Whether you are creating a willow angel for the festive season as focal point for your families Christmas tree or an authentic structure to be lovingly placed in your home or a gift for a loved one, willow angels will compliment any living space.
Angels have many meanings behind them, whether spiritual, signs of guardianship or a good luck symbol. Making an angel is quite a simple structure to make, that even children can get involved in, especially on a rainy day when you are puzzled on what to do. Not only is it fun to do, but they will gain knowledge about the native UK plant and the varieties of willow there are.
Before You Get Started
Willow needs to be rehydrated before weaving to make it flexible enough to create any structure. To do this simply submerge it in water, a good rule thumb for the amount of soaking time is one day per foot of length i.e. If the average length of your willow shoots is four foot, then soak for 4 days. (Note: Willow with the bark stripped off only takes a couple of hours to rehydrate).
What Is Needed
- Place the four thick willow stems of the same length on a table. Tie the top of the willow stems together at the top, to make it more manageable.
- Take one of the slim weavers, bend in half or about 4” (100cms) from the butt ends. Start weaving in front and behind the uprights alternating the butt and tip. This method will give even spacing between the thick willow stems.
- Bend back to the left and weave away, leaving the ends on the underside.
- Use one fine weaver at a time, but always making sure the butt end is always inserted first. Continue weaving up the angel’s body, gradually the sides together. Make sure all the ends of the fine weavers are on the reverse side, where they can be trimmed off once structure is completed.
- When you get to the size of angel you want tuck the last tip into the top line of weaving
- By making the fine weaves are secure, untie the top of the thick willow sticks and take right outside upright to the right and down and tuck into the bottom of the weaving. Do the same with the left side, making sure you do not kink the fine weaving in the process.
- To make the hair of the angel - Cross over middle uprights and weave under and over into a circle, keep going backwards and forwards until you have used both uprights.
- To finish the angel structure, you can either tie the butts in to two to make legs with the fine weave or if you prefer with fine ribbon or the two outside butts and weave into the bottom of the body using the remaining butts to fix the angel into the ground.
Caring For Your Creation
Whether inside or out, the treatment for willow is the same. When it needs it, just paint your structure with wood preservative or linseed oil using a brush or spray bottle. Linseed oil is widely used to preserve and finish wood of all types. It sometimes takes days for the oil to dry completely, depending on conditions, but sunny days are the best. The process is uncomplicated, but do read what it says on the bottle: linseed oil is extremely difficult, even impossible to get out of clothing, which is why is good at protecting your willow structure. Sculptures kept outside benefit from a coating of linseed oil once a year and those inside less frequently, about every two of three years.
Other Ideas To Get Children Involved
- Willow star
- Willow star wand
- Willow Fish
- Willow Love heart
- Willow Leaf
- Willow Christmas tree
- Willow flower