Friday, December 20, 2013

DIY Christmas Ornaments... or not!

I decided just after I found out they were coming that I wanted to make ornaments as Christmas presents for Bluebell and Marigold. The three of us, and Willow (who was Bluebell's roommate and who now lives in New York) all know each othe
r because we went to St. Olaf College together. The bookstore on campus sells some Christmas ornaments bearing the school's cheer: Um Ya Ya. What does it mean? Not much of anything. Never the less, its the name of the school song and singing these words is an important part of the school song's chorus.

So, I decided to make these glass ball Christmas ornaments. My original vision was of glass ball Christmas ornaments, filled with glittering paint. I was inspired by lots of posts I had seen last year in the lead up to Christmas, when I was hanging around at home recovering from surgery. There wasn't a whole lot going on in my life, other than looking at photos of beautiful Christmas decorations. Here's an example, done by Jackie and her two little sons. I figured, if this is a project that can involve kids, how hard can it be? Hard.

I also snagged this paint to fill 'em up with. St. Olaf's school colors are black and gold, so I had this vision of glass balls, painted with sparkly gold on the inside, bearing Um Ya Ya on the outside in black letters with a black ribbon bow holding it up. What a dream... that was never to be.

I had my trusty Solo cups to catch paint dripping out of the bulbs. I had to cut off the top parts to present the ornaments from just falling all the way in.

So, here's the first draft of the first bulb I did. It's looking pretty much exactly how I had imagined, though this picture was taken before the bulb had even a full minute to start drying.

I acquired some different cups and got all four bulbs ready to go. This is before any of them had much of a chance to dry. That's pretty important, because once they started to dry, disaster struck.


Maybe I didn't use enough paint? Nope, it can't be that. Look at all of the paint that came out! I tried to do several "coats," by wiping up the paint left in the bottom of the cup with a sponge brush and dumping it back into the bulb. I then tilted the bulb to get full coverage and then let it dry before repeating the process again. I did that at least a half-dozen times. And still.

Barf. This got me thinking: glitter paint is actually a misnomer. Glitter paint is glue with lots and lots of glitter mixed in. The "glue" is usually clear - and that was the case with the gold glitter above. I'd been thinking I'd need to do several coats of glitter to get complete coverage. I had the idea that maybe a flat gold paint would help the situation, because it wouldn't just be particles - it could provide a little bit of coverage for behind the glitter.

So, back I went for more craft supplies. This project is such a good example of how easy it can be to throw more money at a craft if things are not turning out just the way you plan!

So here's one last shot of a bulb before the addition of the flat gold paint.

And here are the bulbs after the application of the first round of the flat gold paint. At this point, I was feeling pretty good! They've gotten a little brassier then I'd originally hoped, but they don't look totally gross. Yet.

And now they're starting to dry... and it's not pretty. It became more obvious with the addition of the flat paint that there was some glitter that had gotten on the outside of the ornament. I did so many "coats" of the glitter, this actually wasn't much of a surprise.

So, I busted out some handy alcohol wipes. They're the kind that can be used before inserting an IV, though I use them to clear my ear piercings, especially while traveling.

 Yeah, it really didn't help. This is bad.


 This one really emphasizes how poorly the glitter and the flat paint match. Ick.

Seriously! How did this happen??? Not one of these bulbs looks like anything anyone would ever want to display for any purpose. Except maybe Halloween.

I was becoming increasingly frustrated with my lack of progress on this project, because I had a bit of a deadline: the arrival of Marigold and Bluebell. I finally realized what I had to do.
Yeah, that's what you think it is. The time had come. These bulb ornaments were trash. Absolutely. But, don't despair! While I gave up on them, I didn't give up hope. Stay tuned for the rest of the story on Monday!

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