Wooden Butterfly Figurine

The last few weeks at work have been hard on me.  With the world adjusting to life in what seems like an endless pandemic, everyone seems stressed.  Working in healthcare has its challenges, but a particularly tough patient had me in tears recently.  It’s funny (or not so funny) how one person can ruin your day.  The anger consumed me so bad that I lost a little bit of my spark.   I have some larger craft projects that I hope to share with you soon, but this weekend I wanted to do a simple project I had on the back burner for a while.  I was glad I took it off the shelf.  I needed to relax and get back into crafting to find my light again.

Henrietta

One thing that brought me joy this August was raising a Monarch caterpillar. Every summer, my sister searches my mother’s milkweed patch for signs of Monarch Butterfly eggs. Monarchs lay their eggs on the under-side of milkweed leaves. Tearing the leaf from the plant, she places them in a jar to hatch. This year, she found several and gave me one to take home. I was terrified to be in charge of this tiny creature, but eager to try. After a couple days, the small white egg hatched and a tiny dark caterpillar emerged.

Baby Henrietta

Every day on my way home from work I stopped at a nearby soccer field.  I knew from when my daughter played soccer years before that this field had lots of milkweed.  I picked the fattest leaf I could find and placed it in the jar.  Slowly, to my great relief, the caterpillar grew and she began to show the yellow and black stripes of a Monarch caterpillar.

We named our little caterpillar Henry/Henrietta, since we weren’t sure if it was a male or a female. As the days went on, everyone in the family took turns watching little Henrietta grow. Then, the morning came when she left her milkweed leaves behind and began to crawl to the top of the enclosure. After nearly two weeks caring for her, it was a little sad to see her hang upside down from the top of the cage, readying her body for a massive transformation. But I knew going into this that she wasn’t mine to keep. I left for work that morning and my daughter texted me a couple hours into my shift. Henrietta was a bright, green chrysalis.

Every morning, instead of searching for milkweed, we checked her enclosure for signs she was ready to hatch.  Finally, after eleven days, the chrysalis turned translucent and her black and orange wings were visible on a sunny, but terribly windy, morning.  Once she was fully emerged, her wings told us she was a female butterfly.  Later that day she finally found the courage to fly into the windy afternoon.  Henrietta clung to a hydrangea leaf as the wind battered her, but finally, she flew out of my view and into the world.

I couldn’t think of a better craft than to make a sparkly butterfly figurine for my shelf. Whenever I go to a craft store, I like to explore their wooden craft section for just this purpose. I picked up the butterfly carving a few months ago. With the Monarch migration in full swing, it’s my way to honor their beautiful wings. It doesn’t hurt that since their wings are black and orange, it fits in perfectly with the Fall.

Supplies: Black, orange and white acrylic paint. Diamond Dotz used: 8002 White, 8001 Black and 8333 Dark Orange. You will also need an embroidery pen and wax to apply the Diamond Dotz.

To start, I painted the figure. You can see from the picture that the piece had designs carved into the wood, but I ignored them. You can go the further step of filling the lines with wood fill to make the wood smooth, but since I was planning to cover the piece in Diamond Dotz I didn’t bother.

Using a picture of a Monarch Butterfly as my guide, I drew the patterns of the wings with a pencil. To make the wings as identical as I could, I used a piece of tissue paper and traced the pattern on one side of the wing. Carefully, so as not to rip the tissue paper, I traced the pattern on both sides of the tissue paper so that the image would transfer onto the wood.

The last part of the painting was adding the white dots of the Monarch’s wings. Once that was done, the piece was ready for some sparkle. Using Aleene’s Tacky Glue, I applied a thick layer of the glue all over the front of the piece. The glue goes on white, but once it is ready it will appear translucent. It takes about one to two hours for the glue to settle. Then it’s time to add some sparkle!

Don’t worry, it will dry translucent, I promise!

To apply the Diamond Dotz, I used what they call an embroidery pen.  To help pick up the gems, I also recommend purchasing wax pads or pots.  Simply dip the embroidery pen into the wax and then you’re ready to go.  Whenever I want to add Diamond Dotz to a project I’m painting, I always go to the craft store (I prefer JoAnn Fabrics because I find they have a great variety of gem colors) and pick the paint out first and then head over to the display of Diamond Dotz.  This is the best way I have found to match the gems with the paint.

