Monday, December 23, 2013

Photo Christmas Ornaments

Personalized gifts are always great for giving smiles.

This year I created a bunch of picture ornaments for friends and family using facebook pictures that they posted.  Of course, the pictures are not ones that are copyrighted, and most of them were profile pictures at one time or another during the year, so I figured they would be good choices.

I thought I would explain the process, in case somebody would like to make some themself,
even though there is only a day left to get em' done...
so sorry!

Plan ahead for next year, I guess. :)

I posted a video of it, because it is much easier to explain and understand that way.

I hope the video helps.  If it doesn't or you have any questions,
please let me know,

I printed up a bunch of pictures I wanted to use.

Let me just say right here that if you plan to create photo ornaments,
using photo paper is definitely the best choice.

Below I show what the images look like three different experiments.
The one furthest right is regular all purpose paper and I set the printer for fast print.
The image is obviously faint.
The middle image was done on photo paper, but the ink was still on fast print.
It is much better, but still not as clear as I wanted.
The one to the left is photo paper set to normal printer setting.
This image was great so I made the pictures using this.

As soon as the pictures are printed on photo paper, I take them to a well ventilated place and spray a good misting of aerosol hair spray on them.

I do this because I find that even the slightest touch on these images on the photo paper makes some of the ink rub off.

That misting of hair spray will not affect the picture at all,
but helps the ink be a bit more stable for handling.

Once the hair spray dries,
I prefer to mod podge the pages of images before proceeding with cutting them out.

I did not do this with my first few photos:
I actually glued them to the canning jar lids I was using first
and then Mod podged them.

This is perfectly fine to do, but I just find that Mod podging them first guarantees that the ink will not smear when cutting and gluing them to the ornament,
and it also is much easier to paint on a whole page than to paint a bunch of smaller ornaments.

When Mod podging, the secret is to be quick and smooth about applying it to the photo paper.
Mod podge dries quickly and if you happen to put mod podge over an area that is mostly dry but not completely, I have found it can make a slight haze on the image.  Paint the Mod podge on and then leave it alone to dry for a half hour. If you see any areas you have missed, do a second coat once you are sure the first coat is dry.  This will prevent any haze on the picture.

Because we can much of our garden foods and fruit,
we have lots of lids that are great for these ornaments.
Other jar lids work well also.  I made a few of them up as well to show you.

First though, we need to make a template to cut those photos out to fit the lids.

I found some plastic from some sticker pages we got and traced the jar lids on them
(I had base-coated the jar lids with some durable paint:
I use Martha Stewart's glass or all-purpose paint
and I also used some acrylic paint mixed with just a touch of Plaster-of-Paris.
Both of these worked well.)

After I traced the jar lids onto the plastic,

I cut them out, slightly smaller so as to fit on the lid with a small border around.
I then traced the outer edge of the plastic so I could better see the outer edge
(Also, I have a tendency to drop these plastic guides and then can't find them as they disappear from my eyesight.)

I then trace the circle size I want onto the photo I want for that ornament.
(Yes, this was the first circle template I made and DID NOT color the outside edge
which disappeared shortly thereafter somewhere in the unknown near vicinity).

After getting the image to the size I wanted,
I applied a good layer of tacky glue on the underside,
positioned it on the ornament,
and then placed a weight (a bottle or paint or nail polish works well) on top to help it adhere well while drying.

Once dried, I then added a glitter border or whatever I felt would help make it look more festive.

For some of these, I used ribbon to attach for hanging.
For most, I used a nail and hammer and carefully tapped a hole in one side,
then tapped the nail in carefully through the same hole from the back side.
(This helps make the hole evenly open and helps to dull the rough edges the first puncture makes of the metal on the back side.)

A string or wire can then be strung for hanging.

Here are some examples:

For our own family,
I printed up a few of my favorite pictures from the year
and glued one on each side of the ornament.

(These were all created from regular jar lids in this picture above).

It will be nice to have those memories remembered each year when we get the ornaments out to hang on the tree.

They look fun hanging from the tree.

(This one was also a regular jar lid).

I had some artwork that I sold that I had taken pictures of
and created an ornament from one of those pieces.

Printing up vintage or other fun images from sites that post free images is a great option, too.

(The vintage ice-skaters is an image from the Graphics Fairy.)

Because I have 12 nieces and nephews, buying gifts for all of them can be a pretty hefty effort,
so I try to find something little each year.
This year, I made them each a personalized ornament.

Because my 2 sisters and I don't live near each other,
using family pictures from facebook made creating ornaments for my parents much easier.

Of course, baby's first Christmas is always a good one to have:
friends and family always love these, and
it is nice that there are lots of great photos of that baby right there on facebook albums.

These ornaments are easy and very inexpensive to create
as well as a lot of fun.

(Make sure the images you use are not copyrighted, of course,
and that the person you use them from will not mind).

Thanks as always for taking the time to stop by
and may you have a Merry Christmas!

Sharing this at:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Trees from Coffee Bags.

