Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mitsumata and Hanging Votives

While Mitsumata is not as strong as that popular standby for hanging anything - Manzanita - it still is a fantastic choice for hanging votives and other relatively heavy objects. In addition to its unique form, the white branches really light up in the dim candlelight, producing a luminous and dramatic display. Adding to its appeal is the fact that at 3-4 feet it can still be shipped via UPS, allowing you to create centerpieces as impressive as those made with Manzanita of a similar size, at a much lower cost (once Manzanita hits 3 feet it has to be shipped via basic freight, which starts at $150 or so).


The centerpiece above was created with two bundles (6 branches) of 3-4' Mitsumata that had been soaked and shaped, and a bunch of hanging votive holders we made ourselves. Adding everything up, the total cost probably comes out a bit under $50.

Here's how to do it:

1. Buy or make your hanging votive holders. While you'll save yourself some time buying them, they are very easy and quick to make yourself if you use the tricks described in our previous post on the topic.

2. Soak the Mitsumata for a couple of hours. While the branches are quite thick, they suck up water like a sponge and become very pliable.

3. Pull the branches open, arrange them in your vase, then fill the vase with river stones or another heavy material - the votives will add quite a bit of weight and you don't want to have your pleasantly illuminated centerpiece to tip over and turn into a bonfire. Your event is bound to be exciting enough as it is.

4. Figure out where you'd like to hang the votives, and stick pins or thin nails through the branches from the top through the bottom (we actually used pieces of paperclips, but that was just because we didn't want to walk a few blocks to the hardware store). A pair of needle-nosed pliers is handy for this. Mitsumata isn't anywhere near as branchy as Manzanita, and so you'll need to do this to keep the hanging votive holders from sliding down the branches. This should done while the branches are still moist to keep them from splitting. We did this in more places than necessary for more options when we did our final arranging.

5. Start hanging your votives. This will pull the branches outward and downward a bit. If you'd like to increase the bend, start filling the holders with river stones. However, while most of the bending will be done as soon as you hang the votive holders, the branches will continue to bend a tiny bit until they are dry, so take this into account.

6. In about 12 hours or so, the branches will be thoroughly dry. Do your final arranging, light the candles and admire your work!

56 comments:

Mrs. Designher said...

Do you know how many brides are dying for centerpieces like this one right now! TONS :) Thanks for the post!!

Justin said...

You're welcome! While Manzanita is the default for branch and votive centerpieces, we hope we've shown that Mitsumata is a great alternative for those who want something a bit different and/or are watching their budgets!

Bride said...

I am looking to do this for my centerpieces at my upcoming wedding and was wondering what type and size vase you would recommend? How tall should it be and how big should the opening of the vase be? Thanks!

Justin said...

Congratulations on the wedding! We used a 14 inch tall vase with a 3 inch diameter opening to display these 6 branches. We probably should have used something a bit wider (around 4 inches) as it was a pretty tight fit. As for the height, you'll probably want something at least 12 inches tall so that a good portion of the branch is anchored in the vase. You can use any type of vase (we used a mango wood one), although glass, ceramic or another heavy material may allow you to use less stones to weigh the centerpiece down. Let us know if you have any more questions!

future mrs barrett said...

This is EXACTLY what I was looking at doing for my wedding, but instead of votives, I was going to use crystals but I like the candles too. But if I use a 20" glass vase do you think I need to add the river rocks as well? How long before hand should I make the centerpeices to make sure the branches won't bend anymore or easily break off when I'm trying to get them to the reception hall?

trace228 said...

I tried this and it worked great except the branches got mildewy and moldy since they were wet when I shaped them. I had to pull the centerpiece apart and allow them to dry. I guess I'll have to cut the moldy ends off and put the arrangement back together when it's fully dry.

Justin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin said...

Hello Future Mrs Barrett - For a 20" vase, you'll want to fill the bottom 6 inches or so, put the branches in, and then fill the rest of the vase with the rocks - otherwise the vase would swallow up about half the length of the branches. The rocks will also provide the weight you'll need to keep the vase stable. As for using crystals, you'll be able to put a fair number on the branches, but you won't be able to load the branches up like you would with Manzanita as the branches aren't anywhere near as strong. You can compensate for this though by using the lighter (and less expensive) acrylic version, rather than real lead crystal. Regarding when you should make them, you should do so at least a few days in advance. When we created ours, it was completely dry after being left overnight, and the branches were no longer pliable. The big issue is the volume though - it is like the difference between a closed and open umbrella - once opened they will be quite a bit more awkward to move around. Let us know if you have any more questions! - Justin

Justin said...