I love Diamond Dotz.  It’s such an easy and fun way to add some sparkle to a painting project.  And if you’ve seen my other crafts, I love sparkle.  The great thing about the tacky glue is that if you place a gem incorrectly, you can pry it off and try again.  Since I drew the pattern of the wings free-hand, I found I had to fix a few gems so they looked just right.  With such a small project, I was able to get all the gems on in one afternoon while watching football.

We all must find what brings us joy in life. For me, my joy is in crafting and writing. The world is a tough place to be right now, but if you know what brings you happiness, try to find time to do it, even if it’s for just a few minutes a day. And definitely don’t let anyone take your passion away. Happy crafting!

Safe travels, Henrietta!

Turn Vintage Elves Into Shady Shelf Elves

A while back I was at a thrift store when I spotted a pair of plaster shelf elves amongst a pile of Christmas ornaments. I love unusual Christmas decorations, especially vintage ones. So, for a buck, they were mine. Onto my windowsill they went, but I knew I needed to rehab them to bring them to their ultimate potential. The paint was dull and had grown dingy over the years. They looked drab and old sitting on the bright windowsill. One of the elves had a pointy shoe that was broken. I knew they could be so much more with a little elbow grease. After noticing them eyeing me while I decorated the tree, it hit me. It looked as if they were both judging my Christmas decorations. What if I re-painted them and made them true Shady Shelf Elves!

Supplies Needed:

Acrylic paint and fine-tipped paintbrushes

Small piece of sand paper

Wooden craft stick

Drywall spackle

Clear Acrylic Gloss Sealer

Since the elves are made of plaster, re-painting them was the easy part. I simply scuffed them up using a small piece of sand paper to make the paint easier to adhere. Using drywall spackle, I was able to fix the broken elf boot. To help shape the point of the boot, I used a wooden coffee stirrer. After the spackle dried, I carefully sanded it as smooth as I could.

For paint, I used some acrylic paint I had leftover in my craft room. I decided to change up the colors of the elves slightly. It was great to see how much better the elves began to look after a fresh coat of paint was applied. The white trim of the hats and sleeves especially looked much better with fresh paint. I allowed plenty of time for drying between coats. Finally, it was time to make these elves the judgmental elves they were destined to be.

I wanted the elves giving the side-eye to all who pass by them, so I painted the eyes white to get rid of the existing eyes. After that was dried, I painted the pupils in black first. A fine-tip paintbrush makes this much easier to do. Once that was dried, I lined the pupils with some blue paint. I finished by lining the eyes in black to make them pop. To seal the paint, I sprayed clear acrylic gloss over them.

This simple project shows that an inexpensive purchase at a thrift store can turn into a treasured Christmas decoration.  Perhaps my family will think twice before showing up to my house in an ugly Christmas sweater knowing that I have elves sitting on my shelf judging their every fashion choice.   With a little paint and time, you can turn a forgotten Christmas decoration into something fun.

Mini Mittens Christmas Ornament

I took a knitting class over twenty years ago with my sisters, aunt and cousin. It was offered at my old high school at night as part of the continuing education program. The teacher was great, and she started us off with a simple mitten pattern to learn the ropes of knitting. Making mittens is a great way to learn the art of knitting because it includes several components. Any basic mitten pattern includes the ribbing stitch, the stockinette stitch, increasing a stitch, and decreasing a stitch. Not to mention sewing a seam. After that class I was hooked on knitting. I’ve also come up with a few of my own patterns. Tweaking the first knitting pattern I followed, I came up with a miniature version of mittens to be used as an ornament. I created this pattern to sell at a Christmas Fair, but you could also use these little mittens to decorate a gift bag or even for a gender reveal. Leave them empty or fill them with candy.

It’s been so many years since I first came up with the mini mitten pattern, that I lost track of the pattern. Luckily, my cousin still had a copy and gave it to me. I realized quickly when I developed this pattern that simply making an existing mitten pattern smaller does not work. So, I had to try several times to get the mittens to look just right. This pattern knits up quickly and it’s a great way to use up an old skein of yarn. I was able to complete a pair in less than a day while watching TV. You can knit in one color, add a stripe or make the ribbing a different color for contrast. I find worsted weight yarn is the best to hold the shape of the mitten, but you can use baby yarn if you like.

Supplies:

Pair of size 2 knitting needles

Two stitch holders

Tapestry needle for sewing seams

Worsted weight yarn in color of your choosing (I used Red Heart for the ones pictured)

Cast on 24 stitches and work in ribbing (k1, p1) for 1 inch.  One tip is to count the rows it takes you to get to 1 inch.  That way when you make the matching mitten, you can keep them the same size.

