Thursday, March 17, 2011

Materials

Here is a list of many of the items I find very useful. You probably already have most of these around the house. The rest, are easy to come by and are inexpensive.
 
Must haves:
glue, wiggly eyes, paint, scissors, permanent markers, thread, embroidery floss, fishing line, needle, toothpicks, paperclips, pipe cleaners, hot glue gun   

Scraps:
fabric, paper, yarn, ribbon, wire, raffia, string, cardboard, jute
 
Recyclables:
juice lids, buttons, beads, wooden spoons, light bulbs, corks, paper tubes,
clothespins, spray can covers, plastic lids, glass jars, bells, egg cartons 

Nature:
shells, moss, seeds, pine cones, nuts, driftwood, rocks, twigs, cinnamon sticks, dried fruit and peels

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pumpkin Seed Poinsettia

pumpkin seeds
cardboard
glue
gold cord
coriander seeds or any round seed or bead
red spray paint
gold paint

I love these! Even though we don’t get trick-or-treaters on Halloween where we live, my husband and I always carve a pumpkin. After he scoops out the seeds, I wash them off in a colander, spread them out on a cookie sheet and place them in a warm oven until they are dry. Once dry, you’ll see they have a thin skin on them, it takes a little effort to rub the skin off, but it's worth it once it comes to painting. Store your seeds in an air tight container until you are ready to use them.

For the base of the poinsettia, cut a 1½ inch circle out of the cardboard. Starting from the outside edge of the cardboard, glue seeds overlapping the cardboard a quarter of an inch

all the way around the circle. Glue another row inside the first and a third row inside the second for the center. After the glue is completely dry, paint with red spray paint. For the center of the flower glue three seeds, painted gold, or  beads to center of the flower. Glue the 7 inch piece of gold cord folded in half to the back. 

These ornaments would also be nice painted white or made using different seeds such as sunflower for a different look.
Driftwood Santa

You'll Need:
small piece of driftwood
drill or Dremel tool
red, dark red, green, white, flesh, blue and pink paint
jute, string or cord for hanger
permanent marker

My husband and I love the Greenville, Millinocket area of Maine. Fall is a beautiful time to go and check out the foliage around Mount Katahdin. On one of our adventures we stopped at Ripogenus Dam and were walking along the shore. You should have seen all the small pieces of driftwood that had washed up! I was in heaven! The water and weather had made the wood smooth and dry, perfect for these driftwood Santas.

Drill a hold in the top of the driftwood large enough for whatever you choose for a hanger. Paint the front of the driftwood white for the beard, leave paint thin in places to let the wood show through for a rustic look. Paint the top inch and a half or so, depending on the size and shape of your piece of wood, dark red for Santa’s hat. Leaving about a half of inch between the hat and face, paint the face using flesh colored paint. Use white paint for eyes, brows, and mustache. Blue paint for eye balls and pink for cheeks and mouth. When completely dry, outline the mustache and draw nose and eye lashes of face with permanent marker. For an added touch, paint a sprig of holly on the hat using red and green paint. 


The rustic feel of these ornaments is nice and makes painting easy because it doesn’t have to be perfect. Thread your hanger material through the drilled hole, knot it and it’s done!
Trash to Treasured Ornaments

I find that people are happy to give you their trash! 
You’ll be surprised where you'll find materials and how much you’ll end up with.
  • Ask someone who sews to save you their scraps. My Nana was making fleece socks, hats and mittens. Every time I visited she had a big bag of scraps waiting for me that were perfect for snowman hats and scarves.
  • Ask someone who drinks wine to save their corks for you.
  • A local restaurant or redemption center are also good sources for corks.
  • Ask your local print shop to save scrap paper. They may also have paper sample booklets they receive from paper companies that they are willing to get rid of.  These are a lot of fun and the paper comes in all textures, weights and colors.
  • When out for a walk in the woods or the beach, bring a bag to collect pine cones, shells, sea glass, driftwood, moss or twigs. Once you start looking, you’ll be happy you have something to put your findings in. 
  • Save ribbons and embellishments like pine cones and bells from gift packaging and wreaths.
  • Save and dry baby’s breath and statice from flower arrangements.
  • Dry your discarded orange and apple peels. They make great little wreaths strung on to wire and topped with a fabric scrap bow. 
  • Grow things in your garden that can be dried, okra and jalapeno peppers are two that I have success with most years.
  • Lids off frozen juice containers make nice ornaments with a little paint and ribbon.
Cinnamon Stick Snowman

