DIY Organic Decorative & Gift Ideas for the Festive Season
I love to bring nature into my home. With organic elements around me, I feel connected to the beauty of the natural world. It begins with a wander through a forest, the beach or mountains. It keeps me grounded and connected. Each season has an array of colours and raw materials that can be used in creative ways around the home.
As Thanksgiving and Christmas are on our doorstep, designing your own decorations and gifts adds a beautiful personal touch. I love giving handmade presents - not just because it's such a joy to see the receivers face light up, but also because it's been a creation of love and consideration.
Keep in mind, it needn’t be complicated or difficult. It may just be creative wrapping or an extra ornament that you made yourself attached to the gift. Keeping it simple is important and also for those who don’t have hours to spare before the festivities begin. Let’s face it, for some people Christmas can be a little stressful. I know, while I'm being creative, it also connects me to the reason I'm creating - to give, share and express beauty and love with others.
DIY Creation Ideas
Try out these ideas below or create your own!
Any or all of the Elements of Nature can be used in your creations.
The hanging (or drape) is designed not just to feature on a wall, but also to hang in a specific area (e.g. corner of a room) or anywhere where you feel it will compliment the space.
Along with your raw materials, you’ll need some wire, leather or string to tie your materials together. Choose your styles, colours and theme (a classic is an ocean theme for the bathroom - accentuating it with a Christmas-twist can make it interesting!). Leave a loop at the top to hang your design from a hook. Either tie knots or thread the string/cotton/leather through any holes in the items you choose to use. Threading beads can also help hold the objects in place.
Wall hangings can be large and chunky or fine and delicate depending on the effect you are envisioning.
Some alternative hanging designs:
Designing Christmas ornaments can be highly creative, and can also depend on family customs. A little sparkle can go a long way and it doesn’t take a lot of time to paste some glitter onto pinecones, feathers or dried leaves. Another idea is to paint or draw lines, dots and shapes in symmetrical patterns on stones or other organic items; and again, choose your theme. Although a lot of families pass along ornaments and decorations from generation to generation, it’s also a beautiful touch to include something new, artistic and hand-made.
Box frames are particularly good to visually accentuate the 3D look. Frames don’t necessary only have to have prints or photographs. Your favourite greeting cards can be framed or in this case, a collection of stones, feathers, intricate bark formations or everlasting flowers. You can also experiment with painting the frame itself.
Handmade leather pouches are a beautiful way to give gifts (such as necklaces, perhaps smaller more delicate gifts or sacred objects). Make your design as simple or as elaborate as you wish! A hole-punch may be needed if you're using leather to create holes for sewing (with cotton, leather or sinew).
Organic gift wrapping
If you feel like giving your Christmas experience even more of an organic edge, wrap gifts in recycled paper (using pages from an old map, book or calendar, etc) with string and a sprig of wild lavender, sweet basil, rosemary or wild flowers. For that extra mile and artistic look, flick a small amount of paint from a paintbrush onto the middle section of the wrapping paper. Make sure you let it dry before you wrap :)
Elements of Nature
Asking permission is the most important element before going on an adventure to find pieces of nature for hangings or designs. Please check and make sure you have permission to remove those items from that area or space. Some areas, such as National Forests have protection laws forbidding people from removing anything from the preserve (such as stones or shells from the beach, etc). Some feathers are also only allowed to be collected by native peoples. Out of respect for nature, it is always a good thing to ask the land if you can take (whatever the object is) to share it’s beauty in your home.
The objects or items are another important aspect. Firstly, because the process of finding the pieces connects one to nature. For me, I often find things that come across my path when I am exploring; on a trek, just wandering by the beach or perhaps even on a spiritual ceremony.
Arranging fall colours together adds variety and contrast. Offsetting the arrangement with black, gold, bronze or silver also adds more dimension and an elegant look.
For me I love the colours of blue and white for Christmas, however in our culture, red and green are predominant. Some of you will no doubt follow family traditions, and there are ways to bring in natural elements into the designs to add that organic look and feel. Pinecones, wreathes and the Christmas tree itself are all traditional and natural so there is already a great foundation to design from.
