Sunday, December 19, 2010

Heirloom Ornament Tutorial

About 10 years ago, my most creative friend Jessica invited me over to make some Christmas ornaments. She told me to bring a photograph that I wanted to use. I really had no idea what photo to take, and I didn't have kids yet, so it took a little thought.

An old photograph of my Mema and Papa is what I took, and it was the perfect choice.


These are my dad's parents. I made an ornament for my parents, my sister, and each of my dad's siblings.


We used wooden disks from AC Moore, jewelry wire, raffia and some deconstructed earrings.

The next year I made them of my Mammaw and Granddaddy, and gave them to family members.


Then I printed out a photo of my parents. Those photos and supplies have been sitting in my desk drawer for several years. Too many kids, not enough time.

But I found the time to make them this year and took some photos in the process...


You will need:


jewelry wire
a wooden disk
mod podge (love it)
glue gun

And, depending on the weight of your wire, you might need a pair of needle nose pliers to help bend and shape the wire.

First, print your photos. You can do a sheet of the photos if you are making them as gifts, or just one. And if you're making just one, you could use the original if you want.

Trace the wooden disk onto each photo.


Cut the photos out just inside the line so that it will fit nicely onto the wooden disk.

Paint the disk with Mod Podge.


Stick the photo onto the disk. The Mod Podge will act as glue. Then cover the photo with Mod Podge.


Now take a break for some hot chocolate or spend some time wrapping gifts.


When the Mod Podge is dry, you can continue. Or if you are in a hurry, lay a piece of wax paper on the counter, and lean the disks against something so that the disk is laying on it's edge, and neither side is touching a large surface.

Cover the other side with Mod Podge and glue a piece of scrapbook paper to cover up the wood.


Cover the scrapbook paper with Mod Podge just like you did on the photo side.

Now really take a break. You want the disks to be completely dry before the next step. I waited overnight.

Unroll your wire and wrap it around your disk for a measurement. You want about 6-8 inches extending past the disk on either side for hanging.


Use the sharp part of your needle nose pliers to cut the wire.


You want to wrap your raffia around your jewelry wire to decorate the edges.


Put a bit of hot glue on the wire and stick your raffia in the glue. You want it secure enough that you can wrap it without it unraveling.


Wrap it around enough of the wire that it will reach all the way around the disk. You could also wrap it around the entire length of wire. It's just a matter of preference.


Use your hot glue to attach about an inch or two of the wire to the disk at a time. Hold the wire tightly to the disk while the glue cools. If you move too fast, the wire will try popping up as you move to the next section. Just be patient and do this slowly.


The raffia-wrapped wire should be stuck to the disk all the way around, meeting at the top.


Wrap the wire around itself, securing it around the disk. This will be the beginning of your hanger.


This is where you can attach beads or other embellishments. If you are using a pair of deconstructed earrings, they might already have wire loops. If so, just slide it onto the wire.


You can also buy jewelry pieces from a craft store, already looped. If you are just using beads, you will have to make wire loops to hang the beads from the ornament.


Just twist the wire around the bead to hook it on. You might need your pliers here to help bend. Sometimes the ends of the wire can poke your fingers and make it difficult to work with.

Then just loop the end of the wire around the wire that is already attached to the ornament. The next step will keep the bead from sliding off the ornament.


If you have thick wire, you will certainly need pliers for the next step. Find a long, thin, cylindrical object to wrap the remaining wire around. Preferably thinner than a pencil. I used a knitting needle.


If the very ends are too tough to curl, just clip them off with your wire cutters.

Shape your hanger so that it is somewhat of an oval, and embellish it with a rustic raffia bow.

Hang on the tree for the season, or hang it somewhere all year round.


I keep mine hanging on a wire tree in my dining room all the time, that also lets the curled wire and beads at the top stand out.

These make great gifts, especially if you do them assembly-line style. And they look great on the tree!



  1. Just catching up with some blog reading! Love your favorite things :) and your Christmas Card collages! Great ideas!!

    And these heirloom ornaments are beautiful! I will have to try them out one day! :)

  2. I love these!! I must make some of these ;)

  3. and you had such great subjects to work with! Love, Dad

  4. I have posted your photo ornament link on my site. I would love to have you link back to me. Thanks, Noreen.