This project starts with a walk and if ever there was a right place to collect twigs for a magical woodland crown it has to be in these old drovers' roads around the fields where we live. For thousands of years men and women have moved cattle, sheep and pigs along these sunken lanes, created so that even a lone farmer could move livestock as along these paths they couldn't stray when being transferred onto new pasture. What I want to know though is who made and who is using these steps in the side walls?
The hedgerows are also a source of wild fruit, nuts and mushrooms and everyone comes up here to collect whatever is in season. The food is abundant that there is enough for us all, human, animal and bird.
There are two ways to make this crown, both equally as valid but it depends on speed and inclination as to whether you want to go with glue or needle and thread.
As I've just started with needle felting, I'm going to make some fawn ears to go with my crown but these could be purchased or fashioned from leaves and/or felt.
The face paint I made myself from organic ingredients from the kitchen cupboard. Details are in Step 5
Step 1: One, Two Buckle My Shoe
(Not a great choice for wandering around the countryside or park but suitable for a wood spirit to dance on Halloween and also the only shoe I have with a buckle.)
It's a good idea before you go out collecting to plan roughly how much raw material you actually think you will need. To this end it is best to create the base of the crown before you collect the twigs. So measure up your head and find a suitable piece of strong fabric. As this is a crown made of natural materials I used Jute Burlap but sacking, hessian, linen or old jean fabric would do really well.
Here is a list of materials you will need to complete the base of the crown:
I length of fabric enough to go around your head plus 1" (2.5cm) for neatening the ends. The width needs to be about 4" (10cm) plus 1" (2.5cm) if you are going to neaten the edges. This piece of fabric will be folded in two lengthways to make a sort of pocket in which to hold the twigs.
If you are not going to needlefelt or otherwise make them: Deer Ears
Strong Twine or Sewing Thread.
Large-Eye Craft Needles....or
Glue Gun (preferably one with a trigger action) I've mislaid mine so am using the simple push kind its adequate but if you do a lot of gluing, go for the trigger type, they are more expensive but much easier to control and less tiring on the thumb!
Glue sticks suitable for, well sticking sticks or wood
A length of ribbon that is long enough when halved to make a bow to tie the crown neatly together. Approximately 30" (75cm).
CREATING THE BASE
Fold your fabric in two length ways and iron it flat to get a good edge to work with.
You can either fold over the long rough edges and iron them flat or for a more bohemian look, fray the edges and leave them raw, as I did.
Fold over the seam allowance at the narrow edges and pin and then sew the ribbon between the neatened seams on each end of the crown.
Step 2: Three, Four, Before You Go Out the Door
Now is the time to make the Deer/Fawn Ears or to pin them temporarily in place on your head band if you have bought them. They will have a bearing on how much twiggy material and maybe the sorts of colour combinations you will need when you go out collecting.
I'm going to needlefelt using various shades of ethically sourced fleece.
I'm using Certified Organic Merino Wool Roving
Certified Organic Bioland Felting Wool - Natural Shades or if you want to make something more striking in woodland spirit colours or to match a costume, I also have used and can recommend certified Bioland
I also have some Jacob Sheep fleece from World of Wool in Cumbria, in Yorkshire (who have great wool/needlefelting supplies) and which gives me the accents of colour for the wispy edges of the ears.
I use 2 types of needle for felting this project:
36 Gauge triangular for the general work and for making ears. I need to hold several at once, so a
Needle Felting Punch Tool is really useful.
40 Gauge Triangular for the fine finishing (ear tips and adding colour accents and shading) but it is better value to buy them in a bulk lot of triangular needles.
If you don't have one then you will also need a needle-felting mat - I made my own from jute burlap stuffed with rice.
You can choose to prepare both ears at once if you are worried about getting exact copies.
Pull out a 5" (13cm) piece of natural beige roving felting wool.
Taking hold of it at each end pull it apart and restack it a couple of times. This will give you a shorter but thicker length to work on.
Then get out the accent colours (I'm using Jacob Sheep fleece) and lay small amounts of them on top of the beige with the darkest sections along and slightly overlapping the top edge.
Turn the piece over and using a 36 Gauge needle, needlefelt a central vertical line from top to bottom.
Needlefelt the ear shape around this central line and then begin to draw and fold in the wool from the back, around and into this shape. This will bring the darker colour in around the edges of the ear.
Gently lift the ear from the felting pad, it will have become attached during the felting process.
Needlefelt the inner part of the ear with the punch tool if you have one and shape the ear as you go.
Shape the base of the ear to have a solid base to attach to the crown and also to give extra form to the ear.
Lay on and apply a thin layer of Merino to create and accentuate the inner lining of the ear. Needlefelt lightliy with the punch tool and then with the fine needle (40 Gauge) to create wrinkles and crinkles.