Hi trace228 - Yikes, we're very sorry to hear about the mold, and thanks for letting us know. As mentioned in the post, we soaked the branches for a few hours, shaped them, and they were completely dry the next day. While where we made the display had relatively dry air and decent circulation, we didn't have a fan blowing on them or anything. We've never had any problems with mold ourselves, and haven't heard of any problems until now. If you could send me an email at jbpotter@nettletonhollow.com detailing some more of the specifics, such as on what part of the branches the mold appeared, how long you soaked them, etc., that would be very helpful! The one thing that comes to mind is that maybe some standing water collected at the bottom of the vase, and you got some mold on the base of the branches. I look forward to hearing from you and figuring this out! - Justin

tina said...

hi,
I once saw branches with hanging votives that you had to screw or drill on? do you recall which one I am thinking of??

do you happen to still have the picture of that, or what branches you used.

also, any other pictures of branches and votives would be great!

september bride said...

I am with the rest of the brides here...I have been SEARCHING for something just like this for our wedding centerpieces and NOTHING else was quite what I had imagined.
I was so relieved to find the photo AND instructions--THANK YOU!!!!!

Justin said...

Hi Tina - The only display that involved votives and drilling was the Grapewood Candelabra: http://nettletonhollow.blogspot.com/2008/04/grapewood-candelabra.html . Here are the rest of the votive-related posts:

http://nettletonhollow.blogspot.com/2008/02/red-manzanita-and-votives.html

http://nettletonhollow.blogspot.com/2008/01/natural-manzanita-branches-hanging.html

http://nettletonhollow.blogspot.com/2008/02/diy-hanging-votive-holders.html

Enjoy! I am going to TRY to avoid doing votive-related projects for a little while, but there undoubtedly will be more posts involving them soon. - Justin

Justin said...

Hi September Bride - You're welcome! I'm glad you found the post useful, and thanks for letting us know! Keep checking back as we're always coming up with new projects! - Justin

Anonymous said...

I am planning on making the same centerpeice for the head table of my wedding but I don't need it until march of 2009. Can I order the branches now and put them in storage or should I wait until Feb. to order them. I just don't want to wait to long then find out that you sold out or something! They seem to be getting pretty popular pretty fast!

Justin said...

Hi Anonymous - Mitsumata Branches will last indefinitely - just keep them in a dry place and you'll be all set. If you want to be on the VERY safe side and are sure this is what you want, you certainly can order them now. We run out of Mitsumata a few times a year, and unfortunately its very tough to predict when that will happen. - Justin

Anonymous said...

I finally found what I've been looking for - thank you! However, the colors for my upcoming fall wedding are red and gold, and I'm afraid that the white will look funny. Can I spray paint these gold? If so, do I do before or after I soak them? Or, are the goldleaf birch branches strong enough to hold votives?

Thanks!!

-Erin

Justin said...

Hi Erin - We're glad you like the look of the display! You certainly can paint them, but definitely wait until after they've been soaked, shaped and thoroughly dried.

As for the Goldleaf Birch, those aren't quite strong enough, and all the fine twigs would make a fire hazard (although that issue could be addressed by using those LED votive "candles").

Mindy said...

Can you do an ice treatment to these branches?

Justin said...

If you mean applying crystals with some sort of adhesive to create an Icy look, you definitely can do that - just make sure that if you are soaking them, to do it after the branches have thoroughly dried.

Anonymous said...

This is gorgeous! I volunteered to be incharge of my friend's centerpieces for her wedding and she wants something like this. Is it possible to do this look with the 2 foot Mitsumata instead of the 3-4 ft. to save money? Please let me know...thanks!!!

Justin said...

Hello - You should have no problem making a similar display with the 2-3' size, although try to keep the display out of the sightline - with the 3-4' size the bulk of the branches are above the sightline, but the 2-3' size might end up blocking it. - Justin

Jenae said...

I just received my Mitsumata branches and LOVE THEM!! I will be attempting to soak, bend, and hang votives on them but I know you said in one post, its the difference between "an open umbrella and a closed one" once the branches are bent. I am getting married in June and would really like to do this now and get it done. Would it be okay to do it now or will the branches become brittle over time?

Justin said...

We're glad you like them! We put a ton of work into whipping Mitsumata Branches into shape - there's a huge difference between what we get in and what we send out!

Soaking and shaping them now won't make them more brittle - as long as you store them dry they'll be fine. However, if you shape them now you'll be increasing their volume many times over, making them much more difficult to store and move. For these reasons, I'd wait until a day or two beforehand to shape them (although out of eagerness to see how they look in person I'd probably make at least one centerpiece!).

September09Bride said...

Hi.. Thank you very much for the directions on how to make these. I just ordered my branches and plan to make one or two to see how they look.. (i am not very crafty).

