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.