Book Club Ornament

Remember the cranberry wreath I told you about that I started eleven years ago and only recently finished? I first spotted that wreath in this book, long before Pinterest:

It’s one of my favorite books for Christmas ideas.  In it, there’s also a how-to for some holiday card ornaments, which I made the same year I started that wreath.  How I ever managed to get anything done with a newborn, a 2 year old, a 5 year old and a 7 year old, I’ll never know.

In any case, I’m happy to say that not only did I finish the ornament that year, but I’ve made one every year since for our annual book club ornament exchange, and if history is any indication, this will be the ornament that everybody wants.

If you look closely at these ornaments, you might notice that they’re not made from old Christmas cards, like the ones in Martha’s book.  Instead, I use images from the covers of the books our book club has read over the past year, resized and printed out onto water color paper.  

Circles are then cut out of these images, folded into triangle shapes, and glued together.  Sound confusing?  I’ll show you how.

Martha’s ornaments use 20 circles, but the ornament I made this year only uses 16.  I scaled it back since we only read 9 books.  I used a circle for each book we read, another circle for the year, and I filled the rest of the circles (6 of them) with memorable quotes from some of the books.  Using 16 circles results in more of an oval shape, rather than a sphere.

Here’s what else I used to make my ornament, and how I did it:

  • Strathmore cold press watercolor paper to print the images.  The watercolor paper is thick and sturdy, and has a great texture.  It comes in a 9″ x 12″ pad of 12 sheets.  I just cut it down to fit in my printer.
  • Matte finish spray sealer (not pictured)
  • A 1.5″ circle punch.  This makes a finished ornament of about 3″ tall.  I’ve made them with 2.5″ circles in the past, which makes an ornament about 5″ tall.
  • 1/16″ silver metallic decorative trim, or ribbon from Hobby Lobby
  • Binder clips to hold the ornament together as it’s being glued
  • Elmer’s school glue
  • Poly Flake ultra fine silver glitter
  • Paint brushes
  • X-acto knife
  • Jewelry findings (I only ended up using the silver beads this year, although there are also bead caps pictured)
  • 9 crystals (I used Swarovski this year for extra sparkle)
  • Tweezers

Although not shown on this one, I’ve usually sprayed the images with a matte sealer.  Not only does it protect the images, but it also intensifies the color.  Then I cut them into strips so I could punch them out with my 1.5″ circle punch.

By the way, have you ever read The Great Gatsby?  I’m embarrassed to admit that somehow I got through school without ever having read it.  But I have now!  Well, technically, I still haven’t read it, but I did just finish listening to it while making these ornaments.  I can’t wait to discuss it next week!

I also cut out an equilateral triangle, with points that lie exactly on the outer edge of the circles.  If you’re using a graphics program, the triangle needs to be 1.292″ wide to fit inside a 1.5″ circle.  Just FYI.

I placed my triangle onto the back of each circle and used my X-acto knife to score along the edges.  I didn’t apply much pressure at all, just barely breaking the surface of the paper.  I darkened the picture below so you could see the cuts on the back of the circles. If you want, you can hold the circle up to the light first and then place your triangle over it, to get it aligned properly.

Next, I folded all those little edges up.  See how nicely they fold since I scored them?  If you’re thinking of skipping the scoring, don’t do it.  Trust me.  It doesn’t make a nice ornament.

Then I brushed a thin layer of glue onto one edge of two of the circles and glued them together.  I used a bull clip to hold them together for a minute while I went onto the next one.

I glued more circles to the first one, until I had a total of four on the top, like a little 4 sided cap. If you’re making a 20-circle ornament, you’ll have a cap of 5 instead of 4.

You can’t see it here, but I only glued three of the edges together, so I would be able to put some trim through later for hanging it up.

Before going any further, I carefully painted some glue over the year that I printed onto this circle, and then sprinkled it with glitter.  This is so much easier to do before you put the ornament together!

Then I put 8 more circles together in a long strip, triangles facing alternating directions.  And I joined one end of that strip to one edge of the cap. So now it looks like this, with the cap on one end, attached to a string of 8.  If you’re making it with 20 circles, you’ll have a cap of 5 attached to a string of 10.

Next, I formed a ring with the strip of 8 circles, gluing the two outside edges together.  Now it looks like a ring of alternating triangles going around the middle, with a cap attached to one of the edges. Clear as mud?

Then I got my decorative trim ready, tying a knot and inserting it through a silver bead.

I inserted the ends of the trim through the opening in the cap of the ornament, and then taped them down securely.

After that, I made a bottom cap out of the remaining four circles, and glued it to the bottom of the ornament.  Lastly, I glued the fourth and final edge of the top cap together and held it with a binder clip for a few minutes, and then glued the rest of the edges together.  You don’t have to do everything in this order, in fact, this is pretty random.  I just thought I would show you how I did it in case you’ve never made one of these before.  It can be a little confusing at first.  Basically, you’ll have two caps and a middle.

At this point, the ornament could be considered finished, and would be a beautiful addition to any tree.

But I usually add a little bling before calling it done.  One edge at a time, I used a tiny brush to carefully apply glue, and then I sprinkled glitter over it.  After that dried, I applied a tiny dot of glue to the center of each intersection, and used the tweezers to apply a crystal.

And now it’s done!

So I’ll wrap it carefully in tissue paper and put it in a sturdy box, and then bring it to our ornament exchange next week.

It’s so fun getting to see the old ornaments every now and then on my friends’ trees, and remembering the books we’ve read together.  And I won’t deny that these are pretty highly sought after each year during the exchange.  More than once I’ve heard comments like “That’s not fair!  She’s already got two of those and I don’t have any yet!”  It’s true, I could make one for each of them.  But then what would be the fun in that?

Do you have an ornament exchange you go to? If so, do you make the ornament you bring?  Or do you buy it?  How do you decide what to bring?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for stopping by!

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