Monday, September 12, 2011

Sticks and Branches

Resistance is futile. I’ve been fighting it—standing on my moral high ground of the September equinox—but it is pointless. Fall will arrive at Hodgepodge next week. We will add the velvet pumpkins, the transforming hologram pictures and the fall colored silk flowers. Frankly, I’m a little excited as it is my favorite time of year. My house will not transform until after the equinox, but being in a retail business, I must conform ever so slightly to the big box stores if I want to survive.

One of my favorite year round decorations, sticks and branches, take on special significance this time of year. I’ve mentioned them before—their many uses are amazing and seemingly endless. One of my favorite uses is as a canopy—suspended from the ceiling.

Of all of the beautiful items I carry in Hodgepodge, nothing gets more complimentary commentary than my canopies of branches! We’ve used them in the windows, at the entrance of the shop and in our Halloween room—laden with black leaves and pods (one of my all-time favorites--here’s a link to my blog about it). Even as I type, there are two large, moss covered branches waiting on the front porch of the shop. They will be hung today and I will add smaller branches to fill-in the space next week. String lights are a requisite part of this plan, but I will put them on the big branches only. (This has been a lesson I’ve gleaned from many years of trying to retrieve string lights from the brittle branches once they had served their time.)


(I was in a bit of a time crunch and didn’t get the lights on yet, but here it is with spider webs and oversized flies!)

One of the things I often overhear friends whispering to each other as they stare up at my display is: “How could I do that at my house?” Or, “That would look great in my ________ (fill-in the blank) room.” So, I’ve decided to give some tips for creating your own natural canopy.

First, you’ll need to gather the braches you want. The storm last week has left our yard littered with branches the wind “cleaned” out of the trees. They seem like the obvious solution, but you want to make sure that they are not too brittle and dry, especially if you intend to leave the display up for a while. (Here’s where I need to insert the disclaimer about spraying your stick with a fire retardant if you plan to use string lights. I haven’t done it in the past, but considering our propensity for fires, I probably will this time! Do this outdoors prior to hanging.)

branches and vines

Second, you need to scheme out how the branches will hang—in a fan-like formation or a bow-like formation. Once that’s determined, you’ll need some medium-sized eye hooks (cup hooks will work, too, but you need to be careful to turn the opening away from the pull of the string). Screw the eye hooks into the ceiling; you’ll need several per branch. If you’re just hanging the branches with a string of lights, you probably don’t need to use anchors, but if you plan to suspend other items from the branches you should use anchors.

Next, it is time to grab a friend. You can probably do this part alone—I often do—but a friend makes it much easier and quicker. You’ll need monofilament (fishing line) or another string to hang the branches. I usually use jute twine, because I like that look. You will cut a length of string 2 times as long as you think you’ll need. Tie one end to the eye hook, then have your friend hand you the end of the branch. Loop the string around the branch and pull to adjust it to the right height. Run the string back through the eye hook and once more around the branch for security. Repeat this process until the branches are suspended as you desire. Adorn with string lights, paper lanterns and/or faux silk flowers and vines; you’re only limited by your imagination and the weight of your adornments!

I hope you’ll let me know if you decide to try this idea in your home!Thanks for your indulgence.


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