Update 2018: In response to so many requests to buy, a local small business is making these wreaths to sell. Order yours now via this link: Horse Head Wreaths – or use these instructions to create your own!
One constant in my outdoor Christmas decorating plan is wreaths on the front gates. Since many of my neighbors know Hawk Hill for the pony that grazes in the front lawn all summer, this year I decided to make wreaths with an equestrian theme. Most people see our gate decor from 45mph, so I knew I needed to go big! I had no luck finding instructions for constructing this kind of wreath, so I decided to post instructions for those who might be curious in the future. These instructions should work for any sort of shape- It would be fun to see the same style wreath done in other interest-specific shapes.
Materials you’ll need:
1 precut horse head wreath forms.
OR the following supplies to make your own wreath frame:
1. Chicken wire or other flexible wire mesh
2. Wire cutter or Tin Snips
3. Pattern (see below for how I made my own)
Materials needed for Wreath Construction:
1. Semi-Rigid Wire, cut to 4-5″ lengths and folded in half – OR – Garland Twist Ties
2. Greenery garland (My full size wreaths took 2 9ft garlands each)
When I made and sold these a few years ago, my best results came from using half cheap garland and half higher-end faux evergreen greenery. The cheap garland works as a filler (and can be purchased easily in bulk) while the nicer stuff gives a more expensive look.
3. Horse halter (optional)
4. Green floral wire.
1. Thick work gloves
3. Wire cutter or Tin Snips (If buy a premade form and all you need to cut is your garland ties, very sharp scissors should work)
OPTIONAL FOR FINISHING:
Red Velvet Ribbon OR
Premade Red Rosette Horse Show Ribbon
HOW TO MAKE YOUR WREATH:
1. Find or make the outline you’d like to use. I spent most of Junior High practicing my skills at doodling horses, so I just laid out a horse halter to provide proportions and sketched in the shape of the head. You could just as easily download a silhouette and enlarge to size. (Note that if you want your wreath to be standard front-door sized, you’ll need to base your measurements on a small weanling or pony sized halter instead of a horse size). I had so many requests I actually located precut forms for sale, so if you want to skip this step, grab a horse head wreath frame by clicking here.
2. Lay out a panel of wire mesh over your outline. Wearing work gloves, begin folding the edges inward, conforming to the shape of your outline. You’ll have to cut a bit to make the wire fit. To conform to the horse head’s throatlatch, make a cut straight up from directly underneath the throatlatch and fold each corner up. Modeling with chicken wire requires a bit of rough handling, so don’t be gentle with it! You may need to add pieces or layers to get a full, rigid head. When you are happy with your shape, smash it flat.
3. Acquire greenery (looking like a bag lady with the spoils of your Black Friday shopping, like me, is optional!)
I mix two kinds of garland for these wreaths: Cheap basic garland purchased in bulk for filler and more authentic faux fir garland to make the wreath look at first glance like I used real evergreen boughs.
Fluff your greenery before starting, so your wreath will look full and natural. With fluffed greenery you’ll be able to use slightly less materials and still create a wreath with a full look.
Lay out your 1st garland on the frame, doubling it back and forth to cover the shape. Don’t try to make your garland go farther- a fuller look comes from packing the greenery fairly densely.
The contours of your design may be different than mine, but I used roughly this layout to fill in my horse head:
4. Use the folded wire pins or garland ties to anchor the greenery to your mesh frame. Start with a few very spaced out wire ties to help get the greenery under control and the end product easier to visualize, then keep adding wire ties until the greenery is completely secure and cannot be shaken loose. Continue until your frame is covered and your wreath’s shape complete. Cut off any excess garland, then cut spare pieces into 4″ to 6″ lengths and anchor those pieces anywhere the wreath may look sparse.
Wire twisted in this configuration will solidly anchor your greenery.
5. Groom – you may find, like me, your horse head looks a bit “off” when done. If you’ve anchored your pieces well, you should be able to fold and bend or even clip and snip portions of greenery to clean up your horse head shape.
Tip: For the ears and any fine points of your design: green floral wire can help your ears go from bushy to neat, simply grasp the ear in a fist, forcing the sprigs to face one direction, and spiral wrap floral wire down the length. The green floral wire will disappear against the green branches but leave a distinct and neat edge.
When I was finished, my wreath seemed too bushy- smashing under a board flattened and neatened the overall appearance.
6. I really think these wreaths look better with horse halters on them! You can decorate them with old halters like me, pick up a few cheap red halters, make your own with ribbon, or inexpensively build a “halter” using real halter hardware from LuckyPony.com.
For a reference of how the backside of this wreath should look, he’s a shot of the back of one of mine:
The entire project from sketch to final hanging took me about 45 minutes for my first wreath, and about a half hour for my second- which I felt like was an outstanding value for very large wreaths that should last several years. My favorite part about these shaped wreaths is that they are so unique! In a world where most Christmas decorations come from big box stores that sell identical items by the hundreds-of-thousands, it’s fun to have decorations that are totally unique to you!
Update Jan 2018:
It’s been fun to see this post travel far and wide each Christmas since I originally made and posted these in 2013! So many of you have provided feedback and thanks, and I thank you! If you take-on this project this year, please share a photo in the comments- I’d love to see your results!