December 21, 2011

Easy Homemade Christmas Gift Tags

Copyright © 2011 TownsEndCrafts.Com
Instead of throwing all of your old Christmas cards into the garbage make gift tags! This project is super easy and beats buying tags in the store. You can also use cards from other holidays and occasions to make cute gift tags for birthday gifts. Simply cut the pictures from the front of the card out with scissors. Use a hole punch to create a hole. Add some ribbon or string and your done! Couldn't be any easier. You can add other decorations such as glitter, buttons, ribbon to the gift tags if you would like. Really nice cards can be made into gift tags that can later be used as Christmas tree ornaments or decorations. Be creative, enjoy yourself,  and most importantly, reuse paper that would other wise be wasted!

All that you need to create Christmas gift tags from cards.

December 8, 2011

Salt Dough Christmas Ornaments and Snowman Figures

In an effort to not buy more Christmas decorations since I have a ton stored, I have been making all of my decorations this year. This project started as an attempt to make Christmas tree ornaments. My ornaments didn’t turn out very well. Cookie cutters would have made my ornaments a lot better. I’m not much of a freehander. The flat shapes cracked when baking possibly due to the temperature being to high.

Salt dough ornaments are a wonderful Christmas project to share with your family. The dough is easy to make, shape and bake. Creativity is endless when it comes to shaping and coloring the ornaments. As a child my Girl Scout troop would make dough decorations every Christmas. Even though I remembered making dozens of salt dough ornaments as a child, I couldn’t remember ever creating any as an adult. As soon as I began I started to remember how neat it was to make “cookies for the Christmas tree.” These ornaments don’t last forever, but will last for a few years if taken care of. For the longest longevity, seal ornaments and decorations with a clear lacquer finish to seal them.

Flour- 4cups 
Salt- 1 cup
 Water- Enough to moisten
 Oven and Metal Cookie Sheet
 Scrap Wire and/or Wood Skewer
 Optional: Acrylic or Water Color Paint
 Food Coloring
 Decorative Wire

Make the Dough:
  • Mix flour, salt, and water in large bowl. Add water slowly to the dry ingredients. Dough should be on the drier side and sticky.
  • Add flour or water as needed to get the correct density.
  • If you would like to color the dough with food coloring add it now. The dough can also be hardened and later painted without the use of food coloring. Kneed the dough and food coloring until the color is saturated.
  • Oiled hands and tools work well to keep dough from sticking when you’re working with it. If you use water or flour the dough density will change. 

Making Flat Ornaments:

  • Roll dough flat. I recommend 1/4in or thinner.
  • Use cookie cutters to cut the dough into Christmas shapes.
  • Place ornament on cookie sheet.
  • You have two choices for making a hole to hang the ornament from. One way is to use a wood skewer (or similar tool) to pierce a small hole in top of the ornament. A ribbon will be added after the decoration is finished for hanging. Another way is to take a piece of scrap wire, bend it into a U-shape, and then insert it into the ornament. A regular hook or ribbon can later be added.
  • Place cookie sheet with ornaments into the over. Bake at 250 degrees for at least one hour. Decorations may need longer depending on the thickness of the dough. To high of a heat will make the ornaments crack so be careful.
  • If you didn’t use food coloring it’s now time to paint and decorate your creation if you would like! 

Making Wreath Ornaments:

  • Roll dough into long snake like tubes. Cut equal lengths of dough.
  • Twist two lengths of dough together. Squish ends together to form a wreath.
  • Add a wire U to the wreath, or add ribbon through hole after baking for hanging on the Christmas tree.
  • Bake at 250 degrees for at least two hours. Decorations may need longer depending on the thickness of the dough. To high of a heat will make the ornaments crack so be careful.
  • If you didn’t use food coloring it’s now time to paint and decorate your creation if you would like!

