Thursday, November 6, 2014

Clay Ornaments-- 2 Ways

Hello lovely people!

I've had a busy but wonderful October, and am now officially ready to settle into my FAVORITE time of year!

I can hear my husband saying, "Too soon." But hey, is it ever too soon to celebrate Jesus' birth? I think not. ;)

I've been dreaming of turkey, stuffing and sweet potato casserole for weeks. :)  Mmmmmm.

In addition to my festive food dreams, this is also the time of year that I try to get started on brainstorming ideas for Christmas crafting. :)

This month, we're going to ease into the Christmas season by making ornaments!  I'm going to try to work on a different kind of ornament each week.  Making and/or gifting an ornament is one of my favorite ways to celebrate something that happened that year.  They also make great gifts for teachers, co-workers and friends. :)

This week I made ornaments using polymer clay and used Sharpies and paint pens to decorate pre-made, plain, ceramic ornaments from the craft store.

So, here we go!

Sharpie-Decorated Ceramic Ornaments

First, let's look at decorating ceramic ornaments.  You've probably seen ceramic mugs on Pinterest that people have decorated and baked to make the ink permanent.


I love this idea.  The bonus with making a Sharpie ornament rather than a mug is that  your final product should have no trouble standing the test of time, since you'll never need to put it in the dishwasher. :)

What you'll need:
-Store-bought ceramic ornaments 
**(Bonus, EVERYTHING Christmas-related is 50% off at Hobby Lobby right now.)**
-Sharpies and paint pens
-Twine or ribbon for hanging

Ok, this is as easy as it sounds!

Start by cutting the plastic ribbon/tag off of your ceramic ornament.

Time to decorate!

Now, the details here are absolutely up to you.  You can look at examples of patterns or designs you like, and just get started with your Sharpies and paint pens.  For this angel ornament, I used a stamp and traced over the stamped design with a paint pen to make it more substantial.

Then I used a Sharpie to make a vine pattern around the edges.

The sky is the limit here, and don't forget to use the sides and back of your ornament!

Here are some other examples:

See what I mean about commemorating special events in friends' lives? (And no,  I did not make this for myself.) :)




***For some other great 
ornament decorating ideas, 
check out

Now comes the scary part.  Baking. :)

Note: Baking the ceramic pieces sets the ink and makes the work permanent, but if you're nervous about it, I actually think you could skip it.  If you're not tough on your Christmas ornaments, I'm pretty sure they would be fine!  You could also just spray them with a clear acrylic spray to protect your work. :)

I decided to give the baking a try.  I placed each ornament on a rimmed baking sheet and propped it up on the rim to avoid direct heat on either the front or the back.  I'm not sure if this was completely necessary, but I was playing it safe. :)


After biting my fingernails for 30 minutes,  here they are!

The ornaments look exactly as they did when I put them in the oven! I know the picture is blurry, but the color of the ceramic did not darken at all after baking.  The only downside to baking these was that some of the white ink I used faded.  Otherwise, everything looked fine!
After the ornament cooled, I touched up the white polka dots a little bit. :)

Make sure you give them plenty of time to cool before you touch anything. :)

All you need now is festive ribbon or string, and your ornaments are done!


DIY Polymer Clay Ornaments

Now, let's look at how to make your own ornaments with polymer clay!

What you'll need:
-Polymer clay (I used white "Sculpey" clay from the craft store.)
-Something to roll out the clay (I used a marker.) ;)
-Cookie cutters or exacto knife for cutting out shapes
-Stamps, if desired, for making impressions into the ornaments
-Baking sheet
-Acrylic paint, if desired, for decorating finished ornaments
-String/ribbon for hanging

First, check out the baking instructions on your clay wrapper, in case they differ from the brand I used.

Make sure you have a clean work surface*, then roll out your dough to your desired thickness.  (Baking time will increase for each additional 1/4" of thickness.)

*Note: If there is anything on your hands or on your surface, it will stick to your clay.  Hopefully you don't have to learn the hard way, like I did. ;)

Once your dough is ready, use a cookie cutter to cut out your shapes.  You could also use a template of a shape you like, and use an exacto knife to cut it out.   (You can also branch out from ornaments and make cute Christmas gift tags with the same process!)

Carefully place the clay shapes on a baking sheet.

Now, this is the part I like about making your own ornament with clay.  You can make impressions with stamps to "engrave" words or create patterns.  You could also use fabric, lace or anything to create a neat texture on the clay.  Have fun!

I used stamps to write the year or "Merry Christmas," but you would write any message! After a few failures with this round, I have some ideas for things to try in the future.  :)  (I think the best ideas come from trial and error.) :)

"Our First Christmas"... wedding gift idea!

Use a straw, skewer, crochet hook or something in that family to cut out a hole for hanging.

Once you have your ornaments ready on your baking sheet, bake them according to the directions on your packaging.  For this clay, I baked it @275 for about 30 minutes.  Most of my ornaments were more than 1/4" thick.

When you take the clay out of the oven, it will still be somewhat pliable.  Give it time to cool completely; once it is cool, the ornaments will be firm.

Now, if you're happy with your ornaments, you can add string and be done!

Since my workstation was not completely clean, some of the clay had strange spots or marks from projects of Christmas-past.  ... Not super attractive.

So, I decided to use some festive acrylic paint to cover the white clay.  This also helped the "engravings" to stand out from the rest of the ornament.  (I cut squares from a new kitchen sponge and used them to apply the paint.)

Don't forget to paint the sides and backs of your ornaments!

Add the string or ribbon for hanging, and they're all done!

I love these ornaments--- they're completely inexpensive to make, but they're personal, made with love and as festive as any store-bought ornament! I can't think of anyone who wouldn't love to receive an ornament you made for him/her!

Have fun, and don't be afraid to get festive a little early this year!

Thanks for reading!! :) Have a wonderful weekend!

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