|Simple wreath made from grapevines|
There’s nothing like the satisfaction that comes from using garden products to make items that are useful and attractive. In previous posts we’ve talked about pressing flowers, using plant trimmings for natural dyes and making garden potpourri (search ‘garden crafts’ on this blog). Another easy craft is making a grapevine wreath. Some of you may already have trimmed back your grapevines. If not, you still have time to make a grapevine wreath this winter (at least in our mild S. California climate).
Making a grapevine wreath is easy once you get used to handing the vines. You’ll need 20 to 30 or more lengths of grapevine. Cut them as long as you can – about 4-8 ft. is easiest to work with. Be sure to choose vines that are still flexible (green vines are fine). Vines no thicker than your little finger at the broadest are best. You can see the vines we trimmed from our native wild grape (Vitis girdiana) below. You’ll need to use the vines on the day you cut them, before they dry out.
Choose 5 or 6 of the thickest vines to form the foundation of the wreath. Lay the vines out straight, removing any leaves or side branches. Gently bend the bundle of vines into a circle of the desired size. We suggest about 12 inches across for a small wreath and 18 or 20 inches for a larger wreath. Tie the circle with stout string to hold the shape (see picture below).
Continue to bend the bundle into a circle, tying as needed to hold the vines in place. You’ll remove the string once the vine dries, so don’t worry about how it looks. Now you have the foundation for your wreath. The foundation may not be perfectly round, but don’t worry about shape too much; the shape will improve as you add more vines. And you can even tweak the final shape just prior to drying.
Take another vine and tuck the thicker end firmly into the foundation. Then wrap the new vine around the foundation, making about 6-8 wraps around the circle (see photo above). Wrap until you reach the end of the vine, then tuck the end in. Continue wrapping with the additional vines, starting each new vine at a different place around the foundation. Try to alternate the direction of the wraps – starting clockwise with one vine, then counter-clockwise with the next – to give an even shape.
When you’ve used all your vines – or when the wreath is pleasingly full – you are almost done. Don’t worry about the odd ends that stick out. Some will disappear in the drying process, and the rest can be clipped off when dry. If your wreath is not completely round, you can tie it into round with a string (see above). Hang your wreath to dry in a cool, dry place. It will probably take about 2 weeks to dry.
Once dry, you can clip loose ends if needed. Remove the string – the wreath should hold its shape if fully dry. You can spray your wreath with a thin coat of clear spray varnish or use it as is. We’ll suggest some ways to use your wreath during the next year (2014).
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