Creative Inspirations, Creative Projects

Decking the halls. PART TWO: The Keeping Room

The Keeping Room. A term from the 18th century that refers to the room nearest the warmth of the cook-in fireplace where the family activities took place. The is the room where David and I start and end each day, over coffee in the morning and a “beverage” each evening just before dinner. So this is a space where I pay great attention to detail, especially at Christmas, because it provides a soothing backdrop to the chatter of everyday life.

Acrylic and polymer on canvas. Jane Balshaw 2007

I started this room with the painting. Something I had painted a while ago, it suddenly looked like the wetlands areas around here that winterberry was now poking it’s heads out of. So I added the berries which began a jumping off point for the room. I was gifted fresh greens from Pam and Gordon’s woods and holly berries from Mike and Maureen’s garden to put in the wrought iron and glass vase.

The tree decorations reinforce the berry idea. I recycled some previously used stems of faux berries and inserted them throughout the tree. It hit me that the wrought iron in the vase was an element all through the room so I mimicked it with the addition of black ornaments.

And all creatures great and small love this Christmas tree…

Echoing the black, I decided to put out the wrought iron candle sticks on the mantle and keep it simple with plain faux greens and another nod to berries.

Folk art painting of the many places David and I have lived. Painted on circa 1900 floor boards.

I wanted another piece of black wrought iron in the decor so went to the basement shelves and found the wee cast iron stove from my childhood. I cleaned it up and got a crazy idea; it should have ornaments like the tree in the kitchen!

Tiny ornaments fashioned from sculpting clay PLUS a lit magnifying glass PLUS magnifying reading glasses!

Now going deeper with the black motif…

So now on a roll I got to thinking about all this wool felt. I was given a jar of felted wood “stuffed olives” and thought they looked a lot like the green & red ornament on the tree. It occurred to me that I should do some more mimicking and create a spread of hors d’oeuvres as a holiday decoration for the coffee table.

Felted wool olives, crackers and cheese. Felt covered automatic candle.

How to make felted “crackers”:

  1. Choose some woven wool fabric in an approximate color as your cracker template. “Felt” the wood by vigorously washing the fabric in warm water and soap, scrubbing it and rubbing it. Wring out. Dry in a hot drier. Fabric will shrink considerably.
  2. Fuse together two layers of this wool using a heavy heat activated web.
  3. Using your cracker of choice as a temple, trace the cracker onto the double thick felted wood. Cut out the shapes.
  1. Using Aleenes Tacky Glue or Fabric Tack apply some glue inside the edges of the cracker sandwich and squish the edges together to flatten the wool so that it resembles how a cracker looks flattened at its edges. NOTE: if you glue the entire piece your final thread will not easily sew through.
  2. Mix together some brown and some white acrylic paint and, using a Q Tip, smudge some paint around the “cracker” including around the edges to resemble how a baked cracker looks.
  3. Finally, with a fine pencil, place dots on your “cracker” using the holes in the actual cracker as a guide. Sew double-looped french knots with cotton pearl embroidery thread at each dot to resemble the holes.

Another week, another opportunity for being creative! Next Saturday, another installation of decorating. Thank you for reading and please leave a comment!

See last weeks post here

See all of 2020 Decking the Halls posts here

6 thoughts on “Decking the halls. PART TWO: The Keeping Room”

  1. Getting wonderful memories of your house. Some things really stand out to me- the painting of the places where you lived, the small tree in the burlap bag with the hand made ornaments, the felted wool projects( which I love doing), the splashes of black. I usually always have black in my quilts, my teacups- it grounds and sets things off.

    1. Ah, spoken like an artist yourself. Do love black in quilted projects too…remembering my introduction to quilting with Freddie Moran. All that color set against black! Thanks for commenting…”)

  2. Jane, your home has always been so welcoming and warm. And what details! As always I just love how you decorate for the holidays…..understated, while still joyous. Lovely!

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