Thursday, November 7, 2019

Willow Furniture

Where did the name Willowpatches come from?

Back in the 1980s I started making grapevine baskets
and wreaths to sell to local florist and craft shops. The grapevine were free and just hanging everywhere along the old country roadsides, why not stop and pull a few and roll them up into
beautiful wreaths, they were very easy to make and popular at that time to use for decoration.

I enjoyed looking through Country Living magazines and Mother Earth News magazines for ideas for things I could make and sell. I stumble upon a picture of a willow chair in one of the magazines and ask my husband what type of wood it was made from, to which he replied Willow. I ask if he meant Weeping Willow, and he said no, it is River Willow. The river Willow grows in thick patches along ditch lines or near water around ponds etc. I was excited, when I learned that willow was growing everywhere much like the grapevines, it was there for the gathering. I didn't know what tools I would need to cut it but learned that pruning shears and lobing shears worked great on the smaller willow shoots. The larger pieces I would need a bow saw to cut them. Most people have no use for the willow and don't mind someone cutting it down. It grows back from the root very rapidly so you cant hardly eradicate it. The willow growing along the roadside was easy to gather and less snakes to worry about. we could just pull off the shoulder of the road and cut a bundle in no time.

My first pieces of furniture were doll size and very cute, a lady near by made porcelain grandma and grandpa dolls and the chairs were a perfect fit for her dolls. I had a regular customer immediately. Soon I was selling the little chairs and loveseats to local craft shops and going to craft fairs and selling my weaths, baskets and willow furniture. As time went on I had a referral to go and meet a kind elderly couple who owned a log cabin which they had converted to a small craftshop and eatery. The cabin was perfectly nestled by a creek in a lovely valley on their farmland. It was called Acorn Hollow. I met with Mrs Loose the owner and we discussed selling my handmade items at the cabin. She and her husband loved the little willow chairs and had purchased handmade Amish dolls on the yearly trip to Pennsylvania Dutch Country, the dolls fit perfectly with the rustic little handmade willow chairs.

The cabin was a special place and filled with many antiques and handmade crafts from local craftsman. On the porch was an adult size willow settee and chair, Mr and Mrs Loose were not able to order any of the adult furniture to sell at the shop because the man who had made them had passed away many years ago. Mrs Dottie ask me to make some for the shop, she said if you can make doll and children size you can make this size too. So the willow business began to roll and soon my husband and I were making several sets a month to fill all the orders. We decided to name our little business The Willow Patch, I had business cards made and painted a sign to hang out in our front yard. We made the furniture and grapevine items for many years, and still could probably make and sell them. We are getting older and we miss those wonderful times and the wonderful people we met along the way. I will always cherish the memories we made at Acorn Hollow and I am so thankful we were blessed with many good times at the craft fairs.

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