There's something about fall that seems to say "Time to get started on some serious crafting." Maybe it's the urge to dazzle up your home decor in preparation for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Or maybe it's the amazing abundance of earthy, natural beauty that you can find for free, right in your backyard landscape. Bright colored leaves, knobbly squash, and graceful twigs are there for the gathering and lend themselves to all kinds of crafty ideas, like the 7 easy, eco-friendly suggestions shown here.
- Leaves -- Colorful falling leaves are the icon of autumn. Head on outside and gather them up by the handful. Fall leaves are lovely subbed in for blossoms and arranged in a pretty vase; however, they will fade fast this way. If you'd like to enjoy those gorgeous reds and golds on into the wintertime, we suggest transforming your prize specimens into an eye-catching bowl. Arrange on a blown-up balloon and coat liberally with glue. After letting your creation dry thoroughly, pop the balloon to remove.
- Pine Cones -- Pine cones are one of our favorite natural craft materials. These versatile seed holders will add a rustic touch anywhere in your home … from the fireplace mantel to a small side table. Arrange them "as is," spray paint, or dip just one end in paint for a modern twist on a tried-and-true theme. Let your imagination run free and turn pine cones into woodland creatures or delicate fall flowers.
- Dried Garden Herbs or Garlic -- There's nothing like harvesting herbs or garlic from the outdoor landscape of your own vegetable patch to help you and your kids appreciate the gift of nature's bounty … and that's really what autumn is all about. Hang bunches from the ceiling tied with bright ribbon or twine them together with grapevines or dried garden flowers to make a welcoming wreath for your front door.
- Twigs -- Who else is fascinated by autumn twigs? Plain and simple, these tiny bare branches still have a unique grace and charm. Weave them into a garland or cut them in even lengths and adhere to a glass candle holder, a vase, or a mason jar for a sweet touch of country chic. If you prefer to go big or go home, shape twigs of various sizes into a dramatic faux deer head mount.
- Wood -- Whichever way you slice it, wood has a warm, earthy kind of appeal. Rounds of wood in assorted sizes will make pretty decorative coasters (you can apply a water-resistant finish to avoid damage from your drinks), breadboards, or backgrounds for wall art -- embellish the latter with special sharpie pens designed to work on wood. You might even use them to cover a pumpkin for an uber original fall look.
- Pumpkins -- What could be more autumnal than a firm ripe pumpkin? To ring the changes on the traditional jack-o-lantern, add scary faces to pumpkins or hard-shelled squash with glitter or stick on decals. Alternatively, paint in unexpected hues -- perhaps turquoise is the new orange -- or inscribe with frightening, friendly, or inspirational messages. A healthy pumpkin, untouched by the knife, will last 8 to 12 weeks indoors, as opposed to a carved one, which is good for 5 to 10 days at a coolish room temperature.
- Seeds -- If you've got an overabundance of seeds on hand, save some for planting next spring, roast any edible varieties (lightly salted pumpkin seeds are an addictive snack food), and purpose the rest for crafting fun. Glue various sizes and colors of seeds (left au naturel or dipped in paint) to make wall art "mosaics." This would be an interesting way to fill in the traditional turkey handprint project. Another option is to decorate a dollar store picture frame … which you'll then use to show off a treasured fall family photo.
Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.