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...

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The packing bench in the studio.⁠⠀
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Sometimes I turn around and things just look so pretty together.⁠⠀
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Labelling pale pink socks with the plant they were dyed with and the date they went into the dye pot.⁠⠀
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The perfect almond glue for sticking paper, jute string for tying things up.⁠⠀
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Amazingly I didn't even have to tidy up to take a photo - though it is quite a tight crop and the background is a blur.⁠⠀
For the past year the bedroom windowsill has been neglected. It has had stones and bones and the blue speckled pot of bird food, but no flowers.⁠⠀
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I couldn't really work out why.⁠⠀
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Then, as soon as I got the urge to line up my vases again,I realised what the problem had been. ⁠⠀
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In March last year - as I was shielding and Euan is a front line worker - I moved to the spare room. ⁠⠀
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I was very, very bad at it - despite the room being very nice - and huffed and moped and felt I was being punished. I eventually slunk back to my own bed after two months. ⁠⠀
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The deal was that if Euan thought it was a risk he would phone from work and I would move my things back to the spare bedroom.⁠⠀
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I kept expecting - despite all the precautions, the scrubs, the showering - that I might have to go back. ⁠⠀
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Last week I had my second jab, the numbers look good, and, though Scotland is behind England in opening up, I can see the country beginning to relax. ⁠⠀
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It felt safer, I went and found a jug for the cherry blossom.
I began doing freehand embroidery when my daughters were tiny - a deliberate wiggle and flourish when hemming seemed preferable to my wobbly attempts at keeping the needle straight.⁠⠀
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Then, when I began to sew commercially to have some income in the winter months, it seems like the perfect technique.⁠⠀
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Getting the chance to exhibit at the Country Living Fair in 2005 got me speeded up and it certainly felt like my thousands of hours were put in then.⁠⠀
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Today I start teaching an e-course to Studio Club members which will hopefully enable them to begin drawing with they sewing machines.⁠⠀
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The module that will arrive with them today is all about machines and materials - with the message that the simpler the machine the better.⠀
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It gave me a chance to tidy my sewing desk.
Today is the last day to sign up as a member of the Studio Club.⁠⠀
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So if you are ready for more connection and creativity in your life . . . .⁠⠀
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If you could do with a bit of calm and gentle joyfulness . . . . ⁠⠀
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If you want to find out more about the living things around you . . . to slow down . . . to feel more 'at home' . . .⁠⠀
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Then head over to my website snapdragonlife.com to find out more.⁠⠀
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There is a 'Pay what you can' option -  it is always the most difficult to get people to sign up for, and yet I know if would be perfect for so many.
It has been a joy this week to see the bantam hens all out enjoying their freedom.⁠⠀
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It is the one point in the year when we have an abundance of eggs - they are late starters and then hide them all as soon as the weather warms up.⁠⠀
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I have been spending time sitting watching them peck around the orchard - feathers ruffled by the wind, heads down eyes trained for tasty morsels.⁠⠀
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I decided to make a hen embroidery the last part of the 'freehand machine embroidery' e-course that starts on Tuesday. ⁠⠀
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The aim is to break downtime the processor freehand embroidery into very simple steps - with a different exercise each week, building skills and confidence until you can draw with a sewing machine by week 5.⁠⠀
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The course is included in the Studio Club membership - if you want to take it live, week by week, you have 24 hours to join up.  Details on snapdragonlife.com
This week I have been drawn to white and bright and light.⁠⠀
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In the flowers I picked for the Studio Window.⁠⠀
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In the cool white Scottish linen I've been embroidering.⁠⠀
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It's a clean feeling, a throwing off - probably because I've been stuck with a dragging, draining fatigue for a few weeks.⁠⠀
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It's that wondrous clarity that you get when you realise that you can open your eyes wide again.
If I could persuade people of two things they would be . . .⁠⠀
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1. to seek alternatives for domestic cut flowers until their local field flowers are blooming (which is almost now here in Scotland ).⁠⠀
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and . . . ⁠⠀
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2. to pay attention to the daily changes where you live.⁠⠀
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These are snippets of hawthorn and hornbeam hedge arranged in test tubes - but they could also be in bottles or small vases and they could be any kind of deciduous tree or shrub. ⁠⠀
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Every day they emerge a little more, every hour they catch the light in a different way.  All week they have made me smile.⁠⠀
Last year I dumped a load of finished tulips from pots into a metal box, intending to plant them out in the garden.⁠⠀
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This is some of the 'free' (if rather mangled) tulips from the box.⁠⠀
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I have replanted them into the old terracotta pots and propped up the wayward stems with bits of hedge.⁠⠀
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Then - I promise - I shall plant them out properly when the finish flowering this time.
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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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