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Saturday 11 December 1999
There's nothing like a fragrant centrepiece to brighten up your Christmas dining room table. Whether you have a pretty green tablecloth, or a white or red one, you can fashion a centrepiece design that creates delightful interest. And, once dressed up with ornaments of silver and gold, it will twinkle and glimmer as the candlelight flickers.
I made mine with all-natural materials gathered from our Quyon farm and perennial garden. But don't despair if your garden doesn't include pine or spruce, lilacs or hydrangeas or other plants with attractive seed pods. You can always find these elements during a country drive.
You may choose to lightly coat cones and seed pods with spray paint. The spray can "travel" so be careful. Put up old newspapers and do the job in a ventilated area.
Final note: The object is to have fun creating your work of art. Invite a friend to join you, and start your own ladies' craft circle.
The day before: Collect your decorations so they can dry and become flexible.
Setup: Create an ample working space and protect floor and surfaces with newspaper or sheet. The gum from the evergreens is sticky and spray paint can travel.
1. Weave the form of your centrepiece into the shape you want, ensuring it will fit on the base you have selected for your project. I created an oblong shape (a squashed circle) by looping, or weaving the Virginia Creeper vine around itself repeatedly.
2. With your clippers, cut the cedar or other evergreens into manageable "twigs." Mine were about 5 cm maximum. Simply tuck them into your woven base. There is no need for glue. Create a feathery texture by incorporating different kinds of evergreen. I used mostly cedar, with sprigs of white pine for added interest.
3. Spray hydrangea, lilac or other seed pods you have gathered. Clip stems and tuck them into the woven base.
4. Fasten bows onto the centrepiece.
5. Place centrepiece on its base, position candlesticks and candles inside its oval.
6. Light candles, sit down and enjoy a hot mug of cider while you watch the lights twinkle and glow.
Look in the ditches alongside the roads to find interesting colours and shapes. Take along some garden shears so you won't have trouble gathering. And don't forget, too, that a walk in downtown Ottawa can yield intriguing finds. Simply take along a plastic shopping bag and pick up fallen cones.
Cautions: don't cut City of Ottawa ornamentals and, similarly, please ask before going on any private property, whether country or city. Ensure your candlesticks are tall: don't set fire to your centerpiece. And, find a solid base for extra stability. Never leave lighted candles unattended.