Sometimes the obvious escapes me. And maybe you. We are all familiar of course, with the ubiquitous, versatile and attractively functional, grape vine wreath. You have no doubt used or played with, if not actually constructed, one yourself. Personally, I like them best when used in their raw, rustic, natural state, sans bows or embellishment. Very earthy vibe.
But it hadn't occurred to me to look beyond the vineyard, so to speak, for wreath inspiration and material when trying to achieve this rustic look. Enter the brilliant mind of Kenton Peters, Education Naturalist at Will Rogers Park, to open my eyes. On a whim, I did something uncharacteristic for me. I signed up and took the class, " Get Twiggy With It" on a recent Saturday morning in the Will Rogers Exhibition Center. (It was a great way to spend a miserably hot August morning, I might add...and for a mere $10. These classes are one of OKC's best kept crafty secrets. I discovered their schedule in OKLAHOMA GARDENER MAGAZINE. You can register for classes at www.okc.gov/active or calling 405-297-1392. Their next class is "Leaf Bowls" on August 15.)
Mr. Peters had cut and gathered all manner of material for twiggy crafting and wreath making, including of course, grape vine. He brought supple trunks of baby volunteer trees, willow branches, mulberry, and more. It seemed that no vining or growing material was off the table (okay, poison ivy, not a great choice, I grant you...) as a medium for twiggy expression. This was where I had that AHA! moment, when I realized that all of that hateful trumpet vine, wisteria, and Virginia creeper I have been battling all summer could serve a purpose. The fruits de guerre so to speak of my labor.
The process is a simple as forming a rough circle with the thick end of the vine or branch, and then wrapping and winding it around in that circular pattern so that it holds its shape and gets more weight, thickness, heft and integrity with each loop. I made one of willow alone (I liked its asymmetrical shape), one of mixed media...mulberry, willow, ivy, crepe myrtle, (below)
and then hung them up to dry when I got home. They look delicious when fresh...a wonderful short term adornment for a door, tray, or wall hanging. But also look wonderful when fully dry, a process that in our extreme heat takes VERY little time. I like to strip the form then of most of its dry foliage, leaving some intact for interest and softness.
I wove in some dried Annabelle hydrangea heads (which I helped with a blush of spray paint in 'Eden' green to help them retain their color) and will let the drying leaves stay in place selectively as the wreath dries.
I found that the wreath takes on an increasing perfect circular form as you continue to wrap, but if it isn't up to your fastidious standards, then while it is in the process of drying wrap it around a bucket or some such to hold the tendrils in place and position until they conform and dry.
When using branches or thick vines, break up the fibers in the thick end to make it more flexible and supple. Bend back and forth down the branch until it is looser and more malleable. The ends of the first formed circle you may want to secure with a piece of wire (I used coated wire from the garden), but it isn't absolutely necessary as all subsequent loops will hold each previous loop in place.
As you can see, the possibilities are endless.
The entire process is quite satisfying, actually. Using up yard waste, circular mandala-like zen motions, attractive, cost-free end result. And mindlessly easy. I made three last night to take to 4 YOUR GARDEN on Newschannel 4 this afternoon, all in less than an hour, foraging to finish.
The latter embellished with berries and flowers that will look pleasing, sweet, and seasonal when dry.
The product of yet another inspirational muse.
(My sister sent me this picture this past week; her beautiful self as a young flower-festooned bride forty years ago...A timeless look and appeal, I might add...)
For more wreath making tips, hints and garden creativity , join Linda Cavanaugh and me today on Newschannel 4 at 4:30.