Last year I was desperate for some new winter trees for my decorating,
but I didn't want to buy them: I wanted to create some trees with recycled supplies.
I rummaged through the cupboards looking for inspiration.

I had some empty bottles of paint, found some coffee bags with a pretty silver lining,
 grabbed a few rags from the rag bin,
and heated up the glue gun.

 I covered and glued the old bottles with rag that I wrapped around it.

I fitted and glued a strip of cut coffee bag around the base,
silver lining facing out.

After cutting more of the silver lining into strips, I fringed them;
I glued them in place as I circled the strips around the ragged bottle.
I fitted these all the way up the bottle and finished off the top row to look like a tree top.

 I made another tree with a  second empty, smaller bottle of paint,
and an empty coffee bag
(relocating the beans to a canister).

I followed the same process with this bottle
except the strips for this one were cut into pennant shapes.

These made fun, different trees for my Christmas decor...

without having to buy any supplies to see them made.

 Isn't it great when trash can be turned to treasure with a few snips and drops of glue?

Have you made any recycled decor for your Christmas decorating?
I would love to hear about it!

Thank you for stopping by.

Art Lesson: 2 Easy Stars and "How to Paint a Simple Nativity" Video.


Today I am going to show you how to create a very simple nativity scene.
I am using these on some of the cards I am finishing for Christmas.

I began taking pictures for this tutorial, but it seemed much more complicated in pictures,
so I made a video for this.

(I have not made many videos and feel a little strange talking into a camera,
so please forgive with my inexperience;
but see how easy these really are!)

If the two examples look different, it is because the first sample I was showing was a wooden piece,
and the blue I was using was slightly different than the second piece.

The first piece I showed of painting the background triangular starlight and the ground was done with Apple Barrel acrylic paint in cobalt blue.

The second piece was painted on felt and I used acrylic Artist's Loft paint in Phthalo blue.

Here are both finished pieces so you can see the difference,
but that both create good nativities.

I do love that phthalo blue, and the Artist's Loft paint is much thicker/denser than the Apple Barrel
(except the yellow, not that I used yellow in this painting, but just as a side note for information's sake.  The yellow Artist's Loft paint does not have as good of coverage for some reason, in my opinion.  Have you ever tried the two brands and have an opinion?)

I also give a tutorial on easy ways to make two different stars.

I showed my 7 year-old son the steps to painting the nativity,
and he did a pretty good job.

It is a fun and rewarding scene to create
and the subject matter a worthy matter to remember.

These steps can be used in larger scale, too.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Free Illustration: Vintage Snow Scene.

Hello, friends.

In my previous post of the Christmas Home Tour,
I mentioned a slate that I had painted using a scene from an old book that I had.

This is the scene above from a late 1800's publication.

I cleaned it up in black and white:

Here is an antiqued version as well.

It is such a great image, isn't it?

I just had to try coloring it in with my Copic markers.

Here are the markers that I used (for Copic fans who are like me and just want to know crazy details like this).

Here is the way it turned out:

The picture turned out a bit dark so I lightened it.

Here is an antiqued version of the photo editor fixes:

I liked it, but wanted a bluer version of it for a craft I was making:

I am making some Christmas cards with this image,
so I kept playing with it in different colors.

Here are the ones I liked best:

You are free to use any of these images as you'd like since the copyright was not in effect in the late 1800's.

I printed up small versions of these and glued them to magnet backing
and then Mod Podged the images.  That way when people get the card,
the picture can be removed and used on their refrigerator, if they wish.

In a day or two, I will show how to paint/draw a simple nativity scene,
like the one I did below on this magnet on a card.

Anybody can do it, so come on back if you'd like.

Thank you for stopping by!

Sharing with:

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cardboard Roll Stars


In my last post I mentioned a few things I would explain.

One of them was these cardboard stars.

This ornament is a made of an old wide mouth canning jar lid and two slices from an empty cardboard paper roll.
The star was made from a toilet paper cardboard slice,
and the inner ring is made from a paper towel cardboard slice as they are just slightly larger.
The inner ring was then wrapped with yarn.

Making the star is very simple.

 First (after the slice has been taken from the cardboard roll),
measurements are taken all around the roll, marking every inch and 1/16th.

These measurements should be marked all around the roll
and should come out pretty close to even.

The cardboard is pinched on the marked lines.

Carefully, while holding the pinched marked edges,
the space in between these is pushed down into the star.

Do this all around while grabbing the star points as they are made,

At this point it is clear that a star is about to be born.

The stars may then be painted or wrapped in yard or glittered as you like.

The stars may lose a bit of their shape when they are wet with paint,
but they will bend back into shape when you pinch them again once they are dry.

I used the stars in this grape star on my wall.

 Here is a better lighted view of the Christmas ornament.

This piece is made up entirely of cardboard roll from toilet paper.
The star part was wrapped in yarn and dipped in glitter.

The flower shape is pieces of the same roll that have been glued together and then dipped in glitter.

The creative touches one could do with these stars are endless!
These were fun to make.

Thanks for stopping by.