Make like a squirrel and gather your fill of nature’s bounty to fashion inviting autumn accents for your home.
Matthew Mead shares tips for making inventive autumn decor using nuts in the shell.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.