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Create your own Roman laurel wreath inspired by the Rome: City and Empire exhibition.

How to make a Roman laurel wreath

Two heads adorned with green paper leaves.

Make your own Ancient Roman inspired paper wreath, like some of the laurels seen in the Rome: City and Empire exhibition from the British Museum, on show at the National Museum until 3 February 2019.

Laurels are traditionally made by weaving and twisting leaves from the laurel or bay tree (Laurus nobilis) into a circular shape.

The Romans took many ideas from Ancient Greek mythology, including wearing a laurel like that worn by the Greek god Apollo.

An adorned wreath with green paper leaves

Laurels were worn at the Olympic Games as a symbol of victory and honour.

Roman emperors such as Julius Caesar wore laurels to show importance and godly status.

Did you know?

The Romans ruled over Europe for nearly 2000 years and created great cities and a vast empire. Did you know that today laurel wreaths are still worn in Italy at important events such as graduation ceremonies?

A small pile of green paper leaves with a white background.

Time to make and difficulty

Less than 30 minutes. Moderate — you may need an adult helper when using scissors or staplers.

What you need

A long strip of paper to make a head band
Coloured paper for the leaves
Pencils for drawing
Scissors and glue
Stapler for joining your wreath.

Two light green pieces of paper sit layered over a darker green piece of paper. There are leaf tracings on the top sheet with a led pencil placed on top.

Step 1: Make the leaves

Laurel leaves are long green, oval-shaped leaves, which taper to two pointy ends.

1. Draw a leaf shape onto paper. Cut this leaf out.

2. Use the first leaf you made (brown in the picture at right) as a template.

3. Trace around this leaf onto the coloured paper, at least 20 times. We used light green and dark green paper, but you can use any colour. You could try making a golden laurel wreath.

A hand holding a green pencil which is wrapped around with a small piece of green paper.

4. Cut out your leaves. This can take a while so maybe a friend or an adult can help you.

5. To make your leaves look more interesting, you can colour them and add veins.

Tip

Before adding your leaves to the wreath, curl them around a pencil and give the leaf a natural twist.

Or you can keep your leaves flat and layer them on top of each other (see wreath pictured at the top of this page).

The top and back part of someone's hand holding a black stapler to a bronze coloured strip of cardboard in the shape of a headband.

Step 2: Make the wreath

1. Make sure the paper strip that’s going to form the head band for the wreath fits your head.

2. Lay the paper head band strip out.

3. Plan how your leaves will sit on the band. Do you want the leaves to overlap? Do you want them to look ordered or randomly placed?

4. Staple together the ends of your head band. You may need help with this.

5. Staple or glue your leaves onto the band one at a time.

Tip

Make sure the sharp ends of the staples face the outside of your head band, so they don’t get caught in your hair.

The laurel we made was inspired by a coin showing Emperor Julius Caesar. You can see it on the British Museum website

Fingers of one hand grip one part of a headband. The headband is adorned with green paper leaves. There is a glue stick and several pieces of green curled paper to the right of the hand.

Have fun with your design. You can add extra elements, like small sticks, flowers and berries.

You could add a knotted bow to the back of the wreath to symbolise ties of state and the people of Rome, as worn by Roman leaders.

Or try making a wreath with real leaves!

Share your creation

Ask an adult if you can send a photo or video to schoolholidays@nma.gov.au

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