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Make a gilded oak wreath
This is the kind of willow ring, decorated with a cluster of leaves of flowers (or Christmas baubles if you want to bling it up) that is easy to make and yet makes you feel casually accomplished in that Nigella kind of way. Once you have your third bit of willow twisted round you will be on a roll!
- 4 or 5 small and thin pieces of willow - side twigs are best, about 50 cm long and very bendy.
- Fine florist wire
- Clusters of oak leaves on twigs (or hydrangea flowers or Christmas baubles).
- Alder cone sprigs.
- Sheets of fake gilding
- Glue stick
Take the longest, plainest bit of willow and bend it into a circle - mine was about 15-20 cm diameter - with a long overlap. Use the overlap to bind round and round. If you need to, add a bit of wire to secure the hoop at this stage. You can always remove it later when it is used to being a circle.
Add in the rest of the willow piece by piece, jamming the thick end in-between the existing loops and then binding it round and round and tucking in the end. Make sure that you begin each piece in a different place so that the circle is even(ish)
Once you have used all 4 pieces of willow it should be secure. You can cut off wispy bits, or leave them depending on the look you want.
This kind of willow ring can be made in whatever size you need and is a useful base for all kinds of things - from door wreaths to head dresses. If you make your ring larger you may need more pieces of willow to make it chunkier.
Dab a glue stick or brush onto the oak leaves in patches and stick fake gilding to the leaves - dabbing it on and letting it dry before you brush it off. This also works with hydrangeas and honesty seed pods.
Wire bunches of leaves and cones together using very fine florist's wire. Loosely hold them together so that they form a natural shape and then wrap the wire tightly round the stems, leaving a long tail of wire to attach it to the willow ring.
Arrange the leaves and cones on the ring, thread the wire tails through the willow and secure at the back. You can place them evenly right round the ring or have them as a focal point either at the base or to one side.
Because the willow is so attractive in its own right, it can be nice to have it on show.
The ring will last for a few years but if you get fed up with it you can simply remove the wire and put it on the compost heap.