You probably already know my friend Heather Land.  Of course she was one of the first people I asked to contribute when I decided to do the 12 DIY Days of Christmas.  In true Heather form, she did not disappoint!  This year, I plan on beginning to collect vintage consume jewelry to make one of the beautiful pieces of art for next Christmas.  

Vintage Heirloom Tree by Heather Land
My mother has always said that my style and creative spirit reminded her of her own grandmother, my “Granny” - Mattie Kraus. While it is no surprise that my great-grandmother’s generation was an era of do-it-yourself necessity, Granny was also a creative spirit - a maker in every way. She made not only for daily life, she made to express herself. If I had to guess, she couldn’t help herself; it is that way for me. I have no doubt that had I been privy to her younger years, we would speak the same language creatively.
I have two things in my possession that belonged to, first, my Granny, next, my Memaw (Beverly Jane), and until recent, my Mother. One is a very old painting - that has served as the color scheme of my life for over a decade now. It has hung in each house I have lived in as my own. Its colors show up in every space I create and even in the sleeve on my arm.

The second is my reason for this post. It is, in fact, my most cherished Christmas decoration. Ive never seen another one. Just as the painting, it might represent me in a way only I understand. It could absolutely be the inspiration for a holiday installation at Anthropologie. It is the epitome of a classy-cool vintage heirloom; one that I will pass on to my own girls as something to remember the essence of me at Christmas. As if all the years that have passed since it was originally made weren’t enough, a few years ago it took a beating in poor storage and has since been in need of repair. Many of the original jewels were missing. So this year, it got some much needed TLC to bring it back to life, and its restoration now holds even more family history.
My husband’s grandmother, Thesta Clotill, was also an insanely creative spirit. She too, was, effortlessly, a maker of all things. And my mother-in-law was kind enough to give me a box of her old costume jewels to add to my sweet tree.

Quite honestly, there are only a handful of “things” I would find personally valuable in the mix of all the wonderful things that make up our home - this is one. If it were the only thing I had to represent Christmas, it would make me perfectly happy.
I wanted to contribute something that was simple, inexpensive and/or free, that brought out a spirit of making and even more so, might be the beginning of an heirloom to be passed down, just as my own was.

Just ask. Ask your family if any one has a stash of costume jewels in a closet, or in the attic. If you have to, you can readily find it at thrift/antique shops.

You will need:
- A frame with the glass - preferably an old one (shown here as 11x13ish) - reduce, reuse, recycle - **This could even be something hidden in the attic.
- As much costume jewelry as you can get your hands on
- A piece of material, velvet, paper - as a backer behind the glass
- A tube of E6000 crafting adhesive
- A damp sponge backed with a light scour pad (for cleaning up adhesive from glass, hands, etc) A pair of pliers (not necessary, I was able to simply twist of the metal ear clamps when I wanted them off. Some you will want to leave on to help add to the “texture” of the tree.
- Oh, and a roaring fire and Frank Sinatra Holiday station on. Trust me.
You can make it last as long as you want. This repair took me no more than 30 minutes. Make it on your own, or invite someone you love to help. Make a plan, invite a group of your people over and make a night of it.
Please tag me in your own trees! It would melt my heart to see.
There is no rhyme or reason. You layer your pieces organically, maybe starting with the 3 points of the tree (leaving room for a “trunk” at the bottom and a “star” at the top- and maybe an inch around all sides). Once you get a good start, it will quickly begin to take shape. Most of the earrings were pairs; and I would simply lay them all out in front of me and scatter the color as necessary. I layered until it was visually pleasing to me. I even used an old rhinestone bracelet link and weaved a “garland” in a few places.
My personal aesthetic is collected and eclectic; this is hard to mimic as it would naturally take many years for this look to seem real. And real vs. styled wins out for me every time. To do it (create this look) in one fail swoop, takes a mindfulness to NOT TRY TO HARD. Seriously! Don’t think about it too much. It cannot be matchy-matchy or perfect - instead, it should be perfectly imperfect. It is, for me, a collection of things that you love. If you truly know what you love - like what is most representative of you - it will all “go” on its own.
But MAKE IT YOUR OWN. What is your personal aesthetic? If you love rustic/woodsy, or mixed metals or a very specific color-scheme, DO THAT. Choose everything accordingly, starting with your frame. Let the finished product be something that speaks of you to the ones you will leave it to.
I send Merry-Making and Good Spirits to each of you this Christmas. Slow down and relish in the season; don’t let it overwhelm you. Make it your own.

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