Make your own wooden Christmas ornaments!

*This post was originally published in 2011 on Pretty Handy Girl and I’ve been saving it to share with you this year!*

Every year, I make some percentage of my gifts rather than buy them. At first I started out with grand ambitions and would pick one or two recipients to get a labor-intensive gift like a crocheted afghan. In the last few years, I’ve scaled my efforts back and now make small gifts for multiple recipients. I typically will make a handful of one style of gift to boost my holiday time efficiency.

This year I started thinking about what type of ornament I could make from materials I had lying around. I settled on ornaments made from branches we cut off our trees a few years back. Basically, I cut thin slices of the branches, added a painted Christmas design and a ribbon for hanging and they are ready to go!

So you’re probably wondering how you can do this too… Well, you’re in luck because I’m ready to share!

Step 1: Cut your wood slices

Find a branch with a diameter of 2 – 3 inches (or large enough to fit your design) and cut thin slices. I used a reciprocating saw with a 9” wood blade on it to cut slices about an inch thick.  I just have a photo of the saw, but remember to securely clamp your branch before starting to saw it and to wear safety glasses while operating the saw.

Step 2: Sand your wood slices

The reciprocating saw left a rough finish so I used sanding blocks to create a smooth surface. I first used a very coarse grain sandpaper to get the surface level and then a fine grain sandpaper to create a nice finish. The sanding blocks were very handy – I held the block still while moving the wood slice to sand the surface.

Step 3: Drill holes for small eyelets

This is as easy as it sounds. Use a small drill bit to drill a hole in the top of your wood sliced and then screw in a small eyelet. This will allow your gift recipients to hang your ornaments. You can pick up small eyelets at any home improvement store.

Step 4: Create your designs

I like to create my own linocuts (a print-making method) so I decided to create reproducible designs by basically making holiday stamps for my wood slices. You could also simply buy stamps or paint a design if cutting your own stamps isn’t your thing.

I started by drawing my designs on paper – a snowflake, a Christmas light bulb, and a Christmas tree. I traced the outline of my wood slices so that I would be sure to create designs that fit on the slices.

After that, I transferred the design onto my carving blocks.

And then I used my speedball cutter to carve out my designs.

Step 5: Get that design onto your wood slice!

Whether you make your own stamp, buy a stamp, or paint your design free hand, it’s now time to get the design on to your wood slice. Because two of my designs were meant to have two colors, I used a paintbrush to apply my paint to the stamp before stamping the wood slice. Of course, before doing any stamping I first tested my carved stamps to make sure they looked how I expected and also tested the amount of paint that need to be applied. The snowflake design only used a single color so I used a small brayer instead of a paintbrush to apply the paint.

I found that it worked best to lay the stamp on the table, place the wood slice on top of it, and press down with firm (but not hard) pressure. This helped transfer the paint to the wood even if some small ridges remained after the sanding step.

The trick is getting the right amount of paint on the stamp so I recommend practicing on paper for a while before moving on to the wood slices. If I painted the paint on too thick, I would first light place the stamp on paper to absorb some of the extra paint. Of course if you are just painting directly on the slices you can just jump to that step! I made one freehanded design of a snowman for a particular snowman lover in my life.

Step 6: Embellish your designs

Because I felt that my Christmas bulbs and trees turned out a bit plain, I broke out some leftover red glitter glue to embellish them. For the red bulbs, I painted on the red glitter glue. For the trees, I added little dots to signify tree decorations.

Step 7: Seal your ornaments

I wanted to add some sort of sealant coat to my ornaments for protection. I settled on Mod Podge because I had some at home. Experimentation taught me that I couldn’t use a sponge applicator to brush on the Mod Podge or it would smear the paint even though it was dry. Instead, it seemed that using a paint bush to dab the Mod Podge on top of the paint worked the best.  When first applied, it looks somewhat white but it does dry clear.

Before drying:

After drying:

Step 8: Add a way to hang those ornaments

I used ribbon to create a small bow at the top of the ornaments and also to create a loop so that the ornaments can be hung. Hooray! They are complete and ready to be gifted!

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Hand stamped infinity scarf

Two infinity scarves.

Sometimes I’m not so sure where my time goes, but I do know that I finally have a craft project to share! Now that we’ve had like two whole fall days in Austin, I decided it was time for a new scarf. I’m pretty bad at wrapping traditional scarves around my neck and looking fashionable, so I decided to make an infinity scarf, which is a loop scarf that you can typically wear as a single long loop or short double loops if it’s cold. It’s hard to mess up wearing a loop. There are a number of tutorials about sewing an infinity scarf. I read quite a few and relied on this video from Craft Gemini to show me the step where you have to join the two ends to form a loop. It can be a bit confusing if you don’t take your time. More on that later. My Supplies:

  • 1.5 yards of knit fabric, pre-washed and ironed as much as possible
  • Hand carved stamps (stamp blocks carved with a speed ball cutter)
  • Fabric paint in a few colors
  • Standard sewing stuff – matching thread, sewing machine, etc.

