Friday, March 11, 2011

Crown of Thorns

A sweet reader asked for more information about our crown of thorns pictured in the post below. I have had this thing for ages, it seems. I remember making it when we were living in our first house and that was at least 8 1/2 years ago.
Here is how to make one, if you are so inclined. You will need a grapevine wreath like this one (mine has a 12 inch diameter), a bottle of black liquid RIT dye (don't bother with the mess of the powdered stuff) and a box of wooden toothpicks. I used the rough, squared shaped toothpicks, not the smooth round ones. I'm not sure if it makes a difference for dyeing them, but I like the look of the squared ones better. You can see in the picture below that they will pick up different shades. Some look brown and some look blackish purple while others look gray. Hmmmm... I save the toothpicks in a baggie and store them with the wreath so I don't have to make new ones every year so maybe mine are just old and worn.
Place the toothpicks in a craft bowl, not a food bowl (a disposable bowl would work great) and pour in enough dye to cover them. Let them sit in the dye for about an hour. Pull one out and dry it off with a paper towel. If it is black enough for your liking, pull the others out and let them dry on paper towels. If not, leave them in for another half hour or so. Make sure you have something protecting your table or counter underneath the paper towels because you are working with black dye here. You might consider placing the paper towels on a piece of tin foil or wax paper.

Once they are all dry (I think I let mine dry over night but it probably won't take that long) place them in the grapevine wreath. Wedge them in all over. You will find that certain slots are just perfect for wedging a toothpick in and the tension of the vines will hold it in place. If a toothpick happens to slide through completely, put it in a new spot.
The idea is that the thorns represent Our Lord's many pains and sufferings for our salvation. When we make a sacrifice or offer an extra prayer, we remove a thorn hoping in some small way that our sacrifice will help make amends for the sins that caused the suffering Our Precious Lord endured. My children have tried sacrifice beans and sacrifice beads during past Lents but keep coming back to this symbolic act as the one that appeals to them most.
 
Idea from Michelle Q. in the combox: You can use strong coffee to dye your toothpicks if you can't find any RIT dye.

18 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Hello. I made a mistake in my previous comment. I love this idea. We fill a manger with little pieces of straw every time the children make a sacrifice or do a good deed durning Advent. This is very similar and I know the children will love reducing our Lord's sufferings by their own little sacrifices. Thank you. Would you let me post one of your pictures with a link and credit on my own blog? Thanks.

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  3. Me,
    Could you send me an email? My address is in the sidebar on the right.

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  4. This is exactly how we do our crown o thorns except I used strong black coffee instead of dye.

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  5. Michelle,
    Ooooohhh, I bet yours smells wonderful!

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  6. Of all the crowns of thorns I've seen on blogs, yours is my favorite. I'm thinking about seeing if I can find a smaller grapevine wreath and trying it out with my kids this year. I already have the square toothpicks, and I love the idea of using black coffee! I wonder if they would turn out as dark as yours? I guess we will see!

    Thanks for the tutorial!!

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  7. Jessica, it does, they turn out a very nice dark brown --they look very realistic.

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  8. I made this version last year with a smaller wreath. I used very sharp bamboo toothpicks from the local Chinese market (they look very shiny and thorn-like) and had the kids use sharpies on them! :) I love Michelle's idea of using coffee! I had wanted to make some to give a way, but the sharpie method is very labor-intensive, and I was reluctant to bring permanent black dye into the house...so I am looking forward to the coffee method. (I should add that I am pretty sure that I copied the idea from Charlotte because I remember the mention of Rit dye. So, thank you!) --J.C.

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  9. I just finished ours and it looks very authentic. I *did* use the powdered RIT because that was all they had at Michaels and can I just say that I'm glad that I'M not the one who's pregnant? The smell!

    For the "thorns" I found some wooden toothpick-type sticks in the "wood" aisle at Michaels--not being very specific here but am letting people know they're out there. They are called "craft picks" and I'm glad they had them because I go with the one-stop shopping method whenever I can get it.

    Thank you for the tutorial, sweet friend!

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  10. I use the craft picks like Margaret mentioned. Instead of dye or coffee, I actually used dark brown acrylic craft paint. I put all the picks in a (cleanable) bowl, wore gloves and covered the picks with paint.

    The paint dries pretty fast...I put them on a drying rack or newspaper. The newspaper sometimes stuck to the paper, but I would just scrape off and reapply in small areas.

    We save them from year to year, too. I keep forgetting to take pictures!

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  11. You know Jennifer, a memory is starting to stir. There was one year when I thought I couldn't find the toothpicks and I used black craft paint, watered down, to dye some new ones. I'm wondering if that's why I have different shades now. I think I found the old ones and just mixed them all together. If I'm remembering correctly, watering the paint down helped keep it from getting too thick and I didn't have to worry about paper sticking to the dried paint. It almost acted like a dye. I'm am so tempted now to try dying some with coffee just to see how they look compared to the others I have.

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  12. Watering down is a good idea for the paint...sometimes I can be so dense! I need to get some more, and that approach is less smelly and permanent than the dye.

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  13. Thank you for sharing such a great idea ... I used your directions and the only difference is that I took the toothpicks and rolled them onto a perm. ink stamping pad. It worked great and easy to do and no mess and matches the vine perfectly! Thanks again.....god bless you for sharing....

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  14. Whoops, type O - big irreverent one. I will repeat again. I used your idea but the only difference is that I took the toothpicks and rubbed them onto (rolled them onto) a permanent ink stamping pad. NO mess, sets up nicely and matches the grapevine perfectly. Thanks for sharing and GOD bless you for sharing with us all.

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  15. Thank you for the idea. Last year I made a salt dough crown and used toothpicks. I like this one better because you can reuse the crown of thorns. I visit both your site and Catholic Cuisine. God Bless you and thanks for all the great ideas.

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  16. My children really love this idea. We have ours hanging on our living room wall--kind of a constant reminder to do little sacrifices throughout the day. This is our first year to use this type of crown, but the kids like it better. In previous years I would draw a crown and they would stamp flowers over the thorns. On Easter with the thorns gone (hopefully) they will wake up to the grapevine wreath decorated with a few flowers. Then throughout the Easter season, whenever they do a kind deed, they get to add a flower to the wreath. Hopefully this will keep the mindset of better behavior and thinking of others continuing even after Lent ends. Thanks for the great idea!! God bless!

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  17. Thank you for posting this with the pictures. I had read about these...but couldn't quite picture it. Yours is beautiful! Thank you for sharing!
    I am going to try to make one this weekend :)

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  18. Thank you so much for this idea. We need one for an event, and also for some table centerpieces, and I so appreciate this idea.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts and yourself!