ABINGDON, Va. — Lavender is believed to soothe just about anything that ails you, but, for Deanna Carey, the fragrant herb is a source of artistic creativity.
A member of Holston Mountain Artisans in Abingdon, Carey spent last Saturday showing visitors at the shop how to make lavender wands, decorative wand-shaped arrangements made from fresh, flowering lavender stems.
Lavender wands were made famous by Victorian women who devoted their time to weaving ribbon patterns into long-stemmed, fresh lavender flowers. Carey said her aromatic craft can be used in a variety of ways — slipped into dresser drawers, as hostess gifts, package add-ons, wedding and party favors and car scents.
If the scent begins to fade, gently roll the wand between the hands to revive the vibrant aroma, she advised.
“The Latin name of lavender is ‘lavare,’ which means ‘to wash,’” said Carey. Lavender flowers and lavender essential oil have been used since ancient times by the Romans, Persians, Greeks and Egyptians as a bath additive and perfume.
Carey became fascinated with the craft 30 years ago when her children brought home lavender wands they had made at a summer camp. Now that her children are grown, she has time to devote to the art form.
This time of year, Carey stays busy making the fragrant little bundles from the 20 Provence lavender plants she grows at her Gray, Tennessee, home. The artist estimated she’s made 125 wands this season. “Last year I made as many as 800,” she said.
Her work is sold at Rocky Mount Museum in Piney Flats, Tennessee, White’s Mill in Abingdon and Meadowview Farmers Guild General Store in Meadowview.
In addition to smelling good, lavender oil has many healing properties. As a natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory, the oil is believed to heal minor burns and bug bites. Some research suggests that it may be useful for treating anxiety, insomnia, depression and restlessness.
“The stems of the lavender plant even can be added to fish ponds to discourage algae growth,” said Carey.
Detailed instructions for making your own lavender wands (sometimes called lavender bottles) can be found at various sites online.