Saturday, December 22, 2012

Craft An Old-World, Cotton Batting Santa

My versions of cotton batting Santas are dyed with tea.
      European artisans created ornaments from a process of spinning cotton, in forms of fruit and vegetables, and sometimes animals and people. Cotton batting ornaments are similar, which were also made in the Lauscha region. These were made from sheets of cotton batting, wrapped around a wire frame and hand painted. Often animal or human figures, these could also be dressed up in miniature items of clothing
      I made these cotton batting Santas, Belsnickels,  many years ago with very similar techniques used in the video below. I used little clay faces, though, instead of scrap ones. The Belsnickel is the forerunner of Santa Claus, a fur-clad and raggedy Christmas gift bringer who beats the children when they are not good. Antique & vintage figures depicting him are popular collectibles, particularly when they possess rabbit-fur beards and other original features. I added rabbit fur, bottle brush trees, old beads, and brown velvet to my versions to make them look similar to those that I had seen in antique shops.
      Victorians made Christmas ornaments such as these based upon patterns distributed through ladies magazines.  Victorian publishers also provided the instructions for multiple variations of cotton batting figures which proved popular across England, Europe and America. These were made in all sorts of shapes and designs, with all manner of materials, and often present a truly unique piece created not for sale, but by a family for their own tree.
"I used little clay faces, though, instead of scrap ones."
      The key interest in antique & vintage Christmas ornaments is that they are hand-made. Whether this was in a home, as part of a town’s cottage industry, or even mass manufactured, as long as the item was crafted by hand and not by machine, it is considered worthy of inclusion among these charming collectibles.
      You will find them in antique stores, at yard sales, in thrift stores, at flea markets, and on eBay. If you’re lucky, you may discover a hidden cache in your grandparents’ or parents’ attic.
      You can ascertain an antique or vintage item in a number of ways. Earlier ornaments are smaller than those of today. They are usually decorated in soft colors, with hand painted detail. Hand paint can be verified, so learn to spot it. The more examples you see, the more recognizable you will find it. The paint can often be faded or distressed. Hand blown glass items have an uneven base beneath the cap, while machine made are even. Older companies often marked their names on the item, whereas new cheap examples do not have this.
      Despite the fact that many items are becoming rarer and more expensive, there are still many many options for collectors on a budget. Prices vary from $1-$12,000 depending on the ornament, condition, and who is selling it. There are a myriad of options, and as always, buy what you admire. 
Antique cotton vegetables and fruits made for the Christmas tree.
Cotton Batting Ornaments: Step-by-Step Directions/Tutorials:
  1. DIY Cotton Batting Corn On The Cob Ornament
  2. A Craft Tutorial for a Cotton Batting Squirrel
  3. A Craft Tutorial for a Cotton Batting Hornet's Nest
  4. Wrap a Cotton Batting Christmas Bell
  5. Craft a spun cotton batting mushroom by hand
  6. DIY cotton batting cup of cocoa tutorial 
  7. A Craft Tutorial for a Cotton Batting Snowman 
  8. Craft a Cotton Batting Snow Baby
  9. Bend and Twist a Cotton Batting Birdcage 
  10. Cotton batting angel from Katty's Cosy Cove 
  11. Craft a Pear From Spun Cotton Batting 
  12. Sculpt a Cotton Batting Deer
  13. Pierrot Cotton Batting Figure 
  14. Bend a Wire Tree for a Miniature Ornament Collection: cotton batting tree 
  15. Simple Cotton Batting Acorn Ornaments 
  16. Cotton Batting Pumpkins (hollow) 
  17. How to Craft Cotton Batting Yule Log Ornaments 
  18. DIY Sea Shell Star Ornament
  19. Victorian Snowball Garland Tutorial
  20. Make This Spun Cotton Antique Looking Wreath 
  21. Craft Your Own Set of Spun Cotton Icicles 
  22. Craft a Pea Pod from Cotton Balls 
  23. Cover a wire frame basket with cotton batting 
  24. Handcrafted, Cotton Batting, Faux Candles
  25. Capturing the veiled lady in cotton...  
  26. Craft Raspberries from Cotton Batting 
More Examples of Cotton Batting Santas & Figures:
How to dye textile materials to craft with: 
Scrap faces and tiny ornamental details:
This video shows a demonstration of the cotton batting Santa craft, step-by-step
by Lucy Webber.

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