THE WONDERS OF HONEYSUCKLE
DISCOVER ITS MANY USES FOR HOLIDAY ARRANGEMENTS
A walk around the property yields plenty of natural material for decorating. Honeysuckle vine is a wonderful resource for making wreath bases. Its smooth texture and delicate leaves are perfect for harvesting almost anytime of year, making it an ideal material for use in any season.
TIPS FOR GATHERING HONEYSUCKLE VINES
- Test the vine's flexibility by twisting it around your wrist be for cutting it. If it breaks or crumbles find a more resilient one. Honeysuckle is very resilient and is a wonderful vine for novice wreath makers.
- Try to pick longer "runners" 3 to 4 feet long. This makes them easier to wrap into forms.
- Sometimes I remove the leaves for the vines before wrapping them- it's a matter of preference.
- Conform the vine into the form you desire then let it dry to keep its shape.
H O L I D A Y H O N E Y S U C K L E S P H E R E
This rustic sphere is the perfect winter arrangement to hang on the shepherds hooks used for hanging planters during the summer. This simple design requires several long Honeysuckle runners, Arborvitae greens, and Barberry sprigs.DOWNLOAD TUTORIAL
THE BOW MAKING COURSE
MAKE A CLASSIC VELVET BOW
Making a bow takes practice. Most beginners have great success with wire ribbon, but few attempt to work with silk or velvet ribbon. A "puffed center" red velvet bow is my favorite (pictured above). Once the technique is accomplished, you'll be making bows to your heart's content. Forget buying those pre-assembled things from Walmart or Lowes- your homemade bows will make any commercial product pale in comparison. Practice by making a bow using the same ribbon over and over until you have mastered the craft. Keep in mind that a little practice goes a long way when learning a skill. Try making one this evening while watching a Christmas movie.
THE BOW MAKING COURSE
Velvet Ribbon (For a Medium-Sized Bow: I use 3 yards of 3 inch-wide ribbon per bow)
22 Gage Florist Wire (15 inches)
- Begin by cutting one piece of 15 inch florist wire and 3 yards of ribbon.
- Take the ribbon in one hand. Leave about 18 inches of ribbon for one tail, then begin to make the center puff by scrunching the ribbon.
- Next, take another 4 inches of ribbon and scrunch it again to make a loop. Twist the ribbon to keep the velvet side facing you (or on top). This requires some experimentation to make the ribbon lay properly so the wire will be able to hold the center puff in place.
- When the center puff is achieved, hold the ribbon together with your thumb and index finger so your other hand is free to begin making loops (see photos below).
- Fold the ribbon to make a large loop and place loops to the left and right of the center puff. Clasp each layer between your thumb and index finger. While keeping the velvet side of the ribbon facing you, make 3 loops on either side of center puff.
- Take a piece of your cut wire and run it through the center loop making sure the wire goes under every layer of ribbon.
- Carefully turn the bow to its back side and twist the wire tightly. It is important to scrunch the ribbon when twisting the wire. This secures each loop and gives the bow more definition.
- To finish, fluff the loops so they look balanced on either side of the center loop.
- Fluffing the ribbon takes a little extra time but makes a big difference in the bow's appearance.
Congratulations! You have completed The Bow Making Course.
Best of Luck,
BERRIES FOR THE HOLIDAYS
It's a winter's delight to stumble upon bright red berries emerging through a fence row. They're the crowning jewels of any Christmas arrangement. I prefer using wild berries in my designs. Fresh wild berries do not drop as quickly as commercial ones. It is imperative to wear leather gloves when clipping berries to protect against sharp thorns. Two of my favorite wild shrubs are the Barberry and Multiflora Rose. These plants, once promoted as wildlife cover and soil conservation, grow freely in pasture fields and other untilled areas. The Multiflora Rose has served as a living fence on farms and ranches since the early 1800's. Many states designate these plants as noxious weeds due to the rapid spread of their seeds from birds. Regardless, the beauty of finding a red berry against the white backdrop of winter is inspiring.
Multiflora Rose Hips
After writing this post I can't help but ponder: Why do berries have thorns? Is it natures way of deterring small animals to provide for the birds? What do you think?
Birch branches add new dimension to winter arrangements. My favorite type is Mountain Birch, native to Pennsylvania. Its smooth brown bark and tiny buds are the perfect texture for wreaths and bases. Birch has a pleasant fragrance, and remains very flexible weeks after harvesting. Add birch twigs to swags and centerpieces as a filler, or bend it into forms for the perfect base (see below to learn how to make one of my signature birch designs for the holidays).
Just clip a few birch branches and fold together. Tie the bundle where the twigs cross with wire. Now you have a simple base!
The Birch Tree has a long history as a craft medium, and provides many useful possibilities. It was once the main component in constructing bark canoes, trapping baskets, and rustic twig tables. Some people still chew the bark to maintain dental health. You may even find it in your local convenience store disguised as Birch Beer.