Monday, December 21, 2015

Jewel Encrusted "Heirloom" Ornament DIY

Since her grand arrival in the world two years ago, my niece and I have established a few special traditions.  She isn't really aware of them yet, but I like to think she'll appreciate them in the years to come.  One of those traditions is the annual gift of a little itty bitty handmade Christmas ornament - less than 2" tall.  In a few years, maybe five or six, I'll surprise her with a tiny tree of her own to display in her bedroom and decorate with the miniature ornament collection.

To celebrate her first Christmas, I made two ornaments: a felt Popple and a hand-painted disc featuring Sophie the giraffe.  Both have 2013 on the backside.  I was bummed about how curvaceous my Sophie painting turned out, until Patrick told me she was a "fiercely real" giraffe. 
That's a good message to send, so uh, it's like I did that on purpose.
I called my niece Popple, inspired by that adorable 1880's stuffed toy that folds into a ball
because of how she tucked her feet up while eating.
So cute!
I wish you could see her adorable smiling face, but I'm not really comfortable placing other people's children on social media so you'll just have to use your imagination.
Last year, I sewed this petite bunny from felt then added a pompom tail, a tiny red heart, and  2014 on the back. 
Her favorite activity (aside from watching the movie Frozen, everyone's favorite past time in 2014) was to hop into her plastic car and cruise the neighborhood searching for bunnies.
2015 is the year of "the pretties."
She has developed a glossy eyed crow-like obsession with anything and everything fancy.  Now, from a two year old's point of view, fancy could mean a variety of things.  For Charlie, this includes plastic mardi gras beads, the keys we pull off car dealership fliers, and pipe cleaner rings
Her precious little collection of pretties, as she calls this hodge-podge of random accessories, is safely stored in a box on my coffee table. 
In honor of this new infatuation, I gathered up some of my old pretties to craft a very special jewel encrusted heirloom ornament for 2015 - because what could be more fancy that a ball of sparkles and glitter?

You will need:
wooden or styrofoam ball, mine is about 1" in diameter
metal screw hook
wire clippers
glue - super glue, hot glue gun or both
chain, beads, buttons, bead caps, gems, and anything sparkly or fancy

Rummage through discarded jewelry and gather up any pretty earrings, chains, tiny beads, buttons, and faux gemstones that catch your eye.   The gems I used are from my Bobcat in a Box subscription, but you could easily find them in a craft store or with nail decor items at the drugstore.  I chose a theme of three colors: gold, pink, and white.  A theme isn't necessary, but it helps tie everything together and create an intentional feel - so your ornament does not look like Katamari Damacy).
For the base of my ornament, I used a wooden drawer pull instead of a ball.
It happened to be flat on one side, but after the jewel encrusting, that detail isn't noticeable.
Twist the hook into the ball and glue in place.
To make my hook tighter and more petite, I squeezed it with heavy pliers.
Use wire clippers to snip the loops off the backside of buttons, remove posts from earrings, and to cut plastic beads in half.
Consider choosing two special buttons or embellishments to feature as the main details: one on either side of your ornament.
I selected white vintage songbird and owl buttons for the front and back, and coordinating pearl beads, snipped in half.
Glue your main detail to the front and carefully wrap layers of chain around it, dabbing with glue as you go.  I used both super glue and my hot glue gun interchangeably.
When using super glue, I poured a bit onto a plastic container and used a toothpick to dab the ornament and push segments of chain close together.
The toothpick also will prevent glue-to-skin contact.
Use tweezers and super glue to attach the gemstones.
Don't worry about the stones lining up perfectly.
With so many places for the eye to wander, no one will focus on tiny imperfections.
Continue to add layers of chain and gemstones.
This takes patience, but I promise you'll be happy with the outcome.
I glued the pearl bead halves on each side between the feature bird buttons to fill in space.
Fill in every tiny little space. Your goal is to completely cover and hide the ball at the center.
For the lower tip of the ornament, I glued half of a larger pink bead to the bottom, added a bead cap and small bead with superglue, then wrapped it with a thin chain.
I layered chain on the flat surface at the top to create dimension.
 If you do not have a flat surface, you could still wrap the top portion as a quick way to cover surface area.
I had this vision of topping my ornament with a luxe silk bow with 2015 scrolled in lovely gold.
Buuuuuut...that didn't happen.
Unfortunately, the gold Sharpie bled into the ribbon grain, the prismacolor pencil wasn't rich enough on silk, and I couldn't paint a fine line small enough, so... a generic black ballpoint pen had to do the trick.  Not as elegant, but much more attractive than the alternatives.

When making your bow, tie the ribbon after writing on it (give the ink a second to dry or it will smear).  Tie a little bow, snip the excess ribbon away, and glue to the base of your hook.
I can't wait to see my niece's reaction when she unwraps this little treasure.
Please share photos of your finished ornaments, I'm dying to see how they turned out!

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