Thrifty Think­ing

Make like a squir­rel and gather your fill of na­ture’s bounty to fash­ion invit­ing au­tumn ac­cents for your home.

Country Sampler - - Contents -

Matthew Mead shares tips for mak­ing inventive au­tumn decor us­ing nuts in the shell.

Or­na­men­tal Orbs

Dec­o­ra­tive balls and spheres can be used to add va­ri­ety and tex­ture to bowls and trenchers. Make your own from whole hazel­nuts and wal­nuts. Ad­here the nuts to poly­styrene foam balls with hot glue. Cover the gaps be­tween the nuts with straw, moss or dried amaranth blos­soms. Choose dif­fer­ent poly­styrene shapes to cre­ate con­i­cal top­i­aries or balls in grad­u­ated sizes. Store the orbs in an air­tight con­tainer in a cool, dry place and re­use them from year to year. Sim­i­lar spheres can be cov­ered with dried beans, twine or pressed leaves.

Har­vest­time is the sea­son for hunt­ing and gath­er­ing, when fod­der for cre­at­ing strik­ing au­tumn ar­range­ments can eas­ily be found by for­ag­ing your back­yard or lo­cal farm stand. Grab a bas­ket and wan­der the woods in search of leaves, nuts and seed­pods, or visit a lo­cal pump­kin patch or mar­ket to pick up gourds and squash. These free or in­ex­pen­sive in­gre­di­ents can form the ba­sis of fes­tive tableaus to dress up ev­ery cor­ner of your home. All you need is a bit of inspiration to cre­ate your own bud­get­friendly fall decor.

Diminu­tive Dec­o­ra­tions

Some­times the most or­di­nary items can take on an en­chanted feel with just a few em­bel­lish­ments, such as these hum­ble wal­nuts trans­formed into pe­tite pumpkins and jack-o’-lanterns with a bit of paint and clay. Coat the wal­nut shells in shades of or­ange and cream us­ing acrylic craft paints. Cre­ate a stem for each pump­kin us­ing brown or green poly­mer clay. Bake the clay as di­rected by the man­u­fac­turer to cure it. Glue the clay stems atop the painted wal­nuts and let them dry overnight. To give the pumpkins a Hal­loween flair, simply draw on a jack-o’-lantern face with a black per­ma­nent marker. Make enough wal­nut pumpkins or jack-o’lanterns to fill a small bowl, shal­low dish or teacups, plac­ing them atop a bed of dried grass, if de­sired, or dis­play them in­di­vid­u­ally on top of har­vest-hued candy in clear vo­tive cups.

Wreathed in Wal­nuts

Sep­a­rately or mixed to­gether, wal­nuts and acorns make a tex­tured and nearly ev­er­last­ing wreath for fall. Wrap a poly­styrene wreath form with rib­bon and then hot glue wal­nuts around the rib­bon-cov­ered form, work­ing from the in­side to the out­side of the wreath shape and vary­ing the po­si­tion of the wal­nuts. Fill in be­tween the wal­nuts with moss and sprigs of dried herbs or green­ery. Top it off with a rib­bon hanger and a small spray of bit­ter­sweet.

Gar­den Greet­ing

Dried bot­tle gourds come in var­ied shapes and sizes and will last from year to year. Per­fect for perch­ing in a terra-cotta pot, these shapely fruits can be adorned with pat­terns or let­ter­ing to form the cen­ter­piece of a dis­play. Se­lect a sea­sonal de­cal from the crafts store for a sin­gu­lar gourd, or ap­ply num­ber or let­ter de­cals to spell out a word or ad­dress on a group of gourds. Or, follow our lead and cut shapes from black craft tape to cre­ate a stick-on jack-o’-lantern guise.

Ce­les­tial Abun­dance

Doors and win­dows are por­tals to the out­side world, so why not adorn them with a sin­gle nut­trimmed star or a whole “con­stel­la­tion” of them? Make or pur­chase a star­shaped twig ac­cent in one or sev­eral sizes. Cre­ate a sym­met­ri­cal pat­tern with items such as wal­nuts, acorns, poppy pods, berries and dried flow­ers, and ad­here them to the star with hot glue. At­tach a rib­bon and hang the piece from a nail, door­knob or win­dow latch. To save this star at­trac­tion for fu­ture use, wrap it in tis­sue pa­per and store in an air­tight con­tainer.

Pil­lar Filler

Trans­form a cylin­dri­cal glass vase into a har­vest can­dle­holder by adding a can­dle (choose a bat­tery-pow­ered can­dle for safety) and ar­rang­ing pressed leaves, painted wal­nut pumpkins and clipped berry sprigs around the can­dle base. Make mul­ti­ples for a man­tel or long buf­fet ta­ble.

Pan-Tas­tic Cen­ter­piece

Coun­try col­lectibles mix nicely with nat­u­ral fall el­e­ments such as nuts, berries and gourds. Thanks to their rich color and tex­ture, yel­lowware, treen­ware, crock­ery, red­ware and gal­va­nized pieces are some of the best items on which to build an au­tumn vi­gnette. To make a long-last­ing sea­sonal ar­range­ment, pile a shal­low yel­lowware milk pan with a mix of jute-wrapped balls, gourds, wal­nuts, pressed leaves and dried berries. In­cor­po­rate mul­ti­ple styles of dried botan­i­cals, or keep it sim­ple with just a hand­ful of a sin­gu­lar ma­te­rial.

Matthew Mead is a life­style guru whose up­cy­cling ideas make ex­cel­lent use of items you al­ready have or can find eas­ily at thrift stores and flea mar­kets. He is a pho­tog­ra­pher, stylist and au­thor. Follow his work and up­com­ing projects at www.hol­i­day­with­matthew mead.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ matthew.mead.37.

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