Thursday, October 23, 2014

Craft Cinnamon And Spice Dough Ornaments

      I found this cinnamon dough recipe on the internet and used it to mold leaves and acorns for my Thanksgiving Blessing Tree. Their spicy smells remind me of apple cider, pumpkin pie and cinnamon infused maple flavored cookies and candies.
Left, the mold that I used was plastic. Molds like these may be easily purchased in your local hobby store. Right, you can see what my molded acorns and leaves look like after these have hardened in the oven.
I tied the acorns and fall leaves made from cinnamon dough
together with a brown and white cotton ribbon. I will hang
these aromatic molded pieces from a blessing tree this fall.
  • 1 cup cinnamon
  • 1 cup applesauce (drained through a fine mesh sieve)
  • 2 Tablespoons of white school glue
  • wire and ribbon for hanging
  • Tools you will need include: wax paper, glass bowl, rolling pin, counter or chopping block and molds or cookie cutters.
  1. Mix together 1 cup of cinnamon, 1 cup of drained applesauce and two tablespoons of white school glue. The dough should be a firm consistency. If it is too soft add cinnamon; if it is too dry and doesn't stick together add a bit more glue.
  2. You may either roll out the dough between sheet of wax paper before cutting it with a cookie cutter or you can press dough directly into a plastic mold and then remove it immediately to dry on a cookie baking sheet. 
  3. I put my molded leaf and acorn shapes into a 200 degree oven to dry out. This took approximately one hour and thirty minutes. The length of time needed to dry out the molded cinnamon dough ornaments depends upon the humidity of the room and the amount of heat used inside the oven. The thickness of your ornaments will also predetermine the amount of time needed to dry out the ornaments.
  4. I poked a small hole into each of my molded pieces before drying them out so that I could string them together afterwards.
  5. Shape and insert thin wires into the holes provided for hanging. 
  6. Tie on the ribbon. 

More Aromatic Ornaments:
Aromatic Wreaths and Center Pieces:

Christmas Crafting with Wheat: Pasting and Weaving

      Straw patchwork art is a Chinese folk art that dates back to the Han Dynasty (250—230 CE) and developed during Sui Dynasty of 581—618 CE. During the Song Dynasty (960—1127 CE), straw patchwork was enjoyed by royalty. Wheat straw is smoked, steams, whitening, dyed, cut, and altered in a myriad of procedures to fashion delicate representational works. Today wheat straw patchwork is a decorative art and popular item for tourists to China. Above I have included a variety of photographs depicting straw patchwork used to create Christmas ornaments for the Western Christmas markets by Asian countries like China, Japan, and Taiwan. Left, Santa Claus and Right, a rooster are both made with split, dyed and pasted straw.

      Straw plaiting is a method of manufacturing textiles by braiding straw and the industry that surrounds the craft of producing these straw manufactures. Straw is plaited to produce products including straw hats and ornaments, and the process is undertaken in a number of locations worldwide. Straw can be plaited for a number of purposes, including: the crafting of a paper-making material, for ornamenting small surfaces as a "straw-mosaic", for plaiting into door and table mats, mattresses and for weaving and plaiting into light baskets and to create artificial flowers. Straw is also plaited to produce a variety of Christmas ornaments.

      "A Year of Swedish Slöjd (Handcraft)" at the American Swedish Institute is a multi-dimensional project funded in part by the Minnesota State Arts Board through a Folk and Traditional Arts grant. In a series of youth and adult workshops, participants worked together with guest artists from throughout Minnesota, creating beautiful and functional objects out of ceramic tile, wood, birch bark, glass, wire, wheat, and felted wool. The instructor of the Wheat Weaving workshops was Carol Tamte. This activity is made possible in part by a grant provided by the Minnesota State Arts Board, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature from the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008."

traditional straw ornament designs
More European Wheat Work on The Web:
Straw Weaving Projects for The Christmas Tree:

Inspired by Old-World Beaded Ornaments

I beaded the ornaments above on long, straight lengths of wire first and then shaped them around cookie cutters. Their simple shapes were inspired by antique beaded ornaments that I had seen on ebay.
1939 beaded ornaments handmade from Poland.

"To weave such star you'll need seed beads (for example, size 10-11), beads with diameter of about 2-4 mm, bugles of two sizes (long and short), fishing line with diameter of about 0,15 mm or fireline and beading needle size 11-15. Take of about 1 meter of thread (fireline), put both its ends through the needle eye and follow the cartoon. You can see my other cartoons here: http://katenkin-biser/lessons/indexen... You can buy my patterns here:"

