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When you open that box of Christmas tree ornaments, memories from all the delights of the season will come out. All your decorations, especially the handmade ones, can chill warm personal messages. Who does not have a collection of special equipment - your child's handprint in plaster, a glued macaroni star or an elegant hand-sewn Santa? Creating your own ornaments gives you the pleasure of creating, lasting decorations for your tree and valuable gifts for friends.
All ages, from children to grandmothers, will find joy in making their own ornaments. Kids like to use simple, fast materials and techniques to make ornaments. Artists use their more technical skills to make them from blown, melted or stained glass; engraved gold or silver metals; modeled and fired clay; or carved wood. The level of expertise required for most projects in this book fits in between. They focus on easily accessible materials and demonstrate feasible techniques.
Christmas is celebrated in many countries and in many ways. Knowing one of these lore makes the theme of each Christmas ornament more interesting. Some of these traditions are ancient, containing such icons as evergreen trees, wreaths, mistletoe, candles, bells and holly. Some have religious symbols such as weeks, angels and guiding stars. Others show newer themes such as Christmas trees, stockings, toys, gingerbread houses and elves. No ornamental shape is more enduring than colorful balls in many styles, and no one symbolizes Christmas more than a star on top of the tree.
Along with these pieces of traditional lore you will find pictures in full color of each ornament, lists of materials, patterns, illustrations and instructions for making them. So gather your box of supplies - beads, ribbons, fabrics, chenille stalks, sequins and glossy paper - so let's get started.
Tips for making ornaments
Ornaments are inherently fragile. In our house, some of the exquisite glass balls on the hard floor explode every year. The delicate ones are like flowers, intended to bloom for a short time and then fade. Yet when you are packed with care, even fragile ornaments, including your handmade treasures, can go on for years and years.
Choose light yet robust materials to construct your ornaments. Heavy ornaments cause tree limbs to sink. Ornaments that are too fragile will not survive until next season. For example, the folded Christmas tree can be made from a variety of paper, thin sheets or even stiff fabric.
Store your ornaments in sturdy boxes. If you can find them, use special boxes with dividers. Wrap the fragile ornaments in tissue and wrap them in these separate compartments. During the summer, make sure your ornaments are stored away from extreme heat or moisture.
You can leave the lamps and ornaments on an artificial tree, if you have a place to store it. If so, be sure to bend the hooks closed, both on the ornaments and limbs, and wrap the tree in a large plastic bag to store (available for live tree debris). Move the tree into place next year and add some new touches, such as a threaded ribbon or special new ornaments. New ideas hit the store shelves every holiday.
Choose the right types of glue and paint for the materials you work with (product labels show this information). For example, some pearls will require hot jewelry glue and Shrink Dinks plastic will need waterproof paint or pens. For your ornament work, collect ornamental material from everywhere - candy bands, costume jewelry, art papers and at craft store safaris.
Include family and friends in making these small decorative projects. Part of the joy of Christmas is to be with people you love. Another part is giving gifts; and the ornaments you make will be great gifts.