Enjoy, create and discover.
Happy Festive Season!
Blog written by Laura Naomi
© Laura Naomi, 2017
It is true that art's beauty and hidden meaning is often seen in the eye of the beholder.
Art can be about aesthetics, design and making a statement, yet there are also many other qualities art can offer.
When I feel drawn to a painting or photograph, through observing and admiration I hear and feel a story. There are some images I find myself looking into for a long time. The detail carries me through a story and I walk among the scene for a while. When this happens it's like the environment around me disappears and I am experiencing another world. For me, it's often about how I feel when I see an artwork that resonates. It doesn't stop at aesthetics, it's the feeling, the experience and the energy.
Like music, art has the ability to transport one to another space. I've known several people whom, during challenging times or after a difficult day, come home to a space they've created with a perfect artwork - it seems to radiate a certain transformative quality that calms, eases or uplifts the soul.
With travel as a major inspiration, I often find myself in very spiritual moments where the environment is giving me a gift of presence. I fully embrace being a part of the beauty before and around me. It fills my soul so profoundly that I feel called to share the transcendent energy with others.
Whether it's an outer journey or inner journey traveling spiritual miles, for me the unfolding of creation is deeply spiritual. Often, I am in a state of surrender allowing something else to come through me. Although painting and photography are different processes, it is still an honour in both, to capture the essence of the moment and then allow the message to be passed through - to be seen, felt or heard.
Another healing aspect of Art is Sacred Space. For me having beautiful images around my home and office enhances peace and supports a healing space. I display photos or paintings I have a connection to, that bring tranquility, beauty and a graceful presence to the environment. They have a life of their own. Bringing a little bit of nature into my space creates a sanctuary. This private space is where I feel rejuvenated, secure and where I can completely be myself.
For some, it's about bringing a statement to life - perhaps to bring delight or laughter into someone's world through creativity. For others, it's about bringing nature into the dining room, or images of food into the kitchen. Art has been a part of cultures since the beginning, as a way of communicating; in storytelling, for interpretation and for decoration. Sometimes something can be better shared or expressed through imagery, symbolism or colour. It can bring profound ways of connecting, moving the spirit and opening doorways to feel deeper, allowing more beauty into one's inner and outer worlds.
Blog written by Laura Naomi
© Laura Naomi, 2017
Have you ever wondered if saying nothing at all is more appropriate in some circumstances?
I have been to many workshops and groups asking me about my goals and expectations and what I want to manifest. Over the last few years, I have started to fully respect my choice to remain silent, no matter how difficult it may be for the other party. Not because I was in avoidance and refused to talk, simply because there were no words, there was no urgency inside me to speak at all.
A woman at a more recent gathering asked everyone what their expectations were for the day. I said I had none, only to remain open and support my community.
I have always been one for savouring silence and quiet space. I love it and I feel at home when the silence is peaceful, deep and effortless. I have been in many situations where silence is uncomfortable. If a sudden lull in communication occurs, it is the social norm to 'fill the space', with something... if it's really uncomfortable with anything! These silences are not comfortable or peaceful, in fact, they are rather loud. Sharing a truly peaceful, at ease and wholesome quietness with another is incredibly beautiful. There is no fear of a void of verbal communication. Rather, there is an unspoken understanding and one is able to just 'be' with what is in that moment.
I used to withhold and exclude myself from groups and (most) people. I had that tranquil space when I was alone and with a select few, yet my level of trust was pretty low. It was safer to remain unreachable. Now, I have learnt to check in with myself to see if I am self-excluding (holding myself out). Despite this, I have always loved vulnerability; being deeply vulnerable with others, because I have witnessed such profound healing. Life long connections and friendships have bloomed from that raw space and now the trust in my fellow humans has grown. At times when I feel I am loosing trust in humanity, I remember staying connected to that deep authentic space is very important as it ripples out into the world in a subtle and long lasting way.
Silence and listening are two incredibly powerful gifts. It is quite rare to come across quality listening. I feel that this deep space is for the self, just as much as it is for listening to others. If I don't feel moved to speak, then I don't speak. I am honoured to have experienced the power of speech and silence over the years. For someone who rarely spoke at all, to then finding my voice, this has been such an empowering journey.
