All willow items that are kept inside or under shelter are likely to last for many years and can be brushed of cleaned with a soft brush/cloth, or hoover with a stocking over the nozzle on low.
Keeping willow items outside
All willow by its nature will start to degrade if it’s left outside in the elements and is repeatedly soaked or frozen so it best to place it in a place where there are good air circulation and some protection.
Brown items ( willow which still has its bark ) can cope better with the elements. and if regular treatment is applied is likely to last for at least 5 years.
Items made from buff willow ( willow with no bark) is not suitable for use outside all year round as it will degrade much more quickly so is best to only put items outside in the dry months to extend its longevity.
To preserve your items
It is best to cover your item when it is very wet weather.
Any part of the sculpture that is in contact with the ground will be the first to decay and so attract insects such as woodlice, so placing it on dry ground such as gravel, or a grassed area that has good drainage where it is slightly raised from the ground or of the ground so that the air can flow can go around it is the best option .
Untreated items such as birdhouses/ bird feeders, plant trellis etc. are likely to last for 2- 3 years but that depends on use and where it is sited.
Please note that the willow will change in colour and take on different variations in time, this is normal.
Make sure that your item is thoroughly dry before you start. Then spray or brush on your chosen preservative. Always be aware of potential allergies etc and suitability and it is practical to use newspaper/ floor coverings, work outside and wear practical clothing and gloves.
- Traditionally a 50:50 boiled Linseed oil /Danish oil with turpentine/ turps substitute is used for wood preservation.
- An alternative option is to use a semi-transparent wood preserver that is described as penetrating, whichever you choose ideally you want to choose a product that can be thinned down or is already a watery consistency.
Once you’ve treated your item leave it for a few hours and then check it again to see if it needs another coat. Often willow growers recommend that you repeat this every 6 months to one year.
Please note that willow items can be flammable if you put them next to a naked flame, so it’s best to use led lights to light them