Friday, December 11, 2009

Handmade Holiday Ornaments

These are very messy but a lot of fun!

You will need the following:

  • clear glass ornaments (found at Michaels and other craft stores)
  • floral moss (sheet moss, reindeer moss, etc., found at craft stores and florist shops)
  • small plastic berries, twigs, leaves, etc. (they have to fit through the opening in the ornament)
  • glue, preferably low odor (Tacky Glue works well and is available in clear)
  • small cheap paintbrush for applying glue (optional)
  • glitter (I prefer "crystal," which is a shimmery white color)
  • Diamond Dust (optional...if you use this please read and follow the "warning" on the label)
  • cheap, disposable "bowl" or jar (I use old salsa jars and large yogurt containers)
  • plastic spoons
  • a wire cutter (for trimming the artificial twigs, berries, etc.)
  • an accommodating workspace that can be cleaned up easily (I always use old newspapers to cover my work area)
Warning: This is not a project that I would recommend for children. The glass ornaments are fragile and they will shatter if handled improperly. Some glues need to be used in a well-ventilated area. If you happen to use a strong-smelling glue, let the ornaments air out for a few days in an appropriate area before placing the cover back onto the opening. Finally, Diamond Dust is BEAUTIFUL but it's basically tiny bits of crushed glass. Using glitter (preferably looks classier) will achieve a similar effect.

Now for the fun part! Select which berries/twigs/mosses (I will call these "ingredients") you want to go inside of your ornament. Lightly coat parts of the ingredients with glue, then drop them into a bowl of glitter and/or Diamond Dust. Use the plastic spoon to swirl them around in the glitter, giving all the glued areas a good coating. Scoop them out and gently shake any excess glitter into the bowl. Carefully remove the cover from the opening of the ornament. Gently place your newly frosted flora into the opening. You may need to shake the ornament a little to arrange the flora properly. You can put as many "ingredients" into the ornament as you like, but I personally think that the ornaments are more striking with just a few simple components.
You can stop here unless you are daring. If you like the look, leave the ornament sitting out for a few hours without the cover, to allow the glue to dry. If you want to add a little more sparkle, carefully brush or squeeze some glue into the ornament along the sides. I like to just drizzle the glue directly into the ornament making circular patterns. Then pour a spoonful of glitter into the opening of the ornament, and swirl it around a few times. Make sure the glue areas are thoroughly covered with glitter, then gently shake out any excess. You can also add glitter to the outside of the ornament if you like.
This is an entertaining project that requires a bit of experimentation to determine the look(s) that you like. The ornaments look beautiful on the tree, especially when strategically placed near lights. I like to hang them around the dining room light fixture (see photo above) to dress it up for the holidays. Have fun!

(I realize that I have about 5 different fonts in this post... it's not by choice).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hand Painted Glassware

I love painting on canvas, but there is something about painting on shiny glass that I find mesmerizing! Glass is tricky. First of all, it breaks! Finding the right paint is also an experiment. There are wonderful paints out there for painting glass; however, some are just not suitable for the effect I want to achieve. I am playing around with different non-toxic enamels, and my favorites so far are Liquitex Glossies and FolkArt Enamels, which can be found at art supply stores like Jerry's Artarama, Michael's, and A.C. Moore.

I have been "upcycling" old wine glasses around the house...some had a tiny crack, some were just too flimsy to they have a happy home on a top shelf in the dining room (out of the reach of little hands) as pretty, shiny things.

In the very near future, I plan to sell these as sets with various themes (involving trees, of course). I would not be using my old broken glasses, those are just for practice! I would like to have a few sets in time to sell for New Year's Eve, but that may not happen as this is an incredibly busy time of year.

If you have any glasses around the house that are cracked or just not being used, why not experiment with glass painting? Even if you do not consider yourself an artist, you can stick with very simple designs or even use a stencil. Be sure to clean the glasses thoroughly before painting, then wipe them down with rubbing alcohol. After painting them, you can bake them in the oven (follow the directions on the paint bottle) to "set" the paint. This is especially important if you are going to be using the glasses and washing them. Older kids would love this project, supervised of course.

Friday, December 4, 2009

DIY project...Cozy Blanket (no sewing)

This is a great gift idea for any age! It's easy (no sewing required) and there are tons of fleece patterns out there so you can make it a very personal handmade gift.

I made two (see photo) for our little girls a year ago and they have held up nicely through multiple washings (and I emphasize MULTIPLE)! It doesn't take long to make... I made two in a day with several interruptions. Plus, it's relatively inexpensive if you find the fabric on sale... Jo Ann Fabrics is one of many great places to buy fleece fabric and they often have sales. By the way, if you are making the blanket for an adult, just use more fabric.

Here is a link to the instructions, or if you prefer more vibrant instructions just do a search for "no sew fleece blanket" and you will get numerous results. Have fun!