Feeling moved to speak can vary for each person. Being in talking circles have also provided amazing opportunities for me to trust in myself and others - to hold each other without judgement and with respect in those naked places. I found connections and community where I no longer felt like I need to edit myself or hide from my wildness. I am accepted and I can be all of who I am, returning to a quiet space inside myself in the presence of others - this is what wholesome, real community is all about.
Blog written by Laura Naomi
Got an inspiring story? Drop us a line! We'd love to hear it!
© Laura Naomi
Désirée is from New Zealand, a country I fell in love with a few years ago. It has incredible beauty, grace and a certain ability to reach deep into my soul.
I love Désirée’s style because her designs aim to flatter various shapes and sizes. I know a lot of women who want to feel graceful, beautiful and stylish, no matter their body type. Another element that is oh so important is feeling comfortable. I know I’ve bought some clothes before that were incredibly stylish, yet, I did not feel fully comfortable. I had to keep tugging something sideways or pulling something up …or down!
I also love classic style; clothes that not only compliment one’s figure, but last through fashion trends. Clothing by Désirée designs are known for being timeless and trans-seasonal.
Désirée specialises in women’s clothing and began studying from an early age. She shared how her creative flare for fashion began at 12 years old, then made her first skirt when she was 14. After getting married, her passion was felt and supported by her husband, and with children on the way, they subsequently pursued the idea of a home clothing business.
I asked about her inspirations and she expressed her connection to KowTow designer, Gosia. “I attended a talk she gave at the Women’s Collective (NZ) and it was so inspiring hearing how dedicated she is about sustainability. I attended her talk at a time when I was really unsure what direction I wanted to head in and listening to her story was inspiring.”
I haven’t come across any business owner who hasn’t had their fair share of challenges. Désirée offered insights of her own where she built everything she has now from absolutely nothing and knowing no one. “I can see how having capital and a network would have sped the process up, but I also know that taking the hard road has shaped my character.”
I feel very connected to her words. The path to success is unique for everyone and how one interprets success. I too also feel challenges can shape a person and develop qualities such as patience, gratitude and one’s resolve.
At this point I recall sitting at the Lake of Mirrors in New Zealand, early one morning before the sunrise; sitting and waiting patiently for the perfect photograph. The lake was indeed like glass, occasionally rippling with the silent wade of a water bird. It was incredibly peaceful. I am in constantly awe of how nature’s influence can be so powerful and so unassuming at the same time.
Désirée emphasised the significance of nature in her business. “Fabric is so important to the designing process because a different fabric can completely change the look. Natural fibres are definitely something I look for when I am choosing fabrics and they suit our brand ethos the most. Our customers love them too! This coming season will have organic cottons and also some bamboo fabric and they are just so soft and beautiful.”
She also explained the importance of local production for her brand and that all her sources are currently New Zealand wholesalers. (Charles Parsons, Cooper Watkins Textiles, Fabric Merchant and Nutex). “I have also recently met with Fern Textiles from Australia because they offer some beautiful organic fabrics and they are totally transparent with where their fabrics come from which, unfortunately other wholesalers are not.”
I feel a sense of gratitude because of my passion for organic business and fair-trade, knowing that there are many others who feel similarly and are on the edges of change in the business world. “Ethical business to me is all about being considerate and kind. Considering the people involved with all aspects of the business and taking good care of them, along with considering the environment and being kind to it. I like to take the time to stop and ask, ‘how would I feel if that happened to me?’ and making sure I would be happy to be on the receiving end.” says Désirée. “There are both pros and cons to free-trade, really my point of view is that artisans and people creating things ethically need to have free-trade and those mass producing in unethical situations need to be restricted. Obviously easier said than done.” she added.
I know in my heart, I can live with myself more gracefully and honestly if I choose to purchase something knowing that the creation process was fair and respectful for all concerned. It is an artistic creation and a weaving of many hands, including natures hands. As Désirée pointed out, being aware of my actions and the consequences that may occur is important to reflect on, not only as a conscious business owner, but also as a participant in my community.
