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Winter Dragon Crown             Ice Decorations               Fat Balls for Winter Birds               Autumn Conker Spider Scarer

Twigs 'n Lichen Tied Bunch               Ice Candle Lanterns           ConeDragons from the pine woods           Autumn Conker Crafts (1)                           

Autumn Conker Crafts (2) Dragon                      Twig, Bark & Faery Founds Figure

 

You can find more crafty makes here on my Spells and Charms page
Newest there - The Necklace of 'A Year and a Day'


Hedgerow Crafts - Autumn - Forest Dragon from conkers and faery-founds

Conker crafts - a Forest Dragon - back view ©vcsinden2012
Conker crafts - a Forest Dragon made from faery-founds ©vcsinden2012

   This Dragon lives in the forest of evergreens, not many miles from the little pine-dragon enclave (see below for more about pine-dragons). He's not at all fierce (unfortunately for him), and on autumny evenings, just as dusk is falling, he likes nothing better than to visit the little creatures - in fact, if they permitted it, he would stay.

To make him you will need something like:

* dried (preferably skeletal) leaves for wings
* a range of cones - I used 'squirrel stripped' ones again
* conkers ranging down in size
* hawthorn pins
 * strong wire
* an awl or heavy needle to make holes
* strong glue or glue gun

Conkers and faery-founds - to make a Forest Dragon ©vcsinden2012
Making the torso and legs of the Forest Dragon ©vcsinden2012

  It is important to assemble a creature like this in pieces - ie: head, body, tail, legs - as the cones are tough to make holes in ready for strong wires. Glueing alone is not usually good enough.

  Here I started with the body, using upside-down 'squirrel-stripped' cones for legs and toes (left). I used a long, strong wire and pushed it through conkers ranging down in size. Next I added the head (right).

making the head of the Forest Dragon using hawthorn pins ©vcsinden2012

   The tail was carefully bent around the dragon's body. The wings, made from naturally weathered and dried hosta leaves, were wired and pushed into the biggest conker last as they are quite fragile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                    

                                                                                         

      Sometimes they find him, next morning, curled up in the piles of autumn leaves that have blown in from the clearing where the oaks and hazels grow; then one of them is detailed to fix his collar with a silver rope and take him back home - till next time.

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Hedgerow Crafts - ConeDragons - squirrel assisted!

ConeDragons perform the April Honey Blessing Ceremony ©vcsinden 2012
ConeDragons performing the important April Honey-Blessing Ceremony.
This is part of their heritage, and is always celebrated during the waning of the April moon.
The ConeDragon leader, giving me a stream of invective
about the inadequacy of his new habitat!

   

     Tree stump used as a table by squirrels stripping their pine cones ©vcsinden 2012ConeDragons begin to naturalize in pine woodlands when there is a healthy population of squirrels. The squirrels I know sit on their table-stump here in Hurst Wood and pick up a cone from amongst the needles - then they strip it to its bones to get at the seeds, leaving a fine top-knot.

ConeDragons like to live in family groups known as Drimbles. The creatures are quite small, but make up for that by becoming extremely vocal when annoyed - which is frequently!

ConeDragons ©vcsinden 2012 faery founds of pine ©vcsinden 2012 Cedar cone ©vcsinden 2012
Pine cone crafts ©vcsinden 2012

You will need some faery-founds:  

     * A range of squirrel stripped pine cones with the top-knots still on -
       see centre picture above.
* A few open cones, not stripped, to use the individual pieces for feet, mouths etc.
     *  One or two cedar cones - see above - when picked apart these make
         amazingly strong little wings.
     *  Juniper berries or similar for eyes.
     *   Strong glue or glue-gun
     *  Bits and pieces for accessories

I began by assembling the beaky mouths with two little pine pieces (see conker people on this page), the eyes are stuck onto these. Next I stuck on feet and wings - lastly glueing the mouth-eye-part high up on the stripped cone.

