It’s a busy time of year at CraftCourses, but it’s good to have the occasional crafty interlude to remind ourselves of our own creativity and what it is we love about supporting our wonderful makers and students in their creative endeavours. What better way, at this festive time of year, than a natural willow wreath making workshop? With mulled wine, mince pies and some Christmassy tunes to work to, we were all delighted with the results! 🎄🎄🎄
Aided and abetted by local, permaculture flower farmers Clare and Simon at Blossoms and Berries here in the Preseli hills, we began by creating our own green willow wreaths, ably guided by Simon who was on hand, literally, to help us control our wayward willow whips! After bending, shaping, cajoling, and weaving the whips into a circle, our slightly dishevelled but promising wreaths were then trimmed to leave the perfect base for decoration and embellishment with the plethora of natural greenery, flowers and fruity bits and pieces brought along by this creative and endlessly enthusiastic pair. Weaving willow in this way is immensely satisfying if a little tough on the hands, with the thicker whips (affectionately known as 'beasts') proving quite difficult to handle, but it's rewarding to see how the shape starts to come together and the colours of the different types of willow are beautiful. Over time, the willow will dry and change to an altogether different palette but, for now, the green, brown and red shades are stunning in their freshness. Thoroughly warmed by now by willow wrangling (and the delicious mulled wine), it was time to add damp moss to our wreaths using a butcher's knot demonstrated by Simon at which point we were then ready to really start getting creative. Clare was positively bouncing with anticipation at this point and clearly itching to guide us through the finer points of creating the perfect Christmas wreath. From the selection of fresh greenery, she demonstrated how to choose two structural pieces to create the winged outer shape of the decoration. From there it was simply a case of adding to the display, building the layers and embellishing with whatever took our fancy from the pile of goodies laid out before us. Even if you've never arranged a bouquet of flowers or made anything remotely like this, it's such a joy to have completely free rein to create something totally unique. If we were unsure or unhappy with anything we added, it was simple to remove it and try something different. Each element was pushed into the mossy base, which we will be able to refresh with water to maintain the greenery and extend the life of our wreaths over the Christmas period. From the selection of pine needles, leylandii, holly, ivy berries, dried fern and seed heads including flax and dill, as well as an abundant collection of embellishments such as pine cones, dried oranges, apples and limes, cinnamon sticks, straw flowers, dried hydrangea (gorgeous), and other dried flowers, we spent a very happy hour or so becoming completely absorbed in the creative process. What became apparent fairly quickly was the variety in our wreaths. They were all developing in a completely organic and individual way. From the starting point, as described by Clare, we all took our creations in different directions in terms of colour, structure, and abundance. Some were ebullient and effervescent, whilst others were more restrained and classical. All were changing from the simplicity of the willow circle into something truly pleasing and it was lovely to hear everybody complimenting each other's work and also expressing their pleasure in their own creations. It was sensationally satisfying in every respect. With the wreaths almost complete, it just remained for us to pick one of Clare's selection of jaunty Christmas bows and add a handy hanging loop, to finish them and collectively admire the results. Safe to say, we were absolutely wowed by what we had accomplished in such a short time. From most of us never having attempted anything like this to a really impressive display of wreaths, the workshop was a complete success! If you are tempted to have a go at making your own wreath, it's not too late to snap up a place at one of the wreath making workshops on CraftCourses but hurry, only very limited places are left for this year. Never fear however, our lovely makers are full of creative ideas and there are many opportunities throughout the year to make wreaths and other similar pieces for Spring, Easter and much, much more. If you like the idea of having a go at making a wreath at home, there are plenty of fabulous craft kits and handcrafted gifts to choose from or to give to a creative loved one.
We all enjoyed making our Christmas wreaths so much, it's sure to be something we will revisit year after year as there's nothing quite so lovely as a handmade, natural, sustainable, eco-friendly wreath to adorn your front door at Christmas. We hope you agree that we did ourselves proud! Thank you to Clare and Simon at Blossoms and Berries.