Wednesday, August 20, 2014

DIY Paper Bead Ornaments And Garland

Above, Paper bead garland and snowflake.
       These aquatic themed, beaded garlands and snowflakes would make elegant additions to any ocean themed Christmas tree. Drape and hang them alongside mermaids, fish and shell ornaments to complete a unique customized tree.

Supply List:
  • magazine pages and/or old book covers (the brighter the better)
  • white glue
  • tacky glue 
  • clear nail polish
  • a selection of glass bead and aquatic themed beads
  • thin, light weight beading wire
  • a long, thin wooden skewer
Step-by-Step Directions:
  1. In order to make these paper beads you will first need to cut long narrow strips of paper tapered from one end. I've included a video by the Frugal Crafter below that demonstrates how this is done. 
  2. The strips of paper should be tapered with regularity and the strips must all be the same length if you wish your beads to all be of the same relative size and shape. This being said, however, it is not necessary for this to be the case if you should so choose to string paper beads of different shapes and sizes. It is a matter of preference in the end.
  3. You will need to brush the backside or "inside" layer of each paper strip with white glue.
  4. Begin rolling each bead by twisting the widest end of your tapered strip around the thin, wooden skewer. 
  5. Neatly wrap the glue side of the paper on top of itself as you roll the skewer between the tips of your fingers.
  6. Gently remove the skewer so that your paper bead holds it's shape. It will take of bit of practice on your part to perfect the process. But once you have tried twisting and shaping a few beads, you will quickly improve your technique. 
  7. Let these beads dry completely over night before brushing them with clear acrylic nail polish. 
  8. Then let them dry over night a second time before stringing them onto garlands with decorative shells, glass beads and tiny sea horse charms.
  9. In order to wire the beads into a snowflake shape, simply begin with wiring together two lengths of wire of equal shape into a cross pattern. 
  10. String paper beads onto these cross pieces along with blue glass beads.
  11. Then twist a fine wire about one end of the cross shape and add beads until you have shaped a circular pattern to bend around the beaded cross. Remember to wire together every section where the two shapes touch as you go.
  12. After you have made these two intersecting shapes, a circle and a cross, bend the circle forward and twist wire about the snowflake shape to keep it from being bent back into place. 
  13. I then wired a tiny shell to the center of my "snowflake" design.
  14. Twist a wire around one end of the beaded snowflake in order to hang the ornament.
A paper beaded snowflake made from two simple shapes, a cross and a circle. I wired a small shell to the center of the "snowflake."
Video instructions for rolling paper beads from the Frugal Crafter.

More Paper Bead Crafts:

Wrap Cotton Batting Q-tip Stars

      I crafted a set Q-tip shaped stars to hang on my cotton batting Christmas tree this year. I have photographed them on a fir in my backyard so that you may see how these would look on a live Christmas tree. These stars would also be lovely on a flocked tree as well.
Finished Q-tip star ornaments for the Christmas tree.
Supply List:
  • cotton balls
  • Q-tips
  • white glue
  • masking tape
  • wire for hanging the ornament
  • tiny Christmas baubles with attached stems
Step-by-Step Directions:
  1. First you will need to wrap the Q-tips into star shapes. I have included a series of photos below that show a sequence for the process. Every time two tips cross, you will need to add a bit of glue and wrap the two with tape and/or cotton in order to hold each Q-tip in place. Don't worry about how messy this looks; you will be wrapping the entire star with cotton batting later.
  2. Each star shape is made from five Q-tips. Two sets are wrapped into "V" shapes and then the fifth Q-tip crosses the two "Vs" to complete the star shape.
  3. Leave a hole in the center of the star or make one with the tip of your scissors so that the small wired bauble may be twisted into place at the center of the star.
  4. Unwind the cotton balls, several at a time, so that these look like long narrow strips.
  5. Now add white glue to each Q-tip stem and cross piece that you will be wrapping with the strips of cotton batting. Do not wrap the tips of the Q-tips, these come covered with cotton already.
  6. While you wrap the star shapes; weave the cotton around the small bauble so that it remains shown at the front side of your star.
  7. Always end each final layer of cotton wrap with an additional coat of white glue.
  8. Wrap a thin wire with cotton batting and twist this into place around one side of your star in order to hang the ornament. 
  9. Let your star dry over night.
A set of photos showing how to arrange the Q-tips before twisting and gluing bits of cotton and masking tape around the tips of the crisscrossed stems.
More Q-tip Crafts:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Craft Old Saint Nick from Recycled Paper Tubes