Pine cone crafts - young ConeDragon ladling honey from an acorn spoon ©vcsinden 2012
Pine cone crafts - the Drimble Seer with his star-anise staff ©vcsinden 2012
 
Preparing for the Honey Blessing Ceremony  : 
 traditionally the youngest member of the drimble has the special role of  filling the goblet, (here all ready on its altar-table). She is using the ancient matching acorn-ladle to spoon in the fresh golden honey collected at dawn.

The Drimble Seer on the right has made ready with his lichen head-decor and taken out the tribal staff of star-anise.

             Another ConeDragon scene can be found  here  on my DiaryBlog page - entry for April 6th 2012

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Hedgerow Crafts - Winter - Ice Candle Lanterns

Ice Candle Lanterns, last for hours in the snow ©vcsinden2012 Ice candle lantern ©vcsinden2012

  These gorgeous, welcoming ice candle holders are really easy to make - and will last a surprisingly long time (hours!) on a cold night when there is frost sharpening the air - even with a night-light glowing inside!

 You can make them plain and chunky like mine - I love the look of the simple cracked ice. Alternatively, they can be smoothed round the rims using a hot palette knife (a bit like cake icing) and have small, natural decorations enclosed into the walls - tiny alder cones, red berries, snippets of christmas fur etc.

     Instructions:

Two straight sided, frost-proof containers for an Ice Candle Lantern Ice candle lantern ©vcsinden2012     * Find two containers (freezer-proof) with straight or nearly straight sides, one fitting into the other with at least 1.5cm space around it
     *  A small flat jar or bottle lid (pref. white or silver) to sit the inner container on - so that you have an ice floor to the lantern.
     *  Large stones to weigh down the inner container - even a heavy one will try to float up!
     *  Small natural decorations if required. (See 'Winter Ice Decorations' below)

    Sit the inner container on the small lid and weigh down with stones. Pour water into the outer container until nearly full to the brim.
    Push small decorations round the sides with a knitting needle if wanted (or simply allow berries to float up and make a pretty rim).
   Place outside to freeze - or put carefully into the freezer.
When really solid, place outer container in a bowl of warm water until the whole lantern slides out.
   Remove stones and add warm water to the inner container quickly until it loosens.

Ice candle lantern ©vcsinden2012 Chunky Ice candle lantern ©vcsinden2012 Ice candle lantern ©vcsinden2012

 

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Hedgerow Crafts - Autumn - Conker Creature Comfort

Lots of  people have asked me about using CONKERS in craft work - so here's a selection of friends that might give you basic ideas to be inventive around:

conker figure photo©vcsinden2010
conker faery photo©vcsinden2010
conker mouse photo©vcsinden2010
conker reindeer photo©vcsinden2010
conker owl photo©vcsinden2010
Basic fellow -
acorn head and feet

Faery -  rose hip hat
maple leaf &
pampass grass skirt
honesty seed wings

Cat (mouse?)
Star-anise feet & ears
cob nut husk whiskers

Reindeer
Dried rowan-berry nose

Owl -
Star-anise feet & beak
Cob nut husk wings

 

The four friends set off into the darkening forest .......


A Few Tips:

   * thin but strong twigs look better than wires
   *  make holes or clefts in the conker before pushing in the twigs or bits and pieces
   *  use a cold melt or craft glue as well as relying on the holes
   *  raid your spices - whole or broken star-anise makes great claws and ears
   *  whole cloves make good noses
    * simple tall twigs pushed into flat-based conkers make lovely trees for scenery

 


Young magics could make up a play using the characters
they've invented -
Or put them into a scene with a few twiggy trees, some artificial snow and glitter, take photos, print and use them for your Yule cards!

 

 

conker fellow ©vcsinden2010

 

 


Then - just when I thought I'd made enough of these, my eyes lit upon a pine cone in the wood!
Pull off the segments, take two and turn one over - they make amazing mouths and a nice droopy type of ear.


Straight away made me think of a monkey - although I might've ended up with a bear! What do you reckon?

 

 

 

 

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The Conker Spider Scarer is to be found HERE-

  Do you like gargoyles?  You might like to have a look at the wonderful medieval creatures of  Freiburg Minster on my September-October 2010 blog page.

