Ode to Autumn – Make your own Harvest Wreath

I really enjoy walking my dog, we follow a path along a hedgerow and it is a real pleasure to see how much this changes over the seasons. It reminds me of school projects, collecting leaves from the nearby woods, the seasonal displays that seemed to create a wonderful rhythm with nature. 
Last year I was enthralled by the pretty shapes of the ivy leaves and they inspired me to make a winter wreath. This September the hedgerows are full of fruit and berries, the hawthorne berry looks so bright and cheery, blackberries abound but its the shapes of the foliage that catches my eye. Filigree leaved ferns, the flowers of the ivy, the marvellous variety of shapes of the leaves from oak to maple. 
These tiny crab apples simply spill from every branch, in clusters of tiny apple perfection – 
they seem like food for fairies. 
The wheat has gone, leaving behind stalks and dry earth but I felt inspired to pay homage to Autumn and create my very own Harvest Wreath. Salt dough is the perfect medium, as bread distorts the shape as it proves. It also means that I can keep the wreath to display next year if I want. 
Make a dough using half salt to flour, (I used two cups of flour and one cup of salt) 
Add enough water to make a dough and then divide it into three. 
Put two lumps of dough in a plastic bag until needed to prevent the dough drying out. 
Roll out with a rolling pin until about 0.5cm 1/2 inch, thick
Use a saucer or side plate to create a circle template. 
Then add a handle, (you can use the plate edge to create smooth curves) 
cut away the excess dough.
 Place the plaque carefully on a baking tray lined with parchment. 
Roll out sausages of dough in long thin strips and cover the ‘handle’ area. 
dampening the area with a little water to stick the strips to the base. 
Make a little bow at the curve and add a little mouse if you like. 
Place two paperclips with their closed end overhanging the base 
at the 11o’clock and 1 o’clock positions. 
Place a little dough over the top to seal them
ensuring there is enough visible to allow you to hang the plaque
Make the ears of corn: make a small sausage about 1cm half an inch long, 
snip along the sides with small scissors. 
Dampen the base a little with water, lay the corn down starting from the outside and 
working towards the centre. 
You can make bigger/smaller ears of corn if needed to fill gaps. 
When your dough model is complete place in a low oven until hard. 
Depending on your oven it can take hours or left overnight. 
If it doesn’t brown up as much as you like you can use watercolour paints
or felt tips to highlight areas. 
When you are happy, seal with a spray varnish. 
Hang your plaque somewhere you will enjoy seeing it, 
but protect it from excess moisture otherwise it will crumble. 
ttfn x 

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