Article Type Making Art Together Making Art Together Categories Nature Sculpture Theory and Resources

Make Your Own Stick Alphabet

Diana MacKenzie

It’s amazing how twenty-six little letters are all you need to make thousands of words in the English language! The current exhibition here at The Carle, The Art of Eric Carle: From A to Z, is making us think a lot about the alphabet. We decided to decorate the Art Studio with our own letters to display on the back wall…made of twigs! Follow the directions below to make your own alphabet at home or for your classroom.

Materials you will need:

  • A variety of branches and twigs in different lengths and thicknesses
  • Pruning shears
  • Twine
  • Hot glue gun
  • Pencil or marker and sheets of copy paper
  • Rubber bands and round objects like a jug or rolls of packing tape (for making round letters)

First, collect your branches and twigs from outside. We preferred fresh cut “green” branches that still had a lot of flexibility, but use what you have access to! Clean up your branches, removing leaves and extra shoots. Or, look at how you could use a funny curve or intersection to your advantage for a letter in your alphabet.

To make sure our alphabet letters were about the same size, we drew letter templates on copy paper and made sure they were all about 6-inches on their tallest point, and no wider than about 5-inches. If you desire an alphabet that is all different sizes, skip this step.

Next, use your template (or free-hand) your letters and cut the twigs to size using a good pair of shears. Scissors are not safe to use for this project since they are not intended for cutting wood.

With a hot glue gun, tack your letter together at each joint.

Then, tack a piece of twine in place with hot glue at the back of the letter. Wrap the twine around each joint of the letter and tack the end of the twine with hot glue again on the back to keep it in place.

For curved letters like “S,” “O,” “Q,” and “U” we wrapped flexible “green” twigs around various-sized round objects and wrapping them in place with rubber bands. 

A gallon jug of glue was the perfect size for “O”and “Q,” and small spools left over from packing tape were the perfect size for wrapping the “S” and “U.”  Leave the letters wrapped around the objects for as long as you can. We left ours for two weeks. The fresh twigs will dry in place during that time and stay bent in a curved position. If you don’t have access to “green” twigs, try soaking some older twigs in water to make them soft before wrapping them.

Thanks to Rebekah Buettner and Katie Welles for helping me construct the letters, hang them and document the process for this post.

Our idea was inspired by this beautiful mini twig and vine alphabet found here, via Pinterest.

For more letter ideas, check out this fun Typography and Alphabets board on Pinterest and be sure to visit The Art of Eric Carle: From A to Z here at The Carle through February 21, 2016.


Diana, smiling wearing an orange scarf and brown shirt.

Diana MacKenzie

Public Art Program Educator from 2007-2016, Diana has a BFA in Printmaking from Syracuse University and creates mixed-media works inspired by her travels, combining her interests in printmaking and sculpture. She received her M.A.T. from Mount Holyoke College in June 2017, and continues teaching visual arts to children and adults.