Sparkly Christmas Ornaments

Sparkly Christmas Ornaments

by Barbara van Look, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

Kitsch becomes beautiful, given enough time or nostalgia. It happened with these Christmas ornaments from my mother and grandmother.

Sparkly Christmas Ornaments One of my earliest memories is hanging these ornaments from the silver garland pinned up around the front door of the farmhouse. Each ornament had its special place, hung from that particular thumbtack, each December. As we grew up and became adults, the collection got split. So now I need to fill some holes.

Why not make my own, just like mom and grandma did?

Use What You've Got (and Pick Up Some New)

You'll need to pick up the plain Styrofoam™ balls, or other shapes, from your local craft store. (Some designs look great on the satin balls, offering a colored background.) After that, you can rely on what you already have.

From scraps of fabric to broken jewelry pieces, these ornaments are a great way to use up the bits and bobs you've got floating around your jewelry box, beading storage and sewing bin:
  • Grandma's old rhinestone brooch, the one with the snapped-off pin back that you swear you were going to fix but you never get around to? Perfect.
  • That scrap piece of velvet from that childhood dress or lace from that baby cap? Create shapes or lengths that you can glue and pin onto your Styrofoam shapes.
  • Leftover beads, pearls or components from previous projects? Stick a headpin through it, my friend, and add them in.
Grab a headpin (plain or with a decorated end) and you're ready to begin!

The Details

A few tips to get you started.

  • Plan Ahead Since these ornaments need glue, you're going to need to plan out your designs before you create. Pulling out the headpins after the glue has dried doesn't help your creation last very long. So plan at least the main elements of your design, so you're not pulling out headpins over and over again.

    If you use the satin-covered ball ornaments, you'll have to be really careful about glues and planning. Moving a piece around after it's been glued can mean you end up pulling up satin threads and suddenly you have a shaggy, not a sparkly, ornament!
Christmas Ornaments
  • Sparkle, Shimmer and Shine These holiday ornaments will be interacting with lights, so they need plenty of sparkle. The sequins help, of course, but so do chatons; rhinestones; flat backs (Crystal Passions crystal, glass and acrylic); iridescent shell components; silver-lined seed beads; cabochons; heishi beads; metallic cord; diamond-cut chain; ready-to-wear brooches set with rhinestones and more!

    Even more fun can be added with card stock or origami paper, old wrapping paper covered with Mod Podge®.
  • Choose Your Glue Carefully! Some super glues react badly with Styrofoam, melting the foam and creating a nasty little cloud of cyanide vapor. Yeah, that kind of cyanide. So read the instructions carefully and check your glues before you use!

    The current chemical make-ups of Apoxie® Paste, E6000® Shoe Dazzle™ and GORILLA™ Glue are useable for many foams. Formulas can change, however, so read the packaging before you use. And be sure to test the glue interaction before you use a bunch of it.

Glues and Adhesives

  • Glue Everything While the old ornaments from my childhood use seamstress' pins, headpins work just as well and are significantly less expensive. Be sure you dip the end you're going to stick into the Styrofoam in your glue first, just before you insert it. You may need to apply a bit to the underside of whatever else you're adding to the ornament (Grandma's old brooch will definitely need a dab or two).
  • Leave Time to Cure That glue needs to dry and cure, of course, so don't rush it.
These ornaments can last for decades--the ones in our family are 40-50 years old!--if they're well-constructed and carefully, lovingly stored. Just imagine your grandkids and great-grandkids enjoying these for decades to come!

Design with ... Additional Resources ... Red Christmas Ornament