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Astar's craft: Midwinter feast - 17 June

Celebrating the winter solstice

The shortest day is almost here - 21 June 2010 - and to lift my spirits, I like to celebrate with a midwinter feast.  Even though it's cold and wet and the light doesn't last long, what could be better than having friends over?

This year my theme is going to be lavish and luxuriant from an area long since gone. To find the fabric for the table coverings take yourself off to Spotlight and go hunting for rich burgundy and red printed tapestry fabric, along with silks, satins and velvet fabric. Dig deep and you will also discover lovely tapestry/jeweled trims and edging. 

Table runner

Things to gather

You will need enough printed tapestry to cover your entire table plus extra for drop and hems.

The velvet, silk and satin only need to be long enough to form a strip about 1/4 the size of the first, to run down the centre of the table as additional texture and high light.

You'll also need matching thread, pins, sharps scissors and a sewing machine.

However if you don't have one, hand stitch or for a quick and easy fix, hot glue gun and glue sticks.


Once you have determined the length and width of table, simply turn over a hem of around 1cm. Press down with an iron, then repeat with another 1cm turn.  Pin to hold then stitch around either the end drop lengths or all sides. Usually you'll find that if the side fabric is the correct length then it's not necessary to stitch.

To further embellish, stitch braiding or trim around all edges.

For the smaller narrow middle runner, take two pieces of fabric. If using silk, then back with satin etc. Bring right sides together - make sure they are the same size.

Pin around all edging leaving enough space on one side to pull fabric right sides out once stitched. 

Use a sharp object to ensure that corner edges are pull out and are nice and neat and square. Hand stitch opening closed.

Embellish edges with more braid, trim or fringing.

Once the table runner is complete it's onto making a...

Footed central fruit stand

I pinched this idea after an antiques segment with Anthony from Dunbar and Sloane in which he was discussing a very nice Paul Storr sterling silver table centre piece dated 1812, estimated to fetch at auction around $70,000.  Not something my budget would stretch to, however, something I can make.

Things to gather

4 terracotta saucers - 2 x 25cm - 2 x 20cm or there abouts

From the Chinese Emporium go hunting for silver painted figurines.  They are around 30cm high and you'll need 3.  They also come in various designs from single elegant angel girl playing musical instrument to winged male and female angels embracing.  Mine cost around $12.00 each. They also come with a wooden base which needs to be removed.  Ensure also that they are all the same size as achieving balance for the top saucers will be fiddly and difficult.

Tube of ultra clear epoxy adhesive - Araldite or tube of No-nails

Acrylic under coat - white and paint brush for application

Sterling silver or antique silver or gold spray paint

Can of spray vanish


Turn one of the small saucers so that the base faces up. Drop several small bits of glue on top, then place the larger saucer base side down on top of smaller saucer.

Allow a good several hours to cure.

Take the three figurines and with equal distance glue these inside large saucer.

Take as much time as necessary to ensure all figurines are balanced.

Allow to completely dry - over night.

Take the second smaller saucer and once again turn it over so that the base is facing up.

Place this on top of the heads of the figurines.  Once balance has been achieved, mark then place glue on top of each head or possibly wings - depending on figurine selected.

Allow over night to dry before gluing base of larger saucer down on top of base of smaller saucer.

Allow over night to dry before applying a coat of undercoat to saucers.

When dry spray with gold or silver paint.

Allow to dry once again.  You might need 2 coats depending on coverage. 

When dry, mist with several coats of spray vanish.

The secret to helping keep paint from lifting is with the vanish and as indicated several fine coats works better than one heavy coat.

When foot stand is finished it's on to step three.

Flemish fruit and flowers

Of all the floral designs I have created this is my all time favourite. You can combine fresh flowers and fruits along with artificial foliage and accessories.

To make my quick and easy versions:

Things to gather

1/4 to 1/2 block of presoaked green floral foam

Oasis tape for fixing into place or use a pin holder and glue into the middle of the top saucer then push foam down onto pin holder.

Pick several pieces of long ivy.

Several smallish arealia leaves along with asparagus fern etc.

Red or burgundy roses.

Fresh or artificial grapes, and other fruits.

Satay sticks, 20 gauge wire, floral scissors or snips.


Insert as close to base with equal distance the ivy to drop down sides of footed stand. 

Repeat with pieces of asparagus fern.

Make a collar of arealia leaves to rest on top of ivy and fern. Wire grapes then insert to rest then cascade down over foliage.

Cut roses short and place these to cover top section of foam. 

Use smaller pieces of ivy and fern to fill in remaining spaces.

Insert clean satay sticks into one end of other selected fruits, like oranges or mandarins and once stick length has been established push down in amongst flowers.

If using kiwifruit, cut these in half exposing their wonderful green colouring. Fix base end with a shorter satay stick then push down into flowers and fruits as additional highlighting.

The sky really is the limit when it comes to this type of designing. Just remember that balance is critical as you don't want the completed work to fall over.

To further embellish, several weeks ago I demonstrated how to jewel flowers for the hair. The exotic red velvet and jeweled orchids should be the finishing touch in achieving that lush and luxuriant effect I desire.

Once the table is set, then it's into the kitchen.