 

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Hedgerow Crafts - Twigs, Bark and Faery Founds - 'The Necromancer'

Twig and bark crafts - The Necromancer

Here is a fellow that I wouldn't want in my wood!

I have called him
'The   Necromancer'
because he looks to me as if
he practices the forbidden arts.
(Forcibly raising spirits from the dead for communication)

I didn't know how he would turn out, as I started with a collection of faery founds - but here he is in all his unpleasant glory! Perhaps he will give you ideas for things to make with bark.

Twig and bark crafts - The Necromancer (2)

Faery founds

Sleeve detail - The Necromancer

My 'founds' were :
A little bird skull
A strong three pronged elder twig which reminded me of arms
Feathers
Pine bark from different types of tree
Silver birch bark
Sheep wool
Lichen
Two dried tree fungi with amazing outer skin - like golden tissue paper - see detail above.

He stands about 40cm tall.


Twig and bark crafts - The Necromancer - detailYour faery finds will be completely different of course - but here is what I did:
  *  First I fixed the full 'sleeves' onto the elder twig (see picture) - these are the strange tree fungus with skin like gold.
  *  Next I padded the arms with the wool, tying it halfway with a twist of the wool because this reminded me of Tudor sleeves.
  *  Then came the main body - an almost circular piece of pine bark with very beautiful texture, trimmed to the length of the elder twig which is inside, glued with a cool-melt glue gun - slit at the back. Even at this stage it could stand up by itself.
 *  The clawing hands were next - simply curls of silver birch bark. More of these were added at the wrists.
  *  A ruff of lichen added to the Tudor look and disguised the neck.
  *  The raggedy 'cloak' was made next from several pieces of dark bark glued together. I added a high collar at the back of the cloak with curly black and green feathers.
  *  Lastly I attached the skull by pushing the twig up through a natural cavity and added a spot of glue.

 

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Hedgerow Crafts - Winter - Twigs 'n Lichen Tied Bunch

The Ogham Tree twigs used here are - Birch (Beith)Alder (Fearn) and Ivy (Gort),  chosen for their beauty as well as the magical properties that they hold. Each tree was thanked for its gift, as is right and proper!

Winter Twig identification chart from The Woodland Trust

 

 

Click the chart for a wonderful free resource to help identify winter twigs, printable from the Woodland Trust.

 

Winter tied bunch, using Ogham twigs by eco-faery Muddypond Green.

 

 

A tied bunch can still make a lovely present or decoration, even in the coldest months after Yule. The Fae like to use their "founds", not just store them away out of site.

  Go out into the woods, or hedgerow walking and just see what you can find!
For this bunch, Muddypond used the amazing bright red twigs of the wild cornus (dog wood) bush, lichen covered twigs from the base of a silver birch tree, plenty of ivy with its bunches of black berries, and some long switches of catkins from the alder tree. 

 

Red cornus and grey lichen twigs contrast well in colour and texture.
Ivy (gort), alder catkins and raffia at the edge of the tied bunch.

 

 

Try looking for things that will make contrasts in colour as well as texture. In this bunch the smooth shiny ivy leaves contrast well with the texture of the fluffy lichen covered twigs and the furry catkins. The dark red of the cornus twigs looks great with the pale grey lichen.

 

 

Hedgerow twigs, tied bunch in glass vase. By eco faery Muddypond Green.


1.     Take your tallest, straightest twig (not the ivy) in your hand, and add more, turning them in your hand as you go.This bunch started with the red cornus, then the lichen twigs. Keep turning as you go, adding smaller twigs round the outside.

2.    Lots of ivy was used in a complete circle to give the bunch depth and a look of weight at the base. A few smaller twigs were added in the outer ring with the ivy.

3.   Take any lower leaves off, and bind the stems tighly, high up, with string.

4.   Cut the base of the twigs level. If you do this well, the bunch will stand up by itself.

5.  Finish with raffia if you like. A chunky glass vase is nice, with stones to keep the stems secure.

                  Think I might take this bunch round to Grandmam Badger later on.

The 'founds' for this decoration all came from my wood - Hurst Wood . More of Hurst Wood and other Muddypond local haunts can be seen on the Places page - here.