Do you have any suggestions for vase filler? Can I use water in the vase.. or will it make the branch bend during the reception?

The Bride said...

Hi - If you guys are located in brooklyn, ny - can I pick up my order instead of having it shipped? I'm in fairfield county so it's a quick trip...

Justin said...

Hi there - We don't allow pick-ups, but the shipping should be around $12 or so and the transit time is only one business day. - Justin

Justin said...

Hello september09bride - For vase filler, you'll need something heavy so it will keep the arrangement stable. One option is something such as polished river stones - http://www.jamaligarden.com/cID_73.asp .

However, a customer who made the arrangement for her wedding - http://nettletonhollow.blogspot.com/2008/09/mitsumata-and-hanging-votives-brought.html - had the fantastic idea of using crushed marble from a place like Home Depot.

You definitely shouldn't use water in the arrangement though - the branches would likely start drooping, and the bases will likely want to float to the top.

Melanie said...

I was thinking about creating these to use as centerpieces for a wedding in February. The guests will all be seated at round tables during the ceremony and I was wondering if you thought the 4' branches would be tall enough not to block the guests' view of the ceremony.
Thanks!

Justin said...

The 3-4' size certainly are tall enough so that the branches are up and above the sightline.

Kelly said...

These are so beautiful! I was wondering what size of vase would you recommend for the 2-3' branches. I plan on making hanging votives for the centerpieces also. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I found exactly what I envisioned! Perfect!

Justin said...

Hi Kelly - We're glad you like it! The main thing with the vase is the diameter - for two bundles of the 2-3' size, you'd want a vase 3-4 inches in diameter. As for the height, you'd want something at least 12 inches tall - if you go taller, you can simply fill the bottom with heavy filler (to keep it stable) such as river stones, put the branches on top of these, and they fill the space around the branches with more stones. - Justin

Sweetness said...

I finished creating these and lit one of the votives to try it out. It's beautiful, but after about an hour, it began to scorch the branch. I wondered if you had any tips to help with this before the big day.

Thanks!

Justin said...

Hi there - What you'll want to do is make the handles on the votive holders a bit longer and/or hang the votives on sections of branches that are close to horizontal (rather than more vertical) to keep the flames as far away from the branches as possible. Another strategy would be to skip the flames altogether and go for the battery powered LED lights that simulate the real thing. Hope this helps! - Justin

wolfiemitrestone said...

If I secure these using plaster of paris and then used shorter containers for the base, would that work? Do you think that would be secure enough?

Justin said...

That should work fine - you'll just need to make sure the base is heavy and wide enough to keep the display stable.

Tara said...

Like a lot of other brides, I am looking for exactly this type of centerpiece!! I am getting married in a year, so obviously I don't want to do all the centerpieces right now, but I'm not sure when is an appropriate time. I would prefer not to be doing 14 centerpieces the week before my wedding... Any guidance would be much appreciated!

Thank you!

Justin said...

Congratulations on the wedding! We're glad you like the centerpieces. You can create the centerpieces any time, as long as you have the space - a couple of bundles of branches that were six inches in diameter will end up being about three feet in diameter once shaped and arranged in the centerpiece. You certainly don't have to wait until the last minute, but I wouldn't make them months in advance unless you have a lot of extra space!

Laurel said...

I absolutley love this and am going to do it just for fun! I think I could do this on a larger scale and put on my deck, for those summer nights just around the corner....I love you blog and all your work!
You have a huge fan in SF Bay area!

Justin said...

We're glad you like it and thanks so much for letting us know! As you suggest, although this display is particularly popular for events, it would also be great for every day use. Keep an eye on the blog - there are a lot more posts coming!

Margie said...

I followed the directions and LOVE the way the centerpiece looks. I used votive hangers I purchased online. However, I think they get too hot and scorch the branches and would be a fire hazard. Should I just use longer hanger(mine have about a 4"drop) or do you have any other ideas.

Justin said...

We're glad the centerpiece came out well! For illumination, the simplest and safest way to address your concerns would be to use LED candles - if you do a search for them, a gazillion sources will appear. If you'd like to stick with real flame, you should indeed lengthen the hanger and/or if you are using a full size votive candle, replace it with a tea light. Keep us posted!

IthacaBride said...

I LOVE the look of these centerpieces and want to do something similar for my fall winery wedding, however I'd like to use Manzanita branches instead. How many branches will I need per centerpiece and what size? Also, I'd like to use purple grapes to anchor the branches and add some color, but I"m concerned they won't be heavy enough. Any advice/thoughts? Thank you for having this awesome website!

Justin said...

Hey IthacaBride - Congratulations on the wedding! We're glad you like the site, and thanks so much for letting us know! It's beautiful up there - I went to school in Ithaca and my parents and one of my brothers (and the cows) moved to the north end of Cayuga Lake a couple years ago.

