Sometimes all we need for a winter arrangement is greenery, but most of the time we want a punch of color or something else to catch the eye.
I look through my stash for possibilities. I found preserved cedar among the dried greenery in Michaels, available in both plain and slightly gilded. It seems the best bet for quarter scale, and I spend considerable time looking through for the pieces that suggest pine boughs. It is better to select more than you think you need, as it is not good to have to go back and search through a whole package of cedar while you are in the midst of arranging.
Those tiny brownish styrofoam beads from a floral pick will serve as contrast. In this tiny scale, if the eye sees brown among green, I am hoping it will see pine cones. I could try making some that would be rougher, but for my purposes here, these will do.
I choose my fireplace, to which I have added some cut-out flames and bits of embossed gold paper for my screen and andirons. But it is a lot easier to work on something this small when it is brought up closer to eye level, so I am using my salmon can to do this.
I use a scrapbooking punch out sticky dot to anchor my fireplace.
I cut a tiny strip of wax paper to serve as the base for my arrangement. Besides providing a removable surface to glue to, it also keeps me within the dimensions that I establish for the size of my arrangement. I use a tiny bit of removable glue to attach it to the top of my fireplace. Then I place a good sized glob of glue in the center and begin adding my sections of cedar. It is easier for me to add the sprigs to the glue, than vice versa.
With these first two pieces I establish the line I want, in this case, asymmetrical, rather than centered. To my eye, it looks better when a tiny bit overlaps the edge of the mantel. My mantel will eventually have something else on the right - a candlestick, a Santa or angel, etc.
I add my first cones midway from back to front. These could just as easily be fruit, candy canes or Christmas balls. In this case I want a more rustic look, so I am using cones. (By the way, those paper flames look a whole lot better when they aren't magnified greatly, like this. lol)
Then I add more sprigs of cedar on top to partially cover the cones. Notice the glint of gold; the preserved cedar came this way, although paint could be added to the plain version.
More cones are added to this second layer. Because the greenery we use in this small scale is often quite flat, adding successive layers gives the needed fullness. It is important to keep a wee bit of space between each so I tilt the sprig very slightly as I add it to the glue.
At this point I add my first sprig to the center of the arrangement.
And I add more sprigs to build up the fullness and partially cover all the cones.
Here, then, is my basic arrangement. The camera angle suggests a gap that really isn't very visible to the naked eye because the arrangement is so tiny.
At this stage I can go in various directions, by adding other elements.
I decide to add some tiny gold balls for a bit of sparkle. I want to keep this arrangement simple, but if I chose to, some gold ribbon roses might look good, too, since the preserved cedar has bits of gold paint, as well
I wouldn't go to a lot of trouble to make these because I would tuck them here and there as I did the cones, so I would probably use simple knot roses.
I make a loose circle in my tiniest silk ribbon and pull it down into a knot.
I begin another knot and pull until it nestles on top of the first knot, but a bit looser.
And then I pull a third knot down on top of the previous two to form my rose. I put a dot of glue on the back to hold, allow it to dry, and then snip off the knot. These knot roses work for me in this small scale; even in the tiniest ribbon they look large enough to suggest what I want. It does require a longer strip of ribbon to do this, but the pieces that are snipped away can be used to make loop bows that can also be inserted here and there into the greenery. Or with their tails cut into a fork, they can be inserted in either end of the arrangement to extend slightly along the mantel.
I am planning one candle for the interior of the arrangement, slightly off center, so it can nestle in that blank space between the upper cones. My second candle will be on a candlestick to the right of the arrangement on my mantel.
It is very difficult for me to add anything to my finding to create my candlestick, so I use my trusty pick to hold it.
At this point I need my third hand to hold the pick that is holding the candle base!
I use fine point tweezers to add bits to encircle the finding. For this I used super glue.
I could have used a decorative flower finding like this, had I chosen, without all the fuss of adding stuff, but I wanted to keep with the natural look of my arrangement. (That Elmer's was not used here....)
I intersperse gold balls and brown "cones."
When dry, I can use my tweezers to slide the candle base off the pick. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of my finished candlesticks for this page, but I used a piece of painted wire for my candles.
So, these are the basic steps I use for creating a mantel arrangement. I can add all kinds of things for different effects.
For instance, from this little stem I could add snowballs or tiny snow men; perhaps brushing on white paint or adding flocking or artificial snow atop the cones and branches.
Scraping two pieces of ordinary white styrofoam together will create quite realistic snow. I am prepared for my snow to go everywhere else, too, when I do this, so I practice first on something else to get the feel for it and to make sure my flakes will not be too large.
I could add red berries and red candles, with a Santa. Or if I wanted a shabby chic look, instead of the brown for cones, I could have used pink, etc, with an angel on the mantel ...
And because it is constructed on the wax paper, if I decide to use my arrangement somewhere else, I can use my knife to gently pry it off.