Dried tree or shrub branches can be found at many craft- and floral-supply stores, as well as in your own garden. Look for graceful shapes and an airy form, with or without leaves. Use a single branch or a grouping of slender pieces, and add sculptural seedpods or dried flowers if desired. A glance around your house will most likely yield the perfect tree "stand" (we used a salad bowl, metal and ceramic pots, and even a small stone). Here are a few ideas to try.
A forest of cone-tipped branches rising from a wooden salad bowl is secured in a base of plaster of paris covered with pebbles. A light coat of silver paint on the cones hints at wintry frost.
Eucalyptus branches with built-in "decorative bells" sit gracefully atop a bed of sphagnum moss. The branches are secured with plaster of paris in a bamboo salad bowl spray-painted antique gold
Red-barked manzanita, with its dried leaves, arches from a ceramic pot. Polished black pebbles mask a base of plaster of paris. Gold-painted pods from a liquidambar tree are attached to the branches with copper wire.
Tawny-colored dried flowers are glued to a manzanita branch, which is anchored with small river rocks.
Silver-painted sprays of dried statice fit snuggly in a hole drilled into a stone with a 1/8-inch masonry bit.
–Peter O. Whiteley, Sunset