Ahh, the autumnal equinox. Jim Bishop wrote that fall “carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons,” while Thoreau waxed rhapsodic about the simple joy of sitting one’s self on a pumpkin and watching the leaves gently drift to the ground. As summer’s harsh heat fades away and winter’s cruel cold lurks around the corner, we’re given a brief respite from these extremes in the form of fall. It’s a season for brisk walks, candied apples, and hay rides. And (like all seasons) a season for crafting! Here are four cool do-it-yourself crafts, all inspired by the season William Cullen Bryant called “the year’s last, loveliest smile.”
1. Jelly Bean Acorns
These adorable little nuts aren’t just for squirrels-they can make for beautiful miniature crafts that can be hung on string or gathered in a bowl as a centerpiece. Collect as many acorns as you wish, wash them, and bake them on a lined cookie sheet at 170 degrees for two hours (this will kill any insect life, as well as hardening them so they don’t rot over time.) When they’re solidly cooked, use acrylic paint and a soft brush to paint them a variety of bright, eye-catching colors. Leaving the caps bare and painting with the grain of the acorn leaves them looking sleek and vibrant, yet still natural like they escaped from an alternate dimension into your home. Let them dry and arrange them as you please.
2. Bug-Free Leaf Wreath
The colors of leaves are the defining hues of the fall season, but bringing them into your home invites insects and eventual rotting. You can fake your way into a beautiful wreath using patterned fabrics. First, get a few authentic leaves and trace their shapes onto card stock. Cut these shapes out of the card stock and use them as patterns to cut your fabric-choose orange, brown, and burnt umber shades, and throw in some muted plaid for a real lumberjack vibe. Then attach them with safety pins to a Styrofoam wreath wrapped in brown or tan felt. The result will look great welcoming trick-or-treaters to your front door.
3. Paper n’ Paint Pumpkins
If you don’t cut a pumpkin open, it stays fresh for long enough to serve as a beautiful centerpiece or mantel adornment. Grab a small white pumpkin, and use your cardstock leaf cutouts from the first craft to trace patterns onto autumn-colored tissue paper (orange, brown, dark red, and yellow work best.) Place the flimsy fake leaves onto your pumpkin as you please and paint over them with water-thinned glue. Feel free to overlap for cool shading effects.
4. Autumnal Jar Candles
Use your cardstock templates one more time and cut a leaf-shaped piece of adhesive vinyl, applying it to the smooth side of a mason jar. Paint the jar with several coats of acrylic orange paint, allowing it to dry fully in between coats. When the jar’s covered, peel your acrylic leaf off to reveal the unpainted glass beneath. Place a tea candle inside and light it, and you’ll have a warm, glowing candle, with the brightest light shining out in the shape of a leaf. Perfect for lighting the table as you enjoy a glass of cocoa.