Creating with Cotton — Cotton Bur Wreath

By Tiffany Shedd, The Cotton Shedd

Cotton is so much a part of our lives that we may not even be aware that it is in most of our clothing, furnishings and even the food we eat.  The most commonly used parts of the plant are its fiber and its seed.  However, from an artistic point of view what is left in the field after harvest is very valuable indeed.

The cotton bur is a four of five locked wooden pod that holds the fiber.  Once the cotton is removed it remains as a little golden dried flower.  It is hard to describe since I have not seen anything like it on another plant.

These wonderful little burs can be made into the most unusual wreaths, used in dried floral arrangements and made into Christmas ornaments such as Santa’s, angels and poinsettias.

Tiffany Shedd preparing for a Demonstration on ABC 15

I started making these wreaths over twenty years ago to help pay for college.  I picked so many of our neighboring farmer’s burs that I just ended up marrying him.  Now, I have all the burs I want.

My husband, Rodney’s, great grandfather came to Toltec in 1916 as a real estate developer.  His son, Frank, started farming cotton, grains, alfalfa, and running cattle in 1940.  We are still farming the same land today and continue to grow grain, cotton, Bermuda hay, cattle and of course children.  We currently have three generations actively participating in the farming operation.  We also host many 4-H events and Arizona Game and Fish Youth shooting and hunting programs on the farm.  We now have so many youth programs running on the farm that we are considering adding growing great kids to our list of crops.

6 Hot Tips for the Care and Feeding of a Cotton Bur Wreath:

  1. The ribbons and embellishments can be changed with the seasons or to match home décor in order to stay fresh and current.
  2. A simple feather dusting will keep burs looking good for years.
  3. Try to store wreaths out of Arizona summer heat or the glue will sometimes loosen.  If this happens just re-glue the loose areas with a glue gun.
  4. Wired ribbon really is the best for these since it does not begin to droop with gravity.
  5. Christmas or mardigras beads make great embellishments and can be found quite reasonably at dollar stores.
  6. Don’t be afraid to embellish your wreath with other objects that are meaningful to you, such as chili peppers, sea shells etc.

Beyond traditional farming and making cotton wreaths, we also offer farm experiences for those who want to experience a working cotton farm.  Guests are taken on a hay ride and learn about farming cotton in Arizona, get to stop and pick their own burs and cotton (during the fall season), and of course make their own cotton wreaths or ornaments in our vintage 1954, studio at the old feedlot.  Farm experiences are open from October until April. Our little farm shop also sells wreath and ornament kits in case you just can’t wait for October.

You can find us on or at

Editor’s Note: Tiffany was featured on ABC 15’s Sonoran Living. You can watch her segment here.

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