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Hedgerow Crafts - Winter - Feed the Birds

Recycle a yule tree net too!!

Icy weather and snow means that our birds really need to find food to keep warm, and lots of them like to stock up on a little fat. It's so easy to make your own fat and seed balls. Fun to do and better than bought ones, as you can choose all the best ingredients!

Here is what you need for 6 - 8, about the size of a medium orange:

250g lard
150g suet
bag of wild bird seed
currants
bread crumbs
(net and string)

 

 

mix of ingredients in bowl ready to be molded into fat balls for the wild birdshomemade fat balls for the wild birds ready to be netted and hung up


Cut lard into chunks and gently melt with half the suet in a small pan.
Mix together seed, currants and bread crumbs with the rest of the suet - make enough of this mix to weigh about 750g (no need to be precise!)
Add the melted fat to the mixture and stir very well.
As the fat solidifies, mold the mixture into balls.
Place on greaseproof paper and put in fridge to go hard.

Cut pieces of the old yule tree netting, or use fruit nets. Gather the net round the fat ball and thread some string in and out of the holes a few times to pull it up and tie it tighly, leaving a loop for hanging. (Twist a little piece of sellotape round one end of the string to make an easy end for threading.)

Hang in a place which is safe for the birds. Muddypond put hers in different places in the snowy wood.
Beautiful bird-song!!   Lina vanima tel' dulinie.

 

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Hedgerow Crafts - Winter  - Ice Decorations

(Back to ice Candle Lanterns)Magical ice decorations of stars and circles hanging in the ivy

Pretty decorations made of ice, to hang on the trees or around your door if you have vistors at Yule time - or just because they are so beautiful glistening in the sun or candle light. They are just as gorgeous when they begin to melt. Make them on a cold, cold and frosty day and they will last for hours. The ones in these pictures lasted more than twenty-eight hours - but then it is seriously cold by the woods today.

Use cookie cutters to make the molds. As they have no base, you need to stop the water inside running away before they get to the freezer! So:

Baking tray and pastry layer for ice decorationsMake some pastry dough and roll it to fit a flat baking tray.

Push the cookie cutters down solidly and add something to make the hole for threading. I used large felt pen lids and glue stick tops.

Drop some winter bits and pieces "fairy founds", into the molds, you can see holly and mistletoe berries, tiny alder cones and pinches of fir tree in the picture above.
Pour water from a jug carfeully into the molds and place flat in the freezer - it is best to leave overnight. Check after an hour or so and add more water if necessary.

A little while before you are ready to hang your decorations, place the bottom of the baking tray in very shallow cool water, and gently remove the molds. Patience!! Don't be tempted to use hot water!
You may need to scrub the pastry off the bottom - a wire scourer works well.
Ease out the twig or lid from the centre and thread wool, ribbon or rafia through the hole. Hang the decorations, and enjoy their frailty for a while.

cookie cutter ice decoration - magic circle cookie cutter ice decoration - magic  star cookie cutter ice decoration - magic shapes cookie cutter ice decoration - magic circle

 

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Hedgerow Crafts - Winter - Crown for a Dragon

The Bee Ceremony crown - made by Muddypond Green for the Storm Dragon

Find out lots about the magic of the Ogham Trees here.
Or there is a separate page about Holly here, and the Ivy here.
Magic crown for a dragon - winter decoration made by a fairy for a dragon

Extract from Chapter 11 - Awakening

"She flew this way and that, searching in the moonlight and every now and then stopped to pick a twig or a
special cone. She dropped them in the huge pocket of her yellow apron, made from an old duster that had blown in and hooked itself over a bush.
In a sandy dip near the quarry edge, she discovered some fine feathers from the tail of a pheasant. Poor pheasant must have been dinner for a fox she supposed, but she dropped them gratefully into her duster apron with all the rest.
"

As long as you have a couple of long stands of ivy to twist into the basic ring, you can use any winter greenery and decorations for this crown. The things listed here are exactly the ones that Muddypond found and made into the crown for Storm to perform his magic with.
"Founds" are the most important things that a fairy has, and you should use anything that takes your eye from a winter walk in the woods.

