Yes, another craft made from Elder. The obsession is real!
This one is winner! It provides the opportunity for children to use multiple tools and skills, and can be adapted to suit a range of ages and abilities. Plus, at the end the children have their very own, handmade spud gun! Get ready for some very happy and very smug faces.
As I have mentioned before, in a couple of my other elder craft posts, elder is an excellent wood for crafts due to the soft pith that runs down the centre of the wood. For more details on elder and how to identify it check out my post here.
Step by step guide:
You will need the following equipment. If you are doing this activity with younger children it is recommended that you prepare in advance the lengths of elder and hazel.
20cm length of elder that is approximately 2-4cm in diameter
Loppers or a small pruning saw
Small stick of either hazel or willow (approximately 15cm long)
Potato or unripe apple
Cut proof glove
Whittling knife/ potato peeler
1. Cut a 20cm piece of elder that has a branch node (this is either where a small branch is or was present) at one end using the pruning saw. Be sure to wear a cut proof glove on your helping hand and follow all safety procedures associated with using a pruning saw. Loppers may also be used depending on the thickness of the elder.
2. Again, using the pruning saw (or loppers) cut off the node so the elder stick is now in 2 pieces – the node approximately 5cm and the rest measuring approximately 15cm.*the node acts as a stopper as the pith cannot be pushed out passed this point*
3. Using a tent peg, carefully push out the pith (the soft inner bit of the elder stick) out of the 15cm piece of stick. Take care when pushing the tent peg through as it will reappear at one end, so ensure your hand is out of the way when this happens. This step is very easy to do with younger children.
4. Cut a piece of willow that is just shorter than the longer piece of elder. This piece of willow needs to fit through the hole made from removing the pith on the elder stick, so chose a thin piece. Again, you can use a pruning saw or loppers to do this so take care to use a cut proof glove and follow all safety procedures.
5. Stick the willow into the node section (5cm piece) of the elder stick. The node stops the willow from passing the whole way through. This now acts as the stopper to the spud gun.
6. Using the whittling knife or a potato peeler for younger children, use gentle strokes away from the body to whittle a point into one end of the longer elder stick. Make the elder stick look a bit like a pencil.
7. Now you assemble the 2 parts together, pull back the stopper, push the pencil end into a potato and fire!
This activity requires a little set-up to ensure you have the correct lengths/ thicknesses of elder and willow, but once you have these, this is an activity your children will love! Even the adults will be joining in. Make enough for one each and let the potato wars commence!