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Plaster Magnolia-Leaf Garland

Delicate plaster magnolia leaves are the showstoppers in this holiday display.

plaster dipped magnolia garland

Photography: Ngoc Minh Ngo

Source: Martha Stewart Living, December 2018

Introduction

Plaster of Paris powder is very light and fine, so wear a dust mask while mixing to avoid breathing it in. It also hardens quickly, so do not dispose of it in a sink, drain, or toilet, where it can cause clogs. Instead, let it dry in the mixing container, tap to loosen the edges, and empty into the garbage. To remove plaster from mixing utensils, scrape off hardened plaster, wipe with a damp cloth, and wash as usual. After the holidays, remove and store the leaves carefully in tissue paper, and you can use them year after year to elevate your fresh greenery.

 

For more ideas, scroll through our entire collection of Christmas garlands.

materials

  • Dust mask

  • Newspapers or plastic sheet

  • Aluminum foil

  • Bucket (Pictured: HDX mixing bucket, 10 qt., $4.50, homedepot.com.)

  • Measuring cup

  • Plaster of Paris powder (Pictured: DAP plaster of Paris dry mix, in White, $8 for 4 lb, homedepot.com.)

  • Bowl or other mixing container

  • Spoon or spatula

  • Wire and wire cutters

  • Silk leaves to be dipped (Picured: Ashland Floral Essentials faux magnolia-leaf spray, $5, michaels.com.)

  • Coat hanger

  • Velvet Bows (Pictured: M&J Trimming velvet ribbon, 5/8", in Off White, $1.75 per yd., mjtrim.com.)

steps

  1. Cover work area with newspapers or plastic. Lay down aluminum foil to serve as a drying station.

  2. Mix 2 parts plaster of Paris powder to 1 part water. Because it dries very quickly—you can work with it for about 15 minutes before it becomes too dry—you should mix small batches, one at a time. Sprinkle powder into water, covering surface evenly. (Don't pour powder in just one spot or it may clump.) Gently mix until plaster is smooth and uniform, with a consistency like that of pancake batter. Let stand 1 minute.

  3. Cut individual leaves off faux floral spray to dip. Wrap a length of wire around object, or poke it into base. Dip object in plaster mixture, gently swirl to coat, then remove and let excess drip off; hang object by wire from hanger and let dry completely, about 24 hours. Depending on object's shape, you may also hold it in your hand to dip it (the stem of a leaf, for example). Lay object directly on foil to dry, keeping in mind that places where plaster touches foil won't be completely covered and will show pooling at edges. For that reason, place areas that won't be seen in your finished project, such as the bottom of leaves, on foil. For a more opaque finish, let items dry completely, then dip again.

     

  4. Twist them into clusters with floral wire and secured them to a premade bay garland dotted with ivory velvet bows.

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