Christmas DIY – Make a Retro Crocheted Santa

crocheted-santaI did pretty dang good trying to cram all of my holiday tutorials into the time I had between back spasms and general poor health, but at 8:00 on Christmas Eve it’s time to move on to playing Santa. So I’m going to leave you with two last videos and leave the step by step text version on my desk drive. Hopefully you’ll watch these and be entertained in those times when family makes you crazy.

I’m still planning on doing a proper home tour video tomorrow when everyone is off playing with their new toys. But until I see you all again I hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with love and cheesy holiday movies.




Make a Retro Starburst Ornament

starburst-ornamentThe starburst motif might just be my favorite of all the classic midcentury designs. You can still see them all the time in signs that haven’t been updated since the 60’s. There’s an old motel we often drive by on the 5 freeway that has a big HOTEL sign decorated with starbursts. You can find them at old bowling alleys or in vintage Vegas casinos. So simple and pretty and they instantly set the scene for me. I see these starbursts and I get a sudden urge to start ratting my hair. Unfortunately, nobody seems to be making stickers in this shape, so it’s up to us to make them ourselves.


step-1I gave the wooden ornament shapes a couple coats of white paint before finishing up with a couple coats of silver. I wanted really thick coverage and painting it white first is basically priming it. The silver looks brighter and without it you’d need to paint a million coats of silver to get the same effect.


step-2For the larger sunburst, cut a piece of cardstock into a 2 inch square. The smaller sunbursts are 1 inch squares. Use a ruler to mark the  middle of each side and then draw lines connecting them to find the middle of the square.


step-3Use a corner punch to cut a scrap piece of paper into a stencil.

step-4Line the stencil up with the lines you’ve drawn and trace that curve in each corner. Cut the image out, cutting on either side of the lines that make up the skinny tails.


step-5The smaller starbursts are made in just the same way, only you don’t need to draw a grid on them. Just line up your pattern with the edges of the 1 inch square, tracing where the curve begins. The larger starbursts also benefit from having the side arms trimmed a bit. It looks best if the vertical arms are the longest.


step-6Use a glue stick to stick your starburst shapes on to your ornaments and spray them with a lacquer spray paint.


starburstAdd a bit of thread to hang the ornament on the tree and marvel at how pretty it is. Then you can sit by the Christmas tree and dream about working for Sterling Cooper Draper Price.



Make a Geometric Santa Ornament

geometric-santaLucky for you we’re running out of time for me to share ornaments for my 60’s kitsch tree. Otherwise you’d have to listen to me gush on and on about my obsession with midcentury design. It’s just so stinkin cool! I got the idea for this ornament from an ad from the 60’s that I found in my googling. Bold Geometric shapes were a real hallmark of this period, so when I found that ad breaking Santa up into his most basic shapes, I geeked out and set upon making him into an ornament, through the power of Shrinky Dinks!


step-1Your shapes will have to start out much bigger than you want them to end up, of course. And they’ll need to line up with each other so that you can attach them easily. I didn’t make a pattern here, I just used my ruler. I started by cutting a large triangle. Draw a line 4″ wide. Mark the mid point of that line, and then measure 6″ up from that point and mark it. Use your ruler to draw a straight line from the end of your 4″ line to the point you made 6″ up. With your triangle drawn, draw another line across the top of the triangle, 3 1/2″ up from the bottom. Cut everything out and you’ve made the hat and the body. I cut a notch in the neckline of the body to evoke a coat look.

For the bottom, draw a line 4″ long. Mark the midpoint of that line and then measure 2″ down. Mark that point too. Draw another line going 1 1/2″ out in each direction from that point. You should now have two parallel lines that share a midpoint, one 4″ long and the other 3″ long. Use your ruler to connect the lines on each side.

For the boots, draw a rectangle that is 2 1/2″ tall and 2″ wide. Measure 1/2″ up from the bottom, and mark 1/2″ in to create the toe of the boot. Draw a line connecting the top of the rectangle to the point 1/2″ in. Repeat on the other side.


step-2Punch holes everywhere your pieces will connect. Getting them to line up properly now will save you MAJOR headaches later. I found it best to hold two pieces together and punch through them both at the same time. You know they’ll line up if they have the same punch.


step-3Bake your shrinky dinks as directed on the packaging. I used white shrinky dinks because that’s what I happened to have handy, but if you use the frosted kind you can add color in all kinds of different ways. I used a combination of sharpie and nail polish on the boots, and used a bright red nail polish on Santa’s clothes. I really ended up loving the look of the red nail polish on top of the white plastic. It made a super bold saturated color.


step-4It might take a few coats, but the trouble is worth it. Paint the front, back, and all the edges until you’re happy with the color.


