Bonafide Farm

Get crafty: How to make a ‘Glass Gem’ corn wreath

October 15th, 2013 § 5

After harvesting more than 100 ears of ‘Glass Gem’ corn, I needed to do something with it. A harvest wreath was the perfect project. I love to make wreaths—I love the seasonal symbolism of them and the way they act as jewelry for the house, dressing it up in a way that shows that the person who lives there cares enough to make the public face of their home pretty and welcoming.

However, the wreaths one most often encounters in stores are all too frequently plasticly hideous, reminding me of cheap gravestone decor, while being simultaneously, ironically expensive. It’s very hard to find a good wreath, which in my definition is one that looks natural and fairly understated, while also having enough going on to be interesting. The wreath should also be complementary to the home that it’s decorating.

Because I am picky about wreaths, I tend to make my own each season. I’ve done fall fruit wreaths, winter greens wreaths and spring wildflower wreaths, but I’d never before attempted an Indian corn wreath. It was a bit of a learning curve, but here’s how it all went down.

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I got a few cheap wire wreath frames, and then I set to work sorting my best-looking ‘Glass Gem’ corn by length into separate buckets. I figured I had enough good corn for two fairly substantial wreaths. Then I did a test fit for the first wreath, choosing the ears for the four cardinal directions and then filling in between them with a nice balance of colors.

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I soon realized that the corn wasn’t thick enough to totally hide the wire frame. I did two things to fix this issue. First, I wired some pieces of rafia sheeting, which were actually cut-up IKEA window screens that I’d had for many years, to the wire base. Second, I folded a few pieces of corn husk back behind each cob, trimming the husk that stuck out past the end of the cob.

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After I hot glued each ear down, they still needed more support to stay on the frame. I had to make two points of connection on each ear to keep them from flopping around or falling off when the wreath was hung. I got a big needle and some very fine gauge wire and sewed each ear onto the frame, going around twice. The silver wire blended in pretty well and wasn’t too noticeable. I tied the wires off in the back of the wreath, leaving them long enough that I could tighten them again should the corn shrink as it dries.

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And then I just kept going, glueing and wiring the corn in place, all while sitting on the floor of the garage.

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It took a long time to fuss with each piece to make it look nice, but I had lots of company.

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In fact, the chickens seemed pretty happy to be snacking on runaway ‘Glass Gem’ corn kernels. What a gourmet treat!

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Once I got all the corn cobs attached, I went back and filled in some thin-looking spots with extra corn husk. Some of cobs had lost their husks entirely, so I hot-glued prosthetic husks to them. And then I got some wheat stems (picked up at the craft store) and glued them in between each cob for another layer of interest. I trimmed the tips of some of the cobs with my pruners to help make the negative space in the center of the wreath as even as possible.

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After a test-hang to check for any weird-looking spots, the wreath was ready for the front door. I couldn’t have picked better corn colors to go with my house!

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And then I made another for wreath for my mom’s front door.┬áThe wreaths have been hanging almost a month and seem to be holding up pretty well. They’re both on protected porches, which I am sure helps to extend their life. But if they should decide to take a turn for the ugly, I know a bunch of chickens that would be pretty thrilled to help dispose of the remnants of my harvest wreath.

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