[Editor's note: This post first appeared at A Catskill Christmas in November 2007 and is repeated here for the 2010 Christmas season]
Here is a growing list of vendors that I use and the materials that I buy. Links to vendors are also available in the sidebar on the right.
I spent quite a bit of time looking for feathers, such as peacock and pheasant, to make ornaments (small fans tied with copper wire and a ribbon at the top). I located a vendor on Ebay named onlinefeathers.
I was very pleased with the feathers that arrived as well as the quick shipping.
Here are the feathers I bought:
I saw this vendor listed at the back of an old Handcraft Illustrated magazine. They are based in New York City and carry an entire line of paper goods including invitations. But Kate's is most known for its ribbons. Warning: the stuff ain't cheap. But with a good sale (buy in the summer like I did when items can be up to 50% off) you'll have some of the best ribbon around. The colors are vibrant and unbelievable. In fact, I purchased some orange ribbon for A Catskill Christmas and determined that it was way too bright - I was wondering where they hid the batteries!
Here are the colors I purchased for .25" and 1" satin ribbon:
Kennicott Brothers is a floral supply store that is only open to retailers - meaning that you have to have a resale license. If you have your own business you probably already have one. But if not, try to find a friend in the floral business. Some cities like San Francisco have a flower mart that is open to the public (but they can't purchase at the wholesale prices without the resale license). Going to a floral supply store is the cheapest way to get the basic goods.
Here is what I usually purchase:
Floral Wire (24 gauge on a paddle)
Foam balls (1.5")
Glue Gun (dual temperature)
Glue Sticks (multi-purpose)
Pine Cones (lacquered)
Spray Paint (24kt gold, copper)
I knew I would need quite a few walnuts in order to make several 20 foot long garlands of gilded walnuts. Buying them at the local supermarket at $3.00 a pound and up was not reasonable. Nuts Online has a price of $1.99 a pound for a 25 pound case of English Walnuts. I really couldn't beat this price!
San Francisco Herb Company
I fell in love with the San Francisco Herb Company back in the early 1990s when I lived in San Francisco. This place is amazing and the prices can't be beat. These are the items I often buy:
Anise Star (whole)
Cedar Tips (preserved)
Orange Slices (dried)
Rose Petals (dried)
Rosebuds (dried, mini)
San Francisco Herb Company is also the place to go if you do a lot of cooking. Their ground spices are so cheap and the price on authentic saffron from Spain is the best I've ever seen.
For certain ornaments where I didn't want a ribbon for hanging or was too lazy to glue florist wire, I needed screw eyes. These are small hardware pieces with a round eye on top and a screw on the bottom. They come in silver and gold finish. You want to avoid the high end ones for jewelry since they are made of real gold or silver. Also, they tend to be too small. I found a great vendor on Ebay called Wooddenparts. I was able to purchase a packet of 100 14 gauge screw eyes that were almost an inch (these are 13/16") and had an eye large enough for an ornament hook (the eye on these is 5/16"). These are the cheapest I have found for small quantities - most places on the Internet have a $50 or $75 minimum order (you'll be swimming in screw eyes) or else they tack on a special handling fee.
© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee