Nature produces all the most beautiful shapes and colors. I believe nothing that man can make will ever be as effortlessly beautiful as nature; therefore, why not use organic materials when decorating your living quarters? In this post, I am going to show you a few really, really easy ways that I have used objects found in nature to make home-made decorative treasures. All of these projects cost me virtually nothing–all you need to complete them is a little time and sunscreen!
First, dried flowers. A lot of people think of dried flowers and think of death and ugly brown. But not all flowers dry in a completely lifeless manner. Roses for example, keep a lot of their color and shape. As do lilacs, yarrow and lavender. If a flower is thin to begin with, you may want to dry it between the pages of a phone book, however, this will produce a flat result. I like to use hardier foliage, and either hang them up side down to dry, or, just toss them together in a brown paper bag for a week. The brown bag will suck the moisture right out of the flowers! While white flowers tend to turn brown or yellow, lightly-colored flowers retain a lot of their original color, and dark flowers tend to get a lot darker. You can use dried flowers for any number of things, but here I just put some red and yellow roses in a small bowl with lilac and miscellaneous dried petals for a cute table accent. You could also purfume these flowers and make potpourri.
Next we have a category that I am quite fond of because it means you get to go to the beach: shells in a jar!! Sounds pretty simple because it is. I went to the beach. I got some shells. I put them in a jar. That’s the short version, but I did actually take a few extra steps to make these jars look as good as possible. The first step is in my selection of shells. I tried to find all shells, small stones, and sea-glass that were all in the same color family. The beach is filled with rocks of every color, and putting just any rock in a jar doesn’t make the jar pretty; you have to think about it. I knew that I wanted all whites, blue, and gray, a very classic and beachy color combination. For this larger jar, I also selected larger rocks and shells. And how I put them in the jar is also important; the large ones go in first, at the bottom so that they don’t cover the smaller treasures. I arranged everything so that the prettiest side of the rock is facing outward, and I also tried to lean everything on the glass, and leave the most empty space, or the ugliest rocks (filler rocks) in the middle, since you don’t see much of them anyway.
Experiment with shell orientation for more interesting compositions. You can also add items other than shells to the jar to dress things up a little. For example, here I added an open-work ceramic necklace to the top of the jar. I actually used a muscle shell as a bowl to sit the necklace in so that it wouldn’t shift and fall in between any of the other rocks. This extra item provides a focal point and a little extra texture in the rope.
I placed my finished jar on a bookshelf with other sea-themed objects and colors.
Here is another type of bottle with another type of shell; In this one, only small shells would fit through the opening, and there was no way for me to position things just so, so I had to take it as they fell. I put a lot of periwinkle shells in this one, and small broken shells. I also added a few man-made colored resin faux gemstones for a touch of color. Once the items were all in the jar, I just shook it gently until I liked what I saw!!
The key in a bottle like this where only small items are being used and where they cannot be arranged, it to not use too many shells. filling this bottle would hide almost all of the treasures that you put inside!
Here is another example of only using a few shells in a small jar. A VERY USEFUL TRICK for making your shells look even more gorgeous is to finish them with a glossy top-coat to give them an eternal wet-look. You know how shells and sea rocks always look their best when wet? And no matter how many times you wash them you can’t get that dulling sea salt off?? Well, don’t fit the salt, just cover it up! I use an acrylic gel medium with a glossy finish to coat my shells and give them a pearly shine. Here’s how: I get use a plastic cup, and a cheap paint brush, and lay out my shells on a paper plate. I take a clump of acrylic gel medium with my brush and put it in the plastic cup. You only need about a silver-dollar’s worth to coat a whole plate of rocks. Then add a little bit of water, and mix. You just need enough water to thin the gel so it goes on transparent to clear and spreads easily. Spread the gel over the shells with your brush. If you’ve thinned the gel enough, you won’t leave brush marks, so you can be kind of sloppy. Let this coat dry completely. Then flip over your rocks. You may want to put down a piece of wax paper on top of your paper plate, under the rocks to prevent them from sticking to the plate. Otherwise paper bits could get stuck to the rocks. If this bothers you, go with some wax paper. Anyway, you’ve flipped your rocks, so now paint the other side with the gel and let dry. Your rocks should now be shiny and wet-looking. Apply as many coats as desired for an even glossier finish.
Here is a medium sized jar with an opening big enough for my to arrange the rocks in. It may look like I’ve only used small rocks and pieces of glass in this jar, but that is actually an illusion. There are larger rocks at the bottom and in the middle of the jar, holding up the smaller, more beautiful rocks. I used pebbles, broken shells, periwinkles, sea-glass, and coral in this jar. All of which were coated with one layer of gel medium to give them a slight shine.
Another natural material that I like to use in decorating (as well as meditation) is gemstones. Above is lucky purple quartz, fools gold, and red quartz.
You can use big and small stones, and even pair them with your shell-jars. Place your gemstone treasures on a mirror to double the look of your gems!!
Stone also look great next to single shells or colored ocean accents, like this baby star-fish. You can also place your colorful gemstones in bowls, on tables, book shelves, or on windowsills to reflect the sun-light. These polished and tumbled stones will cost you more than shells and flowers (which can be found for free) but they are not all that expensive, and are still from nature.
When you pair your natural elements with store-bought products such as mirrors, jars, candles, ceramics, and small furniture, you instantly add interest to the space, and create a sense of wealth, abundance, and creativity.