Copyright © 2011 TownsEndCrafts.Com
Making Snowmen Figures:
  • Roll dough into three balls of varying sizes. Keep in mind that the larger the balls the longer the dough will need to bake.
  • Place bottom ball on cookie sheet and gently press down the form a flat spot on the top of the ball.
  • Add a scrap of wire in the center of the bottom ball. Leave half of the wire sticking up out of the ball.
  • Place second ball on top of first ball, threading the wire into the center of the second ball of dough.
  • Add another piece of scrap wire into the second ball of dough. Leave half of the wire sticking up out of the dough.
  • Place the third ball of dough on top of the second, threading the wire like before.
  • Make a carrot nose with a little dough and attach it to the snowman’s face.
  • Arms can be made a variety of ways. I simply took black craft wire and coiled it to make arms. The wires are then stuck into the side of the snowmen. You can also make arms with small sticks or salt dough.
  • Bake at 250 degrees until the snowman is harden. Decorations will need a long time depending on the thickness of the dough. To high of a heat will make the ornaments crack so be careful. I baked the snowmen pictured for about 6 hours.
  • If you didn’t use food coloring it’s now time to paint and decorate your creation if you would like!

December 4, 2011

Easy Homemade Chrstmas Ornaments

Just about anything can be used as a ornament on Christmas trees. Since I don't want to buy holiday decorations this year, I've been making my own. Here are two cute ideas for homemade Christmas ornaments. Both of these projects took less then 10 minuets to make.

Christmas Bottle Cap Ornament:
Want to have a small Christmas tree in your basement bar? You can easily use bottle caps from your favorite beer or bottled pop to make extremely simple decorations. Just hot glue a ornament wire onto the back of a bottle cap. Very simple. You can also glue bottle caps on to foam balls for a larger bottle cap ornament.

Beaded Abstract Star Ornament:
This cute ornament is very simple to make. You can easily enlarge or decrease the size of the star to fit your decor. Any type and size of beads can be used. Below you will find a rustic sketch of the order of the wire bends. To make the star abstract do not use perfect proportions for sides. I like to wrap the wire around the other wire where they intersect. You simply feed a few beads onto wire, bend wire, feed more beads, bend wire..and so on.

December 1, 2011

Make A Plastic Grocery Bag Christmas Wreath

Copyright © 2011 TownsEndCrafts.Com
We all remember making tissue paper wreaths in grade school. This project is a variation of this classic classroom craft. Made with used cardboard and plastic grocery bags, the wreath is inexpensive to create. Making a wreath this way is easy for children of all ages, making it a great winter break craft project.

Cardboard- Reuse clean cardboard from your home.
Plastic Grocery Bags- White and red if possible.
Glue-  See below about types of glue.
Pen/Pencil- To push the plastic onto the cardboard.

1) Make a cardboard ring out of clean used cardboard. This ring can be any size you would like. Clean pizza cardboard make perfect large wreaths with less cutting involved. Use a pie pan to trace the center circle of the pizza cardboard. Always use care when cutting, especially when children are doing the cutting. Ruff edges aren't a big deal because the plastic will cover them up. You can also clear coat/paint the cardboard ring now if you would like to make it sturdier.

2) Cut plastic bags into 2X2 inch squares.
Place the end of ink pen into the center of a plastic square.Holding plastic to the pen apply the glue of your choice.

4) Use ink pen to press glued plastic square to the cardboard ring. Hold for a few seconds depending on the glue used.

5) Repeat steps 3 & 4 until the cardboard ring is covered with plastic squares. Use red plastic (writing or printing on bags) if available on wreath to act like berries.

6) Let the wreath dry overnight (depending on the glue used). Decorate with beads, bows, or anything else you would like. Try to find things in your home to reuse as decorations!

A Few Thoughts On Glue:
I used both white school glue and super glue to make this small wreath. The white school glue worked fine, but takes longer to dry and doesn't have as strong of a bond. Super glue works instantly, and the bond is very strong. When making this craft with children I would use school glue and just handle with care. School glue was best applied by dipping the plastic while on the end of the pen in a puddle of glue on a paper plate. I also found it better to let the white glue set until it got tacky before using to attach the plastic squares. Other types of glues can be used in this project when being made by adults.
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