It’s been just over a month since I launched my own little shop, ‘Handmade by Nellie’, over on Facebook. As well as hand-painted greetings cards, canvases, and bookmarks, I have also been putting hand-crafted winter ornaments and gifts up for sale. These include the wreaths I wrote about in a previous blog, as well as some new goods inspired by nature. Explore these goods below, and head over to Handmade by Nellie (or send me a message on the ‘Contact’ page above) to order!

The first of my ornaments are ‘Sycamore Hares’. When I first began collecting sycamore seeds, I was surprised at how much they looked like a hare’s head and ears. When the pod is opened, it even has a soft, downy interior. Each sycamore seed was collected by me this autumn. The hare’s body is hand-painted in acrylic, on a disc of ash cut and sanded down by my dad. It hangs on a ribbon with a leaping hare design. These are made to order, and priced at £10 plus postage.

The next ornaments are ‘Pine Cone Trees’. Back in autumn, my boyfriend told me of a ‘secret pine cone spot’ in Birmingham city centre – that’s where I foraged these big, beautiful pine cones. There were so many lying on the ground, plenty for the squirrels and me to share! Each pine cone is decorated with a handful of brass jingle bells, and topped with a gold wire star. They hang on a coloured ribbon, or the ribbon can be removed: the pine cones also sit on their base as a cute standing decoration. These are also made to order, and priced at £10 plus postage.

Perhaps the most adventurous ornament I crafted is ‘Autumn in a Bottle’. I have found such a joy in collecting nature’s treasures this autumn. Celebrate the abundance of the earth during the darkest months, with this glowing bottle of woodland finds. Makes a perfect windowsill, mantle, or table centrepiece. Each bottle is filled with a mixture of acorns, pine cones, conkers, alder seeds, and sycamore pods, with star anise to give a sweet scent. Bottles also contain a string of soft, steady LED lights, which are USB chargeable. The electronic pack is contained within the bottle’s cork, and can be easily lifted out to turn the lights on and off, or for charging. These are made to order, and priced at £15 plus postage.

Then there are the wreaths: ‘Abundance’, ‘Prosperity’, and ‘Plenty’. I adored fashioning these wreaths from the pieces of nature I collected over the autumn. Foraging felt all the more special this year: I gathered as much as I could on my walks, before I was back to quarantining indoors. These wreaths are a celebration of nature, which provides so much – if only we slow down and take it in. The wreaths are variously fashioned with a mixture of acorns, pine cones, sycamore pods, poppy seed shakers, and dried sorbus berries. These are attached to a willow frames with copper wire; the wreaths hang on short ribbons.

As I write this, the wreaths ‘Prosperity’ and ‘Plenty’ have sold, but ‘Abundance’ is still for sale, priced at £45 plus postage. I still have the materials to make any of the other ornaments listed above, so these can also be bought and posted out before Christmas.

Also as I write this, I have broken even on my shop – meaning all the resources I bought at the beginning of this venture have now payed for themselves through the sale of hand-painted and hand-crafted goods! I, amongst many, still face uncertainty due to changes brought on by this pandemic. Making these handcrafted goods gives me something to put my energy into, and also provides a little income too. Most importantly, it has reconnected me with my creativity, which is the silver lining to all the difficulty in the world right now.

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