My favorite part of Christmas is putting up my tree. I love opening the boxes of ornaments and unwrapping each one.
For some reason I can’t explain, I can remember when and where I got each one and holding them each year is a sort of touchstone for me to hold on to those times of my life. For that reason, I love to give and receive ornaments as gifts. An ornament is a perfect simple gift, or it can be attached to the wrapping for a more elaborate gift. There are lots of ways to make ornaments, and I thought I would share a few of my favorites.
Beaded fruit: You can now buy “micro beads” – tiny glass or plastic beads that you apply to a surface with glue or double-sided tape – from most craft stores. Start with a nice piece of “faux-fruit”. This is also available at your craft store. I prefer Styrofoam to plastic or wax. If the fruit is not already colored, start by painting it. When the paint is dry, pour your beads into a dish or bowl slightly larger than your fruit. Paint thick white glue over about ¼ of the fruit and, using a spoon, hold the fruit over the dish and ladle beads onto the glued part of the fruit. Allow that to dry and then do the next ¼ continuing until the entire piece is covered. I have found that clear beads over metallic or pastel painted fruit are lovely. Colored beads look beautiful over darker fruits (for example red beads over an apple.)
Glittered foam core board or wood: You can create simple designs, such as snowflakes, balls, dragonflies, or skates by tracing and cutting out the shape on foam core board or thin wood available from craft stores. If you use wood, you will want to seal and paint it before applying your glitter. Purchase ‘art’ glitter (such as that available from Art Institute Glitter) at your craft store. Art glitter is extremely fine – unlike the glitter flakes we used in elementary school. Using thick white glue, outline, draw designs (squiggles, swirls, etc.) or otherwise embellish your cutout. Put your glitter into a bowl and spoon it over the wet glue. Tap it lightly to remove excess and let dry. Punch a hole in the top and string with clear filament or a metallic thread. You can write the person’s name on the ornament with glitter or a metallic pen and use these ornaments as gift tags.
Marbleized Glass Balls: Pull the metal top off a glass ball ornament and put aside. Using acrylic paint (I like Delta Ceramcoat for this because it is a thin paint, but any craft paint that is thin enough to run will do.) pour in a small amount and let it run down the side. You may wish to swirl it around a bit, but you don’t need to do a lot of this. Do the same with at least two more colors. I like to use gold, cream and white, or gold, burgundy, and red, or black, blue and silver, for example. Swirl the paint until all of the glass is covered and then tip it upside down to let all the excess paint drain out. The upside down cap from a spray paint can work well to hold the ball in place. It can take several days to dry. Once dry, put the metal top back on and the piece is ready to hang. You can further embellish the outside of the ball with a glitter or metallic pen.
There are lots of great ideas for ornaments. It makes a fun gift – especially if you are exchanging gifts with the person at a Holiday party before Christmas – or just a creative and practical gift tag that the receiver will keep for years to come. Use your imagination and the sky’s the limit!
© 2002 Tera Leigh