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Sunday, September 15, 2013

Shotgun Shell Wreath

The Shotgun Shell Wreath




Wreath #1

What you will need:

* 12” straw wreath form                                 
* Approximately 200 used shotgun shells
* Floral wire – 24-28 gauge (I used 24)         
* Wire cutters
* Hot Glue Gun                                             
* Ribbon, raffia and fall garland or picks for filler
* Stencil burner, or wood burning tool with pointy tip, or dremel


I found a shotgun shell wreath on Pinterest, and showed it to my dad, a hunter of many years, who agreed that it was a cute idea.  He then surprised me by saying, “I have four boxes of used shotgun shells that I was getting ready to throw out, you want them?”  To which I replied, “Sure, what the heck.”

I took home two boxes of shells, stopping at A.C. Moore along the way to pick up some straw wreaths, some fall garland, burlap ribbon, ya know, the things I figured I might possibly need.  When I got home with my new acquisitions, I settled down on the couch with a dog or two and my laptop, thinking that I would click on the picture I had pinned to look up the directions on how to make this wreath, as per usual. 

File not found.

A Google search showed me other style options, but no directions.  Some looked like the one I had pinned, some were just hot glued straight to the wreath, and others had white Christmas lights shoved down into the shells to make a lighted wreath, which was cute, but more complicated than what I had in mind.  I saw that people were selling them on Etsy, but I figured they would be unwilling to spill all of their secrets so that I could make it myself.  So, I’m creative, I can figure this out…surely.
I knew I wanted the shells to hang, which would require making holes in the end, but how?  I spent a week with this problem simmering in the back of my mind, pulling it out occasionally to stir.  I considered using a drill, but figured that in order to prevent drilling through any body parts I would have to put each shell in the vice, which we have in the garage, but I didn’t want to stand out there for hours putting shells in one by one and drilling through them.  This is absolutely an option, albeit a slow one.
  Then I remembered that I had bought a stencil burner years ago when I was convinced that I should start airbrushing motorcycle helmets (don't ask).  It had never been used, but luckily, I remembered where I had stashed it.  Did it work? Like butter.
An hour later, I had a box of shells with a hole in either side.  I used the crimped line to make sure I was making all the holes the same distance from the top of the shell.  If you don't have a stencil burner you could surely use a wood burning tool, as long as you don't mind if it gets melted plastic on it.  A dremel or drill would work too, but may be more labor intensive.

The Devil's Shrink Wrap.
If you've never worked with a straw wreath, let me give you some advice - you're going to make a mess.  Like, a huge mess.  Little pieces of hay are going to fall all over the place, and I don't know if this is true for all brands of straw wreath, but for the two I purchased, the very act of getting them unwrapped was a 2-3 minute process.  The straw is wrapped in fishing line, so don't think you're going to take a knife to the plastic wrap and just pull out a wreath.  The plastic wrap was wrapped, and wrapped, and wrapped again, so I was frustrated before I even began to build the wreath.  To add insult to injury, the ends of the fishing line weren't actually tied together, so I had to do that myself and dab a little hot glue on them to make sure it held.

It's this easy.
For this, my first wreath, I cut a length of wire long enough to go around the outside edge of the wreath, plus a few inches for slack and to be able to twist it together, and started stringing up shells.  If you have children that you trust not to poke their eye out with floral wire, I suggest delegating this task.  It took about 50 shells for the outside edge, and I left a gap at the top because I knew I was going to tie a big burlap ribbon around the top and didn’t want shells in the way.

I took a piece of raffia and tied the wire down in about 5 places around the wreath, in an effort to keep it in place.  It didn’t work, but that was the thought process.  I did a total of 4 loops of shells, tying them on with raffia and pushing the wire into the top of the wreath after I twisted the ends together.  Then I picked it up and everything went berserk.  It looked fabulous lying on the table, but gravity wasn’t as kind when I hung it up.  After a few moments of rearranging the shells that were sticking out in all directions, it looked better, but there were several empty spots.  I filled those in with some fall garland and a glue gun, tied my ribbon to the top, and stuck a bow on it.
The problem with this wreath, is that it weighs about 3 pounds., and all that weight on the wires made them pull forward, so all of my fancy tying with raffia did virtually nothing.  I went back with an 8 inch length of floral wire, and wrapped it around each of the four wires holding the shells in six different places around the wreath.  This tightened up the wires and helped to keep them evenly spaced, and seems to have fixed the issue.






Wreath #2

What you will need:

* 12” straw wreath form                                         
* Approximately 126 used shotgun shells
* Floral wire – 24-28 gauge (I used 24)                
* Wire cutters
* Hot Glue Gun                                                       
* Ribbon, raffia and fall garland or picks for filler
* A clay pigeon
* Stencil burner, or wood burning tool with pointy tip, or dremel







So you’ll notice that the…ummm…ingredients…are almost the same, this version just requires less shells.


Instead of making long loops, this time I opted to wrap them around the short way.  For the size wreath I used, it took 9 shells to go from the inside to the outside and still be flat on the back, so your results may vary.  I used about 10-12" of wire for each string, because I like to have a little extra instead of it being too short to twist.  I started at the bottom, well, I picked a spot to start and that became the bottom, and made 7 rows of shells, making sure the bottom of the shells overlapped the top of the row beneath it.  I found it easier to lay the wreath 'face-down' and push the string of shells under it, then tie from the back, making sure the first and last shell matched up with the ones below it. Once the wreath was completed, I pushed the extra wire back into the wreath to keep it from shifting.

I considered doing this overlapping pattern all the way around in just one direction, but figured I should play nice with gravity and let them all hang down.  So I started on the other side and made more rows up the other side.  When I got to the top, I realized I had room for another row both directions, so I added more shells.  This still left a gap at both the top and the bottom, but it also left room for the ribbon needed to hang it up, and the clay pigeon at the bottom, so it all worked out in the end.

See! Hay everywhere.




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