You'll need:
6 inch cinnamon stick
1½ inch square fabric scrap for hat

1 inch x 7 inch fabric scrap for scarf
small buttons or beads
white, orange, and black paint
gold cord 

small piece of cord or embroidery floss

Not sure where this idea came from, but I like it! Paint the cinnamon stick white stopping an inch or so from the bottom. Use black paint for the eyes and mouth, a toothpick works well for this. Paint on an orange nose. Wrap fabric square around the top of cinnamon stick for a hat and glue seam in back. Tie a piece of cord or floss a half of an inch from the top. Glue two small buttons or beads on to the belly. Tie the 1"x7" scrap piece of fabric around the neck of snowman for a scarf. Thread the cord through the top of the hat and tie into a knot for a hanger. 


This snowman not only looks good, but smells good too!
Tips
  • Toothpicks are useful tools for applying glue and paint.
  • Paper plates are handy disposable paint palettes.
  • Paper clips can be used for ornament hangers.
  • Use egg cartons to stand your ornaments up in while working on them.
  • Egg cartons also make nice storage containers for small ornaments.
  • Use Q-tips to apply blush to little snowman, angel and Santa faces.
  • The less pieces your ornament has, the less likely it will fall apart.
  • Watch the sales! After Christmas is a great time to buy ribbon, berries, cinnamon sticks and all kinds of fabric and trims at 50-75% off.

Light Bulb Reindeer

You'll need:
burned out Christmas bulb
wiggly eyes
½ inch red pom pom
6 inch brown chenille stem
fishing line, wire or gold cord for hanger
½ ribbon, 15 inches long
½ inch bell

A co-worker came into the office one day and said, “you could make these!," someone had given her an ornament made out of a burned out Christmas bulb. It was cute, with it’s chenille antlers and wiggly eyes. 


We have a beautiful spruce tree in our back yard that my husband puts strings of the big C7 lights on every year. I had him save me all the burned out bulbs and made my own version of this ornament. These ornaments come together quick, and are a great way to use up those burned out bulbs!

Fold a 7 inch piece of cord in half and tie in knot for hanger, glue to the back of the top of your bulb. Cut a 6 inch piece of the brown chenille stem, fold in half and shape into antlers, glue these on top of hanger knot. On the other side of bulb glue on the wiggly eyes and red pom pom for nose. Wrap the ribbon around the top of the bulb covering the antlers and tie a bow in the front of the bulb. Glue bell to front of bow.
Walnut Strawberry

You’ll need:
walnut
2 inch square piece of green felt
green embroidery floss
glue
black permanent marker
red spray paint

Years ago, I saw one of these walnut strawberries on a friend's Christmas tree and have been making them ever since. To display them on my table for craft fairs, I place them in a basket. They are the first thing that kids go for!

If you would like to remove the walnut meat, carefully squeeze the walnut with a nutcracker and pry the shell open with a nut pick. Some shells are easier to get apart then others. Paint shells with red spray paint. After the shells are dry, glue them back together (I use Aleene’s tacky glue). Randomly draw seeds all over the strawberry with a black permanent marker. Using the pattern below, cut the strawberry cap from the 2 inch square piece of green felt. Take a piece of green embroidery floss, about 7 inches long, fold it in half and knot it. Thread the loop end into a large eyed needle and pull through the center of the strawberry cap. Apply glue to the knotted side of the cap (a toothpick works great for applying glue in a thin layer). Line the knot up with the hole on the top of the berry and press in place. Let dry and you have a strawberry that will last for ever!