Wreaths to Last All Winter Long
Nature-inspired wreaths that embody the essence of holiday decorating.
When she was a child, Linda Ringhouse loved to forage for pinecones with her mother, then “make wreaths with them at church craft parties in the 1970s.” In those halcyon macramé days, she was perhaps not fully aware that her attraction to foraging for pinecones would eventually evolve into a business.
But as an adult, after a long stint running a restaurant in Bayport, Long Island, Ringhouse decided to launch Ring & Co., producing hand-crafted, nature-inspired wreaths with local pinecones, dried hydrangeas, and other organic materials (including nuts sourced from Brooklyn) and selling them online and at local farmers markets, such as Hamlet Organic Farm in Brookhaven. “I had some time on my hands,” recounts Ringhouse, who had also gained valuable floral design skills while working at the local nursery Bayport Flower Houses, “and I missed the fun of holiday decorating.”
Ringhouse steers clear of standard wreath-making practice by using bases of straw, rather than “difficult” wire frames. “The straw bases open up so many unusual design possibilities, allowing me to attach longer cones horizontally with a glue gun,” she explains. “I find the look very Scandinavian and somewhat masculine.”
After gathering pinecones where permitted in nearby woodlands (“The locations are ever-changing,” she says, “but it’s always in a beautiful, quiet place”), she bakes them at a low temperature “to eliminate ‘critters’” and wraps wire around the straw bases to keep them intact and clean. Next, she chooses which cones to use and determines each wreath’s look and size, although “sometimes the process takes me in a completely different direction from what I think I’m going to create.” Nature, as everyone knows, has its flaws, so Ringhouse also scrutinizes the “best side” of each pinecone before positioning it on the wreath and affixing it with hot glue. This approach sometimes leads her to mount smaller cones upside down, resulting in “a beautiful design, not unlike a flower. Plus, I often get nice contrasts between dark and light.” Seasonal additions, such as dried oranges and bits of moss, are often used to fill in gaps for a “forest floor” effect.
After hanging her wreaths to dry, Ringhouse often revisits their design from all angles and checks to see that every cone is secure, then typically adds simple hanging loops of jute, braided twine, or leather as a finishing touch. “I’m never done,” she says, “until it’s in the car or in a box.”
The print version of this article appeared with the headline: Made in Bayport.