Friday, October 17, 2014

Turned, Wooden Christmas Ornaments from My Own Collection

Here is a selection of miniature, wooden Christmas ornaments from my own collection. I picked these up in a box for $1.50 during a garage sale. I usually hang ornaments such as these from tabletop Christmas trees.
Left, an elf riding a green wooden sleigh. Right, a wooden reindeer pulls an old-fashioned country sled.
Wooden train engines and planes were also popular themes in mass produced wooden Christmas ornaments during the 1950s.
Mr. and Mrs Claus the North Pole and a rocking horse made from wooden parts for the Christmas market place. Ornaments such as these were often sold through JCPenny, Mongomery Wards and Woolworth Christmas catalogs during the mid 20th century.
Three views of a wooden soldier riding a white hobby horse and carrying a sword.
Soldiers, Mrs. Claus and ice skater all made from turned and flat wooden pieces glued together in an Asian factory.
Angel and two snowmen made from turned wooden parts.
I believe this little wooden cow with fine detailed miniature parts is from Germany.
German incense smoker
      The Räuchermann, erzgebirgisch Raachermannel is a wooden "incense smoker", the invention of toy makers in the Ore Mountains and used to burn down cone incense, known as Räucherkerzchen.
      The Räuchermann was first mentioned in 1850 and is nowadays a common component in the Ore Mountain Christmas tradition. For this, a cone incense is set on first, then put on the lower part of the bifid wood figurine. The upper part is hollowed out and put on top of the first part. The cone incense burns down inside of the hollow figurine, the smoke leaving the mouth hole of the Räuchermann. Before the Räuchermann was invented, cone incense was displayed and burnt down in the open.
      During Christmas time, Räuchermänner are displayed together with Schwibbogen candle arches, miners' figurines, angels and Christmas pyramids.
      Several kinds of wooden figurines exist, traditionally displaying craftsmen of the region, such as foresters, peddlers, miners, and soldiers. Today, they exist in many more forms, including the so-called edgesitters, which can be placed on the edge of the table, small sceneries of several Räuchermänner (such as a group playing Skat), and also female Räuchermänner, called Räucherfrauen. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the largest Räuchermann in the world is in the Miniaturenpark Kleinwelka in Bautzen.

Read More About Traditional Christmas Wooden Crafts in Germany:
View More Wooden Christmas Ornaments:
  1. Crafty Christmas Decorations
  2. Výroba dřevěných hraček
  3. A Wooden Parade 
  4. Wooden soldier riding horseback 
  5. Assistance League Christmas Event 
  6. A tree full of small wooden figures  
  7. vintage ornaments in the Christmas tree (wooden)
Christmas Crafts Made With Wooden Ornaments:
  1. Vintage Wooden Ornament Wreath
  2. Wood Crafts for Christmas
  3. Wooden Christmas Ornament Tree

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mystery of the Incarnation

Agnus Dei at
      "For the sun to fall from it's sphere and be degraded into a wandering atom, for an angel to be turned out from heaven and be converted into a fly or a worm, had not been such abasement, for they were but creatures before, and so they would abide still, though in an inferior rank. But for the Infinite, glorious Creator of all things to become a creature is a mystery exceeding all human understanding." John Flavel

                                       The Nativity Story. Music by Michael W Smith.

Bring love, true love, and lay it at His feet...

A Christmas Hymn by Richard Watson Gilder

Tell me what is this innumerable throng
Singing in the heavens a loud angelic song?
These are they who come with swift and shining feet
From round about the throne of God the Lord of Light to greet.

Oh, who are these that hasten beneath the starry sky,
As if with Joyful tidings that through the world shall fly?
The faithful shepherds these, who greatly were afeared
When, as they watched their flocks by night, the heavenly 
host appeared.

Who are these that follow across the hills of night
A star that westward hurries along the fields of light?
Three wise men from the cast who myrrh and treasure bring
To lay them at the feet of Him, their Lord and Christ and 

What babe new born is this that in a manger cries?
Near on her bed of pain his happy mother lies.
Oh, see The air is shaken with white and heavenly wings,
This is the Lord of all the earth; this is the King of kings.

Tell me, how may I join in this holy feast
With all the kneeling world, and I of all the least?
Fear not, O faithful heart, but bring what most is meet;
Bring love alone, true love alone, and lay it at His feet.

Coming to Magdeburg 2015

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Paint Danish Blue Chalkware

Chalkware above is painted in traditional patterns associated with Danish 
blue china. Modern chalkware is most usually made from gypsum poured
into plaster molds. Shapes like those painted above are easy to purchase in
craft and hobby shops for only a few dollars each. I've hand-colored two
baubles and an angel in blue for a Danish inspired Christmas tree.
       Chalkware refers to figurines either made of sculpted gypsum or cast from plaster molds and painted with watercolors; most typically those made in one of two periods: the first beginning in the late 18th century and ending by the beginning of the 20th century, the second being during the Great Depression. Those made during the first period were more typically serious art; those during the second period were more typically somewhat jocular. Early chalkware was often hollow and can be difficult to find unblemished. (Wikipedia)
      However, you can still purchase blank chalkware forms from many craft and/or hobby shops in America and paint these according to your own taste. These particular examples above were purchased at a Hobby Lobby. I hand-colored them with permanent ink markers and acrylic paints. Then I sealed them with a non-whitening acrylic gel medium. 

Supply List:
  • chalkware baubles
  • a variety of permanent, blue ink pens
  • acrylic varnish or gel medium
  • white acrylic paint
  • pencil and eraser 
  • soft brush for applying paint and varnish
Step-by-Step Directions:
  1. Acquire chalkware blanks from your local hobby supply.
  2. Make sure these blanks have no cracks and that the surfaces are clean.
  3. Choose acrylics, inks, watercolor or even oil paints to decorate the surfaces with.
  4. You can draw some preliminary designs on the surface of the chalkware with a soft lead pencil. I've included links below to some internet resources that you can explore to view classical Danish patterns.
  5. Paint or draw your designs directly onto the surface of the chalkware before sealing it with an acrylic gel varnish or gel medium.
  6. Let the ornaments dry completely between all applications.
Here you can see me busy at my computer drawing and coloring blue chalkware for a friend. Blue trimmings for Christmas come and go according to popular trends. These ornaments however, are for someone who is a lover and collector of Danish blue china.
A closer look at some of the traditional Danish patterns I drew onto inexpensive chalkware ornaments.
I think this chalkware shape is especially attractive.