I designed the gears in Adobe Illustrator, based on historical gear photos on Google Images. (Rotate with Copy is very helpful when drawing gears!) Then I cut the gears from cardboard shipping boxes on an Epilog Helix 60-Watt laser cutter.
I also designed and cut a frame from MDF in the form of a toothed wheel to support the gears, because I hadn't made anything this large before and wanted it to be sturdy. It was larger than the 18" dimension of the laser cutter, so I had to split it in two parts and assemble it later.
To get the variety of shiny metal finishes shown, I painted both sides of the cardboard gears with two coats of red rattle-can primer, then two coats of metallic paint from my local home improvement centers. I used an Antique Brass color for the MDF frame so it would blend in with the cardboard gears and added sawtooth picture hangers at the 2:00 and 10:00 positions.
Before gluing the gears to the frame, I laid out the wreath in Adobe Illustrator, using separate drawing layers for each physical layer of gears. I just copied and pasted the gear designs from the original files for cutting, and used color fills to approximate the different metallic paint colors. That was important so I could make sure the composition and contrast worked well. The image also served as a draft for the client.
After I finalized the design, I assembled the gears on the frame, layer by layer, using a papercrafting glue called ZipDry. (This glue dries fast and clear.) The smallest accent gears completed the design.
I made this project at TechShop San Jose using the laser cutter and paint booth.