Stepping into a football stadium you expect energy.
Setting down your bag of materials in quilting circle, calm and friendship.
Standing inside Magpie in Your Eye’s workshop – joy.
If you have yet to discover the joy of Magpie in Your Eye, by Maggie Stephens—one of Artifcts' Allies in 'Stuff'—you’re in for a treat.
Maggie could not help but wonder why we are all throwing away the small treasures we accumulate and collect in our lives. We’re talking about the small stuff – the less than 5-inch-tall knickknacks, tchotchkes, thingamabobs, and mementos on our shelves, in our bins, and maybe even our junk drawers.
UPCYCLED, JOYFUL ARTISTIC CREATIONS
Maggie makes wreaths out of treasures people part with at estate sales, thrift shops, and charity stores. Rarely does she shop the likes of eBay; too expensive when you need more than 100 pieces for a single wreath. Leave those "pricey" thingamabobs for special treats or to meet a critical need.
Maggie’s selectivity goes beyond just cost and size. “If you take a bunch of ugly things and put them together, you have something interesting.” Something with a character of its own. So there’s an essence of the object itself to consider, too.
That is what drew us at Artifcts to Maggie. Not only was she upcycling before it was cool, but can you imagine a better housewarming gift for someone who has moved away from home (think adult children) or recently downsized, and so many bits and bops simply get left behind? Make them into a wreath and you can continue to enjoy them for years to come!
That’s exactly what one US expat living in Switzerland did! She saw Maggie’s holiday display at ByGeorge in Austin, Texas, and brought Maggie an interesting challenge.
Could she transform a box of toys the women’s children had outgrown into a wreath? Why yes, yes, she could, and the result was heartwarming.
Sometimes Maggie’s wreaths feature a color, other times a theme—bananas, jungle animals, Mexican crafts—and of course holidays.
It can take her over a year to collect enough pieces for a wreath since the pieces are all under $5, under 5”, and never purchased new. Maggie can get unexpected boosts when she buys a bag full of itty-bitty objects because there were two she really wanted, and then later several others in the bag round out a collection she didn’t even realize she had growing.
Case in point, a client last summer requested a fall wreath. Maggie wasn’t confident she had autumn themed items never mind enough of them. But once she started breaking down the essence of the season, out from the bins leapt mini pies, canned soup, dried vegetables, and more to create a distinctively autumnal wreath.
THE WREATH CRAFT: STEP-BY-STEP
The wreaths start out with a 14” foam ring and are about 24” when completed.
Wrap the foam ring in tinsel.
Attach the hanger (before it’s too late)!
Then build layer by layer, starting by placing the largest of the items as the anchors around the wreath.
Drying time between layers prolongs the building process a bit. Maggie never ever recommends accelerating it by using hot glue, because hot glue shrinks over time and then the pieces will fall off. “Sad!” Instead, she uses E600. The type of glue that will certainly outlast us all.
Want to try it for yourself? Here’s a helpful how-to video to create similar wreaths, but remember Maggie’s hot glue warning!
WHEN “DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME” APPLIES
We should warn that some of Maggie’s pieces require more than wild creativity and crafting skills. Sometimes you need to phone a friend with metal working skills! Surely we all have one … or not, ha. Maggie’s friend Anne Woods creates the necessary metal support arms and frames for larger custom pieces, like the rainbow piece Maggie displayed at By George last winter.
We wanted to know what in this process was most challenging. Surprisingly, it was about the pieces themselves. Maggie laughed and said it’s a bit like getting a tattoo. Once she commits a piece to a wreath, that’s it, it’s gone. She might never find another like it.
The hope is the piece, the collection reprised from dustbins and forgotten corners, will bring joy. “People always connect with one object or another in a wreath. It must be like Artifcts in that way. Stuff unites us.”
Have tiny stuff that might make a great wreath? Contact Maggie at email@example.com. She’ll be delighted to work with you.
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