to enjoy over the holidays.

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Traditionally, a Christmas wreath is made of evergreens to symbolize strength even in the harshest times, to flourish even through the coldest, most barren months. Throughout the year I collect various oddities, feathers found by my four-year-old, pine cones, interesting sticks — I love to have a reason to use all of these treasures as reminders of the year gone by. December is a time when we not only celebrate, but also leave the old behind and get ready for new things to come.

Our wreaths this Christmas consist largely of foliage; foraged and bought, old and new, earthy and wild. There are unexpected elements, decaying bracken, skeletal seed pods, living succulents, sempervivums, pheasant feathers and fruits. —Anna

1. Mossing the Base
I use a wire frame, a roll of wire and some moss. Clumps are placed onto the frame, which is secured by wrapping the wire around continuously. I don’t cut the wire right until the whole wreath is complete, I keep on going around the wreath, a layer of moss on one side and a layer on the other. When finished, leave the wire attached, ready for the next stage.

The moss acts as a source of moisture for the foliage and as a secure base to attach and adorn onto. It’s incredibly messy; I love getting so earthy and back to basics, my hands ingrained with dirt. There’s even sometimes an added surprise snail or slug, just to liven things up a bit!

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2. Foliage
I take small bunches of mixed stems. Magnolia leaves, spruce, pheasant feathers, eucalyptus, bracken, olive are all going into the wreath. As each bunch is placed, I secure just the end stems with my wire, which is still attached from the mossing stage. Binding around each cluster 5/6 times to make sure it’s secure. I layer them, one slightly facing into the center, one facing out, packing them in quite densely for a full appearance.

As I approach the end, any gaps can be filled by poking loose foliage into the moss, at this point it should feel quite full and secure and putting loose stems in shouldn’t be a problem.

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3. Adornments
When adding pinecones, succulents or seed heads, I attach a slightly thicker/shorter piece of wire by either wedging into (the sempervivum), or wrapping around (the pinecone). Then, simply poke the end of the wire into the moss. When the wire comes out of the moss on the reverse side, I fold it back on itself to stop it from slipping out.

To set the scene, I created a table setting fit for a Christmas feast. At our house it’s a blur of glitter, tacky crackers, party hats, spilled drinks, napkins on fire — I was craving something a little more simple and sophisticated.

Mac & May’s oily black walls were a perfect backdrop to the rambling foliage and earthy fruits and vegetables that were strewn naturally along the table. The Fluorspar rocks looked magical with the flecks in the pottery glaze and the twinkling candlelight. For the flowers, like the wreath, I embraced the season’s cold tones and textures. Hellebores, anemones and ranunculus wildly doing their own thing mixed with the last of the garden’s heuchera and crispy golden bracken from the moors.

And to end, the smoke from the blown-out candles danced around the table and we all inhaled deeply.

Photographs by India Hobson and massive thanks to Grey Suit ClayMac & May

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  1. Melinda says:

    I love the gorgeous still like photos in this post. Is there where I could buy the photos or file to download? Gorgeous!

  2. Rita says:

    Love the entire story, especially the ombré bowl in front in the second to last image. Does anybody recognize it?
    Thanks,
    Rita

    1. Rita says:

      I think the bowl is by greysuitclay.

  3. Rachel says:

    That is a gorgeous wreath, especially against the black door and wall. Maybe next year!

  4. Ann Isherwood says:

    Just beautiful and inspiring! Thank you for sharing your talent x

  5. Kati says:

    Stunning wreath & photos. They remind me of Flemish still life paintings. Great styling!

  6. Alexis says:

    Absolutely beautiful photos. Love, love your Christmas wreath. I’m definitely going to make one! Best!

  7. Lulu says:

    What a gorgeous shoot! Who makes the ceramics?

    1. Anna says:

      Hi Lulu

      Thanks for your kind words about the shoot :) the ceramics are made by grey suit clay- link is in the credits above.

  8. Julian says:

    Such a beautiful study. From the weight of the wall color to the lightness of the flowers and the artistry in the wreath. Gorgeous.

  9. Christine Hicks says:

    Love all of this, it looks so perfect together. I love making wreaths and hanging them on our front gate to our house. Great wreath!

  10. Mark Wright says:

    Wow… This is beautiful. No doubt about that.

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