Lattice chair made in the Yukon. Joanne McNeal
The new twig lattice gate arch. Joanne McNeal
Trees need pruning and shaping as they grow, and cut limbs make a big mess. But cut limbs are great for making twig furniture and lattice. I learned to make twig furniture when I was teaching in the Yukon. Willows grow wild in the ditches. The chair in the photo is 17 years old and I created it out of willow cut in Mayo, Yukon. I also made a coffee table, and a big shelf. Since that twig workshop, I’ve made patio tables for my sisters and friends, out of various kinds of tree branches – birch, poplar, maple, and willow. It’s best to use hardwoods as they age well. Some bend easier than others, and you have to use them wet or green. Tables are easy to make: start with the uprights and then figure out the cross pieces. You can use glass, wood, or tiles for the table top. But for a chair you need a pattern because they have to hold heavy weight.
When I pruned my trees this spring in McCauley, I saved the cut limbs, and made a woven lattice for climbing roses to grow on, between the straight frame of my new front gate “arch.” I was hoping the top would have more of a curve, but that didn’t happen. It looks kind of messy now, as I left a lot of tiny branches on it. I will cut them off as they dry and as the roses grow up on it. When screwing big and small branches together you must pre-drill the holes, which is tedious, but for tiny branches you can use a staple gun or finishing nails. Twigs are fun to build with, and you can let the shape of the tree limbs dictate the design. So don’t throw out those tree limbs if you need a small patio table. Experiment, cross branches over each other, and curve them as you wish. Best of all, its FREE and FUN!
Joanne McNeal is a retired teacher and artist who has lived in McCauley for 10 years this month.