Christmas Crafts: Paper Ornaments

OK, I've never done an actual craft tutorial before. Some of the photos are going to be weird, if not outright bad, because most were taken lefty. Taking pictures of cooking is hard enough. For crafting you definitely need a third arm. I could've called Panda to help but she was reading. Let me repeat that.  She was reading. Which never happens. So I left her alone.

Also, I first thought, "Oh my God, before I do this post, I have to vacuum my office floor!" Then I figured you all would appreciate how things truly look around here, so here you go:

That's the state of the floor when I'm in the midst of Christmas card making, in fact this isn't even bad, last week was worse. I don't even attempt to be neat about things, I just let every snippet and scrap fall on the floor and then write my Dyson a check later. Then I have to push all this other shit I'm working on aside:

I know, I have problems. So, ANYWAY, the ornaments....

I discovered these last year and in my usual manner, I made like a thousand. No really. A thousand. Look:

But I love them, they remind me of the onion domes on Russian Orthodox cathedrals. And they really are quite simple to make.

You need:

  • Designer paper (mine is from a holiday pack I got at Michael's.)
  • 20-gauge jewelry wire (or 18 is fine, too)
  • Beads (don't tell me you don't have any)
  • 1/16" hole punch
  • 1", 1/2" and 3/4" circle punches as desired
  • Card stock to complement paper
  • Wire cutters (or scissors you don't care about)
  • Needle-nose pliers (and I found mine!!!!)

You can make the ornaments any length you want. The one I'm making here is 3 3/4". If your paper has a definite "order"—such as mine has little holiday sayings in it—you will want to keep the strips of paper in order as you cut them. Likewise if there is a definite "top" and "bottom" to your pattern, you'll want to keep an eye on it.

Start by punching circles from card stock for the discs that go at the top and bottom of the ornament.  Here I've layered a 1/2" blue on a 3/4" red on a 1" green. Affix them with glue stick or mono adhesive (I use Tombow) and then punch a 1/16" hole through all layers. Put those aside.

Cut your paper into 18 1/2" strips.  Ornaments smaller than 3" will only need about 15 or 16 strips.

Punch a 1/16" hole in each end of each strip. This step is bo-ring. To make sure I'm punching each the same, I made myself a little 1/2" guide out of cardstock. I lay that on top and punch through 4 or 5 strips at a time.

Cut a piece of jewelry wire. Give yourself wiggle room and cut it an inch or two longer than your paper strips. With the pliers, put a loop in the end. Slide on 3 or 4 beads and one of the cardstock discs.

Now start threading on your strips of paper, design side down (facing the table). If your pattern has a "bottom" end, this should be the end you're threading. Now take the last strip you threaded on, curve it up and over and thread it back onto the wire (if you cut your wire extra long you might want to trim some off at this point). Continue threading the strips back on and moving them over to the side, and the ornament begins to take shape.

When the last strip is on, thread on the other cardstock disc, and another 3-4 beads. Slide your fingers down until the ornament is as round or "squished" as you like. Holding it where you want it, trim the wire just above your fingertips. Grab the end with the pliers and loop it around. Voilà. You are a genius.

To make a "double" ornament, you would need an extra, single cardstock disc to put between, and another 15-16 strips in a shorter length.  Make the larger ornament as shown above, the slide on a single disc.  Then thread on the shorter strips and repeat, finishing with a layered disc and beads.

Careful, these are kind of addictive....

All I Want for Christmas

"So I've been thinking about what to ask Santa Claus for," says Panda as I'm washing her hair. "Let's hear it."

"Well, I want a Calico Critters house," is her opening bid ($99). "And a bedroom set for Julie."  Julie being Julie Allbright, her American Girl doll ($118).  "And some pajamas for her ($22) and the matching ones for me." ($40)  "Oh, and I really want an iPod!" (Whew, done deal, she's getting mine when Santa Hubby brings me an iPhone)

"What else?" I ask.

"Well, I have some questions. Y'know. Things I want to know..."

"Like?" I prompt

"Well, just if he could tell me if Heaven is real. And what it's like. And if I get to be a mermaid. But mostly what it's like and if I'll go there because then if I know, I won't be so scared."

"Ah," says I, "those are excellent questions." I'm just trying to actively listen, not take over the conversation and see where she's going with this.

"Oh, and if he can tell me what happened to Mr. Bierman, I really want to know."  This is my great-grandfather who abandoned the family and was ne'er heard from again so that branch of the family tree just ends cold. Panda is very bothered by this.

"So do I," I said, "I don't know why I never thought of asking Santa, I wonder if he knows..."

"He knows everything.  Oh and one more thing, I want to ask him to let me fly."

"Fly? You mean in an airplane?"

"No. Fly. For real. In the sky. It's my dream. I want to ask him if he'll let me and my cousins fly when they come visit us."

"...Rinse off, now," I say, and close the shower door so I can just sit down on the bathmat and think all this through.  Jeeps and I always leave a note from Santa on the dining room table, next to the plate of cookie crumbs and half-drunk glass of milk.  I'm blogging this half to preserve the moment and half to take notes on what Santa needs to cover in his yearly missive.

By the way, Redman wants a snowmobile for Christmas.