"All things by immortal power, Near or far, Hiddenly, To each other linkèd are, That thou canst not stir a flower Without troubling of a star" Francis Thompson
The summer Solstice marks the longest day of the year and the astronomical beginning of the summer.
On the Northern hemisphere the summer Solstice occurs around the 21th of June,on this date the North pole of the Earth is tilted directly towards the Sun.
Throughout history the summer Solstice has been celebrated (and is still being celebrated) by various cultures and religious groups all over the world and has been linked to all sorts of customs and traditions.
One of these customs is the making and wearing of a floral head wreath.
In this Instructable I will give some directions on how to make a floral head wreath, when I started making head wreaths about six years ago I had some trouble finding clear directions, so for the most part I figured it out for myself.
I think that there's probably a lot of different ways in which one can make a floral head wreath, this is my way, but feel free to improvise off course ;)
Since the summer Solstice is the day that we experience the energy of the Sun in it's most exalted form I chose to pay homage to the Sun by inspiring the appearance of this wreath on the image of the Sun; I chose flowers which remind me of the Sun in form and color and tried to capture a bit of the radiant energy which the Sun expels in the way that I arranged the flowers (I included a picture of the Sun to share with you the image that I had in mind and tried to translate into this wreath).
This sentence which I found in an article on the NASA website illustrates this concept even more; "The surface of the sun writhes and dances. Far from the still, whitish-yellow disk it appears to be from the ground, the sun sports twisting, towering loops and swirling cyclones that reach into the solar upper atmosphere, the million-degree corona" ( source )
Off course the power of the Sun is to great to be captured into any frame or through any medium, but it's the very same energy that made these flowers grow and therefore any floral head wreath is a true representation of the Sun and wearing one is like wearing the potency of the Sun on the top of your head :)
To me this seems like a great way to cherish the Sun and to remind us that the Sun is a force which gives us life and connects us to each other and our environment, after all, everything that feeds us, all the energy that we take in is here by the grace of the Sun.
So when the summer Solstice approaches, make yourself a head wreath and celebrate the Sun, dance in the forest, the fields, or even your bedroom, twirl like the sun and feel the electromagnetism!
Step 1: What You'll Need
- A long bendable twig (or more if needed), I used Hedera/Ivy but other vine like plants like grape or passion flower will be fine as well.
- Flowers, choose a variety of sizes, shapes and colors to your liking.
- Thin metal wire/Floral wire
- Green sewing thread
- A pair of household scissors
- A wire cutter
-Optional: measuring tape (to measure your head)
Step 2: The Flowers
Since the flowers make up an important part of the wreath and are mainly responsible for it's appearance I thought it to be suitable to pay some extra attention to them in this step.
When you pick your flowers there are a few things that you can take into account that can help you make a nice looking wreath.
- Choose different sizes; choose one or two sorts of flowers that are bigger then the others and that stand out, these flowers are the eye catchers of your wreath and determine it's style.
I usually go for one large sized flower sort and a slightly smaller one.
Then you'll also need some medium sized flowers which you can use to flank the larger flowers and also some 'fill-up' flowers, this may sound a bit demeaning but it's not meant that way, because these flowers play a very important role, not only do they fill up empty spaces but they give the wreath a more dynamic look.
Alchemilla and Gypsophila are examples of plants that make great 'fill-up' flowers.
When you make a wreath using field flowers, you will usually need a lot more flowers to get a similar effect, but the idea is basically the same; you create a re-occuring pattern with flowers of different sizes and colors in which you alternate the flowers in a repeating row.
-Mind the colors,shapes and structures of the flowers, which colors look well together, what is the look you want to create? Should the wreath look exuberant or modest, romantic or wild? Colors, shapes and structures are like words that make up a story together, what sort of story it will be depends on the way that they are combined.
-Especially when it's the first time that you create a floral wreath you should look at how the flower is connected to the stalk (will it fall of easily under a bit of pressure or vibration or will it be likely to stay attached?) and if the stalk is a bit sturdy, thin stalks are easier to work with then thick ones.
