Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Handmade Christmas-Tree Ornaments

These handmade Christmas tree ornaments are unbreakable. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I'm going to show these and explain in brief detail how I made them. They are all simple and reasonably fast to make. A lot of them are created from repurposed materials and some are from kits. Kits are handy since they can save you time tracking down materials and you don't end up with a lot of leftover odds and ends when you are finished.

About 22 years ago, we were at a large charity yard sale. There was a beautiful crystal chandelier there for only $5. As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be wonderful to clean up, take apart and use the crystal beads and drops as tree ornaments.  The beads that gracefully draped over the armature of the light were joined together with thin gauge craft wire. We had dug up a small cedar tree to use as a Christmas tree that year and along with the crystal drops and some painted wooden ornaments from a kit, I tied some red, narrow satin ribbon on the ends of some of the cedar branches and the tree had a very Victorian look to it.
At another yard sale, a few years later, I found a book of counted cross stitch ornaments and worked up some of those for the tree. That year, I also did some crocheted stockings that are reversible and some crochets snowflakes. They are pictured here along with one of the wooden kit ornaments I mentioned in the first paragraph.
These little angels, I call Asthma Angels. When my son was young, he had asthma. For years, I looked at the plastic inhaler container, trying to figure out a way to craft with them. I came up with the angel idea. First, I spray painted the bases gold. The heads are wooden balls, painted for the faces. Their wings are stiffened scraps of lace. Before gluing the wooden balls to the asthma container with hot glue, I glued a 5 inch piece of ribbon on the insides of the container to use as a hanger. After gluing the ball on, I added some polyester batting for hair, then glued a small circle made from a glitter pipe cleaner to the head for the halo.
These are kid friendly projects and were done with my sons Cub Scout pack one year. This picture has ornaments made from some of the notched craft sticks I used for the train village. A simple snowflake embellished with paint, glitter paint and odds and ends that range from acrylic jewels to large sequins. On the left side of this picture is a glitter pipe cleaner stem icicle that was cut to a 6 inch length, then wrapped around a pencil. The hanger is a strand of metallic DMC embroidery floss. We had some cedar limbs in the yard, my husband cut them into discs and the Scouts decorated them with glitter and a lot of odds and ends. Ribbon is hot glued to the sides of the disc for the hanger.  If your kids are young, you should probably be the one in charge of the hot glue gun.
The clothespin reindeer was made by my son's preschool teacher. It's just 2 clothespins glued together, one turned upside down and glued to the others and some googley eyes and a ribbon added. The painted wooded heart was another Cub Scout project. The hearts were painted gold-or whatever color you want, with acrylic paints. When dry, they were embellished with glitter paints and whatever odds and end were on hand, including flat back, faceted, acrylic gemstones. Ribbon is glued to the sides of the heart for hangers. This beaded star is made from 6mm acrylic, faceted beads woven on craft wire.
At an after Christmas sale, I found a box of the satin thread ornaments for .25. I used scraps of lace, ribbon, glitter paint and the flat back gemstones for accents on them. Kids can do this project, too.
For these colorful ornaments, I used some Christmas fabric that I cut shapes out of. Then, I embroidered around some of the area with metallic DMC floss and lightly stuffed them with polyester 
fiberfill. I whip stitched the edges together and sewed ribbons ends together on the back for the hanger.

These are shoulder pad angels. This idea comes from Aileen-she used to have a craft show, magazine and lots of craft products on the market. She is the creator of Tacky Glue. These angels are probably about 16 or 17 years old.  I got some blouses with shoulder pads at a yard sale. Cut them off the blouses and covered them with fabric. I added some satin balls with faces painted on them by using fabric glue and decorated with glitter paint. Their wings are stiffened ribbon and lace and the hanging ribbon is glued between the body and the wings.
These felt ornaments are among my favorites. The penguins are from a kit, but I loved making them so much, I got more felt and made patterns for  the snowmen and the reindeer. The antler pattern is an applique pattern. I had a string of those little acrylic lightbulbs that I decided to add to them to the antlers. The snowmen are made from glitter felt. All are stuffed with polyester fiberfill. The reindeer eyes and snowman nose are embroidered on.

These icicle ornaments are made from a kit. One for the gold and one for the clear. They are acrylic snowflake beads and round acrylic beads on a chenille stem.
The clear tree in this picture is from a kit. It's 6mm acrylic beads woven on a thin gauge craft wire. I had some glass beads I wasn't going to use for anything, so I took the tree ornaments one step further and used those to make the tree ornaments with different color craft wire. I made an attempt to weave some snowflakes using acrylic beads but instead wound up with the freeform shape that is in this picture. I made a lot of those as it was a good way to use up leftover beads.
I hope these two blog posts about handmade decorations and ornaments have given you some ideas for this holiday season. Many of these are easy for kids to do, so what better way to have some good quality family time before Christmas and create some great holiday d├ęcor and some even better holiday memories.
If you would like to know more details about making any of these ornaments, just leave me a comment on my blog, along with your email address. All blog comments are moderated, so I will not publish your email address when I publish your comment.