To start thumb gusset:

 K11, increase 1 stitch in each of next two stitches.  K the rest of the row.

(all even rows) purl

K11, increase 1 stitch, k next two stitches, increase 1 stitch, K rest of the row.

K11, increase 1 stitch, k next four stitches, increase 1 stitch, K rest of the row.

K11, increase 1 stitch, k next 6 stitches, increase 1 stitch, K rest of the row.

K12, place on stitch holder, K next eight stitches for thumb. Put the rest of the stitches left on the needle on another stitch holder (you will knit these stitches later after the thumb is completed.)

Then create thumb as follows:

Knit in the stockinette stitch (purl row, knit row) for 4 rows.

Decrease thumb tip as follows: Purl two stitches together across row.  Gather remaining stitches on tapestry needle and sew seam. Hide the extra yarn by weaving it into the seam.

After completing the thumb, place the yarn from the two stitch holders back onto the two needles. Reattach the yarn by the base of the thumb.

Knit the stitches from the second stitch holder so all stitches are on the same needle. Work in the stockinette stitch for 1 inch (remember to count rows so the other mitten will be the same size).

To create a stripe, when you reattach the yarn after creating the thumb, knit the rest of the stitches on the needle and purl the next row. Then attach the stripe yarn and knit in the stockinette stitch until you reach 1 inch from the base of the thumb. Next, reattach the main yarn color to begin mitten decrease.

Decrease tip of mitten:

K2, K 2 together, K2 across row

Rows 2 and 4: purl

K1, K 2 together, K1 across row

To finish, K 2 together across row. You should be left with 6 stitches on the needle.

Gather stitches on tapestry needle and sew seam. To connect the two mittens, I simply took a strand of yarn and worked it into the seam of the mittens, knotting the ends.

Milkweed & Monarch Pin Art

With the end of spring nearing, I wanted to create another pin art piece that depicted a perfect summer scene.  The first thing that came to mind for me was the Monarch Butterfly.  Living in Massachusetts, Monarch butterflies tend to arrive in my area around July and August.  Since they lay their eggs on the leaves of the milkweed plant, I wanted to include the plant as the main focal point in my piece.

Milkweed is becoming scarce as many people aim to keep their lawns weed-free. Open expanses of green grass may be pretty to look at, but eliminating weeds and wildflowers is detrimental our pollinators. Not too far from where I live is a soccer field that is literally filled with milkweed. This warms my heart, because it is the food source of the Monarch butterfly and is so important to our ecosystem. Every year I visit the fields to gather seeds in hopes of creating my own milkweed patch. I also try to search for any monarch eggs. I have tried several times to get my own milkweed patch to grow in my yard, but I haven’t had any luck yet. I’m hoping by creating this pin art to raise awareness of the importance of milkweed and wild plants that benefit both butterflies and bees.

Supplies

Clip art images of milkweed and butterfly and a piece of tissue for tracing.

1 piece of 8×10 pink velour contact paper

Assortment of 1 cm sequins

1 piece of 8×10, 1/2 inch Styrofoam

Clear seed beads and 3/4 inch sequin pins

Black embroidery thread for butterfly’s legs and antenna. 

Two black map pins for butterfly’s antenna

To start, I found a couple of clipart pictures of milkweed and Monarch butterflies. After printing out the pictures I wanted, I traced the milkweed using a piece of discarded tissue paper from a gift bag. Then I positioned the image of the butterfly over to where I wanted it to be in the picture and traced it into place. After that, I was ready to pin it to my board and adding sequins.

Before I could sequin, I had to prepare my piece of 1/2 inch Styrofoam. To do this, I covered it using a piece of pink velour contact paper. I found this online and it was not expensive. The contact paper helps to keep the Styrofoam from falling apart. Then, I pinned the tissue paper image on top of the pink velour. For the sequins, I was able to find a variety pack of sequins in an assortment of colors online, but they are also available at any local craft store.

Next, I began to sequin. For the milkweed flowers, I used lavender sequins and sprinkled a few dark purple sequins in for added color. I also used two different colored green sequins for the milkweed’s leaves. When I was done, I simply tore the tissue away to reveal the finished product.

When I finished the milkweed plant and butterfly, I decided to add a few blades of grass in all the green sequin colors I had.

