Shells in Christmas Decorations

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

~

Sea shells may not seem like a traditional Christmas decoration, but they certainly can be lovely ones.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 153

~

Shells are commonplace for those of us who live near the coast; especially those shells left from a meal of oysters, clams, or scallops.  These wreathes on display now in Colonial Williamsburg feature shells as an important part of their design.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 151

~

We’ve probably all seen scallop shells transformed into angelic tree ornaments and white starfish hung from ribbons.  The della robbia wreathes at Colonial Williamsburg incorporate many surprising and commonplace materials, including shells, dried flowers, fruits, vegetables, vines, cotton, seed pods, nuts, cones and berries, as well as evergreen stems and leaves.

~

This wreath hangs at Chowning's Tavern, in Colonial Williamsburg.

This wreath hangs at Chowning’s Tavern, in Colonial Williamsburg.

~

These are unusual and playful decorations for the Christmas season.

~

December 15, 2015 vase 001

~

I used shells and pearls in  decorations for a ladies’ luncheon earlier today.

My ‘vase’ held branches pruned from our Mountain Laurel shrubs, dusted with gold; ‘flowers’ made from Lotus pods; white seashells; and sprays of fresh Magnolia.

~

December 15, 2015 vase 004

~

Carved wooden birds perched in the branches of the arrangement.  Several of the small Christmas trees on the tables were made entirely from shells and pearls.

~

December 15, 2015 vase 006

~

Christmas decorating is far more fun when we can take a light and playful attitude. It is fine to change things out a bit year to year, trying out new ideas and revising old ones.

~

Another Colonial Williamsburg wreath.

Another Colonial Williamsburg wreath.

~

This is especially true in the fabulous wreathes which come from the  CW workshops each year.   Walking the old city streets each December is an adventure, as new and creative designs manifest year after year.

~

December 13, 2015 CW 017

~

Woodland Gnome 2015

Advertisements

Christmas Tree Topiaries

December 7, 2015 trees 028

~

This year I’ve been inspired to make tabletop topiary Christmas trees.

~

December 7, 2015 trees 030

~

A few friends and I are hosting a Christmas luncheon next week.  I wanted to make a small Christmas tree for each dining table, and also some for the buffet tables.

It seemed like a fairly easy project as I dreamed it up…

~

December 7, 2015 trees 001

~

After several days of research, studying photos online and visiting Sharon’s beautiful Crafts ‘n Coffee blog a few dozen times; I was ready to begin assembling the materials.

After looking at many different topiary trees, constructed from various materials, I finally had a few basic ideas for tree designs.

People can be incredibly creative!   There are so many ways people have designed topiary Christmas trees from simple Styrofoam cones!

~

December 7, 2015 trees 019

~

Choosing ribbon for the first set of topiaries helped establish the color scheme: soft greens and a golden cream.  I found a coordinating sueded fabric to use with the shell trees.

All four of these designs are enormously simple to make.  Tracking down the materials was the most challenging part of the project.

~

December 7, 2015 trees 014

~

All begin with a Styrofoam tree form and a square wooden base purchased at the crafts store.  The ribbon trees were made entirely by attaching ribbon to the form with straight pins, then embellishing the trees with glass beads and pearl topped straight pins.  The tiny birds are actually metal beads.

~

December 7, 2015 trees 012

~

The shell trees were assembled on a fabric covered Styrofoam base.  The shells were hot glued into place, then the trees finished with shells and freshwater pearls, attached with pearl headed pins.

~

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

~

Many shells can be found pre-drilled and strung, wherever strings of beads are sold.  Most shells come rather dull when found on the beach or purchased in bulk. 

~

December 7, 2015 trees 029

~

I polished these with a cotton swab dipped in pure mineral oil to bring out the colors of the shells.

~

December 7, 2015 trees 024

~

Finally, the wooden trees were the most interesting to assemble.

There are five different sizes and cuts of wooden sticks, found at several different craft stores, in addition to bamboo skewers from the kitchen.  I’ve added sheet moss to the undersides of the Styrofoam cones and to the wooden base for these trees.

~

December 7, 2015 trees 009

~

A ‘trunk’ is made by gluing broken sticks into the base of the cone in a roughly round pattern; about 1.5″ in diameter.  Glued to the styrofoam and to the wooden base, this makes a fairly sturdy foundation for building the trees, which are quite heavy.

~

December 7, 2015 trees 002

~

A friend made the miniature gnomes and rabbit for me a while ago.  They originally lived in a ‘fairy garden’ amid some shade loving plants.  Now they will live under these trees.  The larger gnome, and the mushrooms, came from the craft store.

~

December 7, 2015 trees 007

~

Interestingly, each tree came out differently. The wooden sticks are glued both to the Styrofoam, and to each other.  Larger sticks can be broken, and both ends used.  so long as the rough edges are covered by another stick, construction continues.  The bamboo skewers help cover gaps and holes.

The largest tree was constructed over two days.  I ran out of wooden sticks and had to finish after a shopping trip the following day.  I can see a difference in style from each session working with the trees.

~

December 7, 2015 trees 005

~

I hope these little trees inspire you to try something new this holiday season.

The shell trees are on our mantle at the moment; the other trees on the buffet in the dining room.  Since we start late with decorating here, these are bringing a little holiday joy to our home as they await their day at the luncheon.

Since we don’t truly need nine topiaries, we’ll find new homes for most of these after the luncheon next week.

~

December 7, 2015 trees 022~

I enjoyed working on these topiaries and learning some new techniques.  And, I”m still inspired by the fascinating photos of others’ trees discovered in my search.

There are free form driftwood trees, trees made with Cinnamon sticks, button trees, scrap fabric trees and trees covered in shiny glass balls…

Please do visit Sharon if you enjoy making things with your hands.  She has some wonderful designs, and offers clear and easy to follow instructions for her projects.

I appreciate the inspiration and guidance she offered as I was exploring ideas for this project.

~

December 7, 2015 trees 025

~

It always surprises me how much cheer a little Christmas decoration can bring as we descend into winter and the short dark days of December.

Whatever we can do to brighten the world for ourselves and for others is a good thing, I believe.

And I hope these little trees end up making the season a bit brighter for you and for all who see them.

~

December 7, 2015 trees 006

~

Woodland Gnome 2015

 

A Forest Garden 2016 calendar is available now.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 654 other followers

Follow Forest Garden on WordPress.com
Order Classic Caladiums

This Month’s Posts

Topics of Interest