Sunday, December 9, 2012

Clothespin Santa

We had a welcomed surprise this week when Dino found a boxful of ornaments that weren't ruined by Hurricane Sandy -- 67 ornaments to be exact. It was good to see our old friends and we'll be sure they stay safe and dry until next year.

So with 67 original ornaments and one new one so far, that means all we need is 932 more. (Bring on those after-Christmas sales!)

This past summer, I bought a bag of old clothespins at a yard sale for 25 cents with the thought of making some ornaments to dress up my Christmas packages. I've always wanted to try making something with clothespins but never have. (Crafters will understand this impulse. Everyone else, don't ask.)

So this week, I decided it was finally time to have a go at being crafty with clothespins. (But don't expect one on your Christmas present. After all, we have an ornament emergency in Hoboken!)

Ho Ho Hoboken, everyone!

Elf in Charge of Making Ornaments

Clothespin Santa
o   Traditional Clothespin (the kind without the spring)
o   1/2" Screw Eye (used in picture framing, and available at Lowe's hardware)
o   Acrylic Paints (Red, Flesh, and Black)
o   DecoArt's SNOW-TEX (available at craft stores such as JoAnn's or Michaels)
o   Glitter (I used Martha Stewart's Crystal Fine Glitter in iridescent white)

o  Paint Brush 


1. SECURE THE HOOK. I've learned from experience that the art of ornament making always begins with figuring out how you're going to attach the ornament to the tree. So for these, I found one of those little hooks used at the back of frames to string the wire in one of my countless junk drawers. It was about an inch long and it turns out was too big because it split the wood. Undeterred, I went to Lowe's and bothered one of the sales guys to help me find the smallest version of this thing which I soon learned was called a "screw eye." He took me over to the screw aisle. (Yes, there's an entire aisle devoted to screws as it turns out.) It a took a while but we finally found the smallest "screw eye" in the store -- the 1/2" size. (OK, those of you with dirty minds can laugh now, but there's simply no way to discuss screws without using the word screw.) 

And let me just say this, Jason must have spent 10 minutes with me helping me to find my $1.29 purchase. I find it amazing in this day and age to find any store with that kind of service. Thank you, Lowes!

2. PAINTING TIME. My clothespins were really old and weathered so I primed them to begin with. You can skip this step if you'd like and go straight to painting the body of the clothespin red. Be sure to paint everything but the pom-pom cap, including the inside of the "legs' of the clothespin.

I love that it already looks festive and we're not nearly done yet!

3. FACE TIME. Pencil in the top of the brim of the cap at the top of the legs. Draw an inverted triangle about half an inch below that and paint it in with flesh tone. (I actually painted the entire face at this step, but found I needed to go over it all again after applying the SnowTex.)

4. SNOW TIME. Now for the fun part! I love SnowTex. It makes everything look good -- especially when you're a hacker crafter like me! Apply the SnowTex with your paint brush covering the entire pom pom, leaving enough of the hook at the top to hang the ornament later.

Then paint the brim of Santa's hat, the sideburns on either side of his face, and his beard all the way down to the bottom of the clothespin, and don't forget Santa's mustache.

5. MORE FACE TIME. When it's dry, go in and add the detail to the face. And if you've got the room, add some SnowTex eyebrows -- they're super cute!

6. WHAT'S ON THE BACK? Another trick to making ornaments is to remember that there's a 50/50 chance the "back" of the ornament will wind up being the front of the ornament when you hang it on the tree. Ornaments tend to have a mind of their own that way.

I experimented first with making the same design on both sides. It came out really cute, but the idea of a two-faced Santa bothers me, so I chose a simpler solution -- candy cane stripes made with SnowTex on the back. That way, if the ornament decides it wants to face into the tree, it will still have strong, graphic appeal.

For this, I drew 1/2" lines up the back of the clothespin and simply painted a SnowTex candy cane strip. Note that when you get to the top, you'll have to stop the strip half-way around so that it doesn't appear on the front. I visually followed the split of the leg all the way up to mark the half-way line.

7. SHELLAC TIME. Once it's fully dry, seal the entire ornament with the shellac of your choice.

8. GLITTER TIME. Once that's fully dry, go back over the SnowTek on the front and back of the ornament with a little more shellac and sprinkle it with glitter for a super-snowy effect!

So that's it. If you decide to make these please let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment here and be sure to let me know how you made out.

Ho Ho Hoboken, everyone!

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