Magnolia leaves are a classic staple in the floral world, and it's no wonder. They're so versatile with their combination of both waxy and velvety textures, plus they're hardy as heck, which is always a plus for creating beautiful decor pieces. Magnolia garlands and wreaths can actually be kept for years, and while they will fade and dry, will retain their shape, and can be sprayed any color your desire.
Since the leaves are so large, they really fill out a wreath, garland, or swag nicely, and integrate seamlessly with evergreens and traditional holiday elements. Today I'm going to show you how to use magnolia leaves to create a garland or holiday swag. This step by step is great because you can use it anytime of year to make any kind of garland you want. The technique is almost always the same no matter what foliage you're working with! Plus you need a very minimal amount of supplies. For reals, when I show you how to do it, you will want to make garlands all day, everyday.
Here's what you'll need:
- Magnolia leaves. Believe it or not these were purchased at the grocery store. I saw them in the floral department and knew I had to do this tutorial. They're usually around this time of year, but you can always order from your local floral shop if you can't find them.
- Paddle wire, 26 or 28 gage. You can find this in the floral department of any arts and crafts store.
- Floral shears. These guys are pretty heavy wood stems, so I do suggest you get actual shears for this. Mine came from Lowes or Home Depot in the garden section.
- Optional: Adorable, curious mini dachshund.
There is very minimal prep when you're making a garland. Remove them from their wrapping and cut them loose if they're secured in bunches. Check them over quickly and pull off any leaves that might look yucky or be going bad. Take one or two stems of your magnolia and clip off some smaller size pieces. Save these back, we'll need them at the end. They should be about 5-7 inch stems with a few leaves each.
Making any garland is simply a process of layering. You're going to take stem after stem, and simply lay it on top of the previous stem, moving downward, and wrapping as you go. Magnolia is a little tricky since the leaves are so large. You'll have to thread the wire in between the leaves as you wrap and layer.
Continue this process of wrapping and layering until you have a length of foliage the is HALF of what you want your final length to be.
Make sure to secure the end of your wire by wrapping it in and around the other wire several times. Next you will repeat this exact process and create the other half of your garland. When your two sides are done we will join them in the center.
At this point your join will be very visible, and not very pretty, but no worries, we're going to fix all that! Just make sure both pieces are secured to each other, that's the most important part of this step.
Remember those little snips we saved in the beginning? This is where they come in. Use these small clippings to hide the join. You do this by weaving the stems into the existing network of wires we created when creating our garland. Add as many snips as needed to help disguise the join.
Now you're done! Add your garland or swag to your mantle, down the center of a table, or over a doorway.
Add in your existing holiday decor pieces and create a beautiful display. Magnolia leaves are crazy hardy, and if treated with care these garlands can be dried and kept as a decoration for years and year. The green of the leaves will fade to a more platinum or tan color, but the brown side will remain velvety and hold their rich tone, and the leaves retain their size and shape for the most part. You can even spray paint the leaves gold, silver, or any color you desire with floral spray paint once they loose their color. Awesome right! To care for your garland handle it gently once it's dried, and consider bagging it at the end of each season of use to protect it from dust or damage. Hang or store with care.
I hope you'll try making your own garland or swag this holiday season. Be sure to follow me on Instagram and tag your pics #emmyraydesignstudio so I can see (and maybe share) your beautiful creations!
Happy holidays guys, and be sure to keep checking back in the weeks to come, I've got more fun holiday content coming your way!
xo ~ Emily