"This St. Nicholas figure was made by my husband
when he was about seven or eight years old."
      This St. Nicholas figure was made by my husband when he was about seven or eight years old. We've been hanging it on both of our family trees for over 50 years. 
      I recycle old paper tubes for my young students to use when making this Christmas craft; Santa can cost mere pennies to craft. 
      Teachers may have only construction paper on hand and this material may easily be adapted for the project. However, I use colored masking tape, duct tape and sometimes sticky vinyl for this little St. Nick. 
      Just cut and stick simple shapes onto the cardboard tube to create your own designs. Each child will need a small portion of cardboard to cut St. Nick's arms out. 
      You can challenge your students to cut and stick different figures besides St. Nick. They could design reindeer, angels, elves, etc...
      I recommend the project for second and third graders.
Supply List:
  • Red, White and Black Duct Tape or Masking Tape
  • hollow paper rolls cut to the length desired (use also toilet paper tubes)
  • scissors
  • gold cord for hanger
  • light weight cardboard (for arms)
Craft More St. Nicholas Figures:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Sculpt a Cotton Batting Deer

      To hand sculpt a cotton batting animal, such as this handsome little buck below, may seem a bit too ambitious at first. However, if you can dig a few plastic figures out of your child's toy box, to look at as you work, you may surprise yourself with the finished result! 
      Hold the small plastic animal in the palm of your hand and explore it's surface with your fingers; study it's shape carefully. By doing this, you are giving important tactile information to your brain. If you have never sculpted anything before, you must ask your eyes, hands, and mind to think about how shapes feel and look in three dimensional space over and over again. 
     Sculpting with any medium, whether it be clay, paper pulp, fabric or cotton is a tactile process. You can make many simple things but you must train yourself to be a keen observer with your hands as well as with your eyes!
     I've also included video links below to help guide you through the beginning processes of sculpting with both clay and paper. In sculpting, beginning concepts are the same no matter what medium you chose to manipulate.
Close up photo of my deer's face.

Supply List 
  • cotton balls
  • white school glue
  • chenille stems
  • newsprint 
  • tacky white glue
  • small soft paint brush (for painting)
  • acrylic paints: browns, black, white
  • bit of white fur or soft milk weed floss
  • wire for hanging
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Shape a small piece of newsprint into the torso and extended head of the deer. Masking it with tape as you compress the paper into an approximate shape. 
  2. Bend chenille stems into antler and leg shapes. Use tacky glue and masking tape to attach these parts to your crushed newsprint torso and head. 
  3. Let the glue dry.
  4. At this point you need to shape a small wire loop and attach it with glue or tape to the backside of your deer. The majority of this wire will be covered from view by tape, glue and cotton. However, you need to leave a small piece of this wire exposed so that deer may be properly hung from the tree.
  5. Now wrap masking tape around the entire body.
  6. Unravel several cotton balls at a time and cover the surface of your deer with white glue and cotton batting layers several times. Always end a step in this process with a final coat of white glue. I spread this with my finger tips as I go. 
  7. Work in a warm, dry area so that parts of your deer will dry before others areas are completed. Anticipate that you will need several days to complete the whole process. Wrapping cotton batting figures is not a speedy craft.
  8. I rolled small bits of cotton between my finger tips to shape this deer's eyes, nose and ears. I shaped his mussel with a toothpick dipped in white glue.
  9. I have included detailed photos of the finished deer prior to painting him with neutral-toned brown acrylic paints. Study these photos closely. 
  10. After painting my deer, I then glued milkweed floss to his under belly, his tail and inside his ears. You may use any furry stuff that you have on hand to finish off these little details.
  11. Wrap and shape a cotton batting wire hook for hanging the deer with.
Masking the deer. Both his antlers and legs are shaped from chenille stems.
Wrapping the deer with cotton batting, multiple views.
The painted, finished cotton batting deer. His fuzzy tail, belly and inside ears are made from milk weed floss.
The Basics of Sculpting: Start With Basic Shapes:
  • Learn Sculpting - Lesson 1 - Clay Modeling This video will help you to get ideas and concepts about basic shapes, how these fit together etc...
  • How to sculpt with paper: This video shows how to build a paper shape like the process I used above. Except, I exclude the wire armature when crafting light weight figures for the Christmas tree. It is unnecessary to include intricate internal armatures for very small figures. Also this video depicts a finishing step that is not often used with cotton batting figures, the additional step of applying paper mache pulp.

