Monday, September 15, 2014

Windowsill Art

At any given moment the windowsill over my kitchen sink will have a wildflower, an acorn, a piece of something or other rooting, maybe a sprig that smells nice—one or all of these. I like to keep natural things close by to enjoy them, but also to observe them for a while, maybe notice how they change over time, or sometimes just appreciate their daintiness up close. Whatever the reason, I know there are others of you who do this too (or your children do), and your windowsills and tabletops look a lot like mine.

Windowsill Art—Creating one-of-a-kind
natural arrangements to celebrate the seasons
by Nancy Ross Hugo
St. Lynn's Press, 2014
Hardcover, 192 pages, $18.95
I'm happy to let you know that we have a kindred spirit in author Nancy Ross Hugo. Her new book, Windowsill Art is all about nature on the windowsill and—here's the important part—how to arrange it artfully. I've gotten inspiration and some great ideas from this little book.

For example, have you ever thought about arranging with henbit or gumballs? How about fresh curly kale with honeysuckle and a rose, or snapdragons and tomatoes? Have you ever made arrangements for your hotel room using your paper drink cup from Subway as a container? Or here's a cute one: use trumpet vine blooms as floral vases for other tiny springs! I could go on with examples…there are many arrangements highlighted, most of them very simple to do.

Windowsill Art begins with a Getting Started chapter which includes  choosing containers and finding plant material. (Narrow sills at your house? Save your vanilla extract bottles…they will fit fine!) The next section pertains to practicing and letting your arrangements evolve (and also knowing when they are finished). Getting creative with materials and techniques makes up the next section, and last is an inspiring photo gallery arranged seasonally, with a list of resources.

Besides the creative inspiration in this book, the thoughtful writing is a joy to read. From page 76:
"As I write this, it is not just fall, it is a day in the second week of November when mulberry leaves have just fallen, gumballs are still green, daylily foliage is yellowing, roses are still throwing a few blooms, and white oak acorns are on the ground. Tomorrow there will be a different suite of phenomena to notice, but next year I'll probably see the same things again (and more!) in the same order.
     If you are using materials from the surrounding landscape, your windowsill arrangements will always be a rendering of what's going on outside, and you can't help noticing patterns as you repeat the process over and over."

And this encouraging note:
"Windowsill arranging is accretive in the sense that it gradually increases your sensitivity to natural beauty. When adopted as a routine, this personal, creative practice also builds creative muscle, because the more you experiment, the wider the universe of arranging possibilities becomes."

You may know Nancy Ross Hugo from the book, Seeing Trees, her gorgeous collaboration with photographer Robert Llewellyn (Timber Press, 2011). You're going to enjoy reading this one too, and giving it as a welcome gift.


All photos in this post copyrighted to Nancy Ross Hugo, used by permission of St. Lynn's Press.

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