A tablescape reflective of the late harvest season almost feels as though it requires the care, thoughtfulness, and diligence commensurate with the awe inspiring power of this season of deepest reflection. Accordingly, I have put great care into developing a variation on last year’s theme, and I am most pleased to share it with you now.
Last year at this time, I shared my vision for a deeply contemplative tablescape. Click here to revisit that design. At that time, I chose to embellish the centerpiece in seasonally-inspired flowers. I made that decision because fresh flora and fauna add a wonderful touch to any table and help to offset a table design that can be construed as eerie or creepy, especially when sinister was the very last thing I was going for. This is still a wonderful option and is a table motif I remain most proud of.
Last Year’s Table Design:
This year, however, I gave myself permission to refrain from any offsetting and to further explore the introspective energy in the air. Accordingly, the most profound changes occur in the centerpiece where I have resisted the temptation to add seasonal flowers and berries and have instead decided to create a series of three unique and meaningful vignettes. Below, I will speak a bit about theming and detail the specifics of these updates…
This Year’s Table Design:
As I originally printed in my raven tablescape post from last October and then reprinted in my mini journal post … According to authors, Jamie Sams & David Carson from Medicine Cards: The Discovery of Power Through the Ways of the Animals, the raven symbolizes magic and “can give you the courage to enter the darkness of the void, which is the home of all that is not yet in form.” (p.101) This makes raven the perfect symbol for the deep levels of reflection characteristic of this this late harvest time of year and the festival in its honor.
Vignettes are small collections of visual treasures. Like wonderful sculptures, they are fascinating to behold from all angles. They are composed of stunning and thought provoking elements and combine to offer every guest a unique and valuable perspective for contemplation.
Vignette #1: The Central-Most Collection
This vignette includes the following:
- a raven masquerade mask: I purchased several of these from Victorian Trading Co. The concept here is to suggest two complementary reflections:
- What masks do each of us wear and are we willing to look behind them?
- What would it feel like to take the perspective of the raven who symbolizes looking deeply into the unknown and are we willing to take that leap?
- a candelabra draped with vintage black and white pearls and holding three white palm wax tapers: The candelabra was purchased on Amazon.com for my May Victorian Tablescape. Reusing lovely items at varying festivals whenever appropriate really helps on cost. The pearls came from a lot of vintage jewelry from ebay, originally purchased for my Romantic Vintage Pearl and Hankie Spring Tablescape. I have reused these again and again for countless occasions! The palm wax tapers were purchased from Aloha Bay. I love the way palm wax resists dripping and appears almost to sparkle. These tapers add a magical touch to any tablescape while at the same time burning much more cleanly than paraffin.Conceptually, the candles represent the anchoring light to guide one back after deep contemplation. Seasonally, they also represent the contribution of light to this the darkest season of the year (ultimately culminating in winter solstice, the day with the least amount of sunlight). The vintage pearls represent the connection to those people and ideas in our past, reminding us to cherish our lessons and influences, and carry forward those that still inspire and inform us while lovingly releasing those that are no longer relevant.
- a raven statue: This compelling statue was one of three purchased at Gaelsong. They are all featured in this tablescape (one in each vignette). Their deep symbolic meaning is explained above (see “Why ravens?”)
This vignette includes the following:
- a Colm de Ris ewer: This gorgeous piece of Irish pottery purchased gently used from ebay acts as a perfect addition to this vignette offering culture, texture, color, and a method of infusing the element of water into the tablescape.
- three small, vintage books: I am a hopeless book lover, forever lost in their richness and beauty. To me they are troves of knowledge and imagination. They add so much to this tablescape theme with their inherent value in reflection and introspection. I reached into my library and selected several small and vintage representatives and happily sprinkled them on the table.
- several vintage pearl necklaces: These are more of the pearls from that same lot of vintage jewelry from ebay mentioned above and originally purchased for my Romantic Vintage Pearl and Hankie Spring Tablescape.
- a raven statue: This is another of three purchased at Gaelsong.
- a tea light candle: Offering the same conceptual value as the central candles but on a smaller scale, this white tea light is also made from palm wax and was also purchased online at Aloha Bay. My candle holder is literally a a reticulated silver napkin ring sitting atop an upside-down black porcelain cup. The tea light rests inside the napkin holder. In the picture above the candle ensemble sits behind the ewer, so it is out of view, but it is visible in that of the central-most collection.
- a small black lantern containing a white, palm wax tea light: This mini lantern was purchased on Amazon with the conceptual reasons for candles as just explained.
- four more small, vintage books: As in Vignette #2, these are selections from my personal library.
- a crystal ball: This striking artifact purchased from Victorian Trading Co. represents in yet another form the idea of introspecting and looking through the haze to find one’s own answers
- a magnifier pendant: This gorgeous necklace (pictured below) rests against the books. It was also purchased at Victorian Trading Co. and challenges the brave to take a closer look within themselves. At the same time it connects the display to eras gone by when necklaces such as these were in fashion.
- a small black bowl containing vintage pearls and cameos: These pearls also hailed from the same vintage lot of costume jewelry. The cameos came from a similar lot. Both were found on ebay. The bowl is one of the same set that was used for a candle holder in Vignette #2. I have had these for a long time and am not sure where they were purchased, but they are very simple custard-like cups that came with a fondue set.
- a raven statue: This is the third of the three coordinating designs purchased at Gaelsong.
Other Aspects of Variation:
- The injection of white: White offers comfort to guests who may feel unsure about the preponderance of the color black on the table, the ravens, the crystal ball, or any other unfamiliar aspects of the vignettes. I decided after eliminating the flowers from the table that the injection of this color was in order. (In last year’s design, I opted for black candles, since I felt the seasonal flora acted as a sufficient buffer.) Accordingly, I used the white bobbin lace tumblers originally purchased from Victorian Trading Co. for my Victorian May Tablescape as well as white candles.
- Napkin positioning: In last year’s design, I fanned the napkins almost akin to raven wings. For this year, I decided that the relative business of the vignette centerpiece necessitated a more subdued napkin treatment. Accordingly, I simply folded the napkins into quarters and laid them vertically between the salad and dinner plates.
- Reflective journals: Last year, I opted for raven place cards. This year, in keeping with the presence of the books as part of the centerpiece, I decided to create personalized mini journals for each guest. These were intended as festival favors complementing the theme of deep, inner reflecting. Their personalization, however, negated the need for additional place cards. I simply rested these atop the salad plates.
- Chair bows: For similar reasons to the injection of white, I decided to carry through on the deep blue chair sashes furnishing one on every chair. Last year, I only placed bows at the two head chairs. The others were still covered just not embellished.
Happy late harvest and may your reflections be fruitful!