Special occasion? Here’s a great way to create stunning table decorations and room displays to make a dramatic, unusual design statement. How? Using free stuff from out in the wild.
The natural world is packed full of gorgeous materials. Smoothed beach or river pebbles look fairly dull until you wet them, at which point the colours shine through. Others are sparkly in candlelight; rocks like gneiss and granite are full of mica which sparkles like glitter. Collect them together, varnish them using a small kitchen sponge dipped in any old household varnish, arrange them in a large glass or pottery bowl and stand a candle – or group of candles – in the centre. Beautiful.
Dried flowers and seeds heads are also lovely. Forget hothouse flowers. Pop out into your nearest country lane, brownfield site or piece of wasteland and pick teasles, thistles, wild grasses and so on. Arrange them in a tall vase. Tie them with a lush velvet ribbon for extra design oomph or spray with gold or silver spray paint. Don’t pick everything in your path, leave some so they’ll seed and produce another crop next year.
Wood is also an amazingly attractive decorative material. Look for an old tangled root, scour your nearest beach for fragments of sea-smoothed driftwood or pick an unusual, twisty or knotty branch and create a minimalist Japanese- style decoration for your table or living room. Paint it white or cream with ordinary household emulsion if you like. Stand it in a terra cotta plant pot and keep it in place with glass pebbles, chunks of stone, pea shingle or gravel.
If you’re of a spooky or Gothic persuasion, gather together a load of old bones. A walk in the countryside often delivers sheep bones, rabbit bones and owl pellets full of tiny mouse, shrew and bird skulls. If they’re a bit grotty, stick them in a bowl with a mix of water and household bleach and leave them overnight. They’ll be spotlessly clean in the morning. Small bones dissolve in bleach so take little skulls and bones out as soon as they’re clean. Arrange them in an unusual bowl or a tall glass pasta jar, add a candle and voila, a slightly disturbing but visually exciting centrepiece!