I was excited to tell you how, using borax, which according to the box, is an "all-natural laundry booster and multipurpose household cleaner," I added crystals to what had been an old and rather ordinary bottlebrush wreath. It turned out rather stunning, if I do say so myself.
And then, I had one of those maybe-I-should-Google-this moments, and learned that borax, like most household cleaning products, can be harmful if ingested. So, with that in mind, if you decide to try this at home, keep your finished wreath (and the box of borax) out of reach of children and pets.
Disclaimer done, here are the how-to's:
1. Find something to crystallize. Many sites on the Internet tell how to form crystals on pipecleaner snowflakes, creating ornaments that you can hang on the tree. I used two bottlebrush-style wreaths that I found at an estate sale.
2. Mix borax with hot water to form a cloudy mixture. I'm not sure about the exact ratio of water to borax, but for the wreaths, I used about half of the box and enough hot water to fill an under-the-bed plastic container about halfway. It's important to use hot water because hot water holds more borax crystals than cold water and heated water molecules move further apart. As the water cools, the molecules move closer together and the crystals begin to form.
3. Add the item to the borax and water mixture and wait. And wait. With the wreaths, I wanted a healthy amount of crystals but I didn't want it caked on too heavily, and I wanted the crystals just on the wreaths' fronts. I was unsure of exactly how long it would take to get that look, so I checked the wreaths frequently. For the first few hours, I didn't see much happening. And then, about four hours into the soaking, there were some crystals. Another four hours, and my wreaths were just like I wanted.
4. I let the wreaths dry thoroughly and then I attached some reflector-style flowers that I wired on. The finishing touch is a silver bow of wired ribbon.
And there you have it, science that's easy to do and pretty to look at. But, because I wanted to sell them, I'm going have to go to Plan B, and I'm not sure if there is a Plan B. If anyone knows of how to add a safer snowy look to the wreaths, please let me know. In my Googling to find out more about borax, I found a recipe for homemade "snow" that involved grating a bar of Ivory soap and mixing it with liquid starch and water. I'm not sure if that's really any better but has anyone ever tried that, and how did it work for you?