I find myself back at the tranquil mirror lake again, then memories of climbing glaciers on the South Island. The beauty of those experiences has been and will continue to be an incredible inspiration for the artist inside. As I reflect on various exciting projects, I am also delighted to hear some of Désirée’s in the making. “There are always different projects I am working on. The biggest is the next collection for our label ‘Désirée’. We do two a year and they are always a labour of love - full of up’s and down’s, but mostly up’s.”
I am always moved by people’s stories, how each path is unique, yet connected somehow. I love the creative process and how it weaves its way like thread, navigating and folding in with every other thread.
Désirée shares some words of wisdom for those with a dream to start a design business: “Learn from other people’s mistakes first. Research people doing what you want to do; talk to them, read up about them or even do work experience for them. There is so much to learn from those who have gone before you and so it makes sense to find out what has and hasn’t worked for them and start your new business full of knowledge and ideas.”
I was told once that when I have a dream, dream it, live it, create it because it’s a dream born from the heart, from the infinite process of creation and the divine. What binds it all together is trust.
Blog written by Laura Naomi
Got an inspiring story? Drop us a line! We'd love to hear it!
© Laura Naomi
Get in touch with Clothing by Désirée for your new timeless outfit:
Courtesy of Desiree Clothing. Photographer Charles Turner. Model in sneak peek image is Joanna Watkinson
Lately I have had several people ask me about effective ways to cleanse their energy. I have noticed an increase in sensitivity within others (and within myself). It can feel incredibly intense out there in the world some times. I know a lot of people around me can sense shifts in energy (either consciously or unconsciously) and it can have a great impact on them.
I know that personally, I often sense the fear that is undermining societies and communities, and it can be debilitating.
After sharing a story with a friend about what it has felt like sometimes picking up on energy, she identified strongly. She immediately asked me; "I struggle with this, so how do you clear your energy?". A laugh bubbled forth and escaped before I knew it, followed by me saying, "It's a 24hr, 7-day a week, continual thing. Even in my sleep". We both laughed wholesomely and in that moment I knew that remembering to see things objectively and with humour ensures bouncing back, like a buoy.
For those of you who are sensitive to energy, here are some key elements to rejuvenating and looking after yourself:
And... Ok one more!!!
Having a really good belly laugh is such good medicine for the soul!
When I start to get too serious I know it's time to shake things up. I have to remind myself I'm also here to experience what it is to be human and to be gentle, kind and compassionate towards myself and others.
So beautiful, you're doing amazing. The energy this year has been intense. Acknowledge all the things that you've accomplished so far and breathe in gratitude!
Blog written by Laura Naomi
© Laura Naomi
The street is bustling, noise everywhere, yellow cabs, the murmur of talking, rustling bags and coats shielding against the snow and cold air. I smile because I love winter and snuggling next to a warm fire. As I open the wooden door to exit the cold, it was much like an embrace of warmth, not unlike the fire, taking the steps down into what was to be my sanctuary for a few hours. I learnt some time ago that working with others to clear out deep emotions, energy, conditioning and other such things, it was imperative to have ‘time out’ for personal cleansing. I remember a friend saying; “what good are you to those clients if you’re not supporting yourself and you wind up ill?”. Like a lot of things, I didn’t really hear that until I was ready to.
In all honesty, it was my body that kept telling me. I just didn’t hear sometimes being distracted with life.
I reach the front desk, a tranquil waterfall shimmered with lights, gentle music and orchards greeted me with a soft spoken receptionist. I was then guided into a peaceful, dimly lit space to prepare.
I have found over the years the more I’ve listened to my body, the more attuned I feel to certain environments. The more organic my surroundings the more my body feels relaxed. Being attuned, I noticed that this relationship that my body had with the natural world extended to the quality of food, skincare, clothes and the space I am in.
The language of the body differs for each person depending on their relationship with their physical expression. When I experience an emotion, I always feel a physical feeling or sensation in the body.
