CREATIVE CABIN SHORTS 11

Richard creates 'Gypsy Flowers' in a woodland glade

"As the name suggests, gypsy flowers were traditionally made and sold door to door by gypsies and travellers. They would have used young elder branches and inserted the stem into the elder pith.

Elder is not my first choice of wood  for this project as it can get quite brittle and harder to work with when it has dried out a bit. Through a good deal of  experimentation, I have settled on either hazel or willow for  this project. Freshly cut, wet wood  won’t curl and will  be more difficult to work with so I like to let it dry out for a few weeks before use. If I can get hold of overgrown willow, particularly the variety Salix viminalis, which is used in living willow structures, then I will often peel it and speed dry it in the car for a couple of days until it becomes ready to use. 

I enjoy demonstrating this craft at shows and have met many older people who remember their parents buying coloured elder flowers from gypsies in the past.

About the process : I like making things out of wood. The simpler the better. Sometimes I am motivated by perfecting the final product but usually process is everything. I make a very small percentage of my income from craft so it is never affected by the stress of production, marketing or selling.  It is all about chasing that elusive state of flow; the total, relaxed absorption in the task which takes over and excludes all conscious rumination. In 20 years of regular making, Gypsy flowers are the one thing that I never tire of making. The process is relaxing, meditative and not physically demanding apart from on the forearms and hands after a full day of making 100 flowers. Sitting out in the woods on a cold, sunny, February morning tops it all off nicely.

Step by step:using hazel cut from the hedge in my garden and bark peeled off 2 weeks ago.

  • Saw end flat
  • Drill a hole in the end – my drill is mounted in the ‘gypsy flower pony’ for ease of use.
  • Pull the stick against the blade to create shavings which stay attached to the stick. 
  • If the shavings (petals) are getting crowded, I fold them back to leave room for new ones
  • Keep shaving until the flower snaps off the stick. This is supposed to happen!
  • Pick up flower and find a stem – I use basketry willow offcuts – that fits the hole drilled at the start. This might need cut to size. 
  • Put the flowers in your flower arrangement.
  • Make more!

Richard Irvine is an accomplished greenwood carver, his specialist knowledge in woodlands and experiential education is born from a love of woodland and the outdoors and many years working for forestry and education organisations. He has published 2 books with Guild of Master Craftsman publications – Forest Craft  and Wild Days.

 

 

 

Creative Cabin Events

  • The Big Butterfly Search drop in art activity

    31 July 2021

    Get creative to celebrate the Pearl Bordered and Small Pearl Bordered butterfly. As part of Heath Week, THG's Creative Cabin will be at Aylesbeare Common with East Devon AONB and Wild East Devon....

  • Completely Batty at the Donkey Sanctuary

    9 August 2021

    Our Creative Cabin will be visiting The Donkey Sanctuary on Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 August with ‘Completely Batty’ fun activities for all the family! Drop in any time between 11am and 3pm.  The...

  • Completely Batty at the Donkey Sanctuary

    10 August 2021

    Our Creative Cabin will be visiting The Donkey Sanctuary on Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 August with ‘Completely Batty’ fun activities for all the family! Drop in any time between 11am and 3pm.  The...

  • Topsham Charter Day - craft activities

    13 August 2021

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  • Art Dayz - Sand Body Casting

    14 August 2021

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  • Art in the Garden

    19 August 2021

      Join us in our Creative Cabin for family friendly art activities in the THG garden. Drop in anytime between 11am and 3.00pm. All ages and abilities welcome.    

  • Creative Sessions for Under 5's

    26 August 2021

    Thelma Hulbert Gallery (THG) invites under 5's and their parents/carers to a fun, creative session in the Creative Cabin. We will be outside in the THG garden with artist Laurel Coxon. The sessions...

  • Art in the Garden

    28 August 2021

    Join us in our Creative Cabin for family friendly art activities in the THG garden. Drop in anytime between 11am and 1.30pm. All ages and abilities welcome. This event coordinates with the opening of...

  • Creative Session for Under 5's

    30 September 2021

    Thelma Hulbert Gallery (THG) invites under 5's and their parents/carers to a fun, creative session in the Creative Cabin. We will be outside in the THG garden. The sessions are play-based and...