Home & Garden

Video: How to Make a Wreath Using a Pick Machine

Floral artist Mary Spotswood Underwood demonstrates why you need this old-fashioned contraption

A woman presses a green vintage sewing machine on boxwood and cedar sprigs on a wood table.

Photo: Patricia Lyons

Underwood presses steel picks onto boxwood and cedar sprigs for wreath making.

Imagination and resourcefulness go a long way in floral design, and Mary Spotswood Underwood possesses endless reserves of both qualities. In her perpetually moving hands, the most humble backyard vegetation—be it pine, magnolia, cedar, holly, or moss—becomes a stunning holiday display. But Underwood also possesses something even the most enthusiastic wrangler of greenery might lack: a pick machine.

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Underwood uses a vintage pick machine passed down from her mom, but you can find similar versions on eBay (just be sure it comes with a weight, she says) or new models from a manufacturer called SteelPix. Also called a stemming machine, it’s a wreath maker’s best friend: With one press of a lever, a steel pick wraps around the delicate stems of your chosen greenery; the pick can then be inserted into a wreath form. In the video below, Underwood shows how to work the machine using foraged boughs from her historic family farm on Virginia’s Rappahannock River, Brooke’s Bank. 

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Of course, you don’t need a pick machine to make a wreath. Visit Underwood’s Instagram page for tutorials on other DIY techniques, and read G&G’s December/January cover story, “Mary Spotswood Underwood’s Foraged Christmas,” for more all-natural holiday inspiration. Finally, get an inside look at Brooke’s Bank and purchase Underwood’s fine furniture polish, a recipe also passed down from family.