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.

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