I love Autumn. If you go to my Instagram account you’ll see some pictures of a lovely autumnal walk I took at the start of the season. There’s something about walking in a landscape brushed with gold, bronze and red, bright apples peeking through foilage, the air crisp and cool. It’s such an exciting time.
However I’m not such a fan of Halloween. I don’t know whether its because having been in the police when I was younger I’ve seen enough gore, but the innocence of halloween that I experienced as a child seems to be being replaced by vivid depictions of horror and overly sexualised costumes for women. Bleugh!
Having moved to France, a country steeped in Catholicism, even though it’s state is sadly secular, I’ve been reintroduced to All Souls with new eyes. Perhaps the protestant nature of England has resulted in an inherent skepticism of this feast, and the following All Saints day, due to the rejection of the doctrine of purgatory. But here the end of October brings swathes of chrysanthemums to be placed on family graves even as the stores fill with the tacky halloween decor. All Souls sees family members visiting the graves of loved ones, praying for their dead and showing their love to those who have gone before.
This really is the point of these feasts; we’re recognising that through Christ we are saved and that we will be in heaven with all those we love again one day. How awesome is that?
So I wanted to have some decor which I could build on each year to celebrate this under-rated feast and I started with this table centrepiece. It’s on a tray, so moveable which is oh so important when you have little ones about. It’s also has lost of autumnal things so can be brought out before the feast itself – pumpkins, pine cones, silk chrysanthemums and varying silk heathers.
The pumpkins are just ceramic ones I bought for a Euro each, I spray painted two of them as I didn’t like the colours. The pine cones I gathered with the children and my daughter later painted them with clear, glitter paint. This was a wonderful opportunity to start talking with her about what this feast was about.
The silk flowers were arranged and the stalks blended to fit the box, the glass tea light holder was placed in the middle with the pine cones around it, and the pumpkins were placed there too. The central candle is a deliciously scented pumpkin spice.
Around the outside of the tray I wrote the ‘Eternal Rest‘ prayer that every Catholic knows. There have been times when I have suffered real grief and the prayer just seemed to resound in me, giving me such consolation. It felt like I was connected to all the Catholics who had ever said it in time and space, on Earth and in heaven.
If you don’t know how to transfer lettering to wood like this I thought I’d write down how I did it.
- Write out the prayer on whatever word document you have. Chose the font that
you think most suits your project. As my tray had handles I knew I’d either have to make the script really small, to make sure it all fit beneath the holes of the handles, or vary the size of the script according to where these holes where. As I wanted the words to stand out I chose the latter, choosing the parts of the prayer I find most significant to make bigger.
- Whatever way you chose to approach the handles problem you need to ensure that the text size is appropriate for the space you have and I did this by simply printing it off and placing it on the tray edge. Due to my text variations I had to selectaively place mine so I also cut the text, sperating the words, so I could place and replace them. When I was satisfied with the text position and size I photographed where everything was and continued on to the next step.
- On the back of each piece of paper I outlined the script which shows through when you print in black. You have to make sure you have a thick line.
- Replace the paper where it needs to be and then with the pencil press hard, rubbing over the outline. This causes the graphite on the other side to imprint on the wood.
- Once you have finished use this outline to guide you to draw the letters, I used a pen like this one as it has a ‘paint’ effect that works well with wood. I also used a silver ‘sharpie’ style pen to highlight important lettering.
- There was one problem; no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t make the text size fit the underneath of the handle. So I chose two different illustrations that fitted it and followed the same method. I just put “black and white, drawing of angel”, for example, and chose a suitable one. I embellished them, but the use of the template was invaluable.
I love the fact that it’s something I can bring out every year, that I can add to and that my daughters have contributed. What do you think?