Living in Season
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Happy Summer Solstice!
Living in Season: Making a Midsummer Chaplet
At my Summer Solstice on the beach, my talented friend, Liza, always makes a crown of sweet peas which she gathers into a circle, using strands of beach grass to wrap around the stems and hold the wreath together. Totally organic and it has a casual and playful look.
For a more structured approach, you might use one of these methods. Thread a large needle with a strong thread (determine the proper length by laying the thread on the intended wearer's head). Gather flowers (or herbs) and poke the needle through them (much like a Hawaiian lei). The trick is to put the needle through the strongest part of the flower (usually the central green portion). Buy dried rose buds from a herb store, string them sideways by pushing the needle through the fattest part of each bud. Finish off with some long colorful ribbons. This wreath is totally organic and can be tossed in the fire at the end of the night.
On a website, I found instructions for making a garland which advised starting with a wire, covering it with tinfoil and then with plastic, then wrapping flowers freshly picked from the garden around it with thread. This sort of wreath could not be burned in the fire but you could take it home and hang it on the wall afterwards, as the Czechs do. They burn a pinch of the wreath (which obviously has magical properties) during thunderstorms to protect them from fire and also crumble some of the dried wreath into the food of animals who are sick or in need of extra protection during calving.
If you want to make this chaplet more organic, I'd suggest starting with a string or piece of raffia as a base. Again measure it to make sure it will fit properly. Use thread to lash flowers or herbs to the wreath. In Bohemia, mugwort is used in wreaths and I can imagine how pleasant that would smell, both worn on the head and tossed in the fire. Laurel is an herb of the sun and would also make a lovely and somewhat more elegant chaplet. Or bind together grain stalks and stems of St. John's wort,with its sunny yellow flowers.
If you want to know more about making wreaths, I've posted the Wreath Making page from my Midsummer packet on my website here.
Enchanted Circles by Elizabeth Jane Lloyd
This is my favorite book on wreaths. Unfortunately it is now out of print but still available used. Lloyd organizes the book by season and shows wonderfully creative wreaths appropriate for each. For instance, in summer she glues seashells to a cardboard back, makes a travelwreath with mementos from a special trip, gathers herbs intoa magnificent green circle. The instruction section is clear and easy to follow. I was able to make wreaths successfully after years of really pathetic attempts.
While writing my Midsummer packet, I also got a book from the library called Making Country Wreaths from Caprilands, written by Adelma Grenier Simmons, who owns and runs a herb business. She's one of my heroines I love these tough, eccentric women like Tasha Tudor, who make their lives a work of art. Country Wreaths is great, especially if you can't find the Lloyd book. But my favorite book by Simmons, is Herb Gardening in Five Seasons by Adelma Grenier Simmons, also unfortunately out of print but available used. This has the same seasonal theme as Lloyd's book. Simmons provides recipes and craft projects using herbs for each season (the fifth season is Christmas), plus she features a special herb each season: mints for summer, artemisias for autumn.
New Midsummer Packet