Use Jewelry-Making Techniques to Make Memorable Handcrafted Holiday Ornaments
Looking at a friend's clay work online, I saw someone's comment asking if the pieces were pendants or ornaments. I had the same question–and that got me to thinking about how many of the jewelry-making techniques that we practice and enjoy can be transferred to other tasks–specifically making holiday ornaments and gifts for loved ones. And off I went! Here are some of the ways I'll be using jewelry-making techniques (resin, wire, soldering, and polymer clay) to craft meaningful, memorable handmade ornaments for myself and loved ones this year.
Resin Holiday Tag Mementos
For years I have saved the handwritten holiday tags on presents I've received from family. Ones from my Dad that are signed with the dogs' names instead of his (or Santa Claus); ones from Mama that say they're to Sissy from Brother or "Mama Santa." I have very cherished ones from my grandmothers in their own sweet wobbly handwriting, and beloved ones from favorite aunts. One aunt usually adds an "I love you" on the little tag, and the other one always addresses them to me as "sweet girl" or something equally nice instead of my name and signs them from every member of their family, including the dog. I especially cherish the ones from her that still have my dearly departed cousin's name on them.
Every year when I take out my Christmas decorations, I find my little pile of gift tags and they make me so happy. This year I've decided to preserve some of them forever in large ICE Resin hobnail bezels and make Christmas tree ornaments out of them. They just need a little glitter (some already have that) and a ribbon to hang them from and voila! Heirloom. Choice cuts from recycled holiday cards would work as well.
Note: Be extra extra vigilant about sealing your paper goods before adding resin, especially when working with such precious mementos. I was, and I still had some bleed through. Fortunately it isn't bad enough to ruin the piece.
Polymer Clay Candy and Cookie Ornaments
The holidays are always a time full of family and memories for us–and of course, food. Every year Mama makes my grandmother's peanut butter roll candy, an incredibly sweet, pretty little candy that helps us all feel my grandmother still with us. This year I got the big idea to make a roll of the "candy" using polymer clay–and I could hear my grandmother say, "You just top everything!"
All I needed to make the roll "candy" was white and peanut-buttery brown (in this case, copper Sculpey Premo) clay. I rolled out a slab of each, stacked them, rolled them up together just like Mama does when making Mamaw's candy, and sliced off ornaments instead of bites. Next year, I'm going to attempt the peppermint stick candy everyone loves and maybe even Mama's "cow patties" (chocolate oatmeal cookies) that Brother and I love so much.
I've made one for all my aunts and my uncle; they're all going to love hanging that sweet memory on their own trees for years to come. You can easily modify this technique to make your own family's special holiday treats. Just insert some sort of wire loop into the clay (I used an eye screw) before curing/baking for a hanger. (Bake according to package instructions.)
Silver Wire Snowflakes
Making snowflakes out of wire (and perhaps sparkling crystals, gemstone beads, or pearls) is not new, but how decadent would it be to make one using real silver wire? Sterling or fine silver would work (both will need some hardening), and Argentium would work fine, too, if you want to avoid tarnishing. Simply solder or fuse three or four lengths of wire together where they cross in the middle (or make three or four wire V's and attach them at the points). Be sure to leave one piece a bit longer for a loop on the end so you can hang the ornament later. You can curl up the ends, add balled ends and hammer those flat or leave them round, add sparkle with some allover whacks of the hammer, etc. If you like, slide pearl and gem beads of your choice on the ends of your wire frame and close off the ends with a tiny loop or end-cap bead secured with glue or resin. Voila! Heirloom-quality snowflake ornaments. You could make them in a color scheme to match any decor, in a loved one's birthstone, or all in sparkling icy white. I'm still working on mine; 18 solder seams got me this far but I want to do more and make a really elaborate snowflake.
Using jewelry-making techniques to make holiday ornaments (which could double as gifts and stocking stuffers) is a great way to use up your stash in preparation for all the new goodies Santa's bringing, to use your hobby to make handmade gifts for friends or family who might not need jewelry, and to practice or learn jewelry-making skills. You'll love the festive and versatile projects (jewelry? ornament? gift decor? all three?) in our holiday jewelry eBook, 10 Holiday Wire Jewelry and Ornament Designs. Instantly download yours now and have fun making wire holiday jewelry and gifts!