I'm so grapeful, err, grateful to the generosity of my fellow bloggers; I've learned so much from everyone who shares know-how, information, inspiration, or just plain fun. More than anything, I'd like to contribute to the great e-pool of knowledge, so here's my very first tutorial, showing how I made a grapevine wreath from wild vines -- and how you can, too. I hope you like it; please comment, and let me know what you think.
Before we begin, let me just say that this is a natural grapevine wreath. I don't even try to make a perfectly uniform circle -- after all, you can get something like that quite inexpensively at A.C. Moore, Jo Ann's or even Walmart. This is a rustic look that reflects the fact that the vines came from here:
Those are thorns, my dears. Big, bad dangerous thorns. Nasty, huh?
Oh, yes, it might be easy in some cultivated vineyard where you can gracefully cut out a few old strands, but here on Cape Cod, I'm battling poison ivy, wild raspberry vines (they're like something from Aliens) and the famous Lyme disease-carrying deer ticks. I suit up in long sleeves and heavy duty gloves. My gloves are a sort of rubberized pink, and the ones I use came from the Cape Cod Master Gardeners Spring Sale. They were $5.00, and they only had child size left. Fortunately, I have little hands...you need tough gloves in the outer regions of my yard.
I'm sure that Maddie will tell you that it helps to have a kitty taking a nap while you gather your vines, as he's doing while I wade into the thicket behind my little house. With Maddie's loyal support, I pull long strands of vines down from the trees, and here and there clip at the bases to release them. After a half hour of pruning and pulling, a big pile of vines is ready. Thanks, Maddie. Couldn't have done it without you...
And, by the way, late summer to early fall is the best time for pulling/cutting the vines, before they've become dry and brittle. So here we go...
Pull out the longest, thickest strand of vine, and strip off any big leaves still on it. Hold the thick end in one hand, and loop the vine to form a circle, hooking the other hand over and under to pass the ends under each other and fasten.
Take another vine, and tuck it into the scrimpiest part of the circle -- probably the side opposite the thickest part where you started. Secure it under the first vine, hooking any twigs under the vines in place, and continue to form the circle, bringing the vine from front to back and weaving it through twigs and strands where you see the opportunity. (See my pink glove?)
Continue, always starting your wrap with the thicker end of the vine, then securing it with the smaller, more pliable ends. I've heard that you can reverse the direction of winding, going clockwise for one strand, then counter clockwise for the next, but I've never bothered, and it always seems to come out all right. You'll feel like you're wrestling a long snake through a hula hoop, but, trust me, it can be done (well, maybe not the snake, but the vines!).
Use any pliable green ends to pull the ring tight when you can, but again, don't worry about making a perfect shape. You'll find that the twining branches of the vines almost tell you the form the wreath is going to take, whether very circular, or more oblong, or even sometimes nice and tight.
If you have a big, ungainly vine, you may not be able to tuck in every branching twig. Who cares? That's what makes it look unique!
And, there you go, a wild grapevine wreath with real character!
The wreath will shrink a bit, so place it in a sunny place for a couple of weeks before you add other material to it or hang it.
With love from Cape Cod.