Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Very Merry Beachy Tree

Ah...Christmas!  Time for red and green, tinsel and stars.  But wait--I didn't want a traditional tree this year!  I got to spend seven days in SW Florida a couple of weeks ago and came home inspired to decorate our little tree with a beachy vibe this year.  Ideas swirled in my head: starfish (properly called sea stars--did you know that?), sand dollars, painted shells, and various other beach related things--all the makings for a Florida-influenced holiday tree.  But, since I don't have a palm tree, I'll have to make do with a faux (a nice way to say fake!) evergreen.

Of course, projects were involved!

The tree needed a pearl garland.  Pearls come from oysters and there are always some oyster shells to be found on beaches.  Totally forgetting that there was a long strand of them in my Christmas bins, I pulled out some cheapo fake pearls I had in my jewelry-making stash and began to string them onto lightweight fishing line. About 9,000 pearls later I had a 9-ft. garland and I swagged it around the tree.

A couple of years ago, Mr. Bill and I went to North Carolina.  While there, we bought a boxed set of silver sea shell reproductions.  He and I disagree over where we were exactly when we found them--New Bern or Manteo on Roanoke Island.  They look as if they were cast in molds created by real shells--cockles, scallops, murexes, etc.  So, on to the beachy tree they went!

It needed more!  How about some starfish?  Check.  I had some real, but no longer living, pencil starfish that I bought, again, somewhere in North Carolina.  Also had some small starfish that I do not know the name of--some were white, some were turquoise.  How about some scallop shells painted turquoise, too?  Had the scallops, had the paint; just had to get the two together.  But before that, holes needed to be drilled so they could be hung.

A Dremel drill with a tiny bit took care of that.  Best to drill before painting.  After the paint was dry, they all got strung with more fishing line.

Smallish sand dollars that we gathered in Florida were also strung on the fishing line and were added to the tree.  Here's what it looked like when finished.

The tree skirt is a large woven, shallow, round water hyacinth tray.  I filled it with shells from Sanibel, Shell Key, Cayo Costa State Park, all of which (except for the channel whelks) were found by our son--he's a sheller, too!  The coral, the sand dollars and the larger pencil starfish are all impostors, but add a nice touch to the arrangement. The fishing net, which has never even seen the ocean, let alone caught anything, is draped around the tray to add a little more thematic material to the whole shebang.

coral, Atlantic giant cockles, paper fig,
Florida fighting conchs, channel whelks, and
one shark's eye

I wanted to have something beachy to put Christmas cards in.  Remembering a post by Susan, who blogs at Between Naps on the Porch, I finished up my version of her glass-lined candle holder (which I had started last summer!) and plopped the cards in it.  The blog issue with her project is here:


Seashell Craft Candle Holder

Here is my beachy card holder.

The living room mantel needed something, but I was running out of steam, so I settled on trees of various shapes and sizes and a string of shell lights.  They are real scallop shells glued on either side of Christmas lights.  I swagged them with some greenery and called it quits.  The lights were found last year at And That, aka Christmas Tree Shops, in Fredericksburg, VA.

In my last blog post, I said I would show you in the next issue how to dry the gourds used in your fall decorating.  Well, that did not happen.  If you still have them, just put them in a warm, dry place on some newspapers and leave them alone.  I have put them on top of my refrigerator and near our wood stove--neither one looks great, but it works.  Check on them every so often and toss any that are rotting.  When our walk-in attic gets warm in the spring, I move them up there to finish off the drying process.  I promise to show you how to paint them and make them look their original selves, or some variation thereof, but not until late August when people start thinking about fall decorating.

Hope everyone has had a very merry and happy Christmas!
Ruth Anne  

 I'm joining these Fab link parties:

Tweak It Tuesday   Cozy Little House    
The Scoop   Stone Gable      
Inspire Me Monday   Sand and Sisal           
Inspire Me Tuesday  A Stroll Thru Life
Wow Us Wednesdays   Savvy Southern Style

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