To finish, I wanted to give the butterfly an antenna and legs. To do this I used a few pieces of black embroidery floss and two black map pins. Using a small length of the embroidery floss, I tied the ends in a knot. Then, using the sequin pins, I stretched out the floss tight to the black map pins. Make sure to leave the knotted end underneath a sequin to hide it. I did the same for the legs, the only difference is that I spread out the floss to create two legs.

After finishing this piece, I can’t wait to go back the soccer fields by my house and search for Monarch eggs. Watching the caterpillar turn into a chrysalis and then emerge as a butterfly is a great way to teach children the wonders of nature. It also is fun for adults, too! I hope this inspires you to create a pollinator pin art piece of your own.

Canvas Pin Art

I love to paint.  Many years ago, I took a painting class offered by my local craft store. I was determined to become a better painter.  But, try as I might, my paintings always looked horrible.  I have found I am much better at painting objects like wood signs or plaster village pieces.   Still, that doesn’t change the fact that I enjoy painting.  So, I came up with this craft as a way to use both paint and sequins to create canvas art.  Using some old Styrofoam from a discarded package, I was able to find a way to stick the sequins to the canvas.

By combining both paint and sequins, I was able to create a unique wall hanging that is both pretty and eye-catching. This is a perfect craft for a teen or tween, or for anyone who wants to create some sparkle on their walls. For this project, I used a picture of a butterfly, but you can use virtually any object, and you can use sequin colors that match the color of your room. The great thing I found about using painted canvas as a backdrop for my sequins was that if you have any gaps, you can simply fill it in with paint.

The items needed are fairly inexpensive. You can find sequins at any store that sells crafts. I found the pack of sequins I used for this project at Jo-Ann Fabrics. The canvas was part of a pack of two that I got at Walmart. Next, I printed a picture of a butterfly to trace. For the tips of the butterfly’s antennae, I used silver map pins that I found online. To fasten the sequins to the Styrofoam, I used ½” sequin pins and clear sequin beads. Then, using a fine tip black sharpie marker, I drew the antennae on the canvas. Once you start to add the sequins, the Styrofoam will hold nicely to the back of the canvas, so there’s no need to use glue. Since the canvas is porous, glue will show through onto the painted canvas.

Supplies:

1/2” sequin pins

Clear sequin beads

Cup sequins in color of your choice

2 silver map pins

1 8X10 canvas

Acrylic paint

Tissue paper and pencil for tracing

1 piece of 1/2” Styrofoam and craft knife Fine point black marker

A 2 pack of 8×10 canvas was only a few dollars at Walmart.

First, I painted the canvas with three coats of lavender acrylic paint. Allow the canvas to dry between coats.

Using a sharp craft knife, I cut a piece of Styrofoam to fit inside the back of the canvas.

Next, I traced the picture of the butterfly I printed onto a piece of tissue. Then, I taped the tissue onto the canvas.

This is where the fun begins! Using your sequin pins and beads, start to trace outline of the butterfly.

Once you have the outline complete, you can start to tear away the tissue. I used a pair of tweezers to help with this step. Then you can start to fill in the butterfly’s wings with color.

I decided to keep the canvas a simple lavender, but you can always add painted highlights or even use a sponge technique to give your canvas even more dimension. To finish, I found an old frame that I had spray-painted silver.

For those of us who are drawing-challenged, I found this was a way I could still create fun wall art. Plus, I was able to find a good use for some old Styrofoam packing that would otherwise be tossed in the garbage.

Macrame Caroling Angel

A few posts ago I mentioned a macrame angel that used to hang on my mother’s tree. I stole her often off of the tree to play with in my room with my other toys during the Christmas season. To me, she was the most elegant of our Christmas ornaments. I considered her an honored guest for my other toys. I even staged an elaborate wedding in my bedroom for her when she wed another treasured Christmas ornament, The Christmas Yarn Clown. My grandmother even had a similar angel on her tree. Unfortunately, some Christmas boxes in my mother’s basement got damaged a few years back and the macrame angel is no more. All I had of her were memories. Thankfully, I still remember vividly what she looked like. I have wanted to recreate her for a long time, but I wasn’t sure my limited macrame skills were up to the challenge.

