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How many Cornell students can fit into a woven branch hut

Woven Branch Art: create a work of art with branches, twigs and other pieces of cut plant material

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  • Recycle pruned plant materials and a minimum of other materials into a work of art.
  • Stretch your understanding of “art”
  • Manipulate materials into various forms.
  • Learn to properly use pruning shears.
  • Use your imagination!


  • A diversity of any cut plant materials that do not cause skin sensitivity such as:
    • Ornamental grasses
    • Twigs from shrubs and trees
    • Grapevines
    • Spent blossoms, such as sedum, yarrow, statice
  • Pruning shears
  • Twine
  • Woven Branch powerpoint for inspiration
Time required
An hour to several hours, depending on the project scope.

Creating art out of weaving branches involves intertwining the young, flexible branches and stems of woody plants like shrubs and trees. The techniques used are similar those of basket making. Unlike topiary where the main focus is leaves, in woven branch creations the focus is on the stems of plants.

Some material considerations:

  • Stiffness/flexibility
  • Rough/smooth
  • Color/visual texture

Two students hold up a fanciful, 2-dimensional wall hanging they produced in a couple of hours

Activity, step by step

This project is a terrific way to stretch our understanding of “art,” as functional or decorative, with a diversity of plant materials. Begin by gathering as much plant material as you possibly can – the more diverse, and the larger material, the more you can create.

First, demonstrate the proper way to use pruning shears.

Encourage young people to work in teams to look over the material, and plan what they may want to make. Encourage them to be inspired by what they see – what kinds of things could be made with the materials at hand?

Remember the “haircut rule” – you cannot make a stem longer after it’s been cut, so err on the side of fewer initial cuts.

At first, they may look for guidance. You can provide it, or you can simply encourage them to use their imagination to come up with “something.” Be prepared for a period of time in which there is a bit of tension, as the young people discuss what they could do.

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