Thursday, March 17, 2011

Something from Nothing

Today is absolutely gorgeous.  Gorgeous.  The temperature outside is as warm as inside - in the middle of March.  The sun is shining, and the breeze is so gentle.  This weather is insane, but you know what?  I'll take it.  I puttered around outside most of the morning, just finding stuff to do rather than spend time indoors.  I pulled the covers entirely off the cold frames, planted some burdock, smoked the bacon I'm in the process of curing, admired the purple crocuses, watched the cats chase flies, set the hammock up, and generally basked in the finest day of the year so far.

A pile of grapevine trimmings has been hanging around since my husband did a severe pruning a few weeks ago.  I'd been meaning to check them out, but what decent weather we've had lately has been devoted to more pressing chores.  But today - ah, today.  Any excuse to be outside would do today.  So I made these.

Now I know they aren't exactly works of a master craftsman.  But I was pretty pleased with them.  For an hour's mucking around on a balmy day, a few snips here and there with hand pruners, and not a clue as to how to go about making a wreath, I'd say they turned out fair enough.  Maybe it's just that I get a kick out of making something from nothing, out of finding a use where other people only see garbage or something to be gotten rid of.  It tickles me every single time I manage to pull something like this off.

If I'd had more grapevines, or longer grapevines, I could have made more wreaths or bulked these two out a bit.  Many pruned vines were too short to be useful.  The vines were clearly starting to dry out a bit; if I'd worked with them a few weeks ago I think they would have been more flexible.  Still, the vines and especially the curlicue tendrils were surprisingly resilient.  Given my total ignorance of the proper way to construct a grapevine wreath, it was a very forgiving medium to work with.  Next year I'll encourage my husband to make the cut pieces as long as possible, and then see what can be done with them when they're freshly cut.

Not sure what I'll do with these yet.  The nice thing is that if I decide I don't have any use for them, they can either be gifted away, or composted!  Okay, now I'm heading back outside.

P.S. to those who entered the homesteading books giveaway, I haven't heard back from one winner.  So stay tuned.  If I don't hear from her by tomorrow evening, I'll draw another number.  You still might win!  And if you entered but didn't check to see if you won, well check it out.


April Alexander said...

What a great way to re-use grape vines! Sure wish we had some grapes around here, but the NW isn't keen weather for them. Loved your update!

teekaroo said...

I love those wreaths! I've attempted similar projects using fall branches, but those beautiful leaves are finicky about being jostled around. I should try something like this next time.

Carol said...

I quote, "Maybe it's just that I get a kick out of making something from nothing, out of finding a use where other people only see garbage or something to be gotten rid of. It tickles me every single time I manage to pull something like this off." .... I couldn't agree more! I think the wreaths are beautiful! Consider them an real accomplishment.

Hey there! said...

What a relaxing read! Makes me want to go outside and bask in the sunshine! :)

Bellen said...

Your wreaths are lovely. I've found that wrapping the vines around a 5-gallon bucket makes them a good size. Wrapping the last go around between some of the rounds keeps them together. I never bothered with removing the leaves, just let them dry and drop off. The more tendrils the better. I left the wreaths on the bucket for about a month - 4 wreaths - and then they were done!

Decorations - spring:found bird's nest; summer - sunflowers; fall - colorful leaves coated with clear shoe polish; Winter - pine cones & pine trimmings. All came from our property.

Wendy said...

I love those! We made some natural cordage out of basswood bark and wreaths like those out of our grapevine, and then, turned them into dreamcatchers. It was a great project for the kids and from all "natural" materials. And they look kind of cool, too ;).

the lotto draw said...

i'm very jelous of the great weather you're getting. it's still 40 degrees and thick fog round my town :( roll on summer i say

meemsnyc said...

Those are nice looking wreaths. What a great way to use the grape vine cuttings.

The Creativly Frugal Mom said...

Put them in a bucket to dry out, just like Bellen suggested. Then, when you are ready to work with them, soak them for about 30 minutes in warm/hot water until pliable. It's how them get vines pliable enough to weave baskets.

Hazel said...

I made dreamcatchers with my Rainbow Guides (the youngest Girls Scouts- not sure what you call them? Daisies? Or have I just made that up?) out of willow twigs that needed pruning before they obstructed the path next to our garden.
Like you I was really pleased with how quick and relatively simple they were to make and I keep looking at the ones that are left thinking I must be able to make them into some sort of plant support like these

Kate said...

April, thanks. There's probably something comparable growing wild in your area you could work with if you want.

teekaroo, yes, I imagine it's hard to get leaves to stay on. The grapevine tendrils stay on though, so they give the wreaths some texture. Good luck next time you try it.

Carol, thank you.

Hey there! If you've got the weather for it, it's crazy to stay indoors this time of year. Enjoy!

Bellen, thanks for the bucket tip. I may try that, but I was trying to position as many of the tendrils to point inside the wreaths as I could. The bucket method wouldn't allow for that, I guess. Do you put the tendrils on the outside then?

Wendy, nice. It was so easy to make these wreaths that I can sort of see trying my hand at whatever materials come my way. I'm betting willow would be an especially easy material to work with.

lotto draw, spring is coming to the northern hemisphere. Hang in there.

meemsnyc, thanks.

TCFM, do you mean wrap them around the bucket, or just inside the bucket. And if they're really long, how do you soak them when you're ready to work? Maybe if they're wrapped then you could put them in a metal wash tub for soaking?

Hazel, I think you're right about the Daisies. When I was a Girl Scout they started with Brownies. I think your traditional hurdles used willow over there across the pond. I'm not sure it would be remotely easy to find someone to teach that craft in the US. But you probably could with a bit of research. Or you could just do as I do, and take a whack at it on your own. Sure, you make mistakes, but sometimes just trying it and learning as you go is more satisfying than attending a class and being taught the right way. Nice link by the way. More food for thought and something else you should post about when you get your blog up and running.

Nina said...

These are great bases for dreamcatchers ( willow 'whips' can also be woven this way ).
If you use waxed nylon string you'll achieve webbing that looks like natural sinew ( without some poor critter having to sacrifice itself ), and by adding a few found feathers, beads, and/or leather fringe, you'll end up with a charmingly rustic looking treasure to hang in a window, or above a child's bed to ward off night-terrors.
Happy crafting!

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Let's hear it for something from nothing! It just doesn't get more constructive than that.

I like the wreaths, but I really like the mindset.

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's MEA. We'll be meeting in Princeton Jct. NJ, five mins walk from the train station if that help. You can email me at MEAllen at aol dot com and then I'll be able to keep you updated.

Anonymous said...

Great wreaths - I can't wait until our grapevines are big enough to have to prune!
We hung a grapevine wreath on the chicken gate - my husband thinks I'm crazy but I though it made it look nice. Here's the picture:

Kate said...

Nina, dreamcatchers are a bit beyond my ambition, but it's a good suggestion to add to this post. Thanks!

Tamar, yeah, it's the mindset that counts, I think. Hard to explain, but harder to overvalue.

MEA, thanks, an email is on the way to you.

Anisa, your grapes will probably grow very quickly. You'll have vines to prune before you know it. Love the wreath on the chicken coop. Thanks for sharing.

Kate said...

MEA, tried your email twice, with and without the capitalization you indicated. It's bouncing back to me as a permanent fail. ???