Monday, November 15, 2010

A Handmade Christmas-Decorations

In the next few blog posts, I am going to show you some Christmas decorations and ornaments I have made throughout the years. As I was editing the photographs, I noticed how many of them are showing their age. That's fine-they have nice memories with that age. Many of them are made from recycled items partly to save the budget, partly to be “green”, and partly because that's what I had on hand to create with. I call the style Victorian Folk Art Eclectic.

It's safe to say that 99% of our holiday decorations are handmade. I started doing the handmade Christmas stuff when our son was 18 months old. He was quite mobile and I didn't want him to break any decorations and hurt himself, so for years, our house and tree decorations were unbreakable. It also cut down on the “no, don't touch” factor. Once I started, I couldn't seem to stop. I was a holiday craft magazine junkie for many years. Many of the things you will see in these posts are from magazines I no longer have. If I did, I would certainly give credit for the inspiration where credit is due. I modified a lot of the ideas to suit what I had on hand or what I was seeing the final outcome look like in my head. I laid in a good supply of glitter and glitter paint because of the things I have always loved best about Christmas is the color and sparkle.

The first picture is of Glitter Village. This has gone on the top of many different TV's over the years and is certainly showing it's age. It's lasted 23 years. I used empty cereal and cracker boxes to make it from a scaled down pattern of a gingerbread house. The centerpiece is on a piece of foil covered cardboard with cotton balls glued all around. The trees have 4 inch long trunks that are folded about an inch down and glued to the foil. The individual ones either filled out the top of the TV or wherever there was an empty space.


Next we have Mr. and Mrs. Claus. They are made from the tubes from plastic wrap and foil. I think those are sturdier than paper towel tubes. The outfit Mrs. Claus is wearing is a strip of dark red velvet that is glued to the tube with spray glue. Her apron is cut from a piece of lace table cloth and tied on with a piece of ribbon. Parts of her apron is highlighted with white glitter fabric paint that has yellowed over time. Her hat is simply a round piece of velvet that I made a yoyo out of. Santa is wearing a red sticky back felt suit with a black sticky back felt belt. A gold glitter fabric paint belt buckle adds a bit of sparkle. His feet were supposed to be a large wooden heart, but since I didn't have one of those, I cut a large heart shape out of corrugated cardboard and painted it black. His hat and arms have thin gauge craft wire in the sleeves so he can hold his candy canes. Mrs. Claus also has wire in her arms so she can hold her bell bouquet. She has no feet because her apron supports her. The faces are the bases of those satin thread ornament balls you see in the dollar stores. They have a smoother surface than regular styrofoam does and it's easier to paint. They both have hair made from polyester batting. They are about 18 years old.

The little polar bears that are all dressed up are those little honey bottles you see in the grocery. Getting those cleaned out is the hardest part of this project and getting the label off completely. To paint the inside, pour a little bit of white acrylic paint inside and swirl it around, trying to coat the insides completely. It will take 2 or 3 coats to do this. Be sure and let each coat of paint dry completely before adding the next one. If necessary, you can touch up inside with a small paintbrush. The part where the label was is painted like a gift with real ribbon glued on the package. The hats are made from small childrens' socks that have had the foot cut off. They are glued to the lip of the bottle. The top is tied tight with embroidery floss and glitter pompoms glued to the top. Ribbon scarves help their little necks warm. They have been around for about 16 years.

In one magazine, I saw pecans painted to look like penguins and fell in love with that idea. I didn't want them to be tree ornaments, so I painted some and made a wreath. I glued the small grapevine
wreaths together with hot glue (plain on the back and glitter glue sticks on the front) and wove ribbon through them to give them a bit more strength. This wreath has been around 16 or 17 years.



One year we grew some bottle gourds for birdhouses. These 3 were the last of the harvest and not really large enough for birdhouses, so I made a snow person family out of them. Prepping the gourds was the biggest part of this project. They sat for a year to dry out. After sitting that long, they has some mold spots on them, so they got soaked in a mild bleach and water solution, then sanded. Then, they got a coat of Kiltz primer as an additive prevention against the mold spots poking through the paint. Then they got a couple of coats of white. They have polymer clay faces and arms and Mama Snowman has a crocheted hat and Papa Snowman has a felt hat. All their hats have white glitter on top of them. The silver buttons are silver glitter paint. They are probably about 15 years old.
 

The craft sick houses go under the tree. I used to set up a model train under it and one year, decided it needed a village. I forget where I got the craft sticks, but they are the ones with notches in them and the house directions were included-along with a lot of other projects. painted the insides white and with the back and sides open at the top, you can smush small lights in there.  Painted with glitter paint of course.  There are more of the houses, but these 3 were on top in the chest I keep the house decorations in.

Some of the house decorations I have made over the years have not survived. Like the star wreath I made out of drywall mud. It was a great idea-spreading the mud out on wax paper and then when it got semi-dry, I cut out stars with a cookie cutter and let the mud finish drying. Spray painted them gold, then did a light brushing of metallic red paint over them. What didn't work was using it as a front door wreath. I wasn't thinking about drywall mud not weathering well here in the humid south.

