An unusual way to showcase smaller pieces of heirloom china, or your favorite pieces of thrifted vintage china, is to include them in a custom wreath to display in your home.
I made this wreath as a gift for my best friend Heather Baird, who has an addiction to antique and vintage silver and china. She finds a lot of real treasures at our favorite local thrift store, and she has been coming up with new ways she can display and and enjoy them. I just happened to see a couple of photos of beautiful plate wreaths on Pinterest by Justina Uram-Mubangu’s blog, “The Little Jewel Box” and Suzanne Zingg’s blog, “My Retired Life on the Prairie“. They both use their own no-glue methods to create plate wreaths that are non-destructive to the plates, and have some reverence for the the delicate china. Thanks to them, I was inspired to create a custom wreath with a set of Scottish themed bread plates from Heather’s collection.
I decided to use Scottish motifs as an overall theme for this wreath, such as high end artificial milk thistle and heather flowers, and decorative ribbon that resembles Royal Stewart tartan. This can also be a way to display mismatched small plates, bowls, butter pats and teacups as well, so your favorite china patterns could be the overall theme for your wreath.
To make a plate wreath, the main tools needed are plate hangers for your plates, floral shears, wire cutters, craft scissors, and a pack of 18″ long 20-gauge wrapped floral stem wire. You can add a wired ribbon bow and floral elements of your choice, if you like. The wreath I used as a base is a ready made Christmas decoration made up of assorted evergreens that look good for my theme. You can use any plain seasonal wreath from a craft store, or you can upcycle a wreath you already have by carefully removing the embellishments that are already on it.
I first measured the overall size of the wreath to figure out what size to make a bow for it, that would be a a good proportion. This wreath is about 22″ wide, so I decided on 9″ for the bow, which is slightly less than half the width of the wreath.
I measured out about 6″ of the ribbons I’m layering for the bow, made a loop in the center, and tightly wrapped the end of the loop in a piece of the floral stem wire. Make sure to leave a few inches to attach the center loop to the body of the bow. Trimming off the excess ribbon from the end makes the loop fit better on the rest of the bow.
Next, I stacked the ribbons and laid out loops of them in the width of the main body I wanted for the bow, using a tape measure as a guide to keep the loops even. I made a stack of three loops using one continuous, uncut length of the ribbons with a little extra length to help hold the bow together.
Then I fanned out the loops of the bow to check the width and the overall look.
Attach the center loop to the main body of the bow by tightly wrapping the floral wire around the center of the stack of loops. You can cut a length of ribbon and tie it on the back of the bow with the remaining floral wire to make streamers for the bow.
The loops of the bow can be fluffed out, and pieces of ribbon can be trimmed off to give it a neater appearance.
Before attaching anything to the wreath, it is a good idea to lay out where you would like to place the decorative items on to it. This way you can play with the general placement of the items you’re using until you decide on the one you like best. You can take a photo of the arrangement to refer to as you attach pieces to it.
Mostly smaller plates 5″ to 7″ in diameter, such as salad plates or bread and butter plates work best to create a plate wreath. Plates and glass items can get heavy, so take care to limit how many you add so that your wreath does not get too weighty!
Floral bushes can be deconstructed by cutting off individual blooms with wire cutters or floral shears, and the stems cut to a shorter length to make them fit better on the wreath.
Attach wire plate hangers to the backs of the plates. Make sure you get plate hangers that are the right size to securely fit around your plates. These plates are 6″ in diameter, and the hangers fit tightly. Thread a full length of the wrapped floral wire through the plate hanger, and do not trim off the ends. This way you have plenty of wire to tie the plate onto the wreath. If the plate hanger fits your plate more loosely, you can twist the wire around the springs for a more non-slip fit.
Mixed florals can be wired together to make sprays for the wreath. Leave the full length of the wire untrimmed so that the sprays can be tied around the structure of your wreath.
Use the excess wire to tie the sprays around the body of the wreath, working them in with the existing greenery. Add plates over the stem ends of the sprays using the same method, making sure to give the wire several tight twists on the back to secure them to the structure of the wreath. Let some of the greenery overlap the plates to create a layered effect. Keep attaching plates and greenery to the wreath until they are all in place, and then attach the bow.
You can add teacups or a small piece of stemware, such as a vintage molded glass goblet, to add even more dimension.
Stemware can be attached by wrapping a length of the floral wire around the neck of the glass. Wire can be camouflaged by tying on a piece of floral sprig to cover it.
Secure the stemware onto the wreath by using the excess wire to tie around the body of the wreath. The end of the sprig can be tucked up under the edge of a plate and worked in with the other greenery.
You can use a shorter length of floral wire to add a few pieces of flatware to your arrangement. These are usually lightweight enough to just tie onto the greenery on the wreath.
Finally, carefully lay your wreath face-down. The ends of the wires used to tie on decorative pieces can be tightened and tucked under or folded back to keep them from scratching. To make a hanger for your wreath, twist together two or three lengths of the wrapped floral wire. Run this through the greenery on the front of the wreath and around the body of the wreath. Tie the wire together in two or three knots close to the ends, to make a sturdy hanging loop. For a more decorative way to hang your wreath, you could use a length of ribbon instead to make a larger loop, and tie the cut ends tightly together. Turn the wreath back over, puff the bow back out and your wreath is ready for hanging.
Hang your custom plate wreath where it can be admired and enjoyed! It is best displayed on the front of a cabinet or bookcase that does not get opened often, or a wall that will not be brushed up against. Avoid hanging it on a high-traffic door or cabinet that is often in use.
A single piece of vintage glass can add more texture and interest to a plate wreath. Teacups could also be attached using a similar method to the one used to add on stemware.
Florals can be used to emphasize colors and design elements in each piece of china, enhancing the overall design effect of your plate wreath.
Whether you have a collection of thrifted finds or family heirlooms, this is a fresh way to display some of your treasures without damaging any of the delicate china. There are several methods out there for creating plate wreaths, but my process contains a few shortcuts that you can use to make one of your own!
Vintage Plate Wreath
- Wire cutters
- floral shears
- tape measure
- 1 14" to 20" ready-made wreath
- up to 7 5" to 7" small china plates
- up to 7 small plate hangers
- 1 package floral stem wire, 18 gauge
- 4 yards or more 3" wide coordinating wire edged ribbon
- assorted floral stems or sprays
- 1-3 pieces assorted flatware and stemware (optional)
- See blog text for complete instructions.