 

Evergreen items needed to make a fairy winter crown for a dragon

The things you will need:

: two or three strands of ivy about 75cms
moss from the woods (spagnum works best)
: two kinds of pine twigs
: fern
: alder cones and catkins
: holly with berries
: pheasant feathers

: a reel of thin craft wire
: silver glitter or glitter glue
(Muddypond of course can rustle her wings over her work and kind of fairy dust will fall)

Step 1

Take a strand of ivy and twist it into the size of crown that you want to make. Fasten the ends with craft wire, and if it overlaps, fasten any ends, twisting them round the main circle as you go.

Add another strand, and twist it round the first, fastening it as necessary.

Bend and persuade the woody stems gently in your fingers to get a good shape.

 

ivy ring - base for a dragon winter crown made by a fairy
ivy ring crown with moss - base for a dragon winter crown made by a fairy

Step 2

Take small sections of moss and wrap them round parts of the circle. Fasten these with a few passes of reel wire and twist the ends tightly.

These make a good base for pushing in smaller twigs and cones etc.

 

Step 3

Choose one kind of decoration at a time, perhaps little alder cones and catkins, and space 4 or 5 bundles around the crown.You might need to wire little bunches together first for more impact.

Push them between the ivy stem twists, or into the moss, wiring them as you go.

Add feathers or other "found" treasures last.

Use a little sliver glitter, just catching a few leaves or cones, as an extra frosting of magick!

 

Evergreen decorated ivy ring - base for a dragon winter crown made by a fairy

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Hedgerow Crafts - Autumn - Conker Spider Scarer

Did you know that spiders don't like the smell of conkers?

Muddypond is actually fond of spiders, but there ARE times when she is asked for a spider remedy.

She uses her ecological skills but might, if persuaded, use her limited magic to turn it into a charm.

 

The Wood Warden's Spider Remedy and how to make him!

                                                                                                                   Roll over the picture to see another view
Spier scarer by Eco Enchantments

Most Wood Warden fae collect little bits and pieces from hedgerows, woods and forests in the Autumn. Muddypond always makes a store of conkers from the horse chestnut trees that grow near her hazel coppice.

She knows that if you put one of these in a corner of your room, spiders will scuttle off and find somewhere else to live. No wonder the poor spiders don't like the look or smell of them!

Don't believe me?  Check out this link :

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/science-news/6255510/Spiders-v-conkers----are-arachnids-really-scared-of-horse-chestnuts.html

The things you will need:

: a few conkers of different sizes
: a strong wire
: three or four chenille pipe cleaners    (you  can find these in lovely colours at craft shops)
: pliers and a strong needle
: craft glue or a cool melt glue gun
: a selection of nuts and husks from the hedgerow, woods and garden

Things you need to make the fairy magic spider scarer

Pliers and conkers on wire

Step 1

1.  Using the strong needle and pliers, make holes through the conkers that you have decided to use. Wriggle the needle with the pliers as it goes through, to make the hole big enough. Fairies find this quite difficult!

2.  Push the strong wire through the conkers and trim, leaving 4 or 5 cms at each end.

Step 2

1. Make the head of the beast, Muddypond used a conker shell as a hat.

2. Twist chenille pipe-cleaners together in pairs for strength and attach them between conkers on the body to form three pairs of legs. Remember to bend small feet so that the scarer will sit up neatly.

 

Half finished spder scarer made by a magic fairy from conkers and "founds"

  Finished conker beast peering out from under the leavesStep 3

Decorate the creature using the bits and pieces that you collected. Pay special attention to the eyes. Muddypond likes to use the shells of hazel nuts which have a little round hole in them where they have been nibbled by the wood mice! The Hazel tree is one of the Ogham Trees - its old name is "Coll".

For wings she used the husks from Kent cob nuts which she found in a lane.

Her best find was fantastic for antennae - the little springs on a passion-fruit vine, but you can use anything that you fancy - just HAVE FUN!!

 

Pop the scarer in a corner and see if the magic works!   I wonder if you could make a dragon in the same way?


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