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aromatherapy 101

Fragrant Wreaths

Scented wreaths have been popular decorations for many years. Originally they were made of fresh materials that needed to be replaced often. Eventually bundles of dried herbs took the place of fresh materials. Culinary wreaths, used for seasoning, were never far from the cook's hand. Other herbs were fashioned into wreaths and placed on doors to keep evil spirits away from the home.

You are probably not worried about evil spirits, but a scented wreath can still make a handsome accessory for any door. You can make fragrant wreaths by using one of two wreath forms: one is a straw base, the other is a styrofoam base. Both of these types of wreaths are available from craft stores. In addition to the forms, you will need white glue or rubber cement, T-pins, glass-headed pins, ribbon, lace, tweezers, fine-gauge wire or florist's wire, grain alcohol, whole and powdered spices and herbs, dried flowers, and oils.

Before you even open your glue bottle, decide where you want the focal point to be on your wreath. The focal point is where your eyes will be drawn first when you look at the wreath. You can divide the circle in half, quarters, eighths, or sixteenths, either horizontally or vertically. Pattern segments can be repeated in each section. It does not matter if the design is balanced or uneven, but your eyes should find the focal point naturally, then travel around the remainder of the wreath. As you work on the pattern, check to see if it looks correct. If so, you have a design with the right balance of movement and stillness.

Cover the styrofoam wreath with white glue and let your imagination go as you place dried materials on it. Good materials for a scented wreath are: woodruff, mint, lemon balm, patchouli, heather, lavender, oak moss, and yerba santa. To give the wreath an overall effect of color, accent it with one material, such as lavender flowers. You may want to arrange materials in stripes or use a pre-mixed potpourri. Whole spices can be arranged in patterns and then glued into place. Tiny kumquat pomanders or citrus peel strips, small sachets, pastilles, decorated pine cones or silk flowers complete the composition. Wrapping ribbons and bows around the form makes a charming finishing touch.

Straw wreaths are made a little differently. Dissolve any combination of fragrances or essential oils in alcohol and spray the wreath until it is saturated, then allow it to dry. Glue on spices, whole bay leaves, or other materials in patterns. String cinnamon sticks on florist's wire and zig-zag them around the form. Additional wire can be used to hold the sticks in place.

Vanilla beans, long cinnamon sticks, and licorice root pieces can be combined with silk flowers and foilage to make an attractive display. You may even want to pin sachet or potpourri wrapped in bridal netting to the wreath for an additional touch of fragrance. Circle the wreath with ribbon and lace, and pin it to the back with T-pins. Give a final touch to your creation by adding a colorful bow.

Wreaths can also make wonderful gifts. Match the ribbon and lace colors to those used in the receiver's home, or try making a wreath that has some practical value. Follow a theme. The tea drinker's wreath is made of tea bags, tiny bundles of tea herbs, and a tea strainer. For the cook, glue whole bay leaves around a styrofoam form in an overlapping scale pattern, attach whole garlic cloves, individualized bouquet garni (herbs and spices wrapped in cheesecloth), and used a ribbon to attach a garlic press. If the wreath has been carefully designed, it will look good even after the food products have been removed. Be creative and design a special wreath for an incense-lover, bath sachet-user, or potpourri-crafter.


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