Build a Rustic Trelliscomments (3) July 29th, 2008
The question inevitably comes up at every dinner party with new faces. What do you do? When the very successful clothing designer I was seated beside asked, what could I tell him but the truth? I make things with sticks, I said. For the past several years, I’ve been going into woods that are being cleared, cutting saplings and vines, and turning them into trellises. It isn’t a whole lot more complicated than that. Yet the work has fed my soul like nothing else ever has.
I didn’t plan a vocation of making trellises. I went to trade school to become an auto mechanic, and even worked as one for a while. This artistic work sort of evolved from my longtime hobby of making gifts for people.
Go with the flow. I started making the trellises after I saw something similar, except there were no vines involved. I think the vines add an attractive and distinctive touch. Nature does the twisting and turning of the vines, and I get to play with them. That’s why anyone can make this type of trellis. You just need to find a vine that inspires you.
When I spot a vine in the woods, I see right away how it will work on a trellis. I’m inspired 100% by the vine. You can use almost any woody vine, including wisteria and grape vines, but most of the time I use bittersweet. I like the color, and it’s lightweight, flexible, and holds up well.
|Framed by braced saplings, bittersweet vines form a decorative pattern.|
I don’t really enjoy doing representational designs, although the trellises with hearts are the most popular. I prefer to let the course of the vine dictate its use on the trellis. I think the vine is beautiful as it is.
Eight easy pieces frame a trellis. The frame is very simple. All it takes is eight pieces of wood: two long main stems, two shorter pieces for the main frame, and then four bracing pieces. I’m lucky to have a friend with a few nearby building lots where I can harvest my supplies.
You may not be so lucky, but certainly you’ll be able to find a woodland where you can get permission to take a few saplings. You also might check with landscaping or clearing companies for leftovers. My favorite types of wood are maple and beech, which are quite plentiful here in western Massachusetts.
This is hardly an exact science. After all, making things with sticks is making things with sticks. Take an afternoon to be wild and creative and make a trellis that will be a unique blend of nature and your own creativity.
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posted in: Projects, trellis, structures