Many use leather wrapped metal hoops to create dreamcatchers, but what if you want a more traditional look? In this blog I’ll share my process in creating natural hoops made out of tree branches.
Traditionally dreamcatchers were made out of red willow, but any species with pliable branches will work. I have a dogwood in my yard which every year has branches on the top that don’t leaf out, so I trim it back in the Spring and use these for crafting. If no suitable trees are available for you, most craft stores sell dried grapevine which is another great option. I like to have at least a four foot length to work with.
The next step is to soak the branches until they are soft enough to bend into a hoop without breaking. I use my bathtub, even though it’s a bit inconvenient and soaking the branches can get messy. A plastic kiddie pool or a large Rubbermaid bin would be easier, but gotta make do with what you have.
How long the branches need to soak depends on thickness and age. Thicker and older branches will take longer. Patience is the key. I like to bend in stages, so I’ll start out with them looped around once, and then continue to soak until I’m able to loop them around twice. And make sure to twist the branch around itself to “lock” the hoop into place.
The next step is to hang your hoops in a cool, dry spot. Air circulation will allow the branches to dry out and not get moldy. This may take several weeks, depending on the time of harvest, amount of sap in the wood and the humidity level. The wood tends to shrink as it dries, which will cause the dreamcatcher weave to loosen up, so don’t rush this step.
And here’s an example of a dreamcatcher I made using one of my handmade hoops, incorporating a shed deer antler and wild turkey feathers found in my own backyard.