Archive | April, 2011

Manzanita Madness!

17 Apr

Placing a centerpiece on a big table can be daunting– What size?  How tall?  How many??  I took to my google search skills and found Manzanita branch centerpiece.  The branches offered height and a bit of mystique, and still allowed guests to see through the piece to converse.    This was my answer to all my questions…

Manzanita madness, I have it.

After a little research, I ordered from Nettleton Hollow, but also looked at Save-on-Crafts.  Both have great options, different sizes, and color options.  I decided on the 24″ – 36″ sized branches because my tables are approximately 8′ diameter and seat about 8-10 people.  The cost per branch was about $10 after shipping costs and everything added.

Deciding on how large of branch, I decided I needed something that would be substantial enough to fill the space, and not be overpowering.  Blooms and Branches had a handy guide to measuring Manzanita branches that might help in your selection:

After the huge box arrived, I carefully lifted each piece out– they tend to get caught together, so be careful!!  Being a natural product, each branch is unique and has its own quirks.  Best part is that you can trim whatever does not agree with you.

I decided on Terra Cotta pots because the price ($1.47/pot) and the availability of sizes.  I spray painted them white (first with a cheaper spray paint that I used as a primer, and then with a more expensive gloss spray paint) to match the decor of the party.

Now time for the creation!  I bought stones from the store to set in the bottom of the pots to add some leverage against tipping over.  If using the clay pots and painting them, you need to make sure the rocks are dry or the it will make your paint bubble.

Next I put duct tape to plug the hole at the bottom of the pots.  I shoveled in the rocks (a little at first, placed the branch to secure, then added more rocks on top).

Then I had the options of how to set the Manzanita branches in the pots.  One is to use plaster of paris, but after finding out that one little package is about $8, I needed a better option when I was making 12!  Also, the prep and time involved in mixing plaster, pouring, and setting it was a little daunting.  I decided on expanding foam (about $3.50/can).  For all 12 centerpieces, I used only 3 cans (mostly because I over did it– probably could have used only 2 cans if I did not have such a heavy hand).  Also, follow the directions on the can about safety and precautions– this stuff is sticky and most likely only be removed with acetone (nail polish remover).

Example of my bit of over spraying is below.  The can said the foam will double in size, I would say in my conditions in my garage (approximately 80 deg, 80% humidity), I got about 40% expansion.

I sprayed the foam in and around the rocks and around the base of the branch by pushing the spray can straw down into the rock layers.

The product sets up in less than 8 hours, and then we were able to cut away the excess from my heavy handedness.  I trimmed it with a plastic knife and made it slightly below the rim of the pot.  The foam cuts extremely easy, and since I would be covering the foam, I sometimes ripped off what I did not want.

After all the pots were trimmed, I put some store-bought green moss to cover the foam.  I lightly placed some hot glue around on the foam to secure the moss for travel.

And  that is it!  Beautiful (and easy) centerpieces that are ready to be decorated!

After all this, I wanted to see how secure the branches were, so I brazenly picked up the whole thing by only the branch– the branch didn’t move, didn’t wiggle, didn’t budge.  I was suprised at the strength of the hold considering it was holding the weight of the 8″ Terracotta pot,  2-3 pounds of rocks, moss, foam, and the branch itself.  I would not recommend throwing them around the room like that, but good to know that this branch is very secure and can withstand a lot of top heavy decorations.

Here are the Manzanita branches decorated for the school themed retirement party.  I put paper air planes and pencils in the moss with an apple and the table name.