I get absolutely giddy with excitement…
when I can find ways to take things that have been cast off, deemed unfit, and otherwise tossed to the curb. (No! I don’t still cry about the Island of Misfit Toys when we watch “Rudolph.” Well, maybe I get a bit teary…) So when I kept seeing posts for making beautiful Christmas ornaments using new ornaments from the dollar or craft store, I started thinking.
These DIY Christmas ornaments are universally painted, dyed, drawn upon, and/or covered with clay, and glitter, and all the other beautiful frostings befitting the holly jolly season.
I wondered, was there actually a reason to buy new ornaments, just to cover them up?
True, at the dollar store I could get six or twleve ornaments for a dollar. Not bad. But they were also plastic and had big obvious seams. At the craft stores, 12 ornaments were $6. More expensive, but higher quality, though still plastic.
Then I stopped in at my local thrift store. They had boxes and boxes of ornaments sitting in big sad cast-off piles. In the end I found a box of about 50 for $2. Some were plastic but the majority were actually glass~scratched and with bits of shine falling off, but really lovely quality glass bulbs! My little fix-er-up heart was delighted as I carried my treasure out, with visions of antiqued metallic baubles dancing in my head.
I knew that for my first batch of Christmas ornaments I wanted to use paper clay…
and some beautiful moulds and transfers from my friends at Iron Orchid Designs, as well as some metallic wax I had just purchased. So I set out to rescue my misfit toys~er, ornaments~from their piles of sadness, and deliver them to happy homes this Christmas.
If you too want to try your hand at some DIY Christmas ornaments…
whether for your own tree or as a one-of-a-kind Christmas gift, I have good news! I made a quick tutorial AND video so that you can make some beauties of your own. Scroll all the way to the bottom to go straight to the video.
First, the supplies…
- You will of course need some ornaments: I used both glass and plastic and they all worked fine. I even had some with glitter and they were great as well. The glitter added a bit of texture under the paint. You may have some in the bottom of the ornament box that no longer make the cut for the tree. This is a great way to use them. Otherwise, may I suggest your local thrift store?
- Next we need paper clay: I love the paper clay from Iron Orchid Designs. You can find it from one of their independent stockists and online retailers here.
- And Moulds: I used Prima Marketing 814779 Baroque No.1 Iron Orchid Designs Vintage Art Decor Mold, Grey, Baroque No.2 Iron Orchid Designs Vintage Art Decor Mold, Grey and Iod Vintage Art Decor Moulds – Keyholes
- You need chalk paint in several colors: I used white, yellow and purple these to be precise: Waverly Inspirations Matte Chalk Finish Acrylic Paint, 16 oz ( Maize ), CHALK PAINT (R) by Annie Sloan – Old Violet (Quart – 32oz) – Decorative paint for furniture, cabinets, floors, home decor and accessories – Water-based – Non-toxic – Matte finish, Deco Art Americana Chalky Finish Paint, 8-Ounce, Everlasting. I also used peacock, but there isn’t an online link for that, that I found. I think I got this at a local craft store.
- For this particular tutorial I also used a transfer from Iron Orchid Designs: You can find a list of their online retailers that should carry it here. Or search their stockist list to find a retailer local to you. That way you can also find local friends to craft with and great support for your crafty ways.
- Some gel medium: Mini Glossy Accents .5 Fluid Ounces/Pkg-
- And this wax from art alchemy: Prima Marketing Art Alchemy-Metallique Wax-Rich Copper , Prima Marketing Art Alchemy-Antique Brilliance Mystic Turquoise
- Finally, some basic crafting supplies like:
- Painters tape: and, if you wanna ask Santa for something extravagant, this dispenser is really great because you only need one hand to get your tape.Scotch Heavy Duty Dispenser C25
- Wood glue: Franklin International 5004 Titebond-2 Premium Wood Glue, 16-Ounce
- Paint brushes of various sizes: you probably have what you need. But since we are talking about brushes, this is my favorite brush ever! I use it for everything. Purdy Corporation 080320 2-Inch Nylon Dale Angle Paint Brush
Ready to go..?
First we need to make our castings. Roll the paper clay in your hands a bit to make it maleable, and then press it into the mould you have chosen. I like to start at one end and work toward the other. My climate is dry, so I don’t ever have a problem with the clay sticking. If you do, you can sprinkle some cornstarch in the mould before pressing the clay in. To remove the casting, flip the mould upside down and peel it back as you work the clay free, again from one end to the other.
While the clay is still pliable we want to glue it to the ornament so that it will take on the round shape of the ball. I like to use a waterproof wood glue. I seems to stick to plastic, and glass as well as wood. Paper clay tends to shrink a bit as it dries and some small cracks will often form, which works well for the up-cycled look. It will also curl around the edges a bit as it dries so I hold it in place with painters tape. Now we sit and drink hot cocoa and maybe cheer Rudolph on while we wait for our clay to dry. At my house (the humidity was a whopping 14% last week) it takes a few hours. If you have humidity anywhere near the healthy range where you live, it could take 24 hours.
Now we get to paint. I started out with underlayers of blue, yellow, peacock, and purple. Don’t try to paint neat. The goal is to have peeks of color that show through the coat of white that we will put on top, as though many layers of paint have been applied over the years. (My inspiration for painting these ornaments came when I was drooling over the photo gallery at The Turquoise Iris. If you haven’t seen Dionne’s creations, go look. I promise you won’t be sad.)
When the underlayers are dry, come back with the white chalk paint. Once again, I wasn’t trying for neat. I love the texture and interest that brushstrokes give and left bits and pieces of the under-colors showing through.
Let all the paint layers dry thoroughly.
Now we are going to add some antique-y-ness in the form of a glaze. Water down some Burnt Umber acrylic paint until it is very runny. Brush over the ornament and wipe off, leaving the paint in the crevices and allowing some drips to remain.
To apply the transfer, as I did on several, cut out a flower or design of your choice from the French Pots V transfer set. Work out the placement with the backing IN PLACE. Once the back comes off, the transfer will stick immediately~and very well~to anything it touches. When the placement is correct, remove the backing and use the burnishing stick to apply the transfer according to package directions.
I love, love, love this Art Alchemy Metallic Wax! I apply the Mystic Turquoise first, using a brush to work it into the cracks and crevices. I also trace the drip lines from the antiquing glaze. Next I apply the copper. This time I focus on the high spots of the castings and add patches to the main body of the ornament. Once applied, I blend the two waxes together to soften the edges and spread the wax out over the entire ornament.
Let the wax dry a few hours or overnight and buff to a shine. See. Beautiful-swoon-worthy-old-world-loveliness.
I applied high gloss medium over the transfer to give it a glassy shine. Starting from the edges and working toward the middle. This stuff is self leveling, which on a curved surface is tricky. I set the ornament face-down on the rim of a mug to dry, and checked at five minute intervals to make sure that it wasn’t making a big drip. Once it was, so I carefully wiped that off. After that, it dried nicely.
I also spread ModPodge on a few and sprinkled them with chunky white glitter from a random bag I had laying around 😉 It looks like snow and I love it.
YAY! You saved a Christmas Ornament!..
Do you love it? Thanks to the fact that all products are non-toxic, my wee-naturals even got involved and we had some lovely afternoons together making Christmas presents. Tell me in the comments how yours turned out and share pics of your successes on Instagram You can find me here. Use #DIYupcycledChristmasNMR to tag your lovelies so I can find them. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Oh, and don’t forget to subscribe to our page so you will know when we have fun new content waiting for you.
See you next time,
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Want the video version? Here you are =)