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This post was originally published on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade in December 2013.

As we grow dangerously close to Christmas, we’ve been busily checking fun last-minute gift projects off the list for friends and family, and scouring for vibrant holiday inspiration for next week’s celebrations. With kids to help decorate for the season, I thought it would be fun to have them help out with a little craft — a sweet thumbprint ornament that can serve as a gift, or even a gift topper tied to the ribbons, that the grandmas and grandpas and aunts and uncles can enjoy and remember for years to come.

How to make clay thumbprint ornaments – an easy holiday tradition for your kids.

Step 1

Form a small ball of clay, about the size of a large marble or a golf ball. I used air-dry FIMO product for this project, though the oven-bake products work just as well and could speed up the total time.

How to make clay thumbprint ornaments – an easy holiday tradition for your kids.

Step 2

Have your child firmly smush his or her thumbprint into the clay. They’ll like this part, I promise.

How to make clay thumbprint ornaments – an easy holiday tradition for your kids.

Step 3

While the clay is still malleable, unfurl a metal paperclip and use it to poke a hole through the top of the ornament for the hook, and to etch in the backside of the ornament your child’s name and the year to document when it was made.

How to make clay thumbprint ornaments – an easy holiday tradition for your kids.

Step 4

Allow the ornament to dry per product specifications (whether it be air-dry or oven-baked). 

Step 5

Once dried, consider the finishing touches. I like to paint mine, and while this year I went the gold or silver spray paint route, last year I picked up craft paint colors and let our daughter paint the ornaments herself. It’s the perfect annual tradition.

Run a length of floral wire through the hole you bore into the top of the ornament (this is also a handy product if you need a reliable way to secure heavy or fragile tree ornaments). If it’s a gift, wrap it up, and gift it to your family before the holiday so they can display it on the tree proudly.

How to make clay thumbprint ornaments – an easy holiday tradition for your kids.

A Sweet, Scandinavian-Inspired Tree Skirt

April 30, 2016   //  Posted in: Decor, DIY, DIY Network Projects, Holiday-Related Projects   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment
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This post was originally published on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade in December 2014.

DIY tree skirt using felting craft technique.

Combine my favorite holiday season + testing my hand at a new DIY skill + an effort in Scandinavian design, and what do you get? A perfect little tree skirt!

Needle felting is a craft I’ve admired a lot lately; people with experience than myself make beautiful woolen animals and objects, and decorate their wool sweaters, so when the idea arose to make a new tree skirt to coordinate with our blossoming collection of crafty Scandinavian holiday decor, I thought that needle-working it would be a great way to make something practical, while trying something new.

Materials:

Tools:

Step 1

I used a package of full-size quilt batting for the base of my tree skirt. It’s fluffy, available inexpensively, and a wide size to fit well beneath a large tree.

Begin by cutting your full-size quilt batting sheet into a circle. If you fold your batting in half or into quarters, you’ll find it a little easier than trying to cut a perfect circle out of a flat sheet. 

DIY tree skirt using felting craft technique.

Step 2

Still folded, you’ll want to cut another circle in the center of your batting that will wrap around the tree trunk and stand. 

DIY tree skirt using felting craft technique.

Step 3

Unfold your batting at this point, and trim a straight line from the outer edge to the inner circle. This will make it possible for you to slide the tree skirt around the tree. 

DIY tree skirt using felting craft technique.

Step 4

The beauty of a custom project like this is, you can take it in almost any direction to suit your holiday decor style. Choose colors to suit your own taste, and get creative with patterns. Our style is veering Scandinavian, so I gravitated towards reds and blacks, but supplemented with teal and green when I was choosing colors of wool roving and felted wool rolls at the store. In this design, I used one 12x12 sheet of teal, one 12x12 sheet of red, one black wool pencil roving (essentially, thick yarn), and a single felting needle.

DIY tree skirt using felting craft technique.

If you don’t already have one, you’ll need to buy needle felting tools. Felting needles which are different than straight pins because they have a little tooth on the end that grabs the wool fibers to force them through the layer you’re affixing them to, connecting and entangling them. I found a pack of two for $6 at my local craft store, and you’ll find that there are lots of varieties available at a range of costs. 