Bend a Wire Tree For a Miniature Ornament Collection

"The tiny wooden ornaments came with a larger set of turned wooden Christmas ornaments that I bought in bulk from a neighbor during our community garage sale."
Thicker wire was used to shape the outside
edge of this little Christmas tree. Cotton is
used to conceal every part of the wire and
masking tape.
      This wire shaped Christmas tree jingles when you open and shut the door in which it hangs. This is because I wired three jingle bells to it; these are painted to look like Santa. I purchased these funny little character bells as you see them. The tiny wooden ornaments came with a larger set of turned wooden Christmas ornaments that I bought in bulk from a neighbor during our community garage sale. I have too many boxes and drawers with little odds and ends like these throughout my house! So I decided to put them to use within the context of an ornament. This ornament is a bit too big for my trees and a little too small to call a wreath. However, it displays nicely hanging from the door knob of one of my Early American cupboards.
      As you can see from the photo below, I crafted this ornament from a long piece of wire that I bent into the shape of a Christmas tree. Wrap masking tape around the two wires where they overlap at the bottom half of the trunk. This will prevent sharp edges from cutting into the fingers of any person who handles this decorative little tree. 
      Cover the wire shape in cotton batting and white glue by unraveling cotton balls and separating the fine wadding into long strips. Apply the glue to three or four inches of the wire at a time and wrap the cotton around the wire and glue. Twist the cotton down onto the surface, rolling the wire between your fingers as you proceed to cover the wire completely in cotton. 
      Then cover a thinner wire with more cotton before twisting it into all kinds of loopy shapes connecting and wrapping smaller areas within the tree for miniature ornaments to hang.
     Twisted the miniature ornaments onto the Christmas tree with cotton covered wire wherever these may fit securely. 

More Ways to Display Miniature Ornament Collections:

Friday, August 1, 2014

DIY Miniature Toothpick Nativity

      Although you do not need a great deal of experience to craft a Nativity ornament like this, you will need an abundance of time. The stable alone will take several hours to construct and it must be allowed plenty of time to dry. It is an ideal craft project for fourth and fifth graders and the amount of time it takes to complete is dictated by the size of the box you select to use as your stable. 

Supply List:
  • stalks of wheat
  • small cardboard box, about the size of a soap box
  • both flat sided toothpicks and round toothpicks, natural, unstained colors
  • decorative printed papers (very small designs, plain or striped)
  • flesh colored acrylic paints
  • cotton balls
  • wire for hanger and shepherd's staffs
  • white glue
  • tacky glue
  • wood glue
  • small sized cupcake foil liner (gold)
Step-by-Step Instructions For The Stable:
  1. Choose a small box for a stable. I chose a soap box.
  2. Reinforce this box with masking tape and glue. Tape down all the flaps.
  3. Cut away one whole side of the box. 
  4. I cut extra cardboard from another recycled cereal box to bend a narrow strip into the A shaped roof.
  5. I left the loft space above my stable open and also cut an additional rectangular window at the backside of this cardboard stable. (pictured below)
  6. Cover every surface of the box with masking tape and tape on a wire hook to the roof top for hanging as well.
  7. Now you are ready to start gluing flat sided toothpicks over the surface of your small cardboard stable. I cut my toothpicks with scissors to fit the sides of the stable in advance. This can be time consuming if you do not cut the toothpicks in groups of six or seven at once. Flat sided tooth picks are very fragile so this method of cutting is easier than you may think. 
  8. Glue the toothpicks directly onto the masked surface with Elmer's wood glue. This type of glue will allow you to work quickly. Decide in advance which direction your tooth picks should be glued. 
  9. I chose to glue heads of wheat to the surface of my loft floor and also to trim the outside of the box with as well.
  10. I bent a singular wheat grass stem into a star shape and twisted thin pieces of cotton around the star points to hold it into place. I then glued the star to my ornaments hook.
  11. Let your stable dry completely over night. Now you are ready to fashion the Nativity characters from the round-sided toothpicks.
Above is the little soap box that I covered with masking tape for this Nativity craft.
      The second half of this project involves the crafting of the Nativity figures. I chose to focus upon the shepherds, angel, and Holy Family from the book of Luke, chapter 2. Below I have shown photos of the process of gluing a toothpick angel. However, all of the tiny figures in my Nativity are made by the same process.

