If you’re the creative sort, you not only enjoy setting an inviting table, you probably like creating something pretty for it, too.
We are each blessed with some sort of creativity. I like creating with my hands and my camera lens.
Sunday was one of those days when nature’s bounty, creativity, a special gift, and beautiful weather all converged at the same moment. It was an amazing few hours.
I had so much fun setting the table and photographing it. My husband, who so graciously went with me to the park to lend a hand, kept hearing me talk about what a perfect day it was.
When I got home I downloaded my photos. I pulled them up to view on my laptop only to discover they were all mixed up. It made my head spin. It was if all the photos had been dumped on the floor and randomly picked up and shoved into their slots. At first I thought my photo shoot was awful. But, this morning, they looked much better, in spite of their randomness.
I realized as I was looking at all my photos randomly coming up on the screen that I wasn’t just sharing a pretty table with you. I’m sharing my art with you. This tablescape was not quickly put together. In fact, it took a ridiculous amount of time to create. Mother Nature had been so uncooperative that I just never managed to have good light on the right days. But… there was something special about that delay. The longer it took, the more time I had to re-evaluate what I was going to do. And in the end, I’m more than pleased.
That’s the thing about art. It evolves. Sometimes the best art happens in mere moments. Other times… it requires simmering. It takes time for thoughts and ideas to meld together. It takes time for us to see the beauty around us and realize we have everything we need right at our fingertips. The leaves and the acorns I used in the tablescape are so everyday and ordinary it’s easy to forget all about them. How many times do we take a trip to the store, when we really need to take a stroll through the park or backyard?
Those of you who are regular readers on the blog know that I LOVE creating with natural elements. Nothing makes my heart sing like found beauty from the garden, meadow, woods, or roadside. Having a table filled with gatherings can be pretty challenging too. Hmmm… What do I make with all this stuff?
Sometimes it takes me a while to figure it out. Sometimes it comes easily. Often it takes quiet and thought and a little dreaming for the vision to come. This time it was worth all the wait. And the perfect day was the icing on the cake.
Earlier this summer I received a very special birthday gift.
My good friend and I got together after not seeing each other in a very long time. We spent the day thrift store hoping in between breakfast, lunch, and supper. What a great day we had traveling from one small town to the next. At one of our stops I spied a set of dishes. Now I need to tell you I have a thing for dishes. Whenever I’m out browsing a thrift shop, etc., I always look at dishes. And dish towels…but that’s a story for another time. For the last few years, I’ve been drawn to brown transferware dishes. I have flow blue china and red Staffordshire that I inherited and plenty of Woven Traditions by Longaberger that has either a blue or red pattern, but nothing neutral or brown.
Several years ago, I picked up a brown transferware gravy boat and saucer from a thrift shop and later a chipped pheasant plate from an English maker on heavy discount at “T.J.” My heart would sing as I created vignettes with those pieces. So when I spied this unusual set at the thrift store I was totally enamored.
I fell in love with Johnson Bros.’ “Old Granite” brown and white Staffordshire. It’s called “Fruit Sampler.” I have done some needlepoint and embroidery and crewel in the past and the pattern encircling the dishes is a take-off on an old sampler. The fruits on my set are pears, apples, and pineapples… in varying shades of red, yellow, and green.
It was not a complete set by any means. There were 8 dessert bowls, 7 cereal bowls, 7 teacups, 8 saucers, 1 round serving bowl, 1 covered serving bowl, 1 sugar bowl with lid, and 1 rectangular platter. This incomplete set did not contain any bread plates, luncheon plates, or dinner plates. And it was beautiful to me. So much so, I took a few pictures to remember in hopes that maybe, someday, I would see that pattern again.
And then my friend said… “I know your birthday isn’t for another month, but let me buy it for you now, as an early birthday gift.” I tried to say, “No.” But she was persuasive and I was a knobbly kneed over the dishes… so they came home with me.