The first step is differentiating between you (as the soul) and your body. Feelings and sensations are a way the body speaks - and, it of course also speaks on a more physical level. For example, my body does not like sugar and if on an occasion; like splurging on Valentine’s Day I devour a chocolate (or 3 if I really go wild!) my body reacts very quickly. It actually feels like my energy starts to slow down rather than speed up with a sugar rush. It feels like a pollutant. I actually know of one other person who doesn’t like chocolate, everybody else loves it!
As I slip into the hot springs I melt. My muscles soften, I soften and suddenly what I was holding on to dissipates. My mind becomes like the steam rising from the baths. After a while I feel the minerals soaking into my skin. I feel emotion rising to the surface as if my body is thanking me for listening. I let go of the outside world. I know that it will take care of itself and that I can just focus on the rising and falling of my breath. Occasionally there is a slightly lapping of water if I move. In this space I return back to heart and body, letting go of old energy and allowing the moment to unfold effortlessly.
Ways that your body speaks to you:
Examples of “feeling” words:
I feel tired (indicating that your body feels tired)
I feel excited (there is a feeling in the body of excitement)
I feel angry (this is also a physical sensation felt in the body)
Getting to know your own Body Language:
We live in a world where the body is sometimes forgotten because of the appetite to feed the mind full of knowledge, education and data. I went through a stage of feeling so ‘full’ that I couldn’t absorb another single thing. It then sunk in, what a mentor had told me years prior, that what I had been doing had been a process of unlearning. When I decide to take these “time out’s”, I let go and return to that space of emptiness. In this space, I feel I am being shown what it truly means to listen.
Written by Laura Naomi
Got an inspiring story? Drop me a line! I'd love to hear it!
© Laura Naomi
Most people I know choose to wear something that not only feels good on their body, but colours that suit their character. Personal style can be directly linked to someone’s personality or reflect who they are …or at least how they might be feeling that day! I know that my body tells me what it likes and doesn’t like, rather quickly. A sure indication that something just doesn’t feel right, is when one ends up immediately tearing it off. Personally, I love natural fibers, soft and silky material and clothes I can feel were made with love. It also feels important to me to support community in a conscious, raw and organic manner on every level, and business is certainly no exception.
Fashion to me is a way I can express my inner world, mood or adventurous nature. It feels like an extension of the artist inside; expressing different aspects, pushing the constraints of society or softening into delicacy. Being neutral with a daring display of controversy or accentuating the composition of a shoe.
When the very talented designer of Santa Fe Gypsy, and soul sister, Rose Martinelli agreed to an informal interview, I was delighted. I do indeed feel that colours and types of material affect our physical, emotional and energetic selves. It has been proven that certain hues of blue enhance rest, peace and healing. I was called to go deeper, especially into the affect that a design process can have on human beings.
Rose shared her inspiration for her fashion label and I felt an immediate connection. “I was overseas and met a woman who had spent a year in Santa Fe. She told me that in Santa Fe everyone works on a premise of creating something to sell or give back to the community. The art and crafts are all handmade and original and keep the community flowing together. Everyone is supporting each other and she said she saw a richer sense of community and happiness.”
Rose is of Italian decent and she has always loved traveling; the Gypsy archetype spoke strongly to her in a traditional sense. She loves wandering the world and connecting with people and places. Her words stirred the adventurer close to my heart; endeavours of discovery and limitless creativity, where the nomadic spirit is set free.
“I really loved the birth of the name Santa Fe Gypsy. It felt like an honour to the lovely woman I had encountered on my travels as well as an honour to traditional cultures and family crafts and keeping that alive in the world.” Rose reflects.
I began to remember encounters and fond memories of connection with diverse cultures, and the moments where a community embraces another human being and his or her intrinsic gifts. Rose’s designs are beautiful, unique and sometimes dive into a bold edginess that I love. I asked her how she felt the colours affected the wearer. “I feel that colour and pattern do play a big role in the way a person feels, conducts themselves, communicates and regulates emotion and mood. I feel colours have this transforming effect on the wearer that allows them to express certain aspects or truths about themselves that they would not normally.”
I feel this is most acute. Often people speak louder through actions, energy and other forms of expression, than words.
