My granddaughter stayed the night with us last night and today I thought we could make some twig art together. She wanted us to make a bride and groom Forest Folk pair, so we went outside to gather some botanicals.
We picked up some gumballs from the sweet gum tree out front, along with a few acorn caps, and some sticks. Then we found a nice soft and fluffy feather that would work great for hair or hat. I had some dried wildflowers on hand and sumac berries, too.
The only other things necessary to make twig art with these botanicals were a glue gun, a pair of wire-cutter pliers, and tweezers. Tweezers are wonderful inventions that keep fingertips from getting burned in hot glue. I’m ashamed to admit it took several burns before I figured this out.
Making Twig Art
We made the very first Gumball Folk! All Gumball Folk are also Forest Folk.
Chloe’s not old enough yet to use the glue gun without burning her fingers, so I did all the putting to gether. She helped gather the gumballs and held some of the things while I added the glue.
The first thing I usually do is work on the head. If I’m going to add hair, I do that first. We added some tiny glass eyes to these, too. Then I’ll cut a medium diameter twig for the body.
How the head is positioned on the twig depends on what the Folk is doing. Reading Folk usually have their faces tilted downward toward a book in hand. The Groom needed to be slightly looking down toward the Bride, who needed to look slightly upward toward the Groom.
Once the head is attached to the body, I’ll add the legs. I usually use a slab of hickory bark to mount the Folk on if they’re standing. This is a lot more stable than a twig figure standing alone.
Before I add arms, especially on the female figures, I’ll add the clothing around the hips and upper legs. That’s so much easier than trying to do it around fragile arms in the way.
This Gumball Folk Bride is wearing a grass and dried wildflower skirt accented with the red sumac (NOT poison sumac) berries.
The Gumball Folk Groom’s shoes are made from a wildflower seed cone cut in half. The seeds are gone from the plant and it left behind an interesting form, so I gathered them thinking I’d find a way to use them sooner or later. Worked great!
Which Botanicals to Use?
Sometimes I do use botanicals that could be harmful if eaten. But for a project with children, it’s best to use things that can’t cause trouble. None of my artwork is intended to be consumed, so I’m not really picky about what I use except I generally don’t use things I know to be dangerous.
But if it’s beautiful, natural, and not going to cause the plant population to decline if I use it, it’s fair game no matter what it is. Sometimes I’ll not harvest berries from plants that are in short supply here, so the seeds inside will have more opportunity to repopulate new plants.
The sumac berries I used on the Bride’s shoes and skirt are a good example. This is not poison sumac, but an edible berry from a shrub called sumac.
Chloe took these prototypes home with her, so I’ll have to make some more soon so I can take some better photos.
These would make interesting nature art cake toppers for someone having an interesting wedding 😉 When the next ones are made and I get the photos, I’ll load it to Etsy so you can get a better look at them.
Twig Art Workshop
If you’d like to create some Forest Folk of your own and want some guidance, make plans to attend my workshop on Dec. 16 at the Ozark Folkways center in Winslow, AR. It’s just in time to make some for Christmas gifts!
Predator and Prey, or the hunter and the hunted is a common theme throughout my fiction writing. No Qualms, one of my short stories (free at most retailers) is about about a predator/prey relationship. Symbiosis, my first finished novel, not published yet, deals with predator/prey relationships and the balance of energy among life on earth, sometimes symbolic and often outright. Many of my flash fiction stories (I have twitterfiction and 100-word flash stories) are also dealing with this same dynamic. This is a strong theme that runs through most of my fiction and is strongly influenced by life in the wild Ozarks where we live. My first published novel, First Hunt, also has a predator and prey theme to it. I guess it's just part of my nature.
Wild Ozark is 160 acres of beautiful wild Ozark mountains. I call what I do "nature farming" because the land produces, all by itself, the shagbark hickory trees, ferns, moss, ground-fall botanicals, and the perfect habitats for growing and stewarding American ginseng. I'm co-creating with Nature - all of the things I use to make the Fairy Gardens and Forest Folk, the bark we harvest for Burnt Kettle's shagbark hickory syrup, are produced by nature without my input. This land is my muse for inspiration when it comes to my writing, drawing, and photography. It's truly a Nature Farm.
About the voice behind this blog, Madison Woods
I'm a creative old soul living way off the beaten path with my husband in the wild Ozark Mountains. Besides homesteading, growing plants & making crafty things and newsletters, I write books and stories. My rural fantasy fiction, written under the pen name, Ima Erthwitch, usually takes place in a much altered Ozarks.