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Heirloom Holiday Decorations - Hand Painted Christmas Ornaments
When I was a little girl, I was told that Santa brought the tree on Christmas Eve. Late at night while we were all tucked in our beds dreaming childish dreams of toys and sweets, he slid down the chimney with a beautifully decorated evergreen.
When we awakened on Christmas morning, it would be there in a corner of the living room, lights twinkling, gleaming glass balls and hand painted Christmas ornaments adorning every fragrant bough.
I still remember the Christmas I discovered Santa didn't bring the tree while we were sleeping. I must have been only three or four, but I recall getting up late that Christmas eve to get a drink of water. Halfway down the hall, I peeked over the banister and saw it! The most beautiful tree I had ever seen! ...and there were my parents busily adding the finishing touches.
Ink & Watercolor Wash Ornament
Vintage Purse Ornaments
I probably would have passed on unheeding had they just shooed me back to bed, but I suspect my father was secretly growing weary of their annual marathon tree-raising, for after one look at my wondering face he turned to mother and exclaimed that at least they wouldn't have to put up the tree in one night anymore - and they never did. From that night on, it became a family event.
Though I was crushed to learn that it was my parents who put up the tree each year, and not "the little fat man in the bright red suit", I was wildly impressed with the sparkling wonder that my parents created every year - and in only one evening.
Victorian Brocade Ornaments
One of the best things that came out of my "discovery" was that afterward, we got to help decorate the Christmas each year.
We created all manner of red and green paper chains and folded paper ornaments. One year we strung popcorn garlands on the tree - It seemed to take forever to make even one long strand!
I'm sure almost every grade school teacher we ever had taught us how to make at least one or two new ornaments each year, and each year, they would be exclaimed over and dutifully hung on the tree.
We also had some old family favorites that were brought out each year and hung on the tree.
It just wasn't Christmas without the wax candle ornaments - several evergreens with snow-tipped branches, a black Santa boot, and a little brick chimney complete with a Sants and his bag - carefully arranged on the fluffy blanket of cotton-batten "snow" Dad laid around the foot of the tree every year.
The candles were never lit, of course. They were lovingly tucked away once the tree came down, only to re-emerge the following December to once again grace our living room.
Among the many ornaments with which we gifted our mother over the years were
- safety pin angels,
- sequin-spangled angels,
- tiny crocheted-doily angels,
- pipe cleaner angels, (Do we see a theme developing here ?)
- and walnut shell angels,
- as well as paper mache snowmen, and pierced-foil snowflakes, to name but a few.
Some years ago, while working as Classroom Manager for a craft store chain, I came across a line of lovely unpainted, porcelain bisque ornaments.
Color and Background removed to show pen sketching
Round or oval, they featured a raised garland of holly leaves and berries.
I experimented with different pens, paints and techniques before settling on my faithful, waterproof Sakura Micron pens.
I used acrylic paints, a set of watercolors, and a spray sealer to decorate and protect my ornaments, completed a few samples,and offered my first class in Hand-painted Christmas Ornaments.
It turned out to be one of the most popular ornament classes we ever held.
Waterproof pens for drawing on plaster ornaments
Watercolor sets - excellent for painting bisque ornaments
We used a technique similar to the Ink & Wash cards. Before class, the ornaments were sprayed with sealer to prevent finger marks.
The first step was to carefully paint the embossed design with acrylic paint. Several opted to use green and red for the holly and berries, but another popular option was gold metallic paint.
After the acrylic paint was dry, the center of each ornament was given two coats of acrylic gesso as a base for the watercolor washes. Once each student had selected their design, they transferred the drawing to the center of the ornament using graphite paper.
Using waterproof pens, the students inked the transferred designs, following the examples provided, and the finished samples. After completing the drawing, the ink was allowed to set-up for a few minutes, then the water color washes were mixed and applied.
As the ornaments had been sprayed, it was quite simple to remove any washes that were too heavy with the corner of a piece of paper towel.
Watercolors are sometimes difficult for beginning painters to control, so acrylic paints may be used instead. By treating them like watercolors, - mixing very light washes and painting them one over the other as each previous wash dried - we were able to build up the colors in layers, for a lovely, translucent effect.
Completed Ornament: Pen Sketch & Watercolor Washes
This lovely oval ornament and the tree ornament below were coated with several layers of acrylic enamel.
The gold decorations were added using metallic paint after the final coat of the enamel was dry. Then the leaves and berries were outlined and the shadows added using a waterproof Sakura Micron.
I love the new acrylic enamels. They are so easy to use and are soap and water clean-up, making them great for children to use.
One caveat to that is kids do require adult supervision because the paints will stain clothing and furniture if it is not wiped up immediately.
Hand-painted Ornament with gilding
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