Adjust this little paper pattern to fit your own toothpick figures.
Step-by-Step Instructions For The Toothpick Figures:
  1. Depending upon the size of your stable, you may need to trim away a bit of the height of your figures. When I made my figure of Mary, I cut away half of the toothpick's length so that she would look as though she were knelling beside the manger of Jesus. I used only one small end of a toothpick to craft the baby with. (shown below)
  2. Hold two round toothpicks together between your finger tips. Put a bit of glue on top of the spiked tips and wrap a fine bit of cotton batting around the two toothpicks to shape all of the figure's heads. 
  3. Add also a little glue down the length of the toothpicks where they share a common side. Set these little shapes aside to dry.
  4. I then painted my figures heads a tannish color with acrylic paints and let them dry again.
  5. As you can see from the photographs below, the clothing on the tiny angel was made by: cutting out tiny templates, tracing around these on top of my selected decorative paper and then cutting these to fit my toothpick figure. 
  6. First wrap the paper around the neck of each figure to measure it's proper length. Trim off enough of your cone shaped cloak so that the bottom edge of the figure's gown is level to the stable's floor. In the case of my angel, I clipped off enough paper to expose her feet. She was to be floating above the stall and I wanted to expose the toothpick stubs for preference sake.
  7. Next you will use one round-sided toothpick to shape the adult figure's arms. Twist a cone shaped sleeve to fit this single toothpick. Add a bit of glue between the paper sleeve and the single tooth pick as you twist it into place. Clip off the toothpick end to finish the arm. Make two and glue these to opposite sides of your figures.
  8. I dabbed a bit of glue to the top of my angel's head to add a cotton batting halo. 
  9. For my shepherds, I dabbed glue to the top and backsides of their heads and also underneath their chins. Then I wrapped small pieces of cotton batting around their heads to imitate the head covering most commonly worn by Bible characters often portrayed in the Nativity. The baby Jesus was wrapped entirely with cotton batting to imply swaddling.
  10. Then I bent a couple of wire stems, covered in cotton batting, into shepherd's crooks.
  11. The angel figure was given an additional trim. I shaped a small, gold cupcake liner into a halo and/or wings and glued this piece to her back before gluing her onto my stable vignette.
Left, the tiny toothpick figures are compared here to the size of a penny. Center, the cloak of my toothpick angel is shaped like a cone. Right, press the paper cloak firmly at the neck while the tacky glue dries.
Left, twist the cone shaped sleeve around just one toothpick to create the angel's arms. Center, you can see the blunt end of the rounded toothpick underneath the sleeve. Right, leave a tiny amount of the toothpick tip showing so that your angel will look as though she has tiny hands.
Left, see a detailed photo of how my toothpick angel looks from beneath the skirt. It helps to stuff a very tiny amount of cotton under the skirt with the tip of your scissors and a small amount of glue in order to help the cone retain it's shape. Center, my toothpick angel is finished! Right, a detailed photo of the angel from the backside.
Details from my toothpick Nativity Vignette. Left, the star bent from a single wheat grass stem. Center, the Nativity figures: Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, two shepherds and an angel bringing glad tidings of great joy. The floor of the Nativity is also covered with wheat grains. These figures are glued in place. Right, see how all of the sides are covered with flat sided toothpicks.
Left, the angel is suspended above the peaceful scene watching over the tiny figure of baby Jesus. The baby is wrapped in cotton batting and so are the heads of all the adults watching over him. Right, I switched the direction of the toothpicks on the backside of my stable to imply a "doorway."
      There are some amazing toothpick structures built by people across the internet. My stable is quite humble by comparison to be sure!
More Toothpick Crafts:

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Craft Gourd Snowman Ornaments

Children always enjoy crafting these gourd snowmen during the holidays.
      You will need to plan ahead for this particular ornament craft. It requires that gourds be dried several months in advance. Drying gourds is not an exact science. There are always a few that don't make it to an acceptable stage and mold must be roughly sanded off before applying paint.

Supply List:
  • baby socks for the snowman's stocking hat
  • plaid paper
  • black seed beads
  • orange oven-dry clay
  • paper face mask (to prevent the inhaling of mold spores)
  • white school glue
  • white tacky glue
  • either white acrylic paints or Gesso
  • scissors
  • dried gourds
  • wire for hanging the ornament
  • translucent glitter 
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. You will need to prepare your gourds by hanging them in a sunny dry spot. They will get a little moldy, however.
  2. Where a paper mask while you remove most of the mold with a fine grade sandpaper. 
  3. Then apply either a bit of Gesso or white acrylic paint with a sponge. I let some of the original patina of my gourds show through because I prefer the look.
  4. Now fold and trim a few baby socks for your gourds stocking caps. Glue these on top of the gourds with tacky white glue.
  5. Cut a few strips of plaid scrapbook paper and snip the ends to create a fringed edge. Glue these scarfs directly onto the surface of the gourds.
  6. Use tiny, black seed beads for each snowman's eyes and mouth.
  7. Roll out a carrot shaped nose from orange oven-fire clay. Bake according to the package's instructions. Glue the carrot nose to the center of each snowman's face.
  8. Brush a thin wash of white glue onto the gourds and sprinkle a bit of translucent glitter wherever you wish.
  9. Hook a wire hanger through the stocking hat for hanging.
This is just part 1. follow the links at youtube to view additional video.

See More Gourd Crafts: