Weave a Christmas Tree from Vines or Withes

Natural fiber Christmas trees are easy to make. The tools required are a rubber band, pruning shears, gloves and a large pot if using honeysuckle or grapevine.

Treat both honeysuckle and grapevine by bringing them to a boil, cooling, and weaving wet. Strip and discard the outer bark from the honeysuckle to create a lovely blond weaving material. This process kills any insects and larvae in the vines and extends the life of the woven tree for years. Both bittersweet vine and withes need no water treatment, but use in a day or two after harvest. The vines or withes needed are long and thin to start, and increase in thickness as you come to the bottom of the tree.

Harvest five straight sturdy sticks of equal length, a little longer than the height of the tree you want to make. Join the sticks with a tight rubber band at the small ends. When you stand them up and spread the sticks out, it should look like a tepee. Make sure the sticks are all touching the surface or trim them until they are stable. You now have the size and shape of your tree.

Grasp the stick frame at the rubber banded top. Start by weaving every other spoke of the stick frame, (over one stick and under the next) with very thin vine or withes. Keep the weaving as tight as possible. Increase the thickness of the weavers to gradually to widen the tree. The weavers at the base of the tree are about the same thickness as the sticks of the frame. When you have woven the bottom of the tree, use your last weaver to lock the bottom rows in place by over lapping the final weaver on the last two rows at the base of the tree. Weave them tightly in front or behind each stick leg as you are lashing the final two rows together. This should make a decorative finished edge at the tree base. Trim the stick legs again if needed to make them stable. Remove the rubber band and trim the top.

Use natural decorations for the tree from what is available in your area. I have used painted sycamore balls, gilded hemlock and pine cones. Dried rabbit tobacco flowers that are a creamy white with cranberry red sumac flowers, and bittersweet berries. Ribbons, garlands and lights are also lovely.

Let your imagination guide you to unique choices to decorate your new tree.

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