Friday, April 1, 2016

BEST DESIGN:Natural Birch Twig Wreaths & Honeysuckle

I love designing unique, different, wild & woodsy wreaths!
My wreath-making expertise has been gained in bits and pieces, kind of like twigs. Let me share with you some real knowledge about creating natural wreaths.
Many or most wreaths have a tight look that I've never been a fan of. I have loved designing wreaths for years, so I needed to come up with a different base for unique wreath designs.
Two materials give your "wild & woodsy" wreath bases and designs a wild and natural look that is so popular. The first is wild birch sticks fashioned into a round or oval wreath base, and the second is loops and curls of honeysuckle vine.
Do these natural materials last? Will my wreath design hold up when using birch sticks and honeysuckle vine? Absolutely YES... they certainly will.
Wild birch wreaths can be twisted and fashioned together without wiring or tying in any way. The secret is in knowing how to twist and shape them so they will never come loose. Yes, it does take a certain knack or talent to do just that.
I am certainly blessed to have a young woman who lives up in the mountains who knows exactly how to grab a few birch twigs and twist and turn them so that I could never pull them back apart.
The second natural material used in "wild & woodsy" wreaths is honeysuckle.
Honeysuckle certainly gives your creations that wild, woodsy and natural look. It also provides perfect resting places for bird nests and other critters. It may even help enhance the shape of the wreath. But what you can't see is that it adds strength and durability.
In fact, if you like designing character wreaths, some of the sentimental pieces used in those can be made of wood or pottery and can be quite heavy. Honeysuckle to the rescue!
For example, to add a clay pot to a wreath, tie the honeysuckle into a loop, attach it to the wreath with pipe cleaners, moss and hot glue. They you can slide the pot into the ring - securing it with glue. You might want to cover where it is attached with fresh moss and hot glue. No one will ever know what is securing this heavy clay pot into your design.
The honeysuckle vine will hold such an addition securely and generally enhances or adds to the strength of the wreath base.
Harvesting honeysuckle:
Driving down any wooded country road, you can find honeysuckle vines in the undergrowth or at the base of a tree or fence. (Well, at least in South Carolina you can).
It likes to twist around tree branches as it grows high in the trees, among the branches. You can find it any time of year, but it's much easier to harvest in the late fall or winter, when it has lost its leaves. Pulling it down out of the tree is much easier then.
If you do happen to harvest honeysuckle when it has leaves on it, just let them dry and gently rub them off the stems. I say gently, because you don't want the vine itself to break into. Just cut the vine at the point where it comes up out of the ground and then merely pull the remainder of the vine out of the tree or bush.
As soon as you have collected the honeysuckle vine, wrap it around in a circle and secure it with wire.
Honeysuckle will dry out and become brittle after it is harvested. By immediately looping it into circles and storing it this way, you eliminate much of the breakage and it will be ready and waiting for you, when you begin to make your wreath. Only cut as much as you may need, so that it will be fresh when you are ready to add it to a wreath.
When incorporating honeysuckle into your twig wreath, there are a couple of ways to integrate it into your wreath base. I use pipe cleaners or wire to tie it to the twig wreath base.
While weaving it into your wreath, don't forget to add the loops to hold special clay pots or other pieces. You can also bring out a few loops to fashion a holder for a bird nest. In fact, I demonstrate this weaving process in more detail in a number of wreath-making videos I have filmed.
This is where your creativity should be loosed - be creative! Let the swirls of honeysuckle extend above and below the wreath. Make loops and curls. Let your imagination be your guide.
Nancy Alexander is a world renowned wreath designer and owner of She has over 25 years of experience in floral design and interior decorating and is known for her unique and custom floral designs. Nancy has filmed many instructional videos on floral design, and offers several e-books.