Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do

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Make a gilded oak wreath

willow Christmas wreath with gilded oak leaf

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!

You need

  • 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

making a willow ring

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.

making a willow ring

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.

wiring leaves for Christmas wreath

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.

gilded oak christmas wreath

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.

Gilded oak Christmas wreath

Comments: 1 (Add)

Chris dyer on December 18 2020 at 13:41

Hi jane I love this idea...I was just about to cut out the straight stem rogues from our corkskew hazel...also I have Holly and mistletoe to use...I love the idea of gold foil to the ring...thanks and happy Christmas...

Snapdragon social

This weekend the valleys were full of mist - great screeds of it swelling up as the afternoon lengthened and the air cooled.⁠⠀
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This is a rescue horse who now lives a couple of fields down - if I happen to be passing his gate around 4, he is up  stretching his over it, looking for friendly scratches and food. ⁠⠀
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A perfect time keeper.
It doesn't take much . . . . ⁠⠀
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These stems were picked in the five minute walk from the house to the Studio.⁠⠀
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A teasel head, some rusty dock seeds, a bleached shell of columbine, bright rose hips.⁠⠀
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None looked very promising outside but indoors, tucked into test tubes, they look wonderful.⁠⠀
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As they would in bottles . . . .⁠⠀
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The rose hips are the last of the berries to go from the hedges - the birds strip everything else as soon as it gets cold, the elders and rowans first, then the haws.⁠⠀
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Inspired by their bright longevity I have ordered a small clutch of rosa moyesii 'Geranium' - with their spectacular bottle shaped hips - to make an informal hedge down by the airstream.⁠⠀
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My plan is to plant them amongst crab apples to keep back the dull green march of the Scots broom. ⁠⠀
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I have honeysuckle in mind too.⁠⠀
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This is the Studio - nestled into the dip of the valley, surrounded by wild meadow and trees.⁠⠀
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At this time of year it is a cosy den, the stove lit, the fabrics piled up around me.⁠⠀
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Today I am finishing off some large embroidered wool cushions and sending out lots of craft kits in the post.
This was taken last week when we had snow. You can see Dixie’s dachshund toy abandoned in a drift.
A winding path, a bare tree reaching up, blue sky above ribbons of mist, patches of scruffy frost in the rough grass.⁠⠀
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I have walked this road more days than not this year.⁠⠀
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It never gets old.
I said I wasn't going to make a wreath this year.⁠⠀
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But then I saw one @talenamaria made on behalf of @jamjarflowers for the @papier Instagram feed and I was smitten.  The glorious mess of the hedgerow encapsulated in a twiggy ring.⁠⠀
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The birch twigs from further down the grid were still in the hall  and I had some dried hydrangeas left over . . . .⁠⠀
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(I also say I never watch video tutorials as I get distracted too easily and find that they are often too long - but Talena's is good and short and easy to watch and follow.)
A snowy gate, photographed last week, snow piled up on rungs and branches.⁠ ⠀
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I loved how the field on the other side was completely untouched. ⠀
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A fresh sheet of paper. ⠀
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A new week. ⠀
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If you want to make a little wool tree like this one the step by step instructions are now on my website - www.snapdragonlife.com.⁠⠀
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If you want it to look exactly like this one, you can also buy a kit with all the bits to make three trees ⁠⠀
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I first made these trees for a Country Living Fair in Glasgow back in the mid 2000s - raiding my button box for the decoration and dyeing old blankets for the wool. ⁠⠀
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Sometimes I still see the trees from that generation appear on people's Christmas windowsills and it makes me very happy.
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At Snapdragon Life I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

 

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