Greenville woman crafts ‘wild’ Christmas wreaths

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    "Wild Woman" wreaths created by Heather Schoff of Greenville. Courtesy photo—

  • Heather Schoff of Greenville collects greens from a property in New Ipswich for her holiday wreath-making. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Heather Schoff of Greenville starts looking for items to use in holiday wreath-making around Thanksgiving every year. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Heather Schoff of Greenville is always looking for good spots to find items for her holiday wreaths. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Making holiday wreaths keeps Heather Schoff of Greenville busy through the second half of November into December. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

  • Heather Schoff of Greenville originally sold wreaths as a fundraiser for her daughter’s cheer trip. Staff photo by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/23/2021 1:30:25 PM

Princess pine, laurel, white pine, winter berries – Heather Schoff is on the hunt for materials for her wild and eclectic holiday wreaths.

Around Thanksgiving every year, Schoff tramps out into the woods, exploring properties offered up by family or friends, to begin filling buckets with potential materials. It’s a tradition she picked up from her mother, Kathy Rathbun, who started collecting to make her own holiday wreaths after Schoff was grown.

After Schoff had recently moved back to Greenville in 2014, her mother invited her out on a gathering party with herself, Schoff’s father Mike Rathbun and their friends Louann and Dick Keddy.

“Dick’s driving, and we’re just spotting things and leaping out of the car,” Schoff said of that first trip.

The ladies sent Dick Keddy out in a boggy area to collect some winter berries. And, inevitably, Mike Rathbun was sent to retrieve him when he got stuck in the mud, while their wives offered commentary from the sidelines.

“After that, I was hooked,” joked Schoff.

Wreath-making is an accessible craft for those interested in making their own. Schoff started using picked greens, and created wreaths by wrapping a stiff wire around the stems of a wreath frame, available at most crafting stores – or a wire coat hanger bent into a circle, for those who are thrifty – to create a fresh-scented holiday decoration.

What started as her own holiday decorations has grown, Schoff said. Early in her wreath-making career, she made and sold extras as a fundraiser for a possible trip for her daughter’s cheer squad. The next year, she was in demand.

Schoff’s wreaths are meant to look a bit more wild than those shoppers will find on a store shelf. She calls them her “wild woman” wreaths.

“If I can make them more irregular, the happier I am with them,” said Schoff. “I’ve had people ask me if I can make several of the same ones, and I’m always, ‘...No. I can only try.’ Because each one is a little different.”

Schoff fills in her wreaths with some store-bought greens, including balsam, cedar and juniper bundles, but she also goes out and forages for other common natives. No wreath is made from just one material, she said – she mixes them until she gets an effect she likes.

That means she’s constantly scouting for good foraging spots.

“Anyone I know that has a holly bush, I’m sidling up to them to ask, ‘So, how would you feel if I pruned that a bit?’ When I’m driving, every time I pass a boggy area, I’m looking for winter berries, and taking note of any good patch I find.”

Schoff’s wreath-making has turned into a mini-holiday business that keeps her hopping through the second half of November and into December. After a few messy lessons trying to build them in her kitchen, she has settled down to a routine of throwing on a Fleetwood Mac playlist while making her wreaths on the porch and trying not to get too cold.

“I won’t be able to feel my fingers, but I love it,” Schoff said. “My husband says goodbye to me, because he knows he won’t really see me for weeks on end.”

Usually, Schoff said, by the time she finishes her regular orders, she has little energy – or materials left for her own door centerpiece.

“I usually throw together whatever is left over. I typically have the ugliest wreath in the neighborhood,” Schoff said with a laugh.

Schoff makes enough to recoup her costs, but said some of the sales for her wreaths goes back into the community – whether helping to pay for travel expenses for her daughter’s cheer team, which she directs, or to help pay for things like gift baskets, which Schoff delivered to nominated worthy individuals or families last holiday season.

Schoff is accepting pre-orders for her wreaths. Wreaths cost $30, and can be pre-ordered through Schoff’s email at heather.schoff@yahoo.com or through Facebook at Heather Rathbun Schoff.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.




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