I find ornaments irresistible and usually end up buying and making at least one each year.
This year I found myself fascinated with these large gold and silver leaves. They're sold as pendants at Michaels and each one is a slightly different size and shape.
These holiday leaf ornaments can be as quick or as complicated as you like.
For the wire hook, you can leave it plain, add a second wire wrapping, or wire wrap with beads. The second wire wrapping will make the hook stiffer and less likely to get bent out of shape. The two wires can match in color (the way the silver wires match in the top photo) or they can be two contrasting colors.
Here's an example of a leaf ornament with a beaded and wire wrapped hook:
In addition to the traditional Christmas colors with red and silver/gold, you could try an all metallics version:
I created this one in a girly pink/clear crystal combination and added a bow:
Find the full instructions including step-by-step photos on the Halcraft blog.
P.S. Need an idea for how to display your handmade ornaments? Check out my Beaded Ornament Frame Holder tutorial.
This beaded ornament frame holder is a fun and surprisingly relaxing project. There is something very calming about placing beads in precise lines. I'm guessing the experience is a lot like those coloring books that are so popular. If you need a break from the news and/or social media, put on your headphones with your favorite tunes or listen to a podcast or audio book while you bead this large oval frame. (If you're looking for suggestions, I listened to podcasts by The History Chicks, Happier, and Dinner Party Download, among others, while creating this project.) It will take you at least a few hours. There are more than 350 beads decorating this frame.
My Inspiration For This Beaded Ornament Holder
I love collecting ornaments. (Snowmen and snowflakes are my favorite.) I have a tiny metal tabletop tree that holds a few; sadly, many ornaments never make it out of their storage container. Part of the problem is that many (most?) ornaments need to be hung; they can't sit upright on their own. In the past I've tried to add an ornament here and there hung on a doorknob or drawer handle. That's okay, but it lacks the big impact of having a bunch of ornaments displayed together. I also had to be careful to choose ornaments that wouldn't get accidentally broken. Many traditional ornament holders are designed to sit on a tabletop, which is great if you have the empty table space available. I don't. I do, however, have lots of empty spaces on walls and doors that could be decorated. When I saw the big wooden frame at Michaels, I knew I wanted to create a Beaded Ornament Holder.
I took a ridiculous amount of photos of this project! Because it was larger than my normal photo cube, I ended up buying some special large backgrounds to use, mostly blues and grays.
Here's a close-up of the completed frame:
All these silver beads are Bead Gallery beads by Halcraft. They're available at Michaels.
Here's another angle:
The chain I used is a large, double curb chain. I wanted something sturdy with large holes so that it would be easy to add and remove ornaments.
I used one of those temporary plastic hooks to hang it on the wall. The hook's clear, so it blends into the background. I can attest that it hung on the wall without any problems even though my walls don't have the smooth surface that was recommended on the package. The hook also came off the wall without any problems.
It's right now temporarily hung on my office wall. This gives you an idea of how large it is.
- For a no-mess project, use Glue Dots to attach each bead. I am
seriously in love with this product. (And no, they're not paying me to
say that. They have no idea who I am.) I normally have a love/hate
relationship with glues; they're useful, but messy. This one is
love/love all the way!
- Add sophisticated shine to the wooden frame with Martha Stewart's
pearl multi-surface paint. You'll probably need several coats. The
shine does make it more challenging for photos, but it is so beautiful
- If you want to change up the holder every year, use ribbon to attach
the chains. This way you can move the placement of the chains
depending upon the size of your ornaments. I used a metallic silver
ribbon, but you could add a punch of color such as red or another
metallic such as gold.
- Short on time? This is a big frame (11" x 14") by ArtMinds. A
smaller one (5" x 7") is available at Michaels, as well as some
- Flat, lightweight ornaments work especially well with this holder. (If you need other snowflake ideas, check out the wooden embellished snowflakes by Erin Prais-Hintz.)
- Using a monochromatic palette (such as all silver beads) makes this a faster project. No need to worry about coordinating colors; it's all about shapes.
You can get the full instructions on the Halcraft website.
I hope this project brings you a few hours of peace and joy!
