Friday, June 21, 2013

Lavender Wand Tutorial

Last weekend, I posted on Crafts & Recipes Using Lavender, and promised a tutorial on the lavender wands (pictured).  Here are the step-by-step instructions, with photos to help you do your own.  Feel free to Pin, Facebook or Tweet from this post; I only request that you be polite and credit my photos and text by linking back to my post.  Plagiarizing would just be rude, don't you think?

Note:  I have read differing opinions on whether you should use freshly harvested lavender vs. already dried lavender for this project, as it relates to the pliability of the stems when you're working with them.  For those of you who dry lavender, you should already be wondering why anyone would want to use anything other than dried lavender, right?  And the reason for that is because if you would make the wand with fresh lavender, it may look great today, but the natural shrinkage of lavender in the drying process would be like having a nice grape today and a wrinkled raisin tomorrow - your wand's bulb being that grape/raisin in the analogy.  So, I will recommend using already dried lavender, and if the stems are not pliable enough, have a mister bottle (spritz nozzle/handle) ready to spritz the stems, and only if necessary. (I have tried both fresh & dried, and the results were raisin & grape, respectively.  And when I used dried stems, I did not need to spritz.  I was very careful in step #3).

Supplies Needed:
  • 13 - 17 dried lavender stems, with stems cut at least 8-10" below the flower head.  Make sure you have an uneven number of stems.
  • One strand of 1/4 inch ribbon, approximately 24- 30" long , preferably double-sided satin, but grosgrain will do. I bought my ribbon here.
  • Spritz bottle with water, only if necessary, to make stems pliable while working with them.  You can find these cheaply at any drug store, usually in the cosmetics section.
Step-by-Step Process:  Note that the photos are placed below the numbered step process descriptions.
  1. Start by stripping all the leaf foliage off of the lavender stems (I do this when I cut it off the plant).  You can just grab the stem between forefinger & thumb and run them in the opposite direction of the growth - they should come right off.
  2. Grab the stems together, and make all the flower head bottom bases flush to each other, in a bouquet-like fashion, holding between your thumb & forefinger.  Tie the ribbon around the base of the bouquet, leaving about  1" of one end of the ribbon. I knotted my ribbon by tying it twice.
  3. This is [one of] the tricky steps.  Holding the knot of the bouquet, invert the bouquet and carefully take the stems and splay them, similar to a bicycle's wheel of spokes or one of those vintage drying racks.  You'll want to separate them from each other so they don't overlap.   If your stems are too brittle and you think they may snap, you can spritz very lightly here, but only if necessary. You will be weaving the ribbon over and under these stems (in step #6).
  4. Next, continue bending those stems over the bouquet so they are ultimately facing straight down, completely inverted from their original direction, splayed over what will become the bulb of your wand.  
  5. You will now grab the long piece of the ribbon from the center of the bouquet and move it to the outside of the bulb and inverted stems.  Be careful to keep the short piece of ribbon tucked downward over the flower head of one stem.  
  6. Start weaving the long ribbon over one stem, then under the next.  Be careful to keep those stems from overlapping on the bouquet - this is where you'll be glad you started with no more than 17 stems.  Continue this process until you have completely encircled your bulb.  You will see that if you lose track of the splaying, you can easily lose your basket-weave pattern and need to undo the weave until it's back on track.  And it can be quite easy [and frustrating] for the stems to somehow burrow themselves to the center and lose their place on the so-called wheel of spokes (see Step #3).
  7. Continue weaving the ribbon, over and under the stems.  The hardest part is the first couple of rows, and it begins to get a little easier by the time you reach the third row. 
  8. When you reach the base of the flower bouquet bulb, you will tie a loop, similar to what you did at the base of the flower head bouquet (Step #2), only don't double knot (see Step # 2). 
  9. Once looped, grab the ribbon and turn it in the opposite direction and wrap it around the stems again, until you reach the start position once more. 
  10. Loop the ribbon each time you come back to the original start position, and then grab the ribbon and turn it in the opposite direction, repeatedly.  
  11. Your ribbon will begin to look similar to tied pointe shoes ribbons, criss-crossed with each looping turn.
  12. When you finishing wrapping your ribbon to the wand's desired length, you can then double knot your last loop.  Then take the remaining ribbon and make two loops (as in tying a pair of shoestrings), and, while holding the two loops, tie them in a loop, together.  Don't worry about the loss of some of the lavender buds, it will happen.
13.   You can then trim the stems at the bottom for a clean finish, either straight across, or at an angle.  Sit      back and admire your work, or at least your exercise in practicing patience! 
Lavender is a soothing herb, so even if making the wand tries your patience, hopefully the fragrance of the lavender would partially offset that irritation. :)

Feel free to make your wand bulb larger by simply using more stems - just be sure to keep it an uneven number for the basketweave.

Your feedback on the clarity of this tutorial, if you try it, will be appreciated.  If you get stuck along the way, feel free to email me, and I'll try to be responsive in a timely manner.
~R