Ornament reminiscences

(reprinted from my post today at www.sculpey.com)

Generally, after our Thanksgiving turkey is picked clean, it’s time for my middle child to get on our roof and string up our Christmas lights.  He gets this job because my husband doesn’t like heights and my son is 14 and fearless.  I intended to avoid Black Friday (don’t like shopping or crowds) but said son determined we needed some replacement bulbs for the lights.  He even counted the required bulbs–mostly green, just a couple red bulbs… (he’s planning to be an engineer, can you tell?).  After 3 stores and only one package of 4 green replacement bulbs, I was well on the way to a Scrooge attitude!  Great.

Our other Thanksgiving weekend tradition is to get our Christmas tree up and decorated.  I’m not one of those people who pick a theme and buy all matching color ornaments and ribbon and lights.  No, our tree has no theme, it’s an on-going record of our family.  And each year, as we decorate the tree, the kids reminisce over the ornaments, remembering who made which, who gave us each one, etc.  My collection includes a couple ornaments I made in kindergarten (I’m not admitting the year), one silver ball covered with a bit of lace from my mother’s wedding dress, crocheted snowflakes from a dear lady in my bible class, and the ceramic nativities the kids made in vacation bible school.  There are ornaments that came as a decoration on a gift, some from teachers, and projects the kids made in preschool or gradeschool.

Many of the ornaments on my tree are, of course, polymer clay.  Some were made by me, some by the kids.  Let me give you a brief tour of some favorites…

This is one of my oldest clay ornaments.  I started in polymer clay in 1990, and several of my very early ornaments are similar to this stocking.  There are cut out shapes of stockings, hats, cows and pigs (hubby and I were both farm kids).

Then I moved on to some figurines and for several years, I wrote names and messages on the figures.  I gave these to family as well as keeping some for our tree.  The skating bear is dated 1995.  He had cut up paperclips inserted on his shoes for the to skate blades.  The lamb is dated 1996.  I have characters with each of our names on them, and “baby’s first christmas” for each of the boys… Jackson was a reindeer in 1994, Nathan’s was a bear for 1996.  My daughter’s design was a baby tucked under a blanket on a star in 1999.

Now, we move on to some of the kids’ ornaments.  I was always annoyed by the wax-dipped cornstarch ornament the teachers at the preschool made.  (I didn’t trust that they wouldn’t rot in storage and I believed the kids could do better than just coloring the shapes the teacher cut out for them.)  So I volunteered to do projects with my kids’ classes.  For the ornament on the left, I first took the kids’ pictures, then had them cut out bells or trees and decorate them with glitter, punches, etc.  I can hardly believe that little boyin the picture is now 6’2″ and will graduate from high school this spring!  The ones on the right are a quilt-inspired cane from a series I did somewhere around the late 1990s.  The bear on the right Jackson made when I let him and a buddy make ornmaments for a play-day.

Here’s a quilt design from 1999.  I don’t recall whether the pattern in the center was supposed to be stars or leaves….?

A red-green icicle with glitter on the right was made by my daughter.

As a jewelry maker of course, I’ve always got lots of beads around.  So one year, I took heavy brass wire and added some wirework for loopy ornaments.  The snowflake design was white clay with colored liquid sculpey drizzled and dragged across the surface.  This was a project design I used with a service club that wanted a project for a group meeting.

Finally, the last image is one made in 2001.  For several years, I did an ornament design for the Dean of one of the colleges at the university here.  This was an order for about 100 matching ornements for gifts to his faculty and staff.  The requirement was that it should say “College of Education” and the year.  After showing him all sorts of design ideas, I was a bit chagrined when he decided it should be in canework.  Figuring out how large the cane had to be to start out was a challenge.  I used ecru and navy for the word canes.  I ended with enough of that cane to use in different designs over 3 years, just changing the date cane!  The mobius bead ornament on the right was sample from one of those years, sans the “college of education” portion.

Each year we put up our tree, I love to review our family history and I look forward with some reticence to the day when my kids leave home and have their own family christmas trees to decorate.  They will each have a good start on their own ornament collections and traditions.  I guess I will definitely continue making and collecting more so that I don’t have a bare tree when they do take their own!

Thanks for allowing me to share some memories!

Blessings of the season!

Patti

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