At first glance, you might think the elements in this striking centerpiece were carved from stone a couple of millennia ago. But we got the museum-worthy effect by giving artificial fruit a quick dip in plaster.
Plaster of Paris powder is very light and fine, so wear a dust mask while mixing to avoid breathing it in. It also hardens quickly, so do not dispose of it in a sink, drain, or toilet, where it can cause clogs. Instead, let it dry in the mixing container, tap to loosen the edges, and empty into the garbage. To remove plaster from mixing utensils, scrape off hardened plaster, wipe with a damp cloth, and wash as usual. Once hardened, arrange the artificial fruit on an equally pretty vessel. We used a gold tray, but the brilliant thing about this tableau is that it looks good with any palette or décor. Another idea: Set individual pears or apples at each place setting on your holiday table.
(Also pictured: KPM Arkadia soup cup and saucer, $275, tableartonline.com.)