Step 5

I chose to impress modern-looking trees upon my tree skirt design, and I made a template before I got cutting to help ensure that all of the pieces would be the same size, and the proportion that I wished to have. 

DIY tree skirt using felting craft technique.

Step 6

My tree was symmetrical, but with alternating red and teal colors. From the above design I trimmed the paper so that I had a template for the top, middle, and bottom sections of each tree.

From there, I trimmed carefully through each 12″x12″ sheet of felted wool, obtaining 8 tree tops, 8 tree middles, and 8 tree bottoms from each color. There was very, very little scrap remaining so be diligent to maximize each sheet, or else you’ll run short.

DIY tree skirt using felting craft technique.

Step 7

Organize your trees onto the spread out quilt batting, and attach them in place with straight pins.

DIY tree skirt using felting craft technique.

Step 8

You’ll need to place your quilt batting on top of a soft surface before you begin felting with the needle. The needle and fibers will need to penetrate through something soft in order to work effectively. A small piece of styrofoam came with my felting needle, but I used a 2 thick piece of high-density foam beneath my area so that the needle had plenty of room to plunge. It worked really well.

Use the felting needle to attach each section to the underlying batting by, essentially, using your hand like the needle on a sewing machine and POKE-POKE-POKE, STAB-STAB-STAB all around the edge and then in the middle of the area too. The needle with its toothy end will make a crunching sound as it forces through the layers, and though it took a long time to do all of the trees, I was able to see progress pretty quickly. After just a few pokes of the needle, the top lying tree design was beginning to be well-affixed to the batting. This is my new zen.

DIY tree skirt using felting craft technique.

Step 9

I had space between my colorful trees in which I planned to add in additional details; circles, snowflakes, I knew something would work well to add a little more personality to the tree skirt. I sketched a few different ideas on a sheet of paper, and ended up liking these simple black tree forms the best.

DIY tree skirt using felting craft technique.

Using a length of wool pencil roving (which is wool roving pulled into a thick yarn-like length), I modeled each tree and used the felting pin to bore into the high-density foam and made the shape permanent.

Step 10

If you’re curious what it looks like from the underside of the skirt, here you can see the black threads tangling in the white batting.

DIY tree skirt using felting craft technique.

Step 11

Set up your finished piece beneath the tree, and voila! My first felted piece, and an easy tree skirt.

DIY tree skirt using felting craft technique.

This post was originally published on DIY Network’s blog Made + Remade in December 2013.

What’s not to love about DIY salt dough ornaments? They’re nearly impossible to mess up, a perfect snowy day activity for kids and adults alike, as infinitely customizable as your basic holiday cut-out cookies, and can make a great holiday gift for friends and family. Choose your favorite cookie cutter, and have at it.

How to make a big salt dough snowflake ornament.

You probably already have all of the fixings around your house. This basic mix creates 5-10 ornaments (depending on the size of your cut-out shapes), and can easily be scaled up or divided to create larger or smaller batches:

  • 2 cups of flour (and a little extra to prevent sticking on your work surface)
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • Assorted cookie cut-outs
  • Rolling pin
  • A pointed object, like an unfurled paperclip or pencil
  • Baking sheet

With the oven preheating to 325 degrees, mix all ingredients together to form a dough. Roll the dough out on a smooth surface until it is approximately 1/8″-1/4″ thick. Go wild with the cut-outs until you have as many ornaments as you want (and if you want a custom shape, have at it with a butter knife).

How to make a big salt dough snowflake ornament.

Transfer the cut-outs to a baking sheet, and before putting them in the oven, use a pointed tip to carve out a small hole for the ornament hook.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the whole ornament begins to brown. Depending on the thickness of your ornament, this may take a little longer. If you’re curious, I found this cutter at Williams-Sonoma, and bought it because I was impressed with its sheer size. Huge ornaments, huge cookies, can’t go wrong.

How to make a big salt dough snowflake ornament.

Remove from the oven, allow to cool, and seal the finished ornaments with acrylic craft paints or a clear coat to help preserve the pieces for years to come.

If you’re looking for different types of DIY ornaments to make this holiday season, consider these: