Once every 2 or 3 years, our family likes to leave the traditional tree decorating fare in the attic, in favor of handmade adornments. This is just such a year. Is it coincidental that we also have a fledgling walker this Christmas? Hmmmm…I think not . In short, this little tradition helps us remove the stress of breakables, find beauty in the mundane, and brings us together creatively (while being easy on the budget!).
To prepare for this, we set aside Sunday afternoons throughout late October, and November to create. Five of our six children (the fledgling supervised) were involved, so we kept the projects very realistic. On the list were traditional cinnamon ornaments, dried citrus slices (grapefruit slices are our favorite), button icicles, paper roses, popcorn strands, pinecones in a few variations (glittered, plain, and some that were transformed into owls), and up-cycled canning rings. We did make an exception to the handmade rule to include candy canes.
For now, let’s focus on the jar ring ornaments. I know you all have a box of rusty rings existing deep in a closet somewhere because none of us can bear to throw them out. After all, we might need them someday when that last minute, September truck load of tomatoes comes rolling from a well-meaning friend (who’s really just sick of canning for the year) and you just may need those extra rings-rust and all! But I digress….
Pull out those rusty rings and then head out to the barn. Yes, the barn. You need baler twine. Now grab your glue gun and any embellishments you may desire: buttons, scraps of ribbon, felt, florals etc. You are now ready to begin.
Start by putting a glob of hot glue inside the threaded area of the ring and secure the end of your twine there. (I like to hold the twine in place with a pencil until the glue firms up to avoid third degree crafting burns on fingers that just recovered feeling from the above mentioned canning season.) After that, it’s simple, just wrap until you can no longer see the rusty ring. Glue the tail in place and then glue on another loop for hanging purposes. Add the pretties you chose and voila, you have a mini wreath ornament!
Another option, for those who desire a little more polish and class in their up-cycle, is to follow the above steps but use ribbon in place of twine. I like a wide grosgrain, but any ribbon will do. Wider ribbon=faster results, because who has time??? For this one, I also used the jar lid from the green beans we had for dinner. I simply hot glued scrap fabric to cover it and my handy dandy gold paint marker to add a fancy “L” for our family name. Getting the lid into the wrapped ring may require calling on a little brute strength, but with a small amount of effort, you should be able to press it into place. It should fit tight enough that you will not need to secure it with anything. So easy!
There you have it! Simple, cost effective, stress free holiday décor!
As always, Striving4Simplicity
I have a serious fascination with all things avian. Everything about them is beautiful to me: feathers, eggs, and nests. I have also been a lifelong lover of nature and have always collected natural items like rocks, feathers, pinecones, robins egg shells, bugs, and nests. So, if you’re like me, what do you do with your abundance of beautiful and natural treasures? In this case, I made a wreath to display my collection of birds nests! This is an easy afternoon project, with a few simple tools you can have one of your own in 30 minutes or less!
Before we get started, I’d like to take the time to acknowledge that some species of birds do in fact reuse their nests from year to year, and though a nest seems like a simply crafted object to us, it represents a great deal of toil for a bird. When selecting nests for this project, please ensure your nests are truly abandoned before removing them. You can also use man-made nests found at your local craft shop. It has taken me a few years and help of family and friends to collect enough nests for this project. My finished wreath is about 20 inches in diameter and uses 12 nests of various sizes. One of these nests is very special to me; a bird made it out of the mane and tail hair from my horse Doc, who we lost in 2008.
Also, if you are at all concerned about any creepy crawlies that may be lurking on your nests, simply put your collection in a plastic bag, tie it up, and pop it in the freezer for about a week.
You will need a few tools:
• A wire or grapevine wreath base
• Enough nests to go around your base
• Florists’ wire
• Wire cutters
• Hot glue (optional)
• Spray shellac or sealer of your choice
• Plastic to cover your work area in if you are making this project indoors, since you will lose little pieces of nest here and there
Grapevine wreath base
I chose a grapevine wreath base that I purchased at my local craft store; it is about 20 inches in diameter and cost about $4.
Thread wire through nests & secure.
Start by cutting your florists wire long enough to go around your base, with enough extra to twist the wire together in the back to secure it. Then, push the wire through the nest and secure it to the wreath base. If you would like, you can use hot glue to place the nest on the base and then secure it with the wire. Continue attaching each nest individually until you complete the wreath.
Trim the excess wire on the back of the wreath with wire cutters.
Finish by spraying the wreath with 3-4 coats of shellac or your choice of clear sealer or leave it natural if you desire!
Your wreath is ready to hang and enjoy! You can display this wreath indoors or outdoors, though I recommend keeping it indoors or hung in a covered place such as a porch to prevent the weather from damaging it.