If you are thinking of going with the Manzanita, the first thing to check out are the posts in the Manzanita section - http://nettletonhollow.blogspot.com/search/label/manzanita%20branches

Adding grapes would be a gorgeous touch! However, they wouldn't be heavy enough to anchor the branches (and would get crushed) - I'd just use them as an accent. I would probably use the 24-36" size, and set them in plaster in a clay pot. You can pile the grapes into the top of the pot, spilling over the sides and hanging from the branches.

As for the number of Manzanita Branches, one would create a nice fan-shaped display. If you'd like a display that is fairly symmetrical looking when viewed from all angles, you should plan on using 2-3 per centerpiece.

Let us know what other questions you have as they come up!

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

DAISY said...

I also loved these centerpieces. I was wondering, however, if this arrangement could be done on a smaller scale. That is, not so tall.
Thanks for all the great ideas!

Justin said...

Hi Daisy - Glad you like it! Yes indeed, you can make this with the 2-3' Mitsumata. - Justin

tanagrom said...

Justin, I want to use five 2'-3' Mitsumata branches in a bowl sitting on top of a 24" cylinder vase containing submerged hydrangeas. i want to surround the branches with more hydrangeas. Since the branches can't go into wet oasis can you suggest how i can use the branches along with the hydrangeas? Will they need to be in plaster? Do you think the
2'-3' is tall enough for this design? thanks for your help.
Terri

Justin said...

Hello Tanagrom - The simplest thing to do would be to place a small vase with river stones (for weight) inside the bowl. Stability of the display is likely to be an issue - I definitely wouldn't hang anything from the branches. - Justin

Maine Bride said...

Hi, I was wondering what the project grade branches would look like compared to the ones that have been treated and tested by Nettleton. I would love to use the manzanita branches, but would also like to keep the cost down. Is there a noticeable difference in quality and color? Thanks!

Justin said...

Hi Maine Bride - We create our standard 3-4' and 2-3' Mitsumata bundles from the Project Grade bundles - we trim any broken or frayed tips and side branches, discard any branches that have major defects (such as if they have a major crack in the main stem), and demote the sparer branches to the 2-3' size. The goal is to create single bundles that you can just drop into a vase. If you just need a few bundles, the standard grade is what you should go for.

There isn't any difference in the color of the Project Grade and the Standard Grade Mitsumata.

Now if you need a lot of Mitsumata (6+) bundles and don't mind doing a bit of trimming and fussing, I'd definitely recommend going with the Project Grade. Just make sure you have a pair of pruning shears available.

Anonymous said...

First of all, these centerpieces are STUNNING! I know several people have already asked similar questions but I just wanted to TRIPLE check! :-D I am not getting married until 04/2012. Is it too soon to order these branches? My concern is that you will either- a) be sold out or b) stop carrying these branches before my wedding comes.

This is the exact vision that I've had for my centerpieces and I was discouraged thinking I couldn't afford to do this. Your blog has made this a reality for my wedding! Thank you!

Justin said...

Congratulations on the wedding! We're glad this post has helped you out, and thanks for letting us know! Mitsumata is a popular staple we've had for years and plan on having for years to come, and we rarely have any supply issues (sometimes we're out for a week or so). You certainly can order it now - you'd just need to store it in a dry place. That said, I'd recommend waiting until a month or two prior to the wedding to avoid having to deal with storing them and other hassles. Hope this helps!

Anonymous said...

Hi Justin thanks so much for your blog post! I had ordered branches online for my wedding reception and received them but have yet to get started, then found this post. I thought I read somewhere online about adding bleach to the water so that there's no mold. Do you have any input on that? I am afraid to! Also, once they're totally bone dry there shouldn't be a problem with mold, right? (they'll be sitting around for maybe 3 months) Really curious what you think, I'm nervous to start soaking them. I figure bleach wouldn't do anything to hurt them I suppose but honestly, I have no idea about this stuff!
Thanks again, let me know what you think about the bleach!
Marlene

Justin said...

I'd skip the bleach! To avoid mold or mildew problems, soak the branches, put them in a vase, and shape them. Allow the tops to dry and stiffen (8-12 hours probably), then take the branches out of the vase to allow the bases to air dry. If you don't take the branches out of the vase, and the bases sit in a little water at the bottom of the vase for a few days, that's when you might end up having some issues.

Let us know if you have any more questions!

Anonymous said...

How do I remove mildew if they have gotten wet? I borrowed some from a friend and they have mildew on the bottom. HELP!!

Justin said...

Now for removing mold that developed because they got wet and weren't allowed to quickly dry, I'd use some diluted bleach - and make sure they dry out afterwards!