Plumpton agreed to help with this week’s post but as you can see, he is not very happy about it. Not to worry. He has some turkey in his future that will wipe out all memories of this Yuletide ignominy. If you want to check out holiday posts from years past, press here and here.
It’s the time of the year for Santa’s workshop to be in full swing. I am making ornaments again, and this year I am incorporating felting with the polymer clay. I could use some elves to do the needle work for me, but I find needle felting very relaxing (when I don’t stab myself with the needles-thankfully not too often) and mixing the different yarns and color of roving reminds me of painting.
The ornaments here are mostly needle felted over styrofoam balls. I wet felted one base and decided that needle felting worked better for me. The embellishments are pom poms, additional yarn and roving, and polymer clay canes and beads.
The Internet is full of sites offering free felting directions. Feltmakers List FAQ is a good place to start. YouTube has lots of videos and some are quite good. And since crafters have diverse ways of doing the same thing, it’s always helpful to read a few sets of instruction and watch a few different videos.
Santa’s Workshop is in full swing again this year, but I’m falling behind. I hoped to have all the new ornaments done by tonight, but as you can see, some are still baking.
The glass ornament with the tassel is a recycle. I found it in the trash, but the bottom part was broken. I cut it off and replaced it with a beaded tassel (I bought a box of them years ago at an “After Christmas” sale) and tied some fancy ribbon to the top.
The rest are glass balls covered with polymer clay. I like to collect interesting yarns, fibers and ribbons and I think they make nice tassels for the ornaments. One of the tassels has big metal and ceramic beads tied into the yarn.
Centsationalgirl.com has a post with great ideas for making ornaments, and links to more than one hundred other pages with ornament ideas and tutorials. Now you have no excuse not to deck the halls. Get down with your bad elf!
Some pictures of more finished ornaments
People live in rowhouses in South Philadelphia and they decorate their front windows and doors when someone has a baby, someone gets married, someone graduates, someone gets paroled or the Flyers win the Stanley Cup. In other words, people here don’t need much of an excuse to decorate. You can keep your fancy suburbs with your large expanse of lawns, triple car garages and gabled roofs. We’re just fine with our flat roofs, front stoops and double parking. The constraints just make for more creativity, as you can see from the pictures I took on one frozen night. Heathen’s Greetings.
I make lamp worked beads; sometimes with scrap glass and I fuse glass, too. I was pondering whether to toss the little odd scraps. ugly beads and fused pieces that didn’t come out quite right. Then I decided to try something new. I started playing with the materials and ended up making Christmas ornaments using the copper foiling method. Here’s what I came up with. I will give them away as gifts. They might make nice sun catchers when the tree is taken down.
Santa’s Workshop-South Philadelphia Branch
Here are some more very simple ideas for for Christmas ornaments. The one on the left is a hollow paper mache ball covered with black, copper and pearl clay and metal leaf. I covered the ball in black clay, ran the pearl copper and black clay through the pasta machine with metal leaf, and then tore the metal-leafed clay and arranged it on the black clay. The tassel is made of scraps of eyelash and novelty yarn threaded though a base metal bead and the top of the ornament is finished with a base metal and glass bead.
The second ornament is made from the leaf cane I first learned from Leigh Ross. I applied the leaves from the bottom up, in an overlapping pattern over a hollow paper mache form and inserted a beaded tassel (bought at an after Christmas sale) through the end of the ornament and up through the top where I finished it off with beads. I applied small red balls of clay to the ornament to make it resemble holly.
You could cover cheap glass ornaments with clay, and glue or embed a wire on the bottom to hold your tassel. These would be great projects for kids, especially the first one becaus0e you can use any color clay and yarn, and left your imagination run wild.
Here are two more ideas for polymer clay Christmas ornaments. I made the one on the left by covering a store-bought paper mache form with a leaf cane made from a Skinner Blend of Pearl and Forest Green Premo Clay. The veins are done in gold with a bit of red sandwiched between the layers for depth. While there are many versions of this cane, I learned this particular cane from Leigh Ross. You can find her instructions at Polymer Clay Central. I used balls of red clay to make holly berries. After the ornament was baked, I attached a store bought tassel.
For the doggy ornament, I scanned a picture into my printer,changed the background and printed it out. I made a frame to hold the picture, decorated it with simple canes and made two matching beads. After baking the frame and letting it cool, I laid in the picture. I used a level to make sure the frame was perfectly level before pouring a layer Envirotex Lite over the picture. A level surface is vital when using Envirotex Lite. You also need a barrier, in my case the edge of the frame, because this material is self leveling and will run all over the place without something to stop it. I sprinkled some glitter in the background of the picture and let it cure for 48 hours. Then I attached the beads, tassel and a hanging wire.
I could not make a photo transfer ornament with my ink jet printer like I did last year because I had run out of the old Epson paper. You might know from Donna Kato’s announcement that the new Epson paper does not work. There are plenty of new ideas for photo transfers on Donna’s siteand on the Philadelphia Area Polymer Clay Guild’s blog, The Guild Reporter.
Last but not least, I also have a project article on how to make a silk screened polymer clay pendant in the latest issue of Polymer Cafe.
I wanted to make a meaningful Christmas present for a younger family member. My mother had given me my Grandmother’s silver plate and said that it would be OK if I made jewelry out of it. I took two teaspoons and heated them until they were cherry red with my lamp working torch. After letting them cool, I clamped them into a vise and sawed off the handles with my jeweler’s saw. I filed off the rough edges and drilled holes in both ends of each handle. I shaped the pieces with a rubber covered mallet and a form made to hammer out dents in cars. Then I threw the handles in the pickle pot to clean off most of the fire scale. Next, I used a wire brush attachment in my drill to clean off the rest of the dirt and shine them up. I filed around the rough edges of the holes I’d drilled and went over the handles with steel wool before polishing them with muslin buffing wheel and rouge.
I assembled the pieces with jump rings I’d made previously, and a lobster clasp. When I don’t solder jump rings, I like to make them oval shaped with the cut on the side because they are stronger and less likely to pull apart which is important for a bracelet. I was going to put a lamp-worked bead dangle on the front with a wrapped loop. I ended up using the dangle you see in the picture-an odd earring belonging to my mother.
I have a full set of my Grandmother’s silver plate and a ton of ideas for using it to make jewelry. What about a ring or bracelet for my maternal girl cousins? That’s a thought. It would be a good way to share the silver plate with the family.
Yesterday, my Mother was telling me about the wonderful Christmas dinners my Grandmother cooked years ago. I imagine they enjoyed more than one with the spoons I used on this bracelet. I never knew my Grandmother. The picture of her below must have been taken when she was 16 or so, which would make it circa 1900.
Emma Peterson Montgomery