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Beaded Mardi Gras Wreath

  By Christy Schmitz, Managing Editor, Just CrossStitch and Sampler & Antique Needlework Quarterly

With the end of the holiday season comes the start of Mardi Gras, or Carnival, season. My hometown is Mobile, Alabama, the home of Mardi Gras. Mobile’s carnival season actually began in 1703 when French settlers celebrated the first Mardi Gras; the celebrations ended briefly during the Civil War until Mobilian Joe Cain pulled a one-float parade through the streets of the city in 1866, and the celebrations began again. Today, parade goers are treated to two-and-one-half weeks of vividly colored floats, magnificent marching bands, and tons of “throws” (parade loot), which includes beads, Moon Pies, beads, candy, and, did I mention, beads?

The beads have always been my favorite, and I have probably amassed a collection numbering in the thousands (seriously!) over the years. But what do you do with that many beads?!? I love wreaths, so why not a beaded wreath?!?!

To create, you will need the following:
•    Mardi Gras beads (this wreath took approximately 110 stands of beads in various shades of gold, purple, and green—the traditional colors of Mardi Gras)
•    One wire floral wreath
•    Embellishments, if desired
•    Floral wire to attach embellishments, if desired
1. Separate beads into color families and snip each loop to form strands of beads.

2. Beginning with one strand of gold beads, wrap it around the wreath form once and snap the end back onto itself to secure it to the form. Wrap the strand of beads around to cover the wreath form. When the end of that strand is reached, snap on the next strand of beads and keep wrapping. (Note: Snap beads between first two beads on each strand to maintain a smooth strand.) Continue wrapping and snapping around wreath until covered, using one color or alternating colors for a striped effect.

3. When the beginning point is reached, carefully snap on three more strands of beads (one of each color). To snap on three strands at once, snap one strand onto existing wrapped bead, count down one bead, snap on one more strand, count down one more bead and snap on third strand. Position this at the back of the wreath as much as possible. Begin braiding and twisting the strands together, snapping strands together at random intervals to secure strands to each other and to create visual interest in a varying pattern. At the end of those strands, snap on another strand in the same color and continue braiding and twisting strands together.

4. After you have braided and twisted together a couple of bead lengths, wrap the braided beads around your wreath form, covering the first layer of beads and snugging twisted lengths together. Continue until wreath is covered. Snap final strands together and carefully feed ends under twisted strands and snap into place. Trim off extra beads if necessary.

5. Add a bow and a mask, if desired, and hang! Your door is now ready to celebrate in the revelry!

Enjoy! Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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