Finally, last month I started searching for the perfect materials. I had to at least try to recreate this beautiful ornament. From my memories, the angel was made from thick, white yarn or rope with a wooden bead for her head. A simple silver pipe cleaner served as her halo. To practice, I bought some standard macrame cord. Though it was helpful to practice with, I quickly realized it was far too thin to work for this project. Back to the internet, I found some thick, white clothesline rope that looked the closest to my memories. I also picked some wooden beads and silver pipe cleaners. After a bit of practice I realized with just a few inexpensive materials I could recreate the caroling macrame angel.

clothesline rope purchased from Amazon.
Beads bought on Amazon.

Materials:

1 1 inch wooden bead with a 3/8 inch opening

1 4” piece of silver or gold pipe cleaner

2 20” pieces of white clothesline rope

Black and red Sharpie markers

Optional items: wood stain and gold paint or marker for hair. I also used a large tapestry needle to thread the rope through the opening of the bead.

First, stain and draw the face onto your wooden bead. My old macrame angel was a simple stained bead with a drawn-on face and no hair, but you can also get creative and paint hair for your angel. The stain I used was a light golden pecan. You can also leave the bead its natural color if you like, though I recommend staining the bead since I found that the sharpie markers bled on an unstained bead. To draw the face on, I used an ultra-fine tipped sharpie in black and red. The eyes are simply two semi-circles with small lines indicating her eyelashes and her mouth is a red oval. Let the wood stain dry before you draw on the face. Allow the bead to dry completely before moving on.

To start the angel’s body, pull the two pieces of white rope through the top of the angel’s head so that there are 4 pieces hanging down to knot.  I used a large tapestry needle to help get the rope through the small opening of the bead. I pulled the rope so that the outside pieces hung about 4 inches longer than the two inner pieces of rope like the picture above.  The clothesline rope is much thicker than standard macrame cord and I found that when I started to tie the knots that the outside pieces ended up much shorter than the inner two pieces unless I gave them so more length.

Use a large clip or clipboard to help keep bead steady while you knot.
This is what the ornament looks like after first square knot is completed.

Start by tying a basic square knot.  To stabilize the bead, I used an old desk fan clip, but you could also use a clipboard to keep it steady.  Again, the thicker rope makes tight knot making difficult, so do your best to get it as tight as possible.  After I completed the first square knot, I made a square knot with a loop to create the angel’s arms.  It took me a bit of practice and youtube watching to get the loops even on both sides, so it may take a couple tries.  The good news is that if you screw up, you can simply untie the knot and try again.

Once you’ve done the two square knots, the upper body of the angel was done! On to her flowing dress. To achieve this, all you need is a fork and some time. Some pent-up aggression helps too. Using the fork’s tongs, I ripped it down the frayed ends of the rope, slowly traveling up to the end of the knots. Of the entire project, this took the most time, but the fork certainly helps things move along more quickly.

Lastly, I cut a piece of 4” silver pipe cleaner for her halo. The halo can also be used to hang her on the tree. My angel’s halo stuck straight over her head, so that’s how I made my recreation, but you can bend the halo so that it hovers over her head if you want. I used a spare wooden bead as a guide to make my halo a perfect circle. Dab the end in a little bit of glue then insert into the opening of the bead.

Use something round to help shape your halo. I used a spare wooden bead.
Golden haired angel.
One angel with no hair and straight halo and another with golden hair and bent halo.

When I finished, I brought out my old Christmas Yarn Clown and sat him next to my new macrame angel. Along with a few other tattered ornaments, he is the oldest ornament on my tree and always gets a place of honor. It was a reunion nearly 40 years in the making. I can’t wait to hang them both on my tree next holiday season.

Reunited and it feels so good!

Artminds Love Sign

On a recent trip to Michael’s Craft Store to gather supplies for another project I came across a bin by the register filled with simple wooden signs made by Artminds. The wooden letters spelled out either Love or Blessed. Instantly I knew I had to have one of the Love signs. My mind filled with ideas for painting and decorating. At the register I was even happier when the little sign rang up on sale. At only 79 cents, I had unexpectedly found my next craft project.

If you’re like me, your house looks a little empty once the Christmas tree gets put away and the long month of January commences. I have a few snowflakes and a few pine cones I picked from my backyard. But other than a few hearts, I don’t have many Valentine’s Day decorations. So to make this sign pop on my mantle, I decided to paint each letter of the word love a different hue of red. I was hoping to give it an ombre look. To give the sign some sparkle, I decided to add Diamond Dotz to both the front of the letters and the edge of the base. To find coordinating paint and Diamond Dotz, I prefer Joann Fabrics to Michael’s. I was able to find good matches and then set to work creating my new project.

