Here in the Pacific Northwest, it doesn’t feel like summer until August. Nevertheless, it’s time to change my spring mantel arrangement into something a little more summery.
One of the things I love about summer is the return of the bees. I love to watch them on my flowers and listen to them buzzing around my herb garden. If I wasn’t deathly allergic to their stings, I’d be a beekeeper. Even so, I’m considering it. What’s a near-death experience when you can harvest fresh honey from your own backyard apiary?
When it came time to decorate my fireplace mantel for the summer, I thought a bee theme would be fun (not to mention less dangerous than building a hive in my backyard). The only thing I own that works for a grouping like this is an antique honey jar I bought a few years ago from a little farm stand out in the country.
If you remember from my spring mantel makeover, my goal is to decorate my mantel without spending any money (okay, so maybe a little money). Mostly, I look around for things I already own or can make myself. Well, one little honey jar doesn’t make for a very interesting summer-themed mantel, so I had some work to do.
First, I created some bee art on a piece of 5×7 canvas I already had. I printed a bumblebee line drawing from this website onto parchment-style paper, tore the edges, and modge-podged it onto the canvas using a homemade mixture of equal parts Elmer’s glue and water.
I painted the edges with black acrylic paint, let that dry, and then dabbled over it with gold. I wouldn’t normally do this kind of finish, but the canvas sits back in the shadows and the gold helped soften the edges. I finished it with a little raffia bow.
As you can see from the photo, I also found a couple of gold coffee mugs to use as vases for the bright blue flowers I picked from my yard. The wire garland of amber-colored beads was a thrift-store find. I love it.
I added some candles and a giant letter Z from the clearance section of my local craft store. It’s supposed to represent “Bzzzz” but it would probably work better if I had a giant letter B. Oh well.
Still, the mantle needed a little extra something, so I decided to make a honey sign, like something you might see at a farm stand. I rummaged up a piece of scrap wood from the garage and painted it up. I wanted it to look rustic and weathered, so I didn’t worry that the board was a little dirty and rough. All the better! Still, it needed something so I wrapped it in a bit of leftover chicken wire from the garage (instead of decorating mantels, I should probably clean my garage). I love that chicken wire has a honeycomb pattern. Perfect.
It turned out cute, although a little more “country” than I was going for. I might put a glaze over it to tone it down a bit, but then again, maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll just stick more stuff in front of it…
Finally, I arranged everything this way:
But that was a little too balanced, so then I arranged it this way:
Then I moved it back the other way. I can’t decide which way I like it better. Furthermore, I think the entire thing turned out a little too “cute” for me, but it is kind of casual which I like for the summer. I’ll probably tinker with it some more. I will sit here in my chair and stare at it and think of ways to make it less cute and more artsy instead of cleaning my garage like I should. That’s probably a really good use of my time.
So there you have it! My summer mantel on a budget. What do you think? Is it too cutesy, or just right?