Inspect the ears and using the fine 40 Gauge needle work in any extra accent wool onto the edges of the ears.
Try not to overwork the ears as they need to keep that delicate and translucent look of the real thing! If you flatten out the wool too much with the punch tool they will also lose the fluffiness!
Step 3: Five, Six Pick Up Sticks
It's a good idea to find a good pair of pruning shears, robust enough to handle twigs. Shears are really useful, if like me you are going to collect wild fruits on their twigs to add to the base of the crown or because you may come across a large fallen branch with some suitable twigs attached. You may also need shears at the end of the project too if you need to remove or reshape some of the foliage.
If you are collecting fruits that have protective thorns and spines, make sure you have a pair of strong gardening gloves just in case.
Using your crown base, roughly plan out the material you will need, after all there is no need to take more than you need in fruited twigs as apart from your neighbours, this is the Winter food supply for all the wildlife around your area. As far as dry twigs are concerned it is best to get as many of these as possible to make sure your crown doesn't look too sparse and any extra you can use on the fire or barbecue.
Choose your sticks with an eye to colour and shape and as you go along collecting, imagine how the finished crown is going to look and choose your material accordingly. There are so many different types of twig available and you can play about with colours and textures to achieve something really interesting.
For example, if your design is based on a Celtic Samhain look, choose some twigs that have the either the shape of antlers or twigs from the oak, which have tapered ends that look like hooves.
There are also some great crowns that can be made with very delicate wispy twigs and some really elegant designs that are asymmetrical.
I chose twigs with fruit, such as medlars and clusters of hawthorn, I thought they would look good added around the base of the crown and similarly the long thin spiny twigs that had sloe berries hanging to them. My idea was to make a 'jewelled' crown with the wild harvested fruits taking the place of gems.
Step 4: Seven, Eight Lay Them Straight
When you get back home, place all your twigs in their positions on the base of the crown, fitting them in between the folds of the fabric. Keep in mind on how they will look when on you head. At this point you should also position the material you have gathered for the head band proper too, that is unless you are just going to leave it bare and reveal the decorative stitching. I always start with the front centrepiece and work out from there.
Here in addition to my wild fruits I'm adding the hydrangea heads and the lavender spikes I've dried for Winter. You can buy Artificial Silk Hydrangea Heads on line but if you have them in your garden - right now is the time to dry them and they will stay almost as you picked them and the slightly faded colours look wonderful. These bright blue ones took only a few days to dry in the kitchen but I dried them a month ago so they are more crinkly than the hydrangeas I dried this week..
Now sew or glue the ears in place. Generally I would stitch them because then you could always use them again in another project. Once glued they are a permanent fixture!
To stitch the twigs onto the head band, I used a blanket stitch because I thought it would look quite neat if any of it showed but also because I believed it would be easier to hold the sticks in position. I find blanket stitch stays in place more firmly whilst you are sewing than a plain straight stitch.
Work your way up the first twig to the top of the band and then cross over to the next and work down.
Once you have finished all the twigs, you can either leave it like that or decorate the band by threading the stems of your fruits and/or flowers or other found items you are using into the existing stitches or sewing them on separately.
Check the look of the crown in a mirror and see if there is anywhere it looks too over-heavy with twigs and prune off any unnecessary foliage or twig using your pruning shears.
You can add some hat veiling for a more Gothic or bridal look
Step 5: Nine, Ten a (Big Fat Hen) Sweet Little Rooster/Cockerel
This is Sergeant Silko (halt Silkie half Cochin), he is a newcomer to our flock, the people who raised him didn't want him any more - can you imagine that. So I made him a crown, a simple circlet of ivy for the photo shoot, which was light enough for him and as he got some extra special food as payment, he had no problem being involved in this Instructable!
The face paint is home-made and organic.
For the face I used French Green Clay mixed with organic coconut oi. I applied several layers and then patted it with a paper tissue to take the shine off it. This clay I would normally make up with water and use as a face mask but then it would dry quickly, be very light green and also crack if I moved my face, which would have quite an interesting effect!
For the eye shadow, I used organic cocoa powder, again mixed with the coconut oil for the eyes. I've used this combination before very successfully at my cousin's wedding this year. My mother-in-law was aghast that I could just get something out of the kitchen cupboard and put it on my face but actually to me it makes perfect sense. I wore it all day and danced all night and it didn't run or wear off and it smelled great.
Hope you have fun making this. I think it would be a great head band for a Winter Wedding or actually at any time of year as the sticks and fruit and flowers will change with the season. I think it would also look great for a Christmas party or bride.
All the very best from France, Sue