I’m fortunate to live in a temperate rain forest in north Georgia where Honeysuckle is often growing along streams. They like their roots in shade. I’m looking for wild vines that have grown undisturbed for a number of years. I need vine that is 1-2 inches in diameter. Often I am harvesting the base of the plant near the root. There is a big old vine that grows down near my garden. Every 3-4 years I harvest it and it thrives. I have good friends, Gwen & Andrew, who were clearing land of underbrush near a stream. They had a ton of Honeysuckle (and privet, and crepe myrtle, and maple) that I harvested for handles. Like a kid in the candy store. The smaller vines Sara was collecting to make an effigy with. Randomly weaving it like in a basket.
I prefer to work the Honeysuckle green. It is nice and flexible and the bark layers all come off fairly readily. It is easy to carve when it is green. I carve one end into a post and often use a carving gauge to accentuate a surface line into a crevice for gemstone inlay. It totally surprised me how hard it gets when dry. Too hard for carving to be enjoyable. And the bark layers get completely sticky, not wanting to come off. So I need to work it green… get that bark off, carve those posts, create those inlay spots. Then it can sit till I get to it. One trick I have found (thanks to the spoon carving folks) is freezing pieces right after harvesting them. When you defrost it the handle is as green as the day you froze it. Another option is soaking a dry piece before carving. That helps but is not nearly as good as freezing it. Sara collects long rolls of green Honeysuckle Vine, of smaller diameter, for baskets and effigies. If she wants to work it she soaks it in water for 30 minutes and it is as flexible as when green.
The surface of Honeysuckle is covered with swirling and spiraling lines. There are so many different natural surface features to this vine. They inspire me to accentuate them for inlay placement. Each handle is completely different and, to me, awe insprifing.
Here are a couple of galleries concerning Honeysuckle.