Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to build a traditional twig fence

Wattle Fence
 Add old-world charm
to your yard with an easy-to-build wattle fence

Wondering how to add unique style to your garden or yard at no cost? Consider a traditional twig fence, also called a wattle fence. Dating back to the Middle Ages and beyond, a hand-built wattle fence is an easy, attractive and sturdy outline for flower beds or other areas needing delineation. With just a few tools and a cluster of saplings, you can create your own eye-catching woven fence.

  • Gather your tools: pruners, a good hand saw, a hatchet and a small sledge hammer
  • With the saw, cut several large (up to two inches in diameter) saplings. These will be your upright posts, so after trimming the side branches, cut the saplings into lengths that correspond to the desired height of your fence, plus one foot. An overall length of three feet is good for your first wattle fence. Take your hatchet and chop a pointed end on each post.
  • Pound the upright posts into the ground three to four feet apart. Try to get them in about a foot deep.
  • With pruners in hand, cut down as many saplings as you can handle, up to a half inch in diameter and four to eight feet long. Poplars are flexible and easy to work with. Honeysuckle bushes also work great because they are fast growing and usually considered a pest—so why not create something beautiful out of them? After cutting the little trees, trim away the side branches and leaves.
  • Now for the fun part. Begin weaving the long, slender twigs along the upright posts. Overlap the pieces and tuck in the ends, but don’t worry about being precise or overly even. Keep it natural. Remember, your wattle fence is a tribute to an ancient custom.  

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Focusing on Fantasy Nature Art

Aside from this blog, I'm working as a Columbus Arts and Crafts Examiner at, where I’ve started adding profiles of artists whose works reflect unique skills or mediums. Thought I’d begin with my friend Carol and her fantasy nature art. Carol, like me, considers herself a born-again hillbilly (although I’m not sure if she would use my exact phrasing to describe her metamorphoses to a Nature-inspired crone).

Fantasy nature artist Carol Shumate finds inspiration in the woods.
Carol dreams of fairies and sprites, some elegant and beautiful, others rough and scary. She wakes up and heads to field and forest to gather materials, whether rocks, twigs, birds’ nests, feathers, or even animal hair and bones. Then she creates these amazing creatures from her dreams. For more of Carol’s story, please visit my blog

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cailleach, Mistress of Wild Things

 Crone Goddess of Winter
Before the male dominated Judeao-Christian-Islamic religions rose to power, primitive people the world over had their goddesses. The lands now called Ireland and Scotland are known for their Celtic culture, but even before the Celtic tribes arrived from the East, the people living in this area of northwest Europe honored the Great Goddess.

The most ancient pre-Celtic goddess, Cailleach, has many other names to describe her duties, including Mother of All, Goddess of Winter and Mistress of Wild Things. She is the crone archetype, the elder of the Triple Goddess, a wise healer and protector, yet at times a destroyer. I call her the Snow Crone because she reigns during the cold winter months. Men feared her because she was ugly and all-powerful, able to determine life and death. They called her the hag.

Cailleach controls the seasons. From November 1 to April 30, she brings rest and cleansing, both of which are needed for healing. One ancient story tells how she wanders the highest hills of Scotland throughout winter, wrapped in a tattered blue robe and carrying a staff of holly that makes frost and ice crystals. A crow rides upon her shoulder to witness life and death. Another story tells how Cailleach Bheare is the other face of Brighid, the Goddess of Spring, of fertility, renewal and all things light and lovely. Without the winter of rest that Cailleach brings, spring could not arrive. On the eve of May 1 (Fheill Bride), the crone puts down her holly staff, drinks from the Well of Youth and becomes Brighid, whose touch makes everything start growing again. On November eve (Samhain) they reverse the process and the crone goddess begins her reign once again. In her role as Mistress of Wild Things, Cailleach oversees and protects all the animals of the forest. With her they find sanctuary.

Although the goddess culture went underground for millennia, it enjoys a latter day renaissance as people search for a deeper connection to nature and a more feminine spiritual power.