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DIY Natural Home Décor: A Review of "Beautiful Winter"
DECORATIONS TO BRIGHTEN A BLEAK WINTER
Subtitled Holiday Wreaths, Garlands & Decorations for Your Home & Table, Edle Catharina Norman's Beautiful Winter provides instructions (with photos) for over 50 winter decorations made from organic materials, each one lovely enough to brighten a wintry world.
Norman uses organic materials such as twigs, vines, moss and fungi to create unique home décor that reflects the spirit and beauty of winter.
Beautiful Winter is a 2012 translation of the Norwegian edition first published in 2007: Vintervakkert-Kranser og Dekorasjoner (Beautiful Winter Flowers and Decorations).
Her projects call for natural finds like antlers, mistletoe, larch twigs, red twig dogwood stems, chubby pine boughs, birch bark, magnolia leaves and other materials native to Europe and North America. Store-bought flowers are minimally used in Norman's arrangements and always optional. Some of the projects also re-purpose common household items, like wine bottles and cast-iron cookware.
Norman suggests materials to collect—items like feathers, stones, pillow moss, beech husks and lichen—and offers tips for storing and extending the life of them.
She includes other practical information as well: how to pin found objects like mushrooms, pine cones and chestnuts into arrangements; how to soften branches to make them pliable; and how to tie them together. For those who are new to using natural materials for making wreaths, garlands and other home décor, these sections of Beautiful Winter are particularly helpful.
WHAT'S INSIDE "BEAUTIFUL WINTER"
Beautiful Winter has six chapters. The first, called "Wreaths," includes directions from making 11 of them, from a non-traditional wreath fashioned from bark and filled with lichen and roses to a traditional pine wreath adorned with cones.
A short chapter comprised of Advent DIY projects includes step-by-step instructions for five arrangements, including a charming bent-log candle holder and a hanging Advent wreath cum calendar.
The "Christmas Tree Ideas" chapter offers directions for making small trees with birch bark as well as pine cones. It also explains how to adorn conifers with live hyacinths, poinsettias and tulips, and how to make moss, lichen and pine cone balls, both on long stems for displaying like topiaries and with wires for hanging as ornaments.
Norman's projects are extremely budget friendly. Because I already had a glue gun, floral wire and an old wreath form, I spent nothing on the two projects that I made. Everything else came out of our yard!
The "Party Table Decorations" chapter contains 10 projects, including some of the most unique ones in Beautiful Winter: hawthorn twig "pillows" adorned with cyclamen flowers and Lenten roses; amaryllis trees with stick and rope vase bases; a horn flower holder; and an amazing contemporary table decoration comprised of twigs, chicken wire, tea lights and silk flowers.
Candlesticks & Vases
The projects in the "Candlesticks and Vases" chapter unite antlers, apples, empty wine bottles, rope and small candle holders with common found natural objects like twigs, conifer cones, bark, husks and winter vines and flowers for one-of-a-kind displays that strike just the right chord for a winter home.
Like "Party Table Decorations," the "Winter Decorations" chapter of Beautiful Winter provides directions for highly unique designs—11 in all. My favorites are Norman's twig globes, twig vases and stick flowerpots. A woven curtain comprised of amaryllis and twigs is another unique standout, and her simple persicaria stalk and ivy Star of David is also absolutely lovely.
USING "BEAUTIFUL WINTER"
Unfortunately for me, none of the materials that Norman uses in her arrangements (save red twig dogwood) grow in our yard, and nearby state parks prohibit collecting plant life.
Luckily, although Norman doesn't consistently recommend specific substitutes, finding comparable materials wasn't very difficult. For instance, in lieu of larch stems, I used forsythia switches; instead of mistletoe, Vinca minor; in place of chestnut husks, dried crape myrtle.
Another problem with the book? Norman's directions for attaching branches together are impossible to follow. They simply make no sense to me, and the one picture that accompanies the instructions is little help. (How does one use continuous floral wire and tie off the two ends each time branches join? I just don't get it.) Despite that, I really love Beautiful Winter. It's inspiring. Anyone who enjoys home decorating with found objects will enjoy this book.
Copyright © 2012 by The Dirt Farmer. All rights reserved.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The Dirt Farmer has been an active gardener for over 30 years.
She first began gardening as a child alongside her grandfather on her parents' farm. Together, they would plant acres of vegetables, setting tomato, eggplant and bell pepper plants; sowing row after row of beans, corn and squash; and building up mounds of soil for pumpkin, cantaloupe and potatoes.
Today, The Dirt Farmer gardens at home, volunteers at community gardens and continues to learn about gardening through the MD Master Gardener program.