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Have yourself a crafty little Christmas

  • @$:KAREN CIMMS/TIMES NEWS To make the glitter ball ornaments, pour diluted glue into the glass ornament, then swirl to coat the inside of the ball.
    @$:KAREN CIMMS/TIMES NEWS To make the glitter ball ornaments, pour diluted glue into the glass ornament, then swirl to coat the inside of the ball.
Published December 09. 2010 05:00PM

Why should the kids have all the fun? We adults like to play with paint, glitter and glue too, and what better time to exercise our creative muscles than at Christmas?

For just a few dollars, you can create beautiful, hand-decorated Christmas tree ornaments that will look like you spent plenty at a department store.

Here are directions for several different Christmas ornaments. Pick your favorite, or make them all and mix and match. You can tie the look together by repeating the same colors, or coordinating with matching ribbon.

Glitter balls

For these sparkly creations you need clear glass ornaments (available at most craft stores) and fine glitter. We used Martha Stewart Crafts Iridescent Fine Glitter for the copper and the peridot, and regular craft glitter for the gold. You will also need regular white glue, water, a small funnel or a squeeze bottle with a narrow, pointed cap, and an empty egg carton.

Remove the metal top from the ornament. Mix together one part water with two parts glue. (The amount will depend on how many ornaments you are going to make.) Pour the glue mixture into the squeeze bottle and gently squirt a couple tablespoons of glue into the ornament. If using a funnel, pour the glue in carefully through the opening of the ornament. Swirl the glue around the inside of the ornament until it is entirely coated. Turn the ornament upside down and rest in the egg carton, allowing the excess glue to drip out.

When the glue has become tacky about 10 minutes or so turn the ornament over and using a clean funnel (a rolled-up piece of paper will work too), pour some glitter into the ornament. Swirl it around to coat the inside. Repeat as needed until the entire inside of the ornament is covered.

Turn the ornament upside down again in the egg carton and allow it to dry. Once it is completely dry, you may want to turn the ornament over into a cup and give it a couple gentle taps to remove any excess glitter to use again later.

Replace the metal cap and add an ornament hook or fancy ribbon, and hang your ornament on your tree.

Ribbon balls

These balls are easy and fast. You need clear glass ornaments, shiny curling ribbon and scissors. The trick here is selecting your ribbon colors. Find two or three shades that coordinate with your décor.

Typical Christmas colors work perfectly, but don't limit yourself. We found purple and pink were stunning, as were sea foam green, blue and ivory.

Remove the lid from your ornament. Cut several lengths of curling ribbon, about 12 to 18 inches long, and running the scissors along the dull side of the ribbon, make tight curls. After your ribbon is curled, cut it into 1- and 2-inch pieces. Mix your colors by tossing them lightly, and then one at a time, stuff them into the ball until it is full. That's it!

Replace the cap on the ornament and tie a fancy bow to the top to hang it from your tree.

Marbled ornaments

These ornaments can be a little tricky. You will need clear glass ornaments, acrylic paint in at least two coordinating colors, an eyedropper, water, a small cup or bowl to mix your paint, and an empty egg carton.

Most directions we found online for these ornaments do not recommend using water, but applying the paint directly into the ornament with an eye dropper; swirling; then adding the second color.

This did not work for us at all. We added a little bit of water to the first color and after mixing it well, squirted some into the ornament. We then added the second color, undiluted, and swirled. If you add too much water, you will end up with a pearlized ornament. Add too little water, and you will have the paint drying before it gets a chance to blend with the other paint.

With a little trial and error, you can find the right mix for the look you want for your ornaments. When you are happy with the results, turn your ornament upside down in an egg carton to allow the excess paint to run out. If you don't like the look, rinse the ball in warm water until it is clean. Allow it to dry and start again.

After 30 minutes, turn the ornament to its side. In another half-hour or so, turn again. This way, the paint won't pool to one side and dry in a big circle. Leave overnight to completely dry before replacing ornament tops.

Painted ornaments

Other than requiring a bit of a steady hand, these ornaments are quite easy to make and elegant to display.

You will need solid color ornaments in a matte or pearlized finish. We used both glass and plastic ornaments for this project in burgundy, green, gold and copper. You will also need glitter paint writers. We used DecoArt Craft Twinkles Writers in red and gold. You will also need some craft wire and a place to hang the ornaments to dry. (We used the dining room chandelier!)

To make these ornaments you are only limited by your imagination, but remember, a simple pattern is the way to keep them looking elegant. Swirls or dots are a no-fail option.

Before starting, loop a piece of wire several inches long through the metal cap on your ornament. Paint on your design, being careful not to touch the paint. When finished, carefully hang your ornament and give it several hours or overnight to dry. Then add a ribbon or ornament hook, and hang it on the tree.

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