Friday, December 14, 2007

Icy Days and Cosy Crafts

We've had some wild weather around here this December. The other day, I braved life, limb, and automobile to take these photos for you, my dear blog readers. It truly was a winter wonderland. Everything was covered with a thick layer of ice (including the roads).

If you look closely, you'll see some coyote tracks heading out over the snow. It was the middle of the day but it sure was gray.


These rose hips were the only bit of color.



I loved how these birch branches look against the cloudy sky.


Our Christmas crafting is continuing. Being in our cosy house at this time of year with a wood fire in the furnace and snow outside feels so safe. Given the success of Julia's gingerbread house, I think this is the year she may be able to make some little gifts for her teachers. I've stocked up on glue (both Elmer's and hot glue), lots of glitter and lots of found natural materials including birch bark.

So about my new obsession with birch bark..... You didn't know about it, did you? It started with a visit to my sister Nancy at Thanksgiving. She showed me some terracotta pots she had covered with birch bark and then filled with paperwhite bulbs. I thought to myself - perfect teacher gift - cheap and thoughtful. Then the December issue of House Beautiful arrived and I fell in love with this room.


The home featured is in the Adirondacks and has so many amazing, handcrafted details. The walls and furniture in this sweet bedroom were covered in birch bark. I am crazy over this, even if it does lack color - but the texture was amazing. Buy this issue if you are at all interested - it will be off the newstands soon.


Out we went to scavenge the woods for fallen birch trees. I found some big ones and stripped the bark as Julia watched. Then we collected pine cones, lichen, moss and whatever else looked good and wasn't covered with snow. At the grocery store, I snagged lots of little boxes destined for the trash. Hot glue gun in hand, I built several little houses.

I used the different layers of birch bark for the siding. Julia's job was to coat each roof with liquid glue and then go crazy with the clear glitter. She had a blast. We added some more glitter to the windows to resemble ice and glued on some little pinecones and moss. Here they are - sweet, yes? No box is safe now and the glitter will probably remain in the floor cracks until the next century.


19 comments:

maymomvt (or Sarah) said...

Those are fabulous! I am going to try to make some next year--there's too much snow here now to get to the fallen trees. My SIL is the designer for Winston Flowers. She gathered a carload of our birch bark and did all the Winston windows. I can't wait to see them.

I worry about this new fashion of decorating with birch bark though. I heard of a man in Vermont who discovered an entire birch grove on his land stripped of bark. I wonder where all the bark comes from that appears in the catalogs...

coffeechris said...

Thank you for the beautiful nature eye candy - I am blown over by birch myself. We vacation each year in Northern Wisconsin with tall pines and birch trees. I love harvesting the bark from fallen trees and collecting pinecones. Have also made journal covers, picture frames, wrap clear vases and candle holders. Oh yeah, then there is ornaments from slices of trunk with hole and ribbon (emblelish anyway that moves you) Julia might like to try those ideas. Guess glitter is the new faux nature bling representing ice and snow, ha. Love your blog and am awaiting Santa bring me Kristin Knits under the tree, I have been a good girl.
Bountiful Birch Barking.

Alissa said...

Oh my goodness, so wonderful. I did notice that Whole Foods is selling crates of beautiful birch firewood. I can't imagine burning it, but it might be a good, sustainable source for urban crafters. I think I will head over there today and try making the ornaments coffeechris mentioned.

Love your book! Looking forward to receiving it.

Kristin Nicholas said...

Here's another interesting link for birch bark supplies.

http://www.barkcanoe.com/materials.htm

Mama Urchin said...

I love birch bark too. It's just so interesting.

kat coyle said...

great project! i love it when glitter gets all over the place.

Laurel said...

Oh, the little houses are too sweet for words! And I love your photographs -- your eye for things that most people would walk right past never ceases to amaze me.

Gretchen said...

Yes, the glitter will be in your house 'til the next century. . . just like the pine needles in my car and front hallway.

Merry Christmas!

Peg-woolinmysoup said...

Julia, you and Mom did a terrific job on those houses! They look so perfect sitting there on the icy surface!

Becky said...

The houses are wonderful! The gingerbread house we are going to build tonight just won't compare. My kids won't know, though!

Thanks for sharing your creativity. We have a river birches in our suburban, TN back yard. The bark flakes off. I never thought of using it in a creative manner. I just finished making our cards. You may have sparked an idea for next year...

Anonymous said...

I really, really love these!

:) laura

Anonymous said...

I love, love, love the houses. Thanks for the idea!

-- Grace in MA

beentsy said...

The birch branches and rosehips are magical.

Lisa W said...

I love the rosehips and enjoy hearing about your adventures with your daughter. Well done Julia!

ellen said...

Oh, what fun and what magical little houses. Good job to both of you.
Glitter does have a life of its own. When I taught kindergarten, I would find glitter in my shoes (it never came out) and I even found it once in my pants!
Thanks for the gorgeous photos.

mathea said...

What a great idea! Your little houses look wonderful, and it is so good to have projects you can collaborate on, isn't it?
I'm glad to hear you only used bark from fallen trees though :-)

knititch said...

they look great. i would love to be the teacher receiving those little houses. and the birch bark is a great material. i also love your wintery pictures. glad that there is another winter than the bleak one we have her 8 months a year.

knittingiris said...

Oh, gosh, Kristin. I have to wonder if we are not kindred spirits.
I made a fairy house similar to yours for a good friend several years ago. I cobbled together the base from scrap lumber in C's shop and then hot glued birch bark on the outside, lined the interior floor with dried lavender blossoms, made a bed and window frames from red twigged dogwood, "tiled" the roof with disassembled pine cones, outfitted the bed with a pussy willow coverlet, and so, so many more details, I don't even remember them all.
Then, I snuck into her AWESOME garden where everything grows to Alice in Wonderland gargantuan proportions, and placed it under a leaf of her big-as-the-bed-of-a-truck rhubarb plant, left for her to discover on her own.
She, in turn, snuck it into the county fair that year under my name, and then she made and supplied the fairies to live inside it and placed it in the crook of a two-trunked birch tree in her yard. It's been worn away to nothing over the years by the elements, but if she or I find any pictures of it, I'll be sure to blog about it someday.
It was a big project despite its small size but was just so much fun to make (as you already know).
Many of the ideas behind making and embellishing it were also from several magazine articles and pictures, a few similar to the ones you show here.
I love the idea of adding lots of glitter and what fun, fun way for you two to work together on your houses. We've had our share of glitter spills here today, too. And I distinctly remember the day we brought glitter into our lives and our home for the very first time about 5 years ago, I'd guess, and realizing at that very moment of opening the jar, that our house would never, ever be the same again.
I have to imagine, in your house, that there is some very old glass glitter deep down in the cracks in the floor somewhere, don't you think?
The icy winter pics here are stunning, too. Love those icy birch branches. Glad you're safely back and cozy at home.

Master of the Girlie Arts said...

Once you make the decision to bring glitter into your home, you've made the commitment.