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.

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.

Repurposed Ornaments Made From Costume Jewelry Parts

I used an old broach, a set of costume earrings and a few glass
beads to embellish my paper baubles. I cut out widow shapes
from the cardboard ornaments so that the jewelry elements
could be seen from both sides. The paper patterns are
identical on the reverse sides of these flat paper baubles.
            Don't toss out that old costume jewelry; repurpose it into unusual Christmas ornaments. I've included here a selection of flat, stylized, baubles featuring cut-away design elements and contemporary brass jewelry parts sewn into the paper designs.
      I intentionally selected  Christmas papers that would compliment the simple lines of my jewelry and glued on additional gold papers that emphasized the color of the inexpensive brass parts. When integrating elements from one design into another, it is best to repeat common shapes and colors so that the overall design looks cohesive.

Supply List:
  • decorative papers
  • cardboard (recycled)
  • costume jewelry
  • pliers
  • wire cutters
  • beads
  • scissors
  • white glue
  • tacky glue
  • gold thread or fine gold colored wire plus a needle
  • bauble pattern from this post
  • gold colored miniature cup cake liners
  • wire for hangers
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Draw and cut out patterns similar to those designs found in vintage wrapping papers and trace around these on top of recycled cardboard. I use an old cereal box for my ornaments.
  2. Next, select decorative papers that will enhance the designs of the costume jewelry parts that you intend to sew into your design.
  3. Don't forget to cut out the windows from your cardboard baubles. This will allow the jewelry parts to be seen from two sides instead of one.
  4. Cut and paste the paper designs for both sides of your bauble designs, sandwiching the cardboard between the decorative papers for added support and strength.
  5. Use pliers and or wire cutters to dismantle your jewelry parts.
  6. Thread a needle with gold wire or thread and sew the pieces of metal and/or beads along the tops of the window shapes cut from your paper and cardboard.
  7. You may also wish to squeeze a bit of glue into the tiny holes left by your needle to strengthen the cardboard after you have sewn in the jewelry parts.
  8. At the top of your baubles, punch a hole and thread in a  loop of wire for the hanger. 
  9. Glue on small, accordion shaped pieces of cup cake liner at the top of each ornament to imitate a bauble cap.
Close up photos of Christmas ornaments made with costume jewelry parts, cardboard and decorative papers. Left, the flower petal shapes are repeated in the paper. Center, the paper edges were cut with pinking shears in order to imitate the zig-zag lines in the paper's print. Right, the circular shapes found in the printed paper are also repeated with the edition of both wooden and metal jewelry parts.
Christmas Crafts Made With Recycled Jewelry:

Craft Five Christmas Candy Cones Using Wooden Accents

      These little Christmas candy cones are made with recycled cardboard, decorative papers and a collection of holiday wooden cut-outs. My assortment of five ornaments includes: a candy cane, bell, fir tree, Santa and a star. 
      I turned these traditional shapes into classic candy cone ornaments that are sure to please any lover of jelly beans, lemon drops, peppermints, gummies and gumdrops for Christmas!
A candy cane, candy cone trimmed with striped green and red  paper.
      On occasion, I am given odds and ends by people wanting to clean out old craft supplies from their kitchen drawers, closets or the occasional shoe box from beneath their guest bed. 
      Among supplies such as these I often find wooden cut-outs that under usual circumstances are considered "juvenile" craft supply. These simple, plain shapes without decoration that some small child traced around or looked at with boredom, no doubt, are then tossed aside into the heap of unused parts belonging to that Christmas hodgepodge that collects in "the drawer" of discards in every average American home.
      So what happens to this odd sundry of supply once it reaches the Grimm household you may ask with just a hint of boredom in your voice followed by a yawn and a stretch? What do you think, smarty pants; it gets glued into the next thing of course!

Supply List:
  • cardboard (recycled)
  • scissors
  • white school glue and tacky glue
  • Christmas trims, odds and ends
  • ribbon
  • decorative papers
  • wooden Christmas cut-outs
  • A variety of acrylic paints; all colors but mostly: red, green, ivory, white, skin tone, whatever matches the colors found in your decorative papers.
  • The paper pattern included below, printed out and cut for tracing around
  • stapler
  • masking tape
  • clear acrylic varnish to finish the wooden shapes
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Download and print out a candy cone pattern from the internet. 
  2. Trace and cut this shape from discarded cardboard. I used a tossed cereal box for these ornaments.
  3. Shape the cardboard into a cone. Add a bit of glue to the edge you roll inside of the cone. I stapled the top of my cone and then used a bit of masking tape to hold the cones together as these dried.
  4. Now wrap the outside of these cones in decorative papers. I used the same template as before adding an additional 1/4 inch to the outside of the pattern so that I could fold and tuck the edges of my paper neatly. I also lined the inside of the cones with that same paper. Use white school glue sparingly for this step.
  5. Poke a small hole on opposite sides in order to string a ribbon through the ornaments. Knot each end to create a hanger for each candy cone.
  6. I pasted the backside of each of my flat wooden shapes with the same decorative papers I used in covering the cone shapes.
  7. Cut around the edges of the wooden shapes tucking and gluing the paper down securely as you go.
  8. Now paint the front side of each shape with colorful acrylic paints. You may use my photographs as a guide if you wish to make candy cones that look exactly like mine. Or, if your feeling more adventurous, paint your own designs.
  9. I also glued on to the shapes a few additional elements like ribbon and silk flowers with a bit of tacky glue.
  10. Now glue your finished wooden shapes onto the cones and let these dry face down over night. I used more tacky glue for this process.
  11. On the following day brush a layer of clear varnish onto the wooden surfaces and hang the candy cones up until these have dried.
A bell candy cone trimmed with a bright red poinsettia.
A Christmas tree candy cone topped with a star.
A contemplative Santa candy cone; he wears a tired expression.
A festive polka-dotted star candy cone.

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: