Monday, September 21, 2015

Nature Inspired Fall Crafts

According to the calendar it is still technically summer...until Wednesday that is, but the weather around here has started to change ever so slightly to offer the hint of fall in the air. With less weeding and garden chores that need to be done, I've had more time to work on some craft and DIY projects. Although the leaves have not really begun to change color yet, the trees are sporting some fall gems, and the approach of autumn has prompted me to incorporate natural elements into the things I have been working on.
The oak trees in our yard are dropping acorns, and since I was lucky enough to be able to gather some before the squirrels and chipmunks grabbed them all, I wanted to utilize them in some of my projects and in some seasonal decorating around the house as well. In previous years I learned the hard way, that you can't just sprinkle acorns around your home or crafts without running the risk of having some little "critters" emerge from the nuts, or even having the acorns grow some mold on the shells. I did a little research this year and learned that you can safely preserve acorns by drying them in the oven. Some sites also mentioned that freezing them would kill any worms or bugs inside the shells too, but since there were mixed reviews on the effectiveness of that method, I decided to opt for the drying technique.
Today I will share the way I preserved the acorns I am gathering daily and then one of the crafts I used them in. In some upcoming posts, I'll share some additional ways I've added them to projects and decorating.
If you are lucky enough to have some oak trees near where you live, gather your acorns and inspiration for some seasonal crafting. It is best to choose acorns that don't have any cracks or holes in them as this helps to assure that there are no insects inside. Wash the nuts with tap water to remove any dirt or debris and dry them with paper towels. Set your oven to 225 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread your gathered nuts on the tray and place them in the oven for at least 2 hours. Several of the methods I researched also suggested leaving the oven door open to allow moisture to escape, so I did this as well. Some of the sites I read indicated that there would be a somewhat foul smell as your acorns dried, but I have done several batches so far, and haven't noticed any odor coming from the oven.
The drying process can cause some of the acorn tops to separate from the base, but they can easily be reattached with a drop of hot glue. The acorns will change color slightly from the heat, and most of the green shells that I found turned brown during the process.
Now onto one of the crafts that I utilized my newly preserved natural elements in. I love candles, and the cooler fall weather makes me want to burn them even more to add an ambiance of warmth and coziness to our home. I enjoy many of the seasonal scents that Yankee Candle offers, but I must admit, I have never been a fan of the labels that are on their jar candles. I always felt they detracted somewhat from the decorative accent. In the past, I have tried removing the labels, but found it difficult, if not impossible to get them completely off, and there always seemed to be a residue that remained.
 Therefore, this year I decided to try covering them. Burlap has become a favorite medium of mine to use for sewing and crafting. It has a natural and rustic element that just seems to be perfect for this time of year, so I decided to incorporate it into this simple craft project. I took some burlap ribbon that I had purchased and wrapped it around the candle jar, securing it with some dabs of hot glue. I then took some rope that I had in my stash of craft supplies and wrapped it around the top and bottom of the jar, again securing with a dab of hot glue.
I liked the look, but my steadily growing stash of dried acorns was calling out to me, so I decided to make another candle where I incorporated the acorns as well as some fake fall leaves that were in my craft supplies as well.
Both candles have a more rustic look than the commercialized label don't you think? The burlap ribbon has a loose weave, so the glow from the burning candle is still able to add a warm ambiance to the room as well. To be extra cautious and safe, it is best to add these decorations to candles that have been burned down a little already, so that the flame remains safely inside the glass jar and away from the burlap and rope.
I also have several battery operated candles throughout our home, and decided that these could use a little seasonal decor as well. On these, I just folded the burlap ribbon in half and wrapped it around the body of the candle, securing the two ends to each other with hot glue. I did not glue the burlap to the candle itself, so it is not permanently attached and the ribbon can be easily slipped off so that the decorations can be changed for each season. I then tied some jute string around the burlap and glued on a few acorns.
My husband grew the little orange gourds from seed in our garden, and they now add a bright little bit of fall color to our seasonal decorating.
What are your favorite natural elements to incorporate into your fall decor? 
I'll be back later this week with some other craft projects I have been working on. I hope you are enjoying the change of seasons and all the natural elements that are unique to this time of year.


  1. Your candles are so pretty and the perfect way to cover those unattractive labels! Thank you for the acorn drying tutorial, too! I gathered some last fall and they all molded, so this is great! I like your table runner, too :) Hope you have a lovely week. x Karen

    1. Hi Karen. In the past few years, I'd get excited about decorating with the acorns I gathered from our yard,only to be disappointed when they became moldy or small worms would emerge from them. I was determined to find a way to preserve them as I just couldn't justify spending money on store bought acorns when they were readily available in our yard. I've used this technique on several batches so far this year, and they've been bug and mold free. As for the table runner, I made that too and plan on posting about that project soon, so I hope you'll check back. They're really easy to make and it's so much fun to create new ones with different fabric for each season or holiday. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment.

  2. Dorene,
    The candles look really cute! There are no acorns around here from Oak Trees but I found a bag of 20 acorns in 3 different colors that look quite natural in Bug Lots for $6.00. It was the last one left!! I have used them in my decorating.... Can't wait to see what else you do with the acorns.....

  3. Hi Deb,
    Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you were able to snag the last bag of acorns from the store as they're a great way to add some natural elements to your seasonal decorating. You always find such creative ways to add special touches to your home, so I'm sure you've come up with some fun ways to use them! Have a great week.