step-5Push a piece of wire through the holes you punched and twist it around itself. Snip off any extra with wire cutters. Repeat that for the hole on the other side.


step-6Take the wires hanging off the piece you just prepared and push them through the holes on the piece next to it. I found it much easier to work with both wires connecting a piece at the same time. It really helped to keep the pieces level and straight instead of tighter on one side than the other and slanted in that direction. Connect the hat to the body, the body to the bottom, and the bottom to the boots.


step-7Add a piece of fishing line or thread through the top hole and tie it into a loop to serve as the ornament hanger.


mod-santaI love how cool and modern this ornament makes Santa look! Bold colors and geometric shapes and yet you still see the iconic man in red. Proof that you’re never too cool for Santa.



Make a Retro Bell Ornament

mod-bell-ornamentThis is one of my favorite kind of ornaments. Make it in minutes, make it for pennies, and watch if it doesn’t have the most impact on the tree. This ornament was another way for me to bring in some of my favorite surface design patterns from the midcentury period, this time a “sticks” pattern of overlapping blocks of color. Some patterns are easier to draw than to make out of paper, but this pattern is the opposite. Overlapping blocks of color are pretty easy to come by in a paper artist’s scrap drawer. This is an ornament you can make in the time it takes for the paint to dry.


step-1I found this wooden shape at Michael’s and I snatched it right up. The curvy outline is perfect for the kitschy look I’m going for, and the large size brings a great variety to the tree. When everything is about the same size it can look boring. I love getting a great big ornament and using it to break up any boring spots. For my first step I painted the wooden shapes, front and back, in a beautiful teal blue color. Since this is so large it was going to take up a lot of tree space, so I used an accent color as the background. If that color was used everywhere else on the tree it would be overkill, but just as an accent it makes everything else look better.


step-2I dug through my scrap draw and cut a whole bunch of different strips of paper. They are all about 1/2″ wide, although I purposefully cut some at an angle to give me a few other shapes to add in. Then I just started layering them on top of each other, varying the lengths as well as their position next to each other, until I was happy with how it looked. Then I glued them all in place with a glue stick. I found the glue stick to be the best adhesion while also being easy to move around as necessary to get them all in the right place.


step-3Once they were glued down I gave the whole ornament a coat of sparkle mod podge. You can use the mod podge to stick them down instead of a glue stick, but I found it too slippery and messy when I was trying to get so many pieces on top of each other. You can also use regular mod podge without any glitter, or add your own glitter to the mod podge you want to use. I happened to have some of this in my paint drawer and it was a perfectly serendipitous moment.


mod-bellThese quick and easy ornaments are so satisfying to make. Even at this late hour you could make a whole batch of them and have them on the tree before Christmas eve. The only downside to them is that it throws you into a bit of a crafting crisis when you hang it next to an elaborately cross stitched ornament and you realize you like the simple one better.



Make Dotty Sunburst Ornaments


I found the work of Elspeth McLean thanks to Facebook’s algorithm and I’m completely enamored with it. I thought the dots of her “dotillism” would work perfectly on my Christmas kitsch tree since so much of what I love about Midcentury design is the patterns common in surface design. Whether it’s the dot patterns of the […]

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Make a Kitschy Embellished Ornament


It’s time to start tree #2! Like my Nostalgic Tree, this one started last year with a vague idea of doing something 60’s themed. But the ornaments I was making kept fighting. The mod foam ornaments did not work with the Holiday Shadowboxes, despite my best efforts in pretending they did. And my pom pom garland, […]

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Make an Old-Fashioned Sled Ornament


I’m pretty certain that this will be the final ornament for our Nostalgic Home for the Holidays tree.  I feel like I could keep going forever, but I still have a whole other tree to show you! For this last one I had to go with an oldie but goodie ornament. This popsicle stick sled […]

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Make a Button Wreath Ornament


When I’m making ornaments that evoke a nostalgia for home, there’s a lot of things I have to imagine. I didn’t have warm and loving grandparents or family traditions I look back on fondly, so making this tree has been the chance for me to pretend for a minute that I did. This tree has […]

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Make a Doily Wreath Ornament


I struggled to know what to call this little ornament – is it a wreath? Is it a mixed media something? Does it have to have welcome home in the name? Sometimes a project can’t be described in search terms. I guess technically this is a mixed media project, but all I really care about is […]

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How to tie the perfect bow


I’m counting this as an ornament because I’m using it as one, but this is so all purpose I could count it as everything from gift wrap to floral design. I use these bows EVERYWHERE. And I bet you will too once you know how to do it. Bows are one of those things that […]

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