Penknife and String No:2 Elder Bead Necklace

The Elder is a brilliantly versatile native tree.   From its flowers and berries you could make elderflower cordial, fizzy elderflower champagne, elderflower frittas, elderberry jelly, the list goes on.

Apparently a sprig of elderflower in the brim of your hat and rubbing elder leaves onto your skin can act as a natural mossie repellent.. Haven’t tried it myself but next time I have the opportunity I will.   I have recently discovered, from a forest schooling friend, that the wood of the elder also has some interesting uses, including the opportunity to make little wooden beads.

My oldest daughter is having a forest school style party for her seventh birthday (Seven! Really?), and we are going to have a bead making session so we had a practice in the garden the other day. Conveniently, there is a large elder bush behind our house, but there are loads around if you look out for them. Anyway, here is a short tutorial in how to make elder beads and yes it could be done with just a penknife and string, although a few more tools will make it a little easier!

So, firstly locate the right type of wood, you need a good long straight branch, approx the thickness of an adult finger.  It should be quite green too.  Ideally cut it off with a small saw (if camping, you could quite easily just snap a branch off).

Making elder beads

Some stripped and unstripped branches.

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