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While waiting for the outdoor signs and wonders of winter’s coming, inside we have been making other preparations for the season upon us.  The craft project that grew most naturally from our surroundings came about when we were hiking one day, and the kids discovered dried seed pods and seed caps littering the ground under a Eucalyptus tree.

seed collecting in November

They came home with full pockets and big plans to use the seed pods to make little people, like a set of three we already had, souvenirs from a friend’s trip to Germany.

Besides the Eucalyptus pods, we needed acorn caps, and found plenty in our neighborhood.  After looking over our original set, which consists of a tiny king, queen, and knight, I found the other supplies at a craft store and in my own stash to complete similar figures –colored felts, unfinished wooden beads, and varicolored yarn.  Here are some pictures of the first attempts:

the originals with extra knights, squires, and a lady

Each of my kids painted and assembled a little figure with some glue and detail help from me, and while they worked planned the hordes of knights yet to come.  That first blast of creative energy was put on hold until a later date, and our acorn crew found its way to a shelf for the meantime.

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Flash-forward to Thanksgiving and my cousin Margie.  Margie took one look at our little acorn friends and said, “That would be a great way to make a Nativity Scene!”  Put Margie’s enthusiasm together with a crafting Saturday afternoon at my house before Christmas, and you get these:

Margie

Margie's kings from the land of Acorns

Margie paints a star

T across the table

acorn baby in a walnut manger

Margie's second Nativity

Kelly's Mary, in blue, and another king

The best thing about this project was that the found materials inspired us, suggesting by their very shapes what they might become.  Each small figure was different from the others, and full of spirit.  By the end of the afternoon, the crowd of acorn folk made quite a gathering!  As the creative juices got flowing, so did that certain Christmas feeling, and with it good fun, and so Margie and I agreed to make a habit of these cousins’ crafting sessions.

peeking through the crowd

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On my own, my hands have busied themselves with Christmas creations of the ornament kind, every night as part of winding down after the kids are in bed.   A little bit of paper cutting, folding, and twisting makes these…

paper ornaments

and there will be more where these came from as I try out different papers and expand on the basic structures.

And finally, in a more free-form, experimental direction, I’ve been bending wire birds…

wire in hand

beaded bird

Visions of mobiles and flying sculptures have been dancing in my head for weeks,  and I think I’m on to something with these paper and wire pieces.  Just the thing to wing me into the new year…  stay tuned!

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*A post meant for before Christmas!

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