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Making Wooden Ornaments

Source: Martha Stewart


With so many eye-catching, sparkling metal and glass Christmas ornaments available in stores, it's easy to overlook the understated appeal of wooden ornaments. Flat wooden cutouts have long been used to adorn trees and are quite versatile -- they can be left natural, or can be disguised with paint or shimmering silver leaf.

Basic cutouts can be stained with a variety of colors, then sealed with wax; they can be molded with putty and painted to look like frosted gingerbread cookies; or they can be gilded with silver leaf and then given a burnished, antiqued appearance with the help of a little shoe polish. You should be able to find all the materials necessary for these projects in crafts or art-supply stores.

Stained Wood Ornaments
Tools and Materials
Stained Wood Ornaments
Drill with 3/32-inch bit
Wood cutouts
220-grit sandpaper
Wood stain
Natural-bristle paintbrushes, for staining
Thin dowel and paper clips, for drying rack
Butcher's wax
Soft cotton cloths (such as old T-shirts)

Stained Wood Ornament How-To
1. Drill a small hole in the top of the cutout so that it will hang straight when held by a ribbon or a hook. (To find the right spot, try it out with string and tape before drilling.) Sand cutout with sandpaper.

2. Stain both sides of wood cutouts, as well as the edges. Apply just one coat, and wipe off excess stain with a soft cloth. Hang from a simple drying rack made from a thin dowel suspended on two cups or jars: Unwind a paper clip halfway, and hook it through the ornament and over the dowel. Let the ornament dry for about 2 minutes.

3. Finish by applying a coat of Butcher's wax with a soft cloth. Let dry about 10 minutes, and then buff to a shine with a clean cloth. Note: For "cookie" ornaments, wax only the side that will be the back of the ornament.

"Cookie" Ornaments
Tools and Materials
Magic Sculp resin
Stained ornament on drying rack
Utility knife
Pin with round head
White acrylic artist's paint
Flat soft-bristled brush, for acrylic paint
White craft glue
Small, round, silver dragees

Cookie Ornaments How-To
1. Mix and knead equal parts of both putties in your Magic Sculp. The putties stay moist until mixed together, causing a chemical reaction that allows it to harden. Flatten a small piece with your hands by kneading and pinching until it is about 1/8-inch thick. If it becomes too sticky to handle, moisten your fingers with water.

2. Smear the putty onto the unsealed side of the ornament, leaving a small, bare rim around the perimeter, so it resembles the icing on a Christmas cookie. Use a utility knife to make a clean edge, dipping the knife in water to help keep it smooth. Don't forget to poke a hole through the Magic Sculp over the drilled hole on the wood. You can do this with a pin or needle through the back of the ornament. Using a round pin head, mark the spots where you will apply your decorations. Let dry overnight.

3. When dry, paint the resin only with acrylic artist's paint.

4. Using white craft glue, apply dragees over the indentations you made. Sprinkle glitter over areas that have been brushed with glue. Let dry.

Silver-Leaf Ornaments
Tools and Materials
Wooden cutouts
Brush, for applying gesso
Spray metal leaf adhesive (also known as size)
Silver leaf, approximately 4 sheets per ornament
Round natural-bristle brush
Small natural-bristle brush, for removing leaf from crevices
Lint-free cotton rags (or old T-shirts with seams cut out)
Paste shoe polish, brown and black
Acrylic clear coat
Soft-bristle brush, for applying sealer
Mineral spirits, for cleaning brushes after applying sealer

Silver-Leaf Ornaments How-To
1. Apply gesso to both sides and side edges of wooden cutouts, and let dry.

2. Working in a well-ventilated area, spray one side of the cutout with metal-leaf adhesive, holding can 6 or 7 inches away from ornament. Spray from an angle to cover the side, as well. The coat should be very light and a bit tacky, but not wet to the touch -- it should not come off on your finger. After 60 seconds, the surface will be ready to accept the silver leaf (though the leaf can be applied up to 36 hours after spraying).

3. Burnish the surface or the ornament with a cotton rag by gently rubbing in a circular motion on each side.

4. To create an antiqued look, apply black or brown paste shoe polish to the ornament with a soft, cotton cloth. Let dry for a few minutes, and use a clean cloth to buff.

5. Protect the ornament from tarnishing further on its own by applying two coats of acrylic clear coat, and allow them to dry overnight between coats. If you prefer the shiny silver to an antiqued look, you can skip the antiquing and just do the sealing step.


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