In my home, there is a designated space where collections of natural treasures are lovingly put on display for all to handle, admire, and explore. They seem to naturally rotate with the seasons, though it is not uncommon for many of these seasonally scavenged prizes to become quite sentimental.
I’ve found that we collect a particularly large cache of artifacts in the fall, as the bounty of fallen acorns, leaves, dried flowers, and the like blow from increasingly barren stems and branches. To linger in their beauty a while longer (and to avoid any tears as the season winds down and it’s time to purge our nature display), we’ve started making Scavenged Natural Materials Ornaments. It is a simple, enviro-friendly, kid-friendly way to recycle our homage to harvest into a beautiful reminder of the gifts of the earth as the world around us turns gray and barren.
Natural cord, twine, or heavy string (like sisal or jute twine, cotton cord, or wool yarn)
Scavenged objects* like fallen acorns, dried leaves, dried flowers, pine cones, sticks, etc.
Small hand drill (optional- we used a Dremel rotary tool to help make holes in some of the heavier objects that wouldn’t stay tied with string alone)
To begin, gather materials together in a space that can get a little dirty (especially if a kiddo or two are helping with this project — dried leaves and flowers can create quite a bit of ‘dust’). If you will be drilling holes in any of your found objects, you may choose to complete that step before little helpers join the process (and don’t forget to wear your safety glasses and gloves!).
Cut twine, yarn, or cord into 12” lengths, and secure one end of the cord with a small object (we used acorn caps and small sticks) using a slip knot. This will prevent other objects from slipping off the twine as they are threaded.
Next, fill each cord with assorted collected natural treasures of varying size, texture, and weight. Have fun with this part, as there is no wrong combination, and the more unique each one is, the better!
For heavier objects, we found that they hung best if there was a knot separating them from the lighter things (so for example, bunch of leaves, knot, big acorn, knot, dried flower…)
Leave the last 5” or so of twine at the top free of objects so you can tie a loop to hang your piece up on display!
This year, we will be adding one more step to this family project: We’ll be using these natural decorations to adorn our Yule Log at the Winter Solstice. For us, this project has so much beauty — in the materials used, the meditative work of putting the ornaments together, the conversations that spark from the process, and in the resolution as we come full circle with our treasures and give them back to the Earth.
May the beauty of the season be with you and your family, too!
*Note: During the collection of our scavenged objects, we are very careful not to take anything from a living plant. We also make sure the area we collect from is an area that is okay with the removal of natural objects. And finally we play it safe with plants we know and avoid bringing anything into our home that could be hazardous or poisonous! If you are unsure about a collected plant, play it safe, too — leave it behind!
Courtney Ware is a former social worker and community educator who now spends every day with her two kiddos at their home in Dallas, Texas. She blogs about her endeavor to provide a more handmade, seasonally-centered, natural environment for her family in her blog, The Family Ware.
Rhythm of the Home is an online magazine for families that focuses on creating with children, nature explorations, seasonal celebrations, conscious parenting, and mindfulness in all that we do.