Tomato Cage Wreath Frame

IMG_4623The first DIY project of the Fiery Imp! A simple yet fun holiday wreath, this will be a Patriotic or 4th of July wreath, using an upcycle Tomato cage. I will be creating a Star shaped Patriotic wreath with red, white and blue Déco mesh ribbon and corresponding fake flowers. Instead of using a bought wire wreath, I will be creating my own.

I’m only going to be explaining how to create the Tomato Cage wreath. There are MANY other blogs that describe how to make a Deco wreath, strip fabric wreath and many other types. Do a little research on what kind of wreath to make. I am no expert at wreaths; I have only made a couple, so I don’t want you to learn bad wreath making habits from me. With this project, I’m teaching myself how to make a Deco wreath while creating the Tomato Cage frame.

Each summer, my family grows a garden with; cucumbers, tomatoes and various other veggies. Every year, a tomato cage gets destroyed. Not sure how this happens but it does. If you notice, the Tomato cage has three outer rings that the tomato bush can use to climb up and around, leaving the tomatoes to hang freely. The three rings go from large, medium and small. So does a store bought wire wreath! Using a Dremel, I take the cage apart then beat it back into submission and turn it into a perfectly good wreath frame.

So let’s get this Imp fired up and start a new project!

As I mentioned above, a decommissioned Tomato cage can create a good sized and stable wreath frame. With this project, I used a 42’ Tomato cage, you may use any size cage just as long as it has 3 rings. I created a similar wreath with a much smaller cage, and it worked out perfectly. The smaller cage was easier to cut with the Dremel and it may have even been cut by tough wire cutters. The 42’ cage, has a much thicker columns holding the rings in place, compared to the smaller one. It’s all up to you, and what you have in your shed.

I find the easiest and quickest way to get the closest cut and separating the rings from the columns is to use a Dremel. I highly recommend it! As always, use safety glasses and common sense when cutting this cage. Sparks will fly and the metal will get hot. Use gloves if you can; eye protection is a MUST, and keep all flammable material at a safe distance away. Once you donned your safety gear, let’s begin to cut.

It’s your choice which ring to cut off first, choose whatever position is the most comfortable for you. You want to cut the main support columns of the cage, closest to where the welds that attach the columns to the rings. You do not want to cut the ring, or damage the stability of the ring with the weld, just get close there will be a small amount the column left attached to the ring.

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I attach a cutting blade to my Dremel, depending on the blade that you use, it will get smaller as it cuts. I only needed to use one, but have a spare just in case. There is nothing worse than half way through a project you need to make a run to the hardware store.

I set my Dremel on high, to be able to cut fast and smoothly. If this feels too fast or makes you feel uncomfortable, lower the speed but I wouldn’t go past half or it will take you forever to cut through the column. With my safety gear on, I place my Dremel on to the column with little minimal space from the ring’s weld mark.

I also found it helpful to set the cage on a brick, and cut the column to the side where nothing can set ablaze, vibrate or get damaged by me cutting. You may also use a vice to stabilize the cage and allow you to work safely and efficiently. Please remember, the steal metal will conduct heat and get warm around the columns but hot where you’re cutting, so please be careful.

I cut every column off of each ring. I save my columns, I might able to use them for plant tie ups for this summer’s garden! Once, I’ve removed the columns, and once the little nubbins cool, I check for the length of each nubbin. The nubbin; is what is left over from cutting off the column, and the weld, remnants of how the columns has held the rings securely together. I check each nubbin for sharpness and length. I don’t want a long nubbin on the ring that may been seen through the wreath, therefore, if the nubbin is too long and I know I can cut close to the ring without breaking the ring, I make it as short as I can. In this case, I cut my nubbins to less than a ½ inch long. I will actually use these nubbins later to attach my rings together.

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Once I know my nubbins are the right size, I bend the rings back to a circle. This cage wasn’t too damaged because it was a created with a thick frame. The prior one, the smaller cage, the wire was thin and easily deformed. In that case, I bent the wire ring back into a circle. It wasn’t a perfect circle, but was close enough because I know my Deco ribbon will hide any deformities.

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I also check for sharpness. The nubbins will be quite rough and sharp. You can do either two things, wrap the nubbins with flower tape (which is what I did for this project) or shave them down with another with the Dremel (which also works, but quite slow). Either choice is up to you. Wreath’s usually stay on the wall, but if you are worried about little hands or pets getting a hold of them, I would shave them down.

Attaching the tomato rings to themselves is not a science, and don’t worry if you wiring abilities lack perfection. As long as your wire secures the rings, the fabric will hold much of this wreath together and hide your wires. You can purchase green wire, in the floral section if you feel it would match or hide your wire better.  I’m using about 12 inches of wire, feel free to use more or less, I’m usually cut off an inch or so of wire after I’m finished with each attachment. You can attach all three rings with one string for one section, or attach them separately by using 2 piece of much shorter wire length.

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What I find the easiest way to wrap the wire, is where the support pillars of the tomato cage attached to the rings. The little nubs that were left after you cut the support off of the cage to remove the rings. Wrap the wire around the ring and use the nubbin as a strong point. Please see below picture, it’s easier to see it than to explain it.  Once I have a secured wrap, I follow the wire down to the next ring and begin to wrap it in the same fashion. Don’t worry if your nubbins don’t match up, you can skip them in the inner rings, but I find it important to use the nubbins on the outer most ring. Repeat the wrapping process on the sides with the nubbins and anywhere else you think the wreath needs support. I would recommend that you make your wiring in a symmetrical to optimize stability. In my case, I wired 4 sides. Feel free to add more, it’s your wreath frame, experiment a little.

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This is optional, but since I had the floral tap, I wrapped a little bit around the nubbins to prevent any sharp edges.

At this point, is where I leave you. Be as creative as you can, Google as much as you can handle and enjoy yourself. I understand it may be cheaper to purchase your own wreath, but sometimes it feels better to upcycle an item you already have!! Personally, I feel better about it. I didn’t trash a slightly damaged item that would have gone to a landfill. Instead, I used some creativity and created a wire frame for a Patriotic 4th of July wreath for a good friend of mine and fellow veteran.  I hope this wreath will help him celebrate this very important day of our independence and give hope for a brighter employment.

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Quote of the project “Pantera, you may have stolen my warm chair, but you have not stolen my spirit”

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