Holiday Decor

Bunting Banner

Where have I been for the last month? I wish that I could say that I was on a beautiful tropical beach. But…. poor baby me.  I have been making decor for my school’s Annual Gala! And the most exciting thing that I made was a huge bunting banner.ps84

At first fabric banners may seem like a big job but it’s a decoration that can be used  year after year. A colorful bunting also makes a cute room decoration.






  1. Determine the size of flag that you want to create. Your flag does not have to be a triangle. It can be a rectangle, scallop shape or a dentil.
  2. If you are creating your own design, sketch the shape on your cardboard and verify that the outline is perpendicularly aligned. Note that the finished design will be 1/4″ smaller due to the sewn seam. Cut out your design with a non-sewing scissors. (I personally prefer to use my acrylic quilting triangle.)
  3. Iron your fabric on high heat and starch. Move to cutting mat or clean table. Place template on the wrong side of your fabric. If you are double stacking your fabric (folding a larger piece of fabric to cover both sides) place the fold at the top of your flag. Use the calk marker to outline.bunting-layout
  4. Cut out your flag from the fabric on the chalk line. Take the two fabric sides of your flag and place them right sides together (pattern side to pattern side.) Then place batting under the two layered fabric pieces. The batting should be touching the wrong side of one piece of fabric.


    See the batting under the two fabrics.

  5. Pin the fabric and batting together with safety pins. Cut the batting about 1/2″ from the fabric’s edge.bunting2
  6. Sew the sides of your flag with a walking foot attachment on your machine. You should have a 1/4″ seam allowance. This means that the middle of your sewn seam is 1/4″ from the fabric’s edge.             bunting3
  7. Remove your pins and cut a small V in the tip of your flag where the sewn seams meet. (This is so the tip of your flag will be pointy.) If you have double stacked your fabric, cut the fold at the top of the flag open. Trim the batting at the sides to within a 1/4″ or less of the sewn seam to reduce bulk.
  8. Turn the flag inside out so that the batting is now on the inside and both right sides of the fabric face out. Iron your flag flat.
  9. Place this flag aside and finish the rest of your flags.
  10. Choose which side of your flag you wish to be in the front. If you want to do any lettering on your bunting, do it now. The most simple way is to use a iron-on fabric applique. (See the method described in this previous post: Appliques Away!)
  11. Use your walking foot to quilt across the surface of your flag. You can sew straight lines across or on the diagonal. Leave a long tail at the start and finish of your stitched line. To achieve equally spaced lines attach a quilting guide to your walking foot.
  12. Use your flag template to cut off the top of each flag and trim the quilting tails so that all the flags are the same height.
  13. Knot and bury any tails remaining on the sides of the flags.
  14. Take the 2-1/2″ jelly roll strips. These strip will join to hold the flags. Estimate how long your bias will need to be with three 3″ between the flags and 18″ on each end. To join the strips, place them perpendicular to each other.
  15. These joined fabric strips need to become bias tape. Fold the strip in half and iron. Then fold the upper and lower edges inward to the newly ironed seam. Pin these folds in place and iron along the length of the strip as you remove the pins.
  16. Pin the top of the open bias strip to the top of the back of the  flag.  Pin the flags at the same distance apart. Be sure to place the flags in reverse order while pinning because the flags are upside down. Sew the bias tape in place with a 1/4″ seam. (Note that I am using a foot attachment for a 1/4″ seam. This makes it a lot easier!) You don’t have to do each flag separately to the bias tape, it is easier and smoother to sew along the bias tape in the area between flags.
  17. Turn your flags over so the fronts face up. Wrap the bias tape over the top of your flag and pin in place. Fold and pin the bias tape in between the flags too. Match the color of your thread to the bias tape.
  18. Sew the bias tape down using a 1/4″ seam across the entire project. Be sure to back-stitch at the beginning and end. Cut the bias tape on a 45 deg angle at 18″ from the outside flags.

    All done!

    All done!


Angel Tree-Topper

So again I am posting about a craft that I did for our Sunday School Class. I wanted something that the kids could give as a gift to their parents for Christmas. And I think that it is important for kids to a feel the sense of pride in giving to others that they love.


Directions for Adults:

  1. Use your Screwdriver and 5/16″ Drill bit to make a whole in each sphere. This is where you shall put the cone’s tip to make the angel’s body and head.angel-4
  2. Paint your cones with white acrylic paint, your spheres with flesh-tone paint and your Stars with Gold paint . Each object may need two to three layers of paint. Cut off hanging strings. Wait until completely dry.         angel-1
  3. Use a carpenters awl to make two wholes in the cone’s sides for the arm holes. Make sure that the arm holes align.angel-3
  4. Push your sphere onto the cone’s tip as far as possible. The hole in the sphere will get larger. Otherwise, make the hole larger by cutting out from the original hole. Remove the sphere. Use the glue gun to attach the sphere to the cone and dry upside down.                     angel-2
  5. Thread one pipe cleaner  through your holes in the body. Trim the pipe cleaner 1″ and upturn the ends to resemble hands.angel-5
  6. With the glue gun, glue the gold stars to the body and wrap the arms around the star so that the angel looks like it is holding it.                                   angel-6

Directions for Kids:

  1. Decorate the faces and hair of the angels with goggle eyes, red felt, yarn  craft glue. Do this first so that it will dry first.
  2. Create the wings from the tulle ribbon by folding the ribbon over itself a few times and secure in the middle with another piece of tulle or white ribbon in a knot. Glue or staple to the angels back and fluff out the tulle. (I personally like the stapler best because when 12 kids need help attaching the wings, the glue takes too long.)   angel-7
  3. Decorate your angels body with ribbon, glitter or even stickers.
  4. Add colored yarn to the head for hair.angel-8
  5. Flatten your silver cupcake sleeve on the table. Place some glue in the middle and attach to the back of the angle’s head.

Congratulations on your beautiful angle for the tree!finished angels


Twinkle Twinkle Winter Lights

The Holidays are Here! …….Hooray?……. This can be a racing, frantic and utterly overwhelming time. And of course, most of us over-commit to dinner cooking, card writing, present buying, cooking baking. It is almost impossible to slow down but I still try to.

I like this season of growing darkness before the Winter Solstice. The sun sets earlier and earlier each day making it feel like the end of time. The air becomes crisp and clear. And the sky takes on yellow sodium hue. The cold is like an ancient relative coming to visit.

Beautiful landscape of winter forest with wild river. Tranquil wild landscape

Bank of the Fox River in Winter, Waukesha, Wisconsin.

I grew up in Wisconsin and remember the landscapes well. The snow would cluster in patches around trees and fences each December. The last light of the day would ooze among the black tree trunks like a candlelight slinking down stairs. The natural world around seemed to snuggle down for a cup of hot Coco and a nap. Nature has wound down to a white silence. And into this quiet deepness comes the warm lights of Christmas.


My favorite Holiday decorations have always been lights. As a kid my Grandparents had Christmas lights from the 1960’s that were a complete fire hazard but still beautiful. Some of the lights were lamps filled with colored water that boiled inside and created