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays for making decorations. It's a holiday that continues to grow in popularity, but still seems to have a lot of room to "make it your own" and come up with something new and fun.
When I first saw these craft pumpkins, I thought about decorating them with a glue gun. That would probably work fine, but it violated two of my important rules for happy crafting:
- It's messy. (Glue strings make me crazy.)
- I can't watch TV while doing it. (I'd have to sit next to an outlet in the basement to make it since a glue gun needs to be plugged into a place where I can be messy. See point #1.)
Using sewing pins and beads turned out to be perfect. You can sit anywhere (on the sofa watching movies) and you don't need any special tools. It's also completely mess free, unless you're the type to drop pins into the sofa cushions. (The blood will come out. Trust me.)
Beaded Pumpkin Tutorial and Tips
This project sparked some unexpected nostalgia, as it reminded me just a little of that old Girl Scout Christmas project of covering an orange with cloves. (You did that, too, right?)
- It's important to use the steel sewing pins. (They may also be called dressmaker pins.) Regular jewelry head pins will bend too easily. You'll likely want to use pins with a plain, flat top instead of decorative pins.
- Instead of an all-over design, make two different designs (one on the
front and one on the back) so you have options on how to display the
- Look for beads that have a single center hole and will look good when viewed from the top down. I've found that spacers that often look quite dull when viewed from the side, really look cool when viewed from the top down.
- You can paint your pumpkin before you begin if you'd like a different base color or if the pumpkin you bought has a few scratches or marks.
- It will take less time to create a pumpkin with larger beads, but you'll be able to create more intricate designs with smaller beads such as seed beads.
- If you drew your design with a pencil, remember to erase any stray pencil marks when you are finished.
- You can just use your fingers to push in the pins, but this can be hard on your hands. You might be able to use a small hammer if you are careful and do not hit the beads, especially if they are breakable. Light tapping works well. (Try not to think of politics or anything that might cause unrestrained whacking while you work.) You can also use a metal ruler or file to help push in the beads.
Full instructions (including step-by-step photos) available on the Halcraft website
More of My Halloween Tutorials
Here are a few more of my free tutorials from the past:
Boo Napkin Rings
Use beaded wire to spell out a spooky message.
Day of the Dead Earrings
Each one of these has a little personality!
Midnight Ranch Necklace
This easy knotted necklace features leather cord.
Get spooky and have fun!
Sometimes jewelry designs come easily and other times they don't.
The August Pretty Palettes challenge proved to be in that latter category for me. I looked at the pretty beads that Erin Prais-Hintz chose and my mind went totally blank. When I'm stuck, I have a lot of different tricks for getting myself to the design stage. Here are a few I tried this time around:
What To Try When You're Stuck
- Put your materials in a visible space.
Having your beads out rather than tucked in a drawer keeps the project alive in your mind.
- Don't clean ... or do.
Sometimes the act of cleaning up your beading space leads you to find materials you've forgotten about. In a similar way, placing your new beads alongside the mess of your old ones can spark ideas for collaboration.
- Randomly pick a technique, form, or style.
I find that sometimes my problem is that there are too many design possibilities. I can be paralyzed by indecision. In those cases, I just arbitrarily make a decision: make a necklace using basic stringing techniques, make an over-the-top Gothic piece, make something that you could wear to a late summer party. It doesn't matter so much what you decide; what's important is getting started. You will naturally refine and shape your idea (or maybe get a better one!) as soon as you start working.
Sea Treasures Bracelet
This multistrand bracelet features 3 strands of silver toned spacers with round beads in a range of blue, green, and aqua shades. My inspiration for this project included a few ideas: the multistrand bracelet trend, the use of multiple silver spacers (I loved the rich look of solid strands of silver), some leftover eye pins with dangles (from my Royal Blue Choker project), and some polka dot curved drum beads that I picked up on a whim when buying the round beads. I originally planned to make a multistrand necklace, but I ran out of time ... and beads! This bracelet includes three full packages of those tiny silver-plated rondelles and more than 60 beaded dangles.