Several weeks later my friend and I got together again. We met for lunch and then took off to see if we could find some plates that would work with the rest of the dishes. Open to all kinds of possibilities, we stopped at a Pier 1 shop. You know how you aren’t really expecting to find anything, but always hoping that you just might run into the perfect something? We ended up in the back of the store, rummaging through the clearance items. We had things pulled down and on the floor, thinking of this and that possibility for her home and my table setting. I guess we were a magnet for other customers. Soon there was a group of people in “our” corner and we were having so much fun chatting with everyone and hearing their stories. We kept looking after they came and left and we settled on some green luncheon plates to go with my Johnson Bros bowls. They seemed to complement the greens in the fruits nicely. And they were marked down from $5.99 to $1.18! We kept the $1 per item thing going. You see… the Fruit Sampler set was just $35 at the thrift store. That $1 per item. What a bargain!
The table wouldn’t be complete with the perfect napkins… and napkin rings. And yes! They were found at Pier 1, too!
Some time later, another good friend noticed my little dessert bowl that I had out. She asked where it came from? She couldn’t believe she was seeing that pattern. When she was growing up, her grandmother served her dinner on “Fruit Sampler” dishes. Sometime later she was at her mother’s house and discovered four “Fruit Sampler” plates up in the cupboard. She knew I didn’t have the dinner plates for the tablescape I was planning on creating, so she lent them to me for the photo shoot. She also lent me the beautiful crocheted tablecloth and the green over-cloth as well. Both are wonderful complements to the colors and theme of the dishes.
I had all the pieces to the tablescape ready to go. But, Mother Nature was not very cooperative. She was delivering an abundance of dark gray skies and rain. Not good for picture-taking.
My original plan was to use some round brown placemats as chargers on the table cloth to bring out the brown in the dishes. With the extra time, I started thinking if I could do something that would be more seasonal.
What did I have access to, and plenty of, so I could create something special for the table? Leaves. Are there not an abundance of leaves this time of year?
I took a stroll around the yard and down the street looking for leaves. Not any leaves… but just the right kind of oak leaves. I was amazed at all the different varieties and sizes of oak leaves that had fallen. Perfect!! Those leaves became oak leaf chargers. I wrote a tutorial about it here.
Oh my goodness…. those oak leaf chargers were the perfect seasonal addition to the table setting and brought brown to the table in a beautifully rich and textural way.
As you may know, I had been collecting acorns. I created a photo frame and even shared how to prepare acorns for decorating and crafting here. Hmmm… “What could I do with all those acorns?” One day as I was browsing through Pinterest, I got the idea that I could cover a bowl or basket with acorns. I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do… but one acorn or cap at a time and more leaves… made an earthy fall basket that made my heart sing. I wrote the tutorial for creating the acorn and oak leaf basket here.
For the table centerpiece, I filled the basket with fresh apples and added some fresh-picked oak leaves there were still sporting some pretty color to the center of the basket. What a simple table centerpiece. And it cost just a few dollars. Yay!
By now I hope you’re thinking that you’d like to host a lovely dinner at the park, too.
Seriously! It’s time to be spontaneous!
This is a little more than the usual disposable picnic fare commonly used.
Since, my motto is “Why be Ordinary When You Can be Extraordinary!” it should be no surprise that I would create a special outdoor event with ‘real’ dishes. Actually, I’ve taken ‘real’ dinnerware to concerts in the park, an afternoon birthday luncheon at a botanical garden, and more. When my husband and I go picnicking just the two of us…I always use ‘real’ dinnerware. I love it because it doesn’t blow away… which always seems to happen when paper plates are used.
Once the weather has cooled, most people are done with outside dining. On this picture perfect day, we only saw two people at the park. It was so gorgeous, I didn’t even need a jacket. There is so much beauty in the fall, that the opportunity to sit at a picnic table and enjoy a yummy meal and soak in the sun and beauty all around is a real treat missed by most.
I’m going to challenge you….
Make a plan now to picnic with ‘real’ dishes at your favorite park. Just think of all the lovely memories you’ll be creating for yourself, friends, and family. Take the time to savor God’s glorious creation. I just know you’ll be glad you did. Please let me know if you took me up on the challenge too!!
I had fun playing with oak leaves again. Stop by Mod Podge Rocks for my Oak Leaf Thanksgiving Menu Frame tutorial.
If you’re looking for ideas for late fall or Thanksgiving table settings, I hope this is inspiring. If you want even more ideas, check out these past Thanksgiving table settings…
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