Monday, December 7, 2015

Cotton Batting Baskets

       Originally I intended to turn these little wire frame baskets into paper mache´ornaments. But because I decided to decorate my living Christmas tree with cotton batting ornaments this year, I chose to wrap them with cotton. 
       Our family tree this year is a white pine and as some of you may know, these branches can hold little weight and the foliage is generally quite sparse. The white pine needles are long, fine and soft. For all of these reasons, many people avoid cutting white pines and opt for a sturdy blue spruce instead.
        The positive aspect of selecting a white pine is, however, what is looks like when properly trimmed. These trees are often used to display very light weight, antique glass ornaments because it is much easier to view large collections through fewer branches from every angle and although I do not have an expensive glass collection, I do have many cotton batting reproductions that I like to show off with similar flair.
These wire shaped baskets were made with chenille stems intertwined 
together across the backside of a small bowl. The examples are not yet 
wrapped with cotton batting because I thought that I would craft them
into paper mache´ baskets.  If you wish to make your own using cotton,
 I recommend that you wrap them first with batting before shaping the
basket on the backside of a small bowl. 

Supply List:
  • ornamental picks with berries and strong wire stems
  • cotton balls
  • white glue
  • masking tape
  • chenille stems
  • quail eggs (hollow)
  • a small bowl to use as a form
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Twist masking tape around the chenille stems until the furry parts have all been covered and as you twist the tape, pull it slightly to help stiffen the wires a bit.
  2. At this point I recommend that you coat the masked wire with white glue and begin to wrap the wires with white cotton. This is a vert messy prospect but you will get the hang of it in time.
  3. You can also try rolling the wire between the palms of your hands in order to twist the cotton in a more uniform coating about the wire. It doesn't matter if your surfaces are imperfect at this point. 
  4. Take the longest cotton wrapped stem and twist it around the outer rim of a very small bowl. Tape the edges together. You should let these overlap a bit. When you are finished with this step, you should have a wire circle the same circumference as the lip of your bowl. 
  5. Leave this around the outer lip of the bowl. Now you will need to begin to weave additional wires around this wire "hoop" and across the back of the bowl. Cross these wires back and forth and tape them together with strips of masking tape wherever they come in contact with each other. See photo above. When you are finished, you should have some lovely, abstract wire baskets to fill.
  6. I decided to twist some decorative, artificial raspberries, leaves and stems around my baskets and to also give each one a handle as well. I took apart a few inexpensive picks to accomplish this. 
  7. When the baskets looked the way I wanted them to, I then lined each one with some soft fluffy cotton padding and a bit of glue. At this point you could line your wire baskets with tinsel instead to craft an alternative look. 
  8. I stuffed the inside of my cotton batting baskets with hollowed out quail's eggs. These baskets are so light weight that they can be hung from the branches of a white pine quite successfully!
Far left, the wire frames taken off the bowls are neatly shaped and ready to paint, mache´ or wrap with cotton balls. (unraveled cotton balls) Center, close up, side view of one basket. Right, I filled my small, light weight baskets with hollow quail's eggs and more soft cotton before hanging it on my Christmas tree.

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