Beads You Need
Here are the Bead Gallery beads I used from Michaels:
- light blue shell rounds [#10401680]
- cobalt blue ceramic rounds [#10242608]
- light sapphire glass rounds [#10265187]
- aqua mixed glass rounds [#10367572]
- silver-plated 12mm drums [#10216925]
- silver-plated 3mm rounds [#10121132]
- silver-plated metal thin rondelles [#10471832]
Bonus: Blue Bead Necklace
Looking for another idea on how to use blue round beads? Check out this blue multistrand necklace tutorial I wrote for Michaels earlier this year.
Starry Necklace Inspiration or Maybe Next Time, Rob Lowe
I love the stars, so I couldn't wait to get started on this month's challenge. To prepare, I've read actor Rob Lowe's memoir Stories I Only Tell My Friends (that guy knows everyone - Kevin Bacon has nothing on him!) I've also been flipping through issues of People magazine in my doctor's waiting room and while waiting for my Chinese takeout. (I don't think those last two are related, but then, I don't have a medical degree.)
I almost skipped reading Erin Prais-Hintz's blog post on his month's challenge because really, how much research does a jewelry designer need?
Luckily, I decided to take a quick peek before I went shopping. Oh. Apparently, she's not talking about the red carpet; she's talking about those things in the sky! You know, those bright pinpricks of light that I'm guessing are visible to those who don't live near a baseball field or a used car lot.
While I can't see stars (much) from my own backyard, I can if I'm willing to travel a little. A few months ago, I went to a lakeside area to look at the moon and stars through a telescope. Or, more accurately, a long string of different telescopes owned mainly by proud fans of Star Trek and/or Star Wars. If you haven't done that before, I'd highly recommend it. Seriously. It's always fun to be around people who are enthusiastic about something they love. (I'd also recommend some kind of mosquito repellent if you're near a lake on a hot summer evening.) Often you'll find astronomy clubs or college classes that welcome the public during certain nights.
Bead Gallery Beads and Tools
With a little sigh, I put away my sketches for a Rob Lowe inspired piece (sorry, Rob!) and concentrated on creating a necklace inspired by meteor showers and falling stars.
Here's what I used to make my Falling Stars Necklace. All Bead Gallery beads and other materials are available at Michaels:
- Hematite 6mm stars
- Blue iris beaded chain
- 4-holed crystal round sliders
- Glass bottle locket by Bead Landing
- Silver tone double curb chain
- Jump rings (small and large)
- 20-gauge silver twisted wire
- 2 pairs of chain- or flat-nose pliers
- Wire cutters
- Round-nose pliers
- Ball peen hammer
- Steel bench block
- Sometimes you can't get all the beads you'd like for a project because of a limited budget or limited availability. This happened to me with the beaded chain. There were only two packages available at my local store, which wasn't enough chain to make the long necklace I'd envisioned. This limitation can be good for your creativity. I ended up dividing the chain into smaller sections and using it as an accent with the jump rings and silver chain.
- You can make as many inserts as you'd like for the bottle (loose beads, notes written on torn paper, extra chain) and change them out whenever the mood strikes.
- The bottom wire on the crystal focal is essential. Without it, the focal will tip forward when worn.
- I know I've said this before, but always save your leftover chain. The silver curb chain was leftover from one of the choker necklace projects I made recently.
- Long necklaces don't require a clasp. If you add a clasp, it would give you more options for wearing this necklace as you could wrap the chain around your neck more than once.
- When hammering the large jump rings, make sure that the rings are firmly closed. You don't want the small beaded chain slipping off. As an extra precaution, you could wire wrap around the jump rings.
- The twisted wire can be a bit fiddly (it likes to come untwisted while you work). If you're new to wirework or don't feel like fussing, plain wire is fine. I chose to use twisted wire because it adds another layer or subtle sparkle to the design. Plus, I think using twisted wire for the bottom spiral in the bottle helps it stay in place better.
The Falling Stars Necklace
Despite my slow start to this challenge, I enjoyed making this necklace.
The blue beaded chain gives this necklace a lot of movement when worn. The few crystals make it a day-to-evening piece that isn't too over-the-top. The hammered jump rings make a pleasing contrast to the smooth chain. The glass bottle locket has endless options for customization.
In other words, it's fun.
And as Rob Lowe once said, "I loved fun. I spent my whole life in search of fun."
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