- Arts and Design
Decorating with Nature, leaves, branches, and such
Wow, fall came on us all too soon this year and with the economy so, well, difficult, decorating for the fall season can be expensive. The following are some tips for you to decorate your home for the fall season using nature, and without spending an arm and a leg for it. These things can be done with the kids for a fun afternoon, or just yourself for decorating your home.
The fall leaves are beautiful this time of year and many of us would like to have them in our homes. However, leaves tend to turn brown shortly after they fall from the tree. If you like to use leaves in your decorating, here are a few ideas:
1} Take the kids on a hike through the woods, down the street, in the park, anywhere that might have different types and colors of leaves. Bring a basket or large handled bag with you. Gather leaves that are unusual in color, size, and shape. Try to get leaves that are not too badly torn or browned. Be sure to remove any extra baggage the leaf might be carrying such as bugs or dirt. Place all the gathered leaves in your container (be careful not to crush them) and bring them back to the house.
- For leaves that you would like to display in center pieces or just around the house, purchase a can of matte acrylic spray. Spray one side of the leaf (be sure to be outside or in a WELL-ventilated area and try not to get the spray on furniture, skin, or clothes) and let it dry completely (usually overnight) before spraying the other side. You can set the leaf on a glass plate or waxed paper to dry. Once dry, be careful not to bend or tear the leaf as it will soon brown if you do.
- For a fun leaf collage, tear off a large sheet of waxed paper and set it on a dry flat surface, wax side up. Have the children (or yourself) set the leaves on the paper in any desired design (be sure that the edges do not have any leaf parts or the collage will not seal and protect the leaves). Place a second sheet of waxed paper over the leaves wax side down (be sure the sides are even and there is nothing in the inch or so of waxed paper along the sides), place a dish towel or thin piece of cloth over the waxed paper and iron with a warm (med heat) iron without steam. Move the iron gently over the collage several times to ensure that the wax is melted together. Remove the cloth and let cool before lifting. This can be framed, or hung as is for a truly unique decoration.
Using branches for decoration can be fun and aromatic, but you must be very careful when using them.
1} Gather the types of branches you wish to use in your decorating from your garden, forest, park, etc. Be aware that sometimes it is best for you to use branches that have already fallen or are about to fall as it might be difficult to explain to a police officer why you are up in a park tree cutting off the branches. Evergreens are best for use in fall decorating, many of them have red berries that are great for added color (but don’t let anyone eat them including the pets). Once you get them home, there are a few ways you can use them:
- Use as is when you get home with them, but be careful because the needles will be delicate and might fall off if used roughly, also spray the cut section with acrylic spray or paint with oil based paint to help keep the moisture inside the branch longer. You can tie them cut ends together for a spray, stick into vases for added color and scent, or drape around candles (be careful to keep the needles and wood away from the flame).
- Carefully cut a small portion off of the part of the branch that was attached to the tree using a sharp knife or pair of scissors, then arrange the branches in a vase of warm water. Check often to ensure the branches always have water so that they don’t dry out. Unfortunately, these branches die out eventually and you can tell when they have had it when most of the needles have fallen off. (Needles will fall off of the branches naturally so don’t automatically assume its dead if a few needles fall each day). You can add flowers, leaves, branches with berries, whatever you like.
- Carefully spray each branch with matte acrylic (as explained above with the leaves) and allow it to dry completely. Be sure that the entire branch has been sprayed including the bark. Once dry you can wire them together in shapes (wreath, heart, spray, etc) using floral wire (the green will hide better) and then decorate with tiny ornaments, dried nuts or berries, or just a fall ribbon. You could even attach some of your leaves, if you like. Note: this method will block the scent of the branches.
Using Pine Cones
Pine cones are also a great item for decorating (warning: pine cones often have microscopic bugs and bacteria, wash hands often when handling natural pine cones and be sure to spray with acrylic spray coating all nooks before using).
- pine cones can be painted and/or sprinkled with glitter for a great ornament
- pine cones can be scented with scent spray and displayed with leaves, dried berries or fruit
- pine cones can be glued to plastic circles or tied to floral foam to make centerpieces for tables or candle holders
© 2011 Cheryl Simonds