Copper Wreath Project

This wreath project uses copper tubing and a DIY papier-mâché bird to create a new decoration for your front door.

There’s something satisfying about hanging a wreath on the door to welcome fall. While I love traditional evergreen, laurel and harvest wheat rings,  I thought it might be fun to transform the wreath into a more modern one, so I created this wreath project.

You can use almost anything for the base of the wreath, but I like copper tubing because it starts to arc into a circle naturally as you hammer and bend by hand. Then once you have that, the rest is just decorative. Let’s get started!

Materials:

Copper tubing or other metal armature
Metal window screen
Wire
Spray paint, house paint or artist’s tube paint
Spray sealer (optional)
Hammer
Scissors
Needle-nose pliers
Stapler

Papier-mâché clay supplies (see instructions in step 5)

  • 1 roll 2-ply toilet paper
  • ¾ cup White Elmer’s Glue-All
  • 1 cup regular joint compound (not "fast set" or "light")
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 2 tablespoons linseed oil
    (optional)
  • Electric mixer
  • High-sided bowl

Step-By-Step Instructions:

Step 1

Hammer copper tubing or other metal pipe into a flat circle. Hand-bend additional tubing into a bow shape and wire it together at its center, leaving a little extra length of wire for fastening to the wreath.

Step 2

Create metal flowers. Start by cutting circles out of metal window screen. Mine were about 5 in. in diameter, but you can make them bigger or smaller.

Step 3

Cup each circle in your hand to form a cone, then twist the base until the screen starts folding into a flower shape. Staple the base so the flower keeps its form.

Step 4

Insert a wire through the base of each flower and twist it snugly. Leave a tail long enough to attach the flowers to the wreath armature. Spray-paint the flowers or leave them natural.

Step 5

Make papier-mâché clay. Start by filling a bowl with warm water. Pull the cardboard tube out of the toilet paper roll. (I squashed my roll flat a couple of times and then used needle-nose pliers to pull the tube out.) Submerge the toilet paper in the water and push down on the roll to make sure all of it gets wet.

Squeeze out as much water as you can from the roll, empty the water out of the bowl, and put the wet paper mass back in. Tear the paper into chunks about 1 in. across. This will allow the mixer to move the pieces around and more easily break them apart.

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix with the electric mixer. Process for at least 3 minutes, making sure the paper is evenly distributed.
If you see big lumps, turn the mixer off and use a fork or your fingers to break them apart; continue mixing until smooth. (Store leftover clay in a lidded plastic container; it should remain workable for at least 5 days.)

Step 6

Begin creating the bird. Scrunch up a sheet of newspaper into the roughly oval shape of a bird’s body, then make a smaller newspaper ball for the bird’s head. Using strips of masking tape, attach the head to the body and then cover the bird completely with the tape. This smoothes out the crumpled paper and makes it easy to shape a beak.

Step 7

Use your fingers to apply the clay. Press it on over the masking tape and add to the bird’s shape. Make bird feet out of wire and insert them into the bottom of the bird while the clay is still wet. Once the clay hardens, the feet will be firmly attached.

Let clay dry thoroughly—at least a couple of days—before painting it.

Step 8

I like playing with different arrangements to see what looks best before I attach anything. Once you’ve decided where you want your accents, simply wire them to the copper ring. Spray sealer or shellac (optional) will make the wreath last longer.

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