Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Christmas Ornament Ideas...

I was going thru my ornaments the other day and wanted to share some ideas. I haven't painted ornaments in a couple of years, but started painting them over 15 years ago...goodness.. maybe close to 20 now that i think of it. If anyone is interested in trying their hand at handpainted ornaments, I'll pass along a few tips that i've picked up over the years.

The satin ornaments work the best. (shiny ornaments - like the one here, sometimes want to 'blister and peel if you touch the sides with a damp finger!.. also, if the paint has too much water in it, the background can blister too as you're putting on your first coats)

Paint- I used a variety of water based craft acrylic paints - like 'folk art' or 'apple barrel' paints. Some of the paints will be runny, some too thick.. unfortunately, this is all trial and error because every bottle of paint seems to be different! The thick paints can always be thinned down a little by dipping the brush in water, but the real thin paints are hard to work with because they require so many coats to get a solid color.

For "scenery" type ornaments with a solid background, Iwould start off with 3 coats of a solid color of paint to give a good base - allowing it to dry completely between coats. Then, it's ready for color and details .

You can seal the painting with a water based varnish to protect the painting.. 'folk art' and 'apple barrel' sell small bottles of water based varnish - i prefer the satin, but looks like this one was a glossy.

This was an earlier ornament - and an example of the ornament color bleeding thru. If I remember right, this had only one coat of a base paint before I started to paint background and details.

Kids coloring books and Christmas books are a great place to get ideas.

Snowmen are probably the easiest. For the smallest details - like on the face, I use an acid free felt pen. You might want to test your pen first, some will bleed when you apply the sealer. I use "Zig" brand - it's waterproof and works great. (found in the scrapbooking section) Snowmen are great for personalized ornaments too.

Back from my flight attendant days.. (back when I was away from home 3 weeks surrounding a holiday.. it's nice to be home)

Another idea similiar to this one, to personalize for a sports player (neices, nephews :) ) is to use their school colors with their number on the jersey.. soccer ball, goal net, etc... Oh, the possibilities are endless!

So.. .all that being said, with about 10 dollars in supplies, you can get started with a box of ornaments, a few paints and an inexpensive set of brushes. (I didn't use 'good artist' brushes here, just picked up a pack of cheap brushes.. just look for ones that look soft and don't have bristles going every which way) Even if you don't think you can do it, you'd be surprised - especially with the snowmen - if you can draw 3 lumps of snow, you can paint it!

And I had to add this little ornament here in closing.. this was either the first year or second year of experimenting with ornaments - long before we had sheep! I don't know if I'll get around to painting any ornaments this year, but chances are if I do, they'll have sheep on them for sure this year! lol.


  1. Alright. That's it! I've had it!!!

    Is there anything you can't do?


  2. well I sure can't shear sheep! That comes to mind first and foremost. But that's another post (someday I'm going to post those pictures of the first shearing we had

    If you haven't tried the ornaments, i think you would really enjoy them... I've thought about painting a 'snow sheep' and always think back on the one you made out there in your yard! :) So.. if you see a snowsheep on an ornament somewhere.. I stole the idea from you! lol.

  3. Those are gorgeous! I especially love the barn scenes. Wish Christmas would look like those snowy scenes this year.

  4. Your ornaments are beautiful!! You did an excellent job painting the barn scenes - it looks like you could walk right into the snow! My whole family makes homemade ornaments to exchange at Christmas. I love decorating the tree and seeing all the precious ornaments they have made over the years. I am going to try painting on a satin ornament next year. Very nice – thank you! Happy Thanksgiving!