This year’s Christmas decorations

Every year, I used to make new decorations for our Christmas tree, and to share with family. We had a multi-year hiatus for a number of reasons, including moving here, but I’ve started the tradition up again.

Each year, I try to do something different, hopefully learn a new skill, and use materials at hand. This year, I started with…

… cans.

Specifically, the cans from Costco’s canned chicken. I liked their size.

My daughter was kind enough to spray paint them gold for me, which took several days and several layers. Paint doesn’t like to cure when it’s cold, and she ended up having to do it in the old basement – forgetting that the furnace is there. 😀 The paint didn’t want to adhere to the metal very well, but once it set, it was good.

Those were turned into…

… these.

Most of the materials used were from a dollar store. I tried to find really tiny Christmas trees but ended up getting some floral wire made to look like sprigs. I cut and twisted some together to make little trees, two of which are behind the little church. The ribbon, birds, gifts, bells, glitter paper, wooden stars and fake snow were also from the dollar store. I already had metallic card stock that I used to create platforms, as well as the other wooden pieces. A family member gifted me with a storage box fill of little wooden pieces, years ago, and I finally got to use some!

I did some wood burning on the starts and the church. My daughter painted the church and the books. I just love how the books look!

You can see in the flash picture that she used metallic gold on the books. She also used some metallic paint for details on the church. When I tried to find things small enough for the wreath behind the gifts, she dug around and find some teeny, tiny “gem” shapes she had saved from somewhere. I ended up using several different types of adhesives I happened to have, to hold everything in place. As long as they did the job and dried clear, I wasn’t too fussy!

These are too large to hang on our little Christmas tree, but they will be perfect to add to the lights and garlands we have running across the dining room cabinets at the ceiling.

With having to wait for paint to cure and some adhesives to dry, this took a lot longer than I originally expected. The most difficult part was cutting holes into the metal, then threading cord through for the hangers. I couldn’t be sure where to place the holes until after the insides were done. The church steeple was particularly awkward! Craft tweezers came in very handy! The bells needed their own hole, and I had to figure out how to hang those, and ended up using a piece of the tree-sprig floral wire, then using an extra wide ribbon to edge it, to make sure the part that’s on top was well secured.

I’m quite happy with the finished result!

The Re-Farmer

Well, it’s up and done!

The Christmas tree is decorated as much as it’s going to be, and the base is covered.

Theoretically, the cats can still get inside the planter stand near the floor, but now that the stand it stabilized, it should be okay if they do. The tree skirt will hopefully be too “in the way” for them to want to jump up the stand anymore. Hopefully, they won’t try to climb it, instead!

Tonight will be the big test. While we are all in bed, will the cats leave it alone?

We shall see!

The Re-Farmer

This year’s decorations; what’s working, and what isn’t!

I’ve already posted photos of dehydrating orange slices and using them to make decorations for Christmas this year. I will post more on those in a moment.

The other experiment I tried was to make a baking soda and cornstarch dough (which I wrote about here), which was supposed to be good to roll out and use cookie cutters on. These are supposed to result in a bright white final product, that was also quite hard and durable, which would take paint or other embellishments well. The dough ended up way too soft and sticky, so my daughters used it to make more sculptural stuff, though one did try and do some cookie cutter ones when the dough seemed to have dried up enough for it.

After leaving them to dry for a while, we ended up having to put them in a cool oven (they were supposed to dry slowly, to avoid cracking), because… cats.

Cats who leave paw prints behind, as they do dastardly things!

All of the cookie cutter ones have had to be thrown out. They just crumbled.

Plus, the cats seem to be desperate to get at them! I had to take them out of the oven to put the decorated orange slices in, and had to get really creative in covering them, while still giving them air flow to dry. There is still some hope for the more sculptural pieces, but they will need at least a few more days to fully dry.

If we can keep the cats out.

As for the orange slices, the cats have been after them, too! They ended up knocking over the tray on the table they were laid out on.

I’m happy to say that the glue worked very well.

Several of the decorations were scattered on the floor and, while the glue was not yet completely dry, it held! This was a bottle of WeldBond that came with a case of crafting materials given to us. I have no idea how many years it was there, but it was long enough that the plastic and cardboard pieces of the original packaging came apart.

Clearly, the cats are not put off by the orange slices and cinnamon sticks.

Today, I decided to add ground spices to 7 of the 13 slices.

First, I rigged up a cardboard box that I could use to spray them with adhesive.

I also decided to use a combination of ground cloves, allspice and nutmeg, with a tiny sieve to apply them evenly.

After crowding the decorations close together, I tried to spray just the orange slices, not the strings, then dusted them with the ground spice mix.

They are now set aside for the spray adhesive to set. The box set up allowed me to put something over them in case a cat decided to jump into it.

Since I started writing this, I’ve had to go put the cover back and add weight to it, because the cats had already knocked it off.

The main thing about doing this craft was that citrus and all these spices that smell so good to humans are supposed to deter cats.

Our cats apparently did not get that memo.

*sigh*

I’m still holding out hope to having a tree, somehow, but these spicy, fragrant decorations are definitely not going to keep them away. If anything, it seems to be attracting them, instead!

Ah, well.

At least they look pretty!

The Re-Farmer