Monday, December 27, 2010

My favorite holiday decoration

I am a nut about holiday decorating magazines.  I buy them all, scouring for new ideas and clever innovations.  But, I must confess (somewhat immodestly) that my "snowflake" mantle is the best thing I've seen.  Photographing it is tricky, but I've tried.  These photos do not do it justice.

Let's begin with the stockings.  I knit stockings for my family years ago but the colors just didn't translate to this house once we moved in.  The knit stockings are bright cherry red, kelly green, etc.  They looked really horrid with the Early American color scheme here.  So, they are relegated to the trunk to be given to the boys once they leave home and have mantles of their own.  I knew I wanted a blue and ivory scheme for this house.  The boys' stockings and the dog's were made by me.  Ivory wool and hand-dyed blue wool (for my blue-eyed blonde, Andrew) plus the very coolest lining printed with little boy angels.  Honestly, when I found that fabric, I was elated.  Very funky Mexican print.  Love it.

Rowland's stocking has a toy soldier, Andrew's has a snowman, and Nate's has a red-nosed reindeer.  Lance (the dog) has a Christmas tree with dog bone ornaments.

Tom's stocking and mine were both won from our town's stocking contest.  Both are made by my good friend, Brigitte.  She does the most amazing Father Christmas figures and Tom's stocking has one of these.  Fur-trimmed, even.  My stocking is a collage of vintage lace.  When you put them all together, it is exactly the look I want.  Coordinated but not matching.

Now to the mantle.  I grow a lot (A LOT) of alliums in my yard.  They are deer-resistant, come up every year, and have a great, architectural shape for the garden.  But, most people cut them down once they've bloomed.  I took the dried seed heads and spray-painted them gold.  Now they are snowflakes!  Back-lit, they are amazing to look at.

Along with the alliums are some wire snowflakes picked up at Target or wherever.  In the photo above, the wire snowflake is to the left of the allium seed head.  Amazing how something natural and something man-made can work together.

All around the snowflakes and seed heads are crystal candlesticks of varying heights.  These came from thrift stores and Ebay.  I'm going to be looking for a few taller ones in the next year.  I think the mantle needs a bit more height.  On top of the candlesticks are inverted Christmas ornaments in shades of gold, silver, and amber.  The more glitter and shine, the better.  My favorite is a perfectly plain amber glass ball. 

To the sides are several birch bark trees.  Clearance sale from Wisteria catalog which has GREAT stuff.  I think these were 75% off when I bought them and they are just the thing.  They'd be equally at home in a rustic, natural setting or any other decor.  Bulky to store, though.
The final element is the cherub.  He doesn't show up so well but he makes the whole composition.  He's carved of wood.  My mom gave him to me when she was clearing out some decorations.  One of his toes has broken off, sadly.  I make a small swag out of evergreen branches to cover the nail and the wire holding him up.  At the center of the swag is a wire snowflake grabbed from a clearance table at a local design store.

The entire thing is placed on a single rope light and some glitter mesh fabric.  I love sitting in my knitting seat because the whole mantle is there for me to see as I work.  I almost hate to put it all away when the season is over.

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