Here is a list of the paint and coordinating Diamond Dotz (DD) color I used for this project:

For the “L” I used Artist’s Loft paint in bright red and DD in color 8015 Red.

For the “O” I used DecoArt Americana paint in Royal Fuschia with DD in color 8073 Bright Cerise.

For the “V” I used Craft Smart paint in pink and DD in color 8071 Puce.

For the “E” I used Craft Smart paint in light pink and DD in color 8068 Pink Mist.

I painted the base with Craft Smart paint in White and DD in color 8002 White.

Additional Supplies: To attach the Diamond Dotz I used Aleene’s Tack-It glue, a q-tip and a drill pen to apply the Diamond Dotz.

First, you may have to lightly sand the piece with a fine piece of sand paper to smooth out the edges of the wood. Then you can paint the sign with two to three coats of paint. The wood absorbs a lot of the paint and it’s important to paint the piece well before adding the Diamond Dotz.

Once the piece is painted, apply a thick coat of the Aleene’s Tack-It glue to the areas where you want to apply the Diamond Dotz. For this project, I only wanted to make the front of the letters and the edge of the base sparkly. But you can cover the whole piece of you wish. I used a Q-Tip to spread the glue easily without getting it all over my hands or ruining a paint brush. The glue should be thick enough that it appears white. This will ensure that the Diamond Dotz stay put and don’t fall off. Don’t worry, once it is set it will turn translucent.

Allow the glue to set for at least an hour, or until the glue appears translucent. Then you’re ready to apply your Diamond Dotz.

Since the letters were so thin, it was a challenge to apply the Diamond Dotz. Though it was hard to stick to the edges, I do think applying the Diamond Dotz as neatly as possible makes the finished product look the best. When you are finished, you can use a roller to press the Diamond Dotz firmly into place. If you don’t have a roller, simply press down gently on the gems with your fingers.

I decided to place this piece on my mantle since it desperately needed a pop of color. I love the way the morning sun makes the small gems sparkle. If you get a chance to grab one of these signs, it’s the perfect weekend project that will be a wonderful addition to your winter decor.

Quick Wooden Ornament Craft

As a crafter, I like to make something special for everyone on my list at Christmastime.  But there is no way I could knit a scarf or complete a pin art masterpiece for everyone.  With work and family obligations, it’s impossible to turn myself into the nonstop crafting machine I aspire to be.  Still, since I love to craft, I usually start my Christmas planning before the ball drops on the New Year so I can try to make as much as I can before the next Christmas season.  One of the best seasons for craft buying is in the weeks after Christmas, when all the Christmas supplies go on sale to make way for Valentine’s Day.  I use this time to scour craft stores for ideas on what I will make next Christmas.  I love this time of year almost as much as the Christmas season.  It was in one of these discount bins that I found this month’s blog inspiration: laser-cut wood ornaments.

In my craft room, it’s always Christmas. I even keep a small Christmas ornament hanging by my desk all year. My way of showing love is through crafting. I much prefer hand-made presents than store bought. This fall, when I took out the small wooden ornament I had bought months earlier, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. But this small craft turned out to be the perfect quick gift that is both hand-made and incredibly easy. The best part is that it can be used to dress up a plain gift bag or to simply hang on a tree.

Supplies:

 White, gray and light blue acrylic paint

Wood stain in cognac and golden pecan

Ribbon or burlap cord to tie ornament

Red, white and light blue Diamond Dotz

Tacky glue to attach the Diamond Dotz

Using both paint and stain, the project took less than a day. I first stained the ornament then painted it. That way if the wood stain bled I could easily hide it by covering it with paint. I decided to paint each snowflake a different color to give it a pop of color. To finish the ornament, I decided to add some Diamond Dotz to the snowflakes and to give the reindeer a red nose. The Diamond Dotz give the ornament a little sparkle when hanging on the Christmas tree. This project is the perfect reminder that a craft project doesn’t have to be complicated or big to show you care. Whether you add it to a gift card or attach it to a gift bag, these small ornaments are a perfect way to show you care.

Using some burlap cord, I attached the ornament to a bag as an added gift.

Lighted Display for Christmas Village

About twenty years ago, I went to a Michael’s craft store and fell in love. There, at the end of one of the aisles was a display of plaster village pieces by California Creations. That day I brought home the Bookstore and the Fire Department, but I went back many more times over the years and bought several more pieces. I’m ashamed to say I now have over twenty completed plaster village pieces and many more yet to paint from both California Creations and among other brands.