First I decided on a design using tear drop shapes, sketched them on my stamp blocks and carved three separate stamps so that I could use them in a variety of patterns.

The three stamps I carved, tear drop shapes.

Then, I tested them out on some paper to make sure they stamped well.

Stamp test!

I cut my knit fabric in half, so that I had two pieces of fabric, 1.5 yards long by 24 inches wide. Because you fold the fabric in half length wise and sew, this gives a scarf about about 12 inches wide (minus seam allowances). I got a nice dark brownish/grayish knit fabric with a small weave.

Knit fabric

I then used my stamp set and fabric paint to hand stamp a design down the middle of both pieces of fabric.

Three fabric paints – linen, light green and light blue.

For one design I only used linen and green paints.

For the other design, I used all three colors.

If you do this, make sure to put something under the fabric as you stamp, the paint will seep through in some places. The next step was sewing. The first step to make an infinity scarf is to fold the fabric length wise, with the correct side of the fabric (in my case, the stamped side) touching. Then pin along the whole length of the fabric, but leave four inches on each side not sewn so that you can connect the loop in a later step.

Fabric pinned length wise. I measured in 4 inches from both ends and used a pin to mark the spot where I would start and stop sewing.

When it comes time to sew, make sure to backstitch a bit on both ends so that your seams are secure!

Annie the cat helps me sew. Or really just gets in the way.

Remember to start and stop sewing four inches from each edge and to backstitch to secure your seam.

After the fabric is sewn lengthwise, the tricky part begins. Definitely view the video I mentioned above if you are unsure about these steps. First, turn the fabric so that the correct side is facing out (the way it should be at the end). Notice the four inches that aren’t sewn on either side. Position the fabric so that the seams match and there are no twists in the fabric.

Fabric, turned so that the correct side is on the outside. Seam is lined up so that there are no twists in the scarf.

Next, you have to pin the ends of the fabric together, which is what feels a bit tricky. This is the part where you actually join your scarf into a loop. You start with matching corners and keep the correct side of the fabric facing in so that it touches the entire time you are pinning. Continue to pin around in a circle until you hit the other corners. The extra four inches you left on each side of the scarf is what allows you to do this – the rest of the fabric ends up being contained in those 8 inches after you are done pinning.

Pin the fabric, starting from matchin corners with the correct side of the fabric facing in and touching.

Pin around the entire circle until you come to the other corners. You’ll then see the main part of the scarf coming through the 8 inch opening. That part of the scarf has the correct side of the fabric facing out.

Then, you sew. Start at one corner and go to the other. Make sure to backstitch at both ends.

Sewing the two ends of the scarf together.

When you’re done, you’ll flip that section of the scarf so that the right side is facing out for the entire section. You’ll have an eight inch section left to hand sew to complete the scarf.

After sewing the ends together, you’re left with an 8 inch section to hand stitch.

Pin the opening closed using the same seam allowance you used on the rest of the scarf.

Pinned and ready to hand sew.

I used a slip stitch to close the seam, with help of a tutorial from Michelle patterns. Then, I positioned the scarf so that the seam was positioned in the back. Lastly, I wore the scarf around town. You can see the loop in the scarf on the left and the view of the scarf when it’s flattened out on the right. I’m quite happy with the finished product!

Make your own hand stamped infinity scarf - lauramakes.com

The finished scarves.

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A homemade gift: Vanilla!

Earlier this year, I wrote about making my own vanilla extract. I know a number of women who like to bake, so I decided to give some of this deliciousness as gifts this year! I bought some small swing top bottles at the container store, made labels with a home made stamp and packaged up the vanilla. I sure hope it’s a hit 🙂

To make my own stamp, I first started by creating gridlines on my sketch paper and then drawing the word in a nice font of my own making.

I then carefully carved my stamp block using a speedball lino cutter handle. After doing some test stamps and cleaning up the carving, I mixed red and brown to make a slightly dark red colored paint and stamped a thick piece of cardstock.

After the paint dried, I cut up the paper into labels, punched a hole in the label and used some rafia to tie it around the neck of the bottle.

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Bicycle print

The finished print

Drawing, carved block, and print

This is my second print since receiving the linoleum print tools as a gift earlier this year. My inspiration for it is obviously the lyrics to Queen’s “Bicycle Race” and the fact that I’ve been riding many miles training for the Escape to the Lake Bike MS Event which happens in two weeks.

You can see the finished product but also the different steps of the process in the pictures. In one picture you can see my original drawing (I used a compass for the wheels) that I then transferred to the carving block. I carved it using special carving tools.  I mixed paint to create a dark green color, rolled it on the carved block and transferred that to the paper.

I’m offering one of these prints to anyone who donates to my fundraising page for the Escape to the Lake. I can make them in light or dark shades of black, red, blue, green, or yellow.  If I don’t know you personally, please contact me before donating so I can confirm that I will be able to create a print for you.

The making of a new obsession…

Remember my new gifts? I’ve began phase one of using them for a new project. I’ve started drawing beer things. Many ideas are floating in my head about how this will play out.

A bottle of Fireman’s 4:

The Southern Star logo (not yet traced with darker lines):