If you do see a flower which you really want to use but doesn't meet the above requirements, don't let it stop you, these are just tips to make the job easier, but in principle you can use any sort of flower (I know I do).
- check if the flowers are fresh, with fresh flowers your wreath will last longer!
Step 3: Winding Your Wreath
* Note: When you make a wreath out of Hedera you can choose to either keep the leaves or loose them, I have done both in the past but in this case I decided to leave them because I like the vibrant look they create.
For this tutorial however, I found that the pictures that I made with the leaves on did not really give a clear view on the 'wreath winding technique' illustrated here, so I repeated it with a new wreath without the leaves, I have placed the photo's of the wreath without leaves behind the ones of the wreath with leaves, so just scroll on if you're confused ;)
Take your Hedera vine and start winding the end around itself to create a circle, fit it on your head for size (or measure your head with measuring tape and measure the hedera to create a fitting wreath), leave the circle just a little bigger then 'the perfect fit' because the circle will become smaller when you bind the flowers to it and the wreath will be to tight for your head if you neglect to do so.
Keep on winding until you have wrapped the entire hedera vine around itself.
If you feel that your wreath is not sturdy enough, take another hedera vine and wind it around the wreath (I have included this extra step in the pictures of the wreath without the leaves).
Now get your metal/flower winding wire and start winding it around the hedera wreath, make sure you secure the beginning and end of the wire to protect your eyes.
Try to not wind the wire to tight (but still tight enough), because you will need to stick the stems of the flowers trough the loops created by the wire later.
When you're done with winding the wire and have secured the end you have created your wreath, now it's time to decorate it!
Step 4: Arranging the Flowers
Normally I do not lay out the flowers as I have done on the photo's above, but just start making the design that I have in my head (although I might initially try out some combinations just by holding two or three flowers next to each other and see how they look together), but to make the process of arranging the flowers visual to others I have chosen to lay them out on the wreath before I attached them as you can see on the pictures.
After laying out the flowers on the wreath to make some pictures, I took the flowers of the wreath again and started sticking the flowers in between the wire and the hedera vine.
When you stick the stems trough the wire loops make sure that the stems are facing inwards.
I didn't add the the 'fill-up' cattail like yellow flowers till the end, they make the appearance of the wreath a bit less sweet and orderly and more wild and vibrant, I chose these particular flowers because they remind me of Solar flares!
Step 5: Binding It All Togheter
It's now time to make your wreath whole by binding and tying everything together.
For this you will need some green sewing thread or other thin thread.
Wrap the thread around the wreath the same way as you did with the wire, make sure that you wrap the wire around the stems of the flowers binding them tightly to the wreath, but avoid wrapping the thread around the heads of the flowers.
Go around the wreath at least one round and if needed more, when everything is in place, tie the thread firmly so that the whole will stay in place.
Your wreath is now ready to roll with the sun ;)
Step 6: Keepin' It Cool, Keepin' It Fresh!
If you're making your wreath the day before you'll be needing it (like I usually do) or want to keep it fresh for another day you can keep it in the fridge overnight.
Take two old dishcloths and a large plate, wet the dishcloths with cold water, put one of the wet dishcloths on the plate, then lay your wreath on the dishcloth and drape the second wet dishcloth over the wreath, put it in the fridge (not the freezer) and the flowers will stay fresh longer.
I had to keep mine in the fridge overnight before I took the atmospheric pictures and it still looks fine.
Step 7: Enjoy the Summer Solstice!
So your wreath is done :) I hope that this instructable was helpful to you and that you will have a lot of fun celebrating the summer Solstice!
What to do with the wreath when the summer solstice has ended and the days start getting shorter again?
Something you could do is dry your wreath, keep it till it's the winter Solstice and then symbolically burn it on the bonfire.
You could also hang it on your door or in the garden and just let it wither like the sunlight will... until it returns off course ;)
What I do with my wreaths is hang them from a large branch which is suspended from the ceiling of our dining area, let them dry and enjoy them even longer, they bring a nice atmosphere to the room and they remind me of the time of the year when the days are filled with radiant energy and life.