I had a wall space that needed decoration. My partner has moptop trees, which produce long, thin prunings in winter. I like boats. I was inspired to make a canoe frame wall hanging from the prunings. Prunings from any plant that produces long, thin, flexible canes (e.g. grape vines) could be used.
Step 1: Make a Jig
I used recycled particle board to make the jig. A longitudinal board provided a strongback. Transverse jig frames cut to shape with a jigsaw were screwed to the strongback from underneath. Longitudinal jig frames to define the bow and stern shape were also attached to the strongback. Holes were drilled in the edges of the jig frames to enable the prunings to be attached to them using cable ties.
The jig was made so that the assembled frame can be lifted off i.e. the overall width and length dimensions continually increased from the top to the bottom of the jig (when the jig is viewed in the building position, with the keel line uppermost).
The jig size is dictated by the size of wall space, the length of prunings available and the wood available to make the jig.
Step 2: Select and Prepare Prunings
The prunings were selected to be thin enough to bend easily. Any lateral growth was removed. It is best to work with the prunings soon after leaf fall, and soon after pruning, so that they are as green and flexible as possible.
Step 3: Attach Prunings to Jig
I started by laying down the transverse frames. These are made from doubled prunings (two pieces of wood side by side). They were tied together with cable ties and also cable tied to the jig. The doubled prunings were kept in alignment by drilling a number of small holes through both of the prunings in a horizontal alignment and pushing through thin bullet head nails that were an interference fit in the holes. The ends of the nails were later trimmed off. The longitudinal pieces (or stringers) were then laid down over the transverse frames. These frames were cable tied to the transverse frames and the jig. The central longitudinal stringer (or keel) and gunwale (frame around the outer lower edge of the jig) were doubled and secured with nails, as described for the transverse frames.
Step 4: Let It All Dry Out
As the prunings dry they set to the shape of the jig. The assembled prunings should be left on the jig to dry out for as long as possible so that the frame is stiff and does not distort when removed from the jig.
Step 5: Remove the Frame From the Jig
The cable ties that attach the frame to the jig were cut and the frame was lifted off the jig. Spacers made of lengths of thick prunings were put in place to hold the width of the hull frame until it was finished.
Step 6: Pretty It Up
The nail ends were trimmed. I bought black leather thong on eBay and used it to provide decorative lashing to hold doubled stringers together and to attach stringers to the frames. Cable ties were removed.
Step 7: Hang It
The frame can be attached either keel against the wall or gunwales against the wall (I've tried both!) using just a couple of screws – the frame is not heavy.
I have a number of down lights in the room in which the frame is hung. The pattern of shadows that it forms is complex and pleasing.
I have considered that it would be possible to build similar frames for outdoor decoration. It should be possible to use steel rod instead of prunings. The steel rod could be bent around the jig and then welded or wired to hold it together.