Good Angels from the Garden

Perfect for housewarming or holiday gifts, angels we have made ourselves bless a beloved home.

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ILLUSTRATION BY PEGGY TURCHETTE

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During the holidays, when angels — or at least songs and stories about them — hover near the Earth, creating gifts with their winged charm is one sure way to share the sentiments of the season. With a poppy-pod head and an aromatic herbal skirt, our charming angel is just the right messenger to proclaim warm tidings of love and affinity. If handled and packed away carefully, it should give you many years of enjoyment.

Make this angel using fresh herbs, if you can, because the angel smells wonderful as the herbs slowly dry in place. However, if you have no access to fresh herbs, you can attach dried herbs with a hot-glue gun.

Materials

1 long-stemmed, dried poppy pod*
Raffia
8-inch piece of dowel (1/4-inch diameter)
Fresh or dried lavender stems**
Fresh or dried long-stemmed herbs such as rosemary, oregano, marjoram, bay, pennyroyal, artemisia, lavender, Russian sage, or eucalyptus
Rubber band
Maple leaves, preserved with glycerin (so they are flexible)
2 dried oak, magnolia or bay leaves
Spanish moss for hair (optional)
Hot-glue gun and glue
Scissors or garden clippers

STEP 1: MAKING THE BASIC BODY

Hold the 8-inch piece of dowel perpendicular across the stem of the poppy-pod head (about 1 inch below pod). Wrap raffia in a crisscross fashion to attach the dowel to the stem. Tie tightly with a knot.

STEP 2: CREATING ARMS

Lay the lavender stems over the arms so the dowel is completely covered. Secure the stems by wrapping and tying raffia at each end (near hands) and crisscrossed in the center (at bodice). Use scissors to trim the ends of the lavender (at the hands) flush with the dowel.

STEP 3: ASSEMBLING THE SKIRT

Create a small bouquet of herbs and tie the ends with a rubber band. Turn the bouquet upside down and use raffia to attach the skirt to the angel, right under the arms. You may need to tie a few herbal sprigs onto the sides and back to evenly cover the skirt area. If the herbs are dried, you may hot glue herb sprigs to fill any blank spots.

STEP 4: THE BODICE AND APRON

Wrap a few maple leaves across and over the bodice. Secure with raffia or hot glue the ends in the back. Glue a few upside-down maple leaves under the bodice to act as a colorful apron.

STEP 5: CREATING THE WAIST

Tightly wrap raffia several times around the angel’s midsection and tie securely in the back. This will help hold the entire angel together.

STEP 6: ADDING WINGS AND HAIR

Hot glue two leaves for wings to the angel’s back. If desired, glue Spanish moss on top as hair.

STEP 7: FINISHING TOUCHES

Glue or tie a raffia loop on the back of the angel for hanging. Fill in with leaves or herb sprigs as needed.

* Dried poppy pods are available at craft supply stores. If you are unable to find one, substitute one 8-inch long piece of dowel (1/4-inch diameter) with a round, 1-inch diameter wooden drawer pull attached on one end as the head.

** You may substitute a stiff, ornamental grass, corn husks cut to length or a piece of burlap for the lavender stems to cover the arm dowel. Simply cut to length and secure with raffia about 1/2 inch from the end creating wrists and hands.

Theresa Loe writes about gardening, crafting and herbal cooking from her home in Southern California. This text was excerpted with permission from her 2005 Herbal Calendar (Tidemark Press, 2004). The calendar is available from her website at www.country thyme.com or your local bookstore.