DIY Paper Mache Christmas Ornaments
We didn't have a ton of money to spend on Christmas gifts this year, so we decided to whip up some DIY ornaments to give to our families. (Now you know what was in those brown paper bags we decorated in this post.) We liked how they turned out so much that we're planning on making the DIY ornament an annual Christmas tradition! Read on to find out how we made these fun and easy gifts.
Our inspiration this year came from David Stark's line at West Elm. David is an event planner and designer that uses mostly recycled and natural materials to come up with gorgeous and whimsical decorations. I fell in love with his stuff when I first visited the Philadelphia West Elm store (for those of you who aren't familiar with it, it's the cheaper cousin of Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma) and a pair of his paper mache birds even made it under my Christmas tree this year thanks to RyGuy.
We started with some simple (and cheap) plastic ball ornaments from Rite Aid. I'm pretty sure it ran me less than five dollars for eighteen of these bad boys:
Ooooh, sparkly. So, the first step was to tear strips of paper from an old copy of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility (no worries people--I still have my complete set of Jane Austen novels fully intact, this was just a used copy I bought specifically to paper mache with). An important tip--the less white space on your strips the better. I usually tear off the margins of the paper and try to find big blocked sections of text without a lot of paragraph breaks. Tear up more strips than you think you'll need. Once your hands are covered in glue you're not going to want to stop, clean your hands, and tear more strips.
Then I mixed up some white glue and water (official recipe says 2 parts glue to 1 part water--I usually just wing it). It needs to be sticky enough to hold the paper strips to whatever it is you're trying to paper mache, but you can always add more glue if it gets too watery, or more water if it gets too...gluey.
Now for the messy part. I started by dipping a strip in the glue mixture, then I placed it on the ornament, and painted over it with a foam brush. I kept adding strips until the whole ornament was covered, overlapping strips as I went. Use your fingers to smooth out the strips and flatten any creases. Here I am hard at work:
You have to let the ornaments dry completely before adding another layer, so I hung them from the edge of the breakfast bar overnight. At this point, they looked like this:
After much deliberation, RyGuy and I decided on a simple Christmas tree shape cut out from red and white polka dot paper to put on the front of the ornaments. We did a google image search for christmas tree outlines, and ended up printing out a bunch of them right onto the paper so we could easily cut them out. (By we, I mean RyGuy--he spent a Thursday night watching football and cutting out Christmas trees.) Here's what they looked like before we cut them out:
DIY brown paper bag gift wrapping, and had an easy-peasy Christmas gift that looks great hanging on the tree!