In 2011 my husband James innocently brought home a Niagara Grape Vine and asked me “where should we plant it?” I thought our stark chainlink fence separating the front and back yards would be a nice structure to support the vine and, into the ground it went. On September 8th, 2013 we got our first (and best) harvest of grapes.
It was a big project but I made some mediocre grape jelly which was tasty but runny. Most years we allow the birds (often Cardinals) to have the grapes (and raisins); the primary harvest for myself has been the VINE! Since I started using grapevines for projects in 2014 I have learned a few things about crafting with vines, here is what you need to know:
- Pruning shears
- Measuring tape (so you know how big your wreath will be)
There is a sweet spot for working with grapevines. Too soon and you might as well be working with asparagus, too late and you are working with toothpicks. I have made both of these errors. This photo shows the magic balance between green vines and drier areas that are darker in appearance. If the canes are too dry they can be soaked in water to make them less brittle and if they are too green you can let them dry out a day, maybe two. Even if the canes break or splinter you can continue to make loops and wrap them up. When the globes or wreaths are dry you can adjust the vines to improve the overall appearance.
I usually start from the ends of the individual vines and remove leaves with my hands and then with sheers trim the tendrils away from the fencing and other vines to produce a pile of canes. I sort the largest canes for bigger wreaths and begin arranging them in circles using the longest most flexible vines to wrap around the bulk to secure the wreath.
This year (2018) I got started a little too early and the vines were easily broken (like asparagus) but I had a lot of them so I pushed ahead anyway. As you can see one grapevine in a sunny location in West Michigan can give you a lot of material to work with.
Because in past years I have made a lot of wreathes, I was interested in trying some 3-D globes I saw on Pinterest. Off to the Dollar Tree I went for some beach balls. They worked well to hold up the vines while I wrapped them. In addition to these globes I made a smaller one freestyle without an armature; and some larger wreath shapes (since I already have some small and medium wreaths from last year.) It takes a couple days in the sun for the vines to dry and turn reddish brown. I fed my failed attempt to fashion a basket to Donald https://piratepieman.home.blog/2018/09/11/feeding-donald-our-hot-compost. It was so bad it couldn’t even be photographed well.
And once your shapes have dried you are ready to start doing some crafting. I have not fully sorted out what I am going to do with my new globes so if you have any suggestions please leave them in the comments below.
Examples of how to decorate your grapevine wreaths.
I gave a wreath to my friend DeLight and she created this glorious monogrammed beauty.
Look for my tutorial on making the Halloween Wreath here: