Indoor Branches, Outdoor Inspiration

20 01 2013

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I did it again! I grabbed my camera and rushed outside. I had to capture the fading sunset reflecting off pink clouds draped behind bare, silhouetted trees. A hint of dusky fog rose sleepily from the horizon. I live near wetlands and have photographed those cottonwood, maple and oak trees many times. Whether passing by or peeking out my window, those trees always catch my eye. I pause to enjoy the view before capturing that moment permanently. Winter is no exception. Although they stand bare, their branches provide a dramatic foreground to hazy fog, azure skies, billowy clouds, vivid sunsets and rising moons. But, you know what? Bare, discarded branches from any tree are captivating indoors as well. There are endless projects to attempt using these free scraps of nature, but for now, I’ll share two that I have in my home this season.

Start by collecting already fallen branches and twigs, since we have an endless supply around our region.

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Branch Bouquets

I use a mix of vintage and modern glass containers upon a shelf. I place handfuls of twigs in a few, here and there, fighting my natural tendency toward symmetry. Some years, I put twigs in every receptacle. It mimics the bare trees and icy scene outside my window. Also, dropping some candles into certain glass containers cast woodland shadows along the wall. Love it!

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Branch Coasters

My new favorite this season is using cut branches for coasters. My kids actually get credit for this idea. Each has brought home wood pieces—or “chips” as they call it—from summer camps and outdoor school. They were nametags, but my kids removed the necklace strings and plopped them onto their dressers as coasters. (Yes, sometimes my nagging requests actually sink in and our furniture is better for it.)

Side note: My clever sister-in-law uses them as gift tags on packages—which we also repurpose into coasters with drippy-looking names blurred across one side!

So, I said it is my new favorite, because my sister-in-law made me some official branch coasters this season, which are used daily. Any type of saw can cut branches, but for a smooth surface, a band saw works well. I suggest getting a branch that is about 3 ½” – 4” wide and cutting it to make each coaster ½” thick. We don’t even stain or seal them. They’re great as-is, stacked on a table and ready for a beverage!

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