On Saturday when I went out for my little walk to the woodsy bit of the park, I wanted some fresh air and "breathing space" but there was also an extra little something on my agenda. I was off on a secretive Gathering and Foraging mission.
Since joining in with Instagram, I've discovered some wonderful writers and photographers who create and share the most beautiful nature-inspired ideas. It might be a little jar of flowers and foliage, or a carefully curated collection of natural finds, or an elaborate arrangement of natural objects, but no matter how simple or complex the set up, the resulting photographs are incredibly beautiful and inspiring.
So last week I came across an inspiring place called Little Green Shed. Labelled as a Lifestyle Blog, it's an appealing mix of interior design, creative makes, reviews, interviews and musings. The thing that drew me to this blog was a series of collective images entitled "Nature in the Home" - this is where Lou invites her followers to submit their own photographs for a weekly series all about bringing itty bits of nature indoors. It's a simple idea, but what makes it so lovely is the stunning quality of the images, it really is an absolute feast for the eyes. If you follow this link and scroll down through the images you will see what I mean, it's a whole lot of inspiring, visual fabulousness!
I love discovering new blogs and new outlets for creativity, I think it's really brilliant when you happen upon something unexpected which sets you off on an inspiring journey. On Saturday, I was on that journey all right - I had this idea in my mind and nothing would have stopped me. It was this image that did it. Such a simple thing, a wreath made entirely of dead things foraged natural finds. So I took myself off to the edge of the woods and foraged and gathered dead things into my spotty cloth bag. Dried grasses and weedy looking dead stems and twigs and the such like. I felt a bit conspicuous tramping about in the soggy undergrowth plucking dried up bits of foliage but the few dog walkers and mums with toddlers at the park paid me no attention whatsoever.
Gathering and collecting from nature is not a new thing for me though, I've been doing it for as long as I can remember. Ever since I was a child I have collected shells, feathers, seeds, stones, leaves and flowers, you might even remember six years ago when I shared the contents of my Secret Drawers? It's a bit of a strange habit I suppose, and it is hugely reassuring and comforting to know that there are others out there in the world who also do this same thing. Phew. I'm not alone.
I really love these dried out stems of unknown plant life, they are so delicate and pretty and very apt for creating a winter sort of a wreath. Lou's Winter Wreath is made using dried sweet pea stems, bracken leaves, dried seed heads and hydrangea flowers, so I kind of followed that recipe for my own Gathered Wreath.
I have done things a bit differently though, in that I didn't happen to have a pre-formed twiggy wreath base to hand so had to think of something a bit more homemade.
I used a length of thin garden wire to form a ring, bending and twisting the wire round three times to make it strong enough. I formed a small hanging loop at the top too, then used four strands of green yarn (my cowl-neck poncho yarn in fact) to wrap around the wire.
Do you remember in October when I showed you my Autumnal gatherings at the start of my Cosy Blanket journey? The above picture is a very, very lazy confession - that tray of natural finds had been put on top of a cupboard and abandoned, gosh, the housekeeper here at number 24 is an absolute disgrace you know. She didn't want to throw the tray of nature in the bin you see, and she couldn't quite think what to do with it all, so she simply left it to gather dust. Tut tut.
But despite the dust and a little bit of shrivelling, everything had dried out so beautifully that I was inspired to use some of it in my Gathered Wreath. I especially love the hydrangea flowers, really rather pretty in a subtle and faded kind of way.
I thought I might copy Lou and use some feathers too, seeing as I have a pot of them sitting on my mantelpiece waiting for some such thing. Feathers are lovely things to collect, aren't they? Well I think so.
Anyhow....my method of attaching the gatherings was a bit haphazard and mainly involved wrapping stuff up in more yarn.
I just kind of decided where bits were going to go, wrapped them tightly with yarn, then used a darning needle to secure the yarn ends back into the yarn-wrapped wire ring. It worked really well and once the twigs were bent into place and secured, it began to look pretty wreath-like....
...it's a bit rustic, a bit wobbly, but the simplicity of it pleased me very much.
Next job was to add in the dried up bits and pieces, the grasses and the plant stems that had gone to seed. I found there was no need to tie these in with yarn, they were so light and thin that all I needed to do was simply weave them gently in and out of the twigs, taking care not to break the delicate stems.
I love the very natural look of this wreath, the more I worked on it, the more it grew on me.
I tucked in a few feathers here and there, then assembled the best of the dried flowers from my dusty tray to add a little bit of prettiness and some subtle colour.
I tied up a small dried posy of flowers and berries, then used my hot glue gun to stick the posy to the bottom of the wreath. I also glued some of the hydrangea flowers around the wreath, I couldn't think of an alternative way of attaching them, and actually the hot-glue method was rather easy and brilliantly instant.
And here is the finished wreath.......Ta-dah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It's a bit strange when you spend the morning doing something like this all alone in the house. I was so completely absorbed in creating this wreath, for no other reason than for personal pleasure. There was no-one to share it with, nobody to explain it to, but that was ok. This wreath isn't meant to be for anyone else other then me. I twirled around the room with it, trying to decide where to hang it.
In the end I hung it on the bit of wall to the left of the bay window, although really it's not that great there. The light is poor, so you can't really see the subtlety of the colours or the detail of the dried things, so I think I might move it after Christmas.
It was very hard to photograph properly, and I have a huge amount of respect and admiration for all those clever people who make their "Nature in the Home" photographs look so stunning.
I have to tell you that although I am very taken with my wreath of gathered things, the rest of the family think it is absolutely terrible. They just cannot understand why I would want to make something that is so useless and looks so dead.
I guess at this time of year, we are accustomed to seeing full-blown leafy creations, bursting with lush foliage and evergreen vitality. Oh well. I like it what I made, and I like that it came together so simply.
I am trying not to keep referring to it as the Dead-Things Wreath, which is what the Little People are calling it.
It is my G a t h e r e d Wreath, so there.
ps I found some lovely natural wreaths here - feeling inspired to do some more twiggy things!