How to make a MERCURY GLASS WREATH from old ornaments

It was last January when I took a bunch of “someday I’d like to make a wreath” vintage ornaments… and actually completed the project. I didn’t particularly want a wreath in these colors, but I was downsizing and wanted to play with the great old ornaments I’d been hauling around for years—so play I did!


A few weeks ago the wreath was a silent auction item at our church’s mission yard sale. Time for someone else to enjoy its vintage vibe!



Ever since making the wreath, though, there’s been another one I’ve been wanting to make—to keep… year-round.


Last week, after months of dreaming, I finally set aside some time to play in the ornaments again…


If you like the look of old mercury glass as much as I do, you’re gonna love this budget-friendly project.


Ornament Wreath_2-001


I’ll let you in on a little secret:

Those old, scuffed-up, chippy-paint ornaments you pass up in the thrift store are not what you think!



They’re actually treasures in disguise.

ornament collage

All you need is a stash of old glass ornaments that have seen better days. Introduce them to HOT water and voila! they take on an entirely new personality. The old paint just shrinks up and peels right off (or rinses out of the inside), leaving you with one of several possibilities:

  • mercury glass
  • clear glass
  • “pearlized” glass
  • clear glass with silver paint flakes (inside the ornament)

THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE: I’ve soaked sinks full of ornaments in hot water many times, and that works great—but the paint is a PAIN to remove from the sink. Although it takes longer, I’ve found it’s much easier to put in the sink strainer and keep the water flowing. I’ve wondered if rubbing cooking oil or wax around inside of the sink would keep the paint from sticking, but I haven’t tried it—yet.


This project takes A LOT of ornaments—more than you think!


Once  you’ve acquired a ridiculously large collection of silver and clear ornaments—in varying sizes— it’s time to assemble the supplies:

  • ornaments in varying sizes (i.e. 3″ diameter to 1/2″ diameter)
  • foam wreath form
  • tinsel garland (newer “chunky” rather than thin vintage garland)
  • picture frame wire
  • hot glue gun and LOTS of hot glue

NOTE:  A 12″ wreath form requires approx. 13′ of garland; final wreath (assuming 3″ is largest ornament used) is approx. 19″ in diameter. A 14″ wreath form requires 15-16′ of garland; final wreath (same assumption) is approx. 21″ in diameter. Depending on their sizes, a 21″ wreath can easily use 80-100 ornaments.


DIY wreath collage


Cut picture frame wire long enough to fold in half then wrap around the wreath form to make a loop; wrap the wire “tails” around the bottom of the loop.



Wrap garland around the wreath form, attaching each “wrap” firmly using hot glue.

Arrange ornaments at inner and outer edges of wreath form until you like the look.

You don’t have to do inner and outer “rings,” but until you gain experience placing ornaments, this approach will make the project easier!


step 2

CAREFULLY use (plenty of) hot glue to attach ornaments to garland.

It helps to:

  • work on a flat surface
  • keep the wreath hanger at the top of your work surface
  • turn ornaments in various directions
  • arrange ornaments so shapes, sizes, and “colors” are evenly dispersed
  • attach ornaments to each other (when possible) for added stability



Walk away for awhile so hot glue will harden and ornaments will stabilize.


Hang and ENJOY!



Here’s another “budget friendly” tip I recently discovered…

When shopping for supplies for your Vintage Mercury Glass Wreath (or any other holiday—or year-round—shopping you do), you might check out You can buy reduced-priced gift cards from some of your favorite stores. You can also SELL your unused gift cards, although I have no idea what an unused gift card would look like!
For this project alone, they have Target, Wal-Mart, and Michael’s gift cards to help you save even more on the wreath forms, hot glue, wire, and garland.
Sometimes the value of the card is only 2-3% of the original, BUT I’ve also seen cards for sale at over a 20% discount. When I’m ready to GIVE MYSELF A RAISE, I’m going to check out I don’t get any compensation from the company… I just thought you might like to GIVE YOURSELF A RAISE, too!

I haven’t told you enough lately, but I really love it when you stop by…
and I hope you have a wonderful weekend ahead!

I’m joining:
Metamorphosis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch
Amaze Me Monday at Dwellings–The Heart of Your Home
Mosaic Monday at Lavender Cottage


  1. This is fabulous! I can’t wait to send it to my girls!

    Have a happy weekend, Susan.

    Hugs from Guam,

  2. I remember it took me almost 4 hours to make the vintage ornament wreath with colored glass orbs. Now I am actually wondering when I can make a gem like this. It’s gorgeous!

    Have a beautiful week!

  3. Fantastic tutorial! I want to dig out the ornaments to see what I can see. Have often passed by old ornaments being sold for a song…must take a better look next time I’m in the thrift store.

  4. I can’t WAIT to try this. I love the shiny slivery mercury glass look and this is BOUND to be an easy project that even I, with NO crafting talent, can do. Thanks so much.

  5. Geez, that looks FABULOUS! I can’t wait to try this, gots lotsa grubby ol’ ornaments I can upcycle, heheh. I LOVE mercury glass~~

  6. Judith @ Lavender Cottage says:

    I love the silver wreath and I rather like your glue gun too. I’ve had mine for eons, it’s a big heavy black metal one but it still works.
    Thanks for linking and sharing your tutorial on Mosaic Monday.

    • Judith, I should have mentioned the glue gun… I, too, have a much-used old one that still works, but the stand and cordless option are worth every penny when making wreaths. The project already takes 4-5 hours, so every minute I can keep moving forward is helpful!

  7. You give very good instructions for creating such a beautiful wreath. I may just have to make one.

  8. This is fantastic! I can’t wait to go look for unwanted ornaments and then turn them into something absolutely fabulous. Thank you for sharing your brilliant idea.

  9. What a great idea to consider as I am getting rid of lots of old ornaments.

  10. What a clever and lovely way to recycle old ornaments!