If you think I have made a lot of house decorations, just wait until you see the next post-coming on Thursday. It's got the Christmas tree ornaments I have made over the years in it. I still have to finish taking some of those pictures. I have a bunch.

If you would like more details on how to make what I have made, just let me know and send me your email address. My blog comments are moderated and I won't publish it.












Saturday, November 13, 2010

Banned and muted from Etsy

Today the email I have been expecting any day arrived. I am closed, banned and muted by Etsy. I am in an outstanding group of talented people who have had the same thing happen. The only reason they even noticed me was that yesterday, in the so-called "Coral Rebuttal" thread, a seller and I did not see eye to eye regarding the rebuttal. The thread was closed after my last reply and today came the email.

When I closed my shop this summer, I said in the announcemnt to just google me to find me. According to Etsy, that's in violation of their TOU's since I'm linking to another venue. HUH??? Google me andn you will find, probably in this order, my AF, this blog and then my neglected Zibbet studio.

After Etsy violated it's own TOU's in what turned out to be Coral Gate, I went in and directly said "you can find me on AF under the same name." So, according to today's email, that's why I am no longer welcome there. Awww!!! LOL! My first thought when I saw the email was "damn, it took you long enough". I will still read and follow the threads, though. Not many sellers frequent the forums and they need to be made aware of the changes Etsy is making that are going to negatively affect them. They are turning the place into a hip ebay-and ebay sure isn't about handmade. There has been a mass exodus of sellers there lately-well not really an exit. A lot of people are just expanding onto other venues. Getting the lifeboats ready for when the HSS Etsy goes down like the Titanic and since they have already hit the iceberg, they are slowly taking on water. I have a feeling the holiday shopping season over there is going to be disappointing to the sellers.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Irfanview Free Photo Editing Programs

I have fiddled around with this program, Irfanview, a little bit, but not too much. Sometimes I just "don't get" something the first few times around. Being left handed and living in a right handed world, this is something I've gotten used to. I know it's a good editing program, because I've seen  positive info about in different forums and nothing negative.

I do know a jewelry maker who uses it and thinks it's great. So, I emailed my friend Margaret of Bohowirewrapped (isn't her jewelry gorgeous?) and asked about Irfanview. Below is a copy and paste of the questions I had for her regarding this program. If you have more questions about the program, the Irfanview link will take you to the answers.

1. When you edit a photo, does Irf. Save the original photo as well as the modified copy?




Irfanview asks you where to save it and allows you to rename the file as a copy or save as the original.



2. Can you batch edit with it?



Irfanview has a really easy to use batch edit/resize/resample function



3. Is it easy for you to navigate around in?



It's like having a photo album where you can just flip through the pictures. You can also open the thumbnails in a separate window for easy comparisons.



4. Are there plug-ins you need to install to use the basic functions?



There are plug ins available for fanicier work but for simple editing it's all in the main program



5. Can you make a banner with it?



It can be used for banners but I've found that I use at least 3 programs when I make banners:



Irfanview

Corel PhotoHouse

The Gimp



6. What are your favorite features?



There is very little to dislike about Irfanview.

Irfanview is the easiest program I've used for simple editing.
 
So thanks, Margaret for anwering those questions. You are a sweetheart.  I know the menus and things are laid out in an easy to find way, so I don't know what it is that's keeping me from getting the hang of this. I am bound and determined to be able to work with this program.
 
I've got a couple of more free photo editing programs to tell you about, but they are going to go on hold for a couple of weeks.
 
For a couple of years now, I've been wanting to blog about my Christmas decorations and ornaments. They are all handmade. I finally got into gear and decided this would be the year. I am in the process of photographing everything and getting blog posts written up about how I made them. Since our nest has been empty for a while, I stopped doing the whole house decorating thing a few years ago and just put up the tree. Getting these things out to photograph has been a wonderful trip down memory lane. Some of the stuff I made is over 20 years old. It's showing it's age a bit, but I've always liked a vintage look-especially when I look in the mirror. LOL!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Photoscape free photo editing program

This is the second blog post about free photo editing programs you can find online.

Photoscape is another great free program. 
This program  is easy to use, easy to navigate, and has some fun things to play with added in. Among the special filters you can process your pictures with, you can also do animated GIF and combine photos. Photoscape also gives you the ability to batch edit your photos. You can also do screen shots with it.

This hydrangea photo
is one of the first ones I took when I got my DSLR. It needs some post processing (PP) to look like it did in real life. I went to the “Bright/Color” tab clicked it and then went to “brightness” and chose “middle”. Then I adjusted the backlight to +75%. I'm happy with the way the picture looks now. I cropped it
with the easy to use crop feature, then I saved it. Photoscape saves the modified photo and saves the original, too. It lets you select the quality of the JPEG that you save, also. These are just a few of the features this program has.

I wanted to show you some of the filters included in this program for PP, so I played with the same photo after I had edited it.

The Box. I haven't seen anything like this on any of the free programs. I think it's pretty neat.

Crystallized-which I think is pretty cool.


 
There are several other filters in this program that I like, but these two are my favorites.
If you are looking for free photo editing programs, why not download this versatile program and give it a try. If  a techinically challenged person like me can get around in this program, anybody can use it.




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