Woven Willow Heart Wreath DIY
Making your own willow heart decoration is an easy seasonal project which will last for years to come. It's the perfect time of year to bring some natural decor into your home, after the Christmas decorations have come down and making your own willow decor couldn’t be easier.
The good news is that you can forage for your materials
January & early February are the best time of year for harvesting willow – before the sap starts to rise and the buds start to break open.
Before you can start making your willow heart, you’ll need to head out and find some willow – the best places to look are along river banks and in wetland areas. I trimmed my willow from hedgerows along a footpath near my home.
Try to get long straight cuts of willow – the longer the better and plenty of it so you’ve got lots of pieces to chose from when you’re weaving. While you’re out looking for your willow see if you can also spot those early signs of spring, peeping snowdrops and uplifting birdsong.
If you don’t have any luck finding some in your local area willow for weaving is easy enough to find in good craft shops and online.
To weave your willow heart you'll need:
- Willow – as above
- Hessian or natural string
- A tester pot of white emulsion paint (if you’d like to paint it like mine, you can always leave it natural of course)
- Snips or secateurs
1) Strip the leaves off your willow
Strip off the leaves and ideally you should then leave it to dry for a good month at least, but if you don't have the patience for that (I certainly didn't) skip straight onto step 3.
2) Soak your willow
You'll need to soak your willow for 24 hours. You can buy bags to do this in, but I find that you can just as easily soak willow in the bath. (No need to soak your willow if you’re using freshly cut pieces).
3) Work those curves!
Before you start weaving encourage your willow to curve round in one direction by bending it around your knee, all the way along each of the willow rods.
4) Make the heart shape
Get two of the longest willow rods you have, they need to be a similar size and lie them next to each other with the thickest ends at the bottom. Where you've curved the willow rods, make sure the curve of the two rods is opposite each other with both curling away from each other. Wind and tie some of the hessian string around the bottom two pieces, tying them together. Tie the string around the two rods so you've got about a 2-3 inch section bound in string, this should keep the heart's shape when you start to weave.
Part the two pieces of willow and bend them around, helping the willow to curve with your hands. Pull the two willow rods together at the bottom to create a basic heart shape. When you're happy with the shape, tie the two pieces together with hessian string. Do the same as you did at the top and wind the string around the bottom section so you've got about 1 inch bound together with string.
Start at the top and weave your willow rods around the heart structure, alternating between the left and right side. Weave the willow from the inside of the heart, out and keep it consistent for uniform look. Keep weaving until your heart looks about the right thickness that you want. Don't worry about the bits sticking out at the moment. When you're done weaving, wind a long thin piece of willow around the top section of your heart, where the two original willow rods meet. You can also do the same at the bottom join.
Snip back the bits of willow that are sticking out. Snip them at an angle and make sure you don't snip them too short to prevent them from un-weaving themselves. Tie a loop of string at the top of your heart which can be used as a hanger. Tie the string through the bits of willow at the back so you can't see the string at the front.
7) Dry your willow heart shape
Hang your willow heart up to dry for a week to two weeks. I hung mine about our log burner which helped it dry out a little quicker.
Using the brush that comes with your white emulsion tester pot, brush the paint on to your willow heart. Sweep over the surface of your heart shape with the paint so they you're just painting the willow on the surface and the twigs underneath are showing through their natural colour. When you're happy with the effect hang it up to dry.
String a piece of ribbon through your string loop and hang up in your home. If you want to add an extra bit of cosy to the effect you could wind some battery powered fairly lights around it and hide the battery pack behind the top section of the heart.
Getting into the swing of crafting homemade creations? Fancy trying another? Here are a few ideas, how about dressing up your living room even more for the new year by turning an old trunk into a coffee table.