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Ornaments on the fly.

Inspired by Mother Nature's living ornaments, these paper and wood creations lend animation to holiday decorations. Use them to add a light touch to your tree, adorn a basket of greens, or brighten a wrapped gift.

Every family member can help put these simple ornaments together. For tools, most require only a craft knife, scissors, and a paintbrush. You'll find the rest of the materials at a woodworking, art supply, or craft store.

The butterflies and their companions spread their wings on clothespins; pin their pinchers onto evergreen boughs or attach them to the ribbons of gift-wrapped packages. The paper doves are from a Japanese art--origami--and take shape with just a few folds; tie them with nylon fishing line so they flutter below branches. And the gleaming, multihued flowers and spirals are created from wafer-thin strips of wood veneer stained with iridescent ink; hang them from nylon line or colorful thread.

Clothespin critters

Each creature has a painted clothespin body. Craft supply stores carry the paint and other materials you'll need to decorate the insects' bodies and appendages: construction paper, giftwrap, and frosted acetate for wings; assorted knickknacks such as styrene foam balls, wooden buttons, tongue depressors, pins, and pipe cleaners for other body parts. Scissors, white craft glue, and paintbrushes are all you need to construct them.

To make wings for a butterfly, moth, or dragonfly, cut construction paper into symmetrical curving shapes. Slip the wings into the clothespin's jaws to test that the "body" masks the wings' center, then remove the wings to decorate them with paint or round stickers. Use round-headed straight pins for antennae and wooden beads for eyes.

For the wide-bodied bumblebee, cut a 1 1/2-inch-diameter styrene foam ball in half, glue tissue paper over the halves, then paint. Glue balls on top of a clothespin; cut acetate wings, then wedge and glue them between the ball halves.

Not all the insects shown on page 46 have broad wings. Our slender grasshoppers feature tongue depressor and toothpick legs that glue to the clothespin's sides.

Origami birds

The birds start as squares of paper, folded as illustrated above right. If you buy origami paper (available in packages for $4 to $12 at art supply and hobby stores), it probably will come with directions for folding other shapes you might want to try.

Simply perch the birds on tree branches, or use glue, tape, or string to hold them in place. You can also use them to decorate packages or to send as greeting cards.

To give the ornaments more body and a glossy, waterproof coating, dip them in plastic finish, available at craft or art supply stores (about $15 for a 1-pint kit of resin and hardener).

Veneer flowers and curls

Thin wood veneer is easy to bend into the pinwheel shapes and spirals. Many woodworking stores sell veneer in rectangular sheets (a 2-foot square costs $10 to $20, depending on the type of wood) or narrow rolls. Don't buy veneer with an adhesive backing.

If you're going to stain the ornaments with semitransparent iridescent ink, use light-colored veneers, such as maple or birch. You could also use the veneer unpainted and still have a rich variety of wood colors to choose from.

You'll need a paintbrush, iridescent ink (sold at art supply stores; about $5 for a 2-ounce bottle), white craft glue, clothespins, a craft knife, scissors, and thread.

Start the star-shaped flowers by cutting a sheet of veneer into 2- by 10-inch pieces (with grain running the long way). To make the wood flexible, soak the pieces in a bucket of warm water for about a half-hour. Following the sketch below, bend the veneer to make a conical center. Apply glue to the overlapping ends and hold them together until dry with paper clips or clothespins.

When the glue is dry, cut along the overlap to make a pointed end opposite the cone. Paint both sides of each cone the same or different colors.

The photograph on page 47 shows three ways the cones can be glued together. Experiment with the designs, then join cones along their edges with craft glue. Use paper clips or clothespins to hold them tight until glue dries. Hang them from thread or fishing line.

To make the spiral ornaments, soak 1- by 12-inch lengths of veneer in water, then wrap them around a broomstick like a stripe on a barber-shop pole. Hold the veneer in place with rubber bands until dry.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Special Issue: Best of the Holidays; innovative Christmas ornaments
Date:Jan 1, 1992
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