Rose shared that she works a lot with hemp, organic cotton (hand loomed by the Kalawai women in Burma), jute, cypress and bamboo. She’s recently started working with an 100% vegan leather made from mushrooms! Amazing!
“I have sat with the people and watched them loom and weave the cotton into material pieces, an amazing process to be a part of.” she said. “I personally love to wear natural fibres, and working with them is such a cathartic process, it really is transforming. It is important to me to use natural fibres and materials as again this links into the ethics of sustainability and Earth care principles. I like showing that we are able to use what we have been given on this Earth, fibres and plant materials that are useable. There is a link in the cycle from plant to material fibre for cloth making.”
Having grown up on the land and having an intimate connection with nature, I also feel it is imperative to produce art from material that is in alignment with conscious business and how it affects the Earth and each person it reaches. It is a ripple affect, and a powerful ripple indeed. With this in mind, I pondered deeper about possible challenges Rose may have come across developing her business; “I would say the aspect of only offering limited pieces to potential buyers. Influencing the process of slow fashion, less is more. But I feel people are becoming more interested in the idea of clothing that isn’t massed produced and the beauty of unique one off pieces. It’s an evolving process and over time I feel more people are appreciating slower fashion practices - becoming aware of the human and planet effect it has along the way.”
Often when I travel I find myself drawn to tiny villages where the locals only speak in native tongue or remote places where no other human can be seen; stumbling across hidden cafe’s and shops or tiny bookstores that if you tried opening your arms wide, you’d hit the walls. The home-grown richness is priceless and one of a kind. I find myself staring at a half finished painting knowing that I will never paint another like it and every time it feels as though something else came through me to create it.
We move back into community, fair-trade and ethical business. I am passionate about these topics because of experiences with fear-based marketing and where the trade was unethical. I feel deeply that this is not authentic business and there is an opportunity on the verge of consciousness; for a ground-breaking transformation. Rose elaborates on my musings, “I think we are living in a world that is really starting to adopt these values. Human awareness is becoming more highlighted. In the process of fair trade and organic ethical businesses, I think all areas of the business model need to be checked to ensure that the ethos of ethical and or fair trade are adhered to. Sometimes this is an evolving process and only some elements of the business are in line with these ethics. It is about keeping the bigger picture in mind, securing a better way of living for everyone, from the person weaving the materials, to how they are directly paid, preservation of community beliefs, price given to the consumer, information shared honestly with the public, and giving back. A cycle really for me displays a natural flow aligned with people and the planet.“
To me this is describing respect for both the outer world; the relationship with others and nature and inner world; the relationship with ourselves. This brings deeper gratitude, grace and reverence to all forms of life. Considering that a large majority of people on the planet wear clothes every day, that is a major aspect of the world’s outer expression. At the most basic level, clothes keep us warm or sheltered from the sun. Taking a side step for a moment, I feel an important aspect of shedding my outer appearance is also letting go of old clothes and donating them to others less fortunate.
The body is a temple that supports the soul in existing in this world; the body is also directly linked to the Earth. It seems logical to be attentive.
Rose adds a little wisdom, “…I would say trust your ideas and test them out, if I have learned anything, it is that you have to test the waters even if you don’t have the full set up.”
It only takes a random concept, that sinks in, on the edges of dreams, a murmur in the small hours of the morning. That spark of inspiration, when watered, nurtured and given time, can develop and manifest into reality.
Blog written by Laura Naomi
Got an inspiring story? Drop us a line we'd love to hear it!
© Laura Naomi
WANT A ONE OF A KIND DESIGN?
Santa Fe Gypsy: www.santafegypsy.com.au and Instagram
Rose is showcasing designs at her local event @RAW: RAW Natural Born Artists, Thursday 27th May 2017
In her current project Rose is working with Shipibo embroidery: www.neishaclothing.com
*Santa Fe Gypsy does not waste any remnants of material or fabric in their process of design. It continues to be held and reused for other projects that may arise or passed on to other designers.
Blogs are inspired by transformation of the human spirit, by love, wellness and the journey of the soul. The writing is to inspire and raise awareness.