Over the years I put my love for painting aside as I got married and had children. Some years I didn’t even have the energy to unpack them all at Christmas. Then, about ten years ago, my basement flooded and some of my pieces were damaged. I lost the bell to my schoolhouse and most of my little village people, but thankfully, the village pieces were able to be saved.

I decided this was the year I was going to finally bring light to my plaster village, but light it up. Why keep something I worked so hard on hidden away in a plastic bin? But since I have so many pieces, I didn’t want to put them all in one place. So, to break it up, I came up with a plan to display a few pieces on either side of my mother’s ceramic Christmas Tree, which I display on top of my buffet.

I got the idea for my little pods, as I call them, from another crafter, Carol Duvall. She had a craft show on HGTV. Yes, HGTV had shows other than real estate flipping back when it first started. I loved her show. One of her crafts was a paper village that she cut out of card stock. To display her little paper village, she used an old Christmas gift box and poked holes in the lid. Then, she put a string of white lights in the box and pushed the lights through the holes in the lid and sat her paper houses over the lights. Now, my village is a bit too heavy for a gift box, but I used her as inspiration to build a small display of my own made from 1/4″ plywood.

Supplies:
Piece of plywood, cut to size and three side pieces to elevate pod
Acrylic paint
Drill to make light holes and a saw to cut the wood

I bought the wood at Michael’s Craft Store, and cut the top to 15” x 12”. This was the perfect size to fit on the side of my ceramic Christmas Tree. Though I am severely lacking in carpentry skills, I bought a small hand drill which made cutting the wood a breeze.

The underbelly of the pod.

Then I used scrap pieces I had from an old project to elevate the pod so I could fit the lights underneath. Using finishing nails and wood glue, I nailed the 2” pieces to the top display. I left the back open since it was going against the wall. You can cover the pod in faux snow cover or just paint it white, but I decided to make a road in the middle of mine, so I designed a simple scene with nothing more than paint. I placed the village pieces I wanted to use in the places I wanted, then traced a crude road and walkways. Once I painted the piece, I put the village pieces back on to determine where to drill my holes for the lights and marked the spots with pencil. I drilled four holes for each piece. Then I took a small strand of white lights and did my best to poke them through the tiny holes I created.

My local dollar store sells small village people and accessories that I used to further add life to my scenes. I like that they are made out of plastic which makes them virtually indestructible. Since the sides of the pods looked a little unfinished, I hid them with garland. I’m very pleased with the final product and am busy working on a pod for other side of the Christmas tree.

The back of the pod.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

I recently made the painful decision to spend Thanksgiving at home this year. With two high risk parents and a job in healthcare, I can’t chance going to a crowded Thanksgiving dinner this year. To cheer myself up, I started listening to Christmas music. Some of my coworkers have started to do this at work as well. Like holiday movies, Christmas music puts me at ease and makes me think of the good in this world. When Judy Garland came on singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, I knew I had to take the last verse and put it onto an ornament for my parents to hang on their tiny tree this year.

Front
Back

The song was sung by Judy Garland for the movie, Meet Me in St. Louis. Some other recordings have the lyrics slightly changed, but I like Garland’s recording of the song the most. It is the last verse of the song that really touched me and took on new meaning for me during this time. It is supposed to be a sad song, but also has a hopeful message, which I think is perfect for this year.

The ornament is a simple white heart I found at Michael’s Craft Store. I wanted to use my Cricut to cut out a stencil, but it is currently not cooperating with me. Instead, I wrote it out using a paint pen. If you can’t find a paint pen, a magic marker or Sharpie should work fine. I know it’s not the best-looking, but I think it looks more personal this way. I think I might buy another and have my daughter write it out for my in-laws to hang on their tree. If you can’t find the heart that I used, there are plenty of other options at the craft stores.

What’s your favorite Christmas song? Maybe you or your child can take a verse from that song and make a special ornament this year.

Supplies
Paint pens or magic marker in red and green
1 blank craft ornament

I started by drawing a line down the middle of the ornament to keep the verse centered. Next, I drew horizontal lines for each line of the verse.

After I wrote the verse (I know it is not the best writing, sorry!) I next added some color by drawing holly berry and leaves by hand and writing the year 2020 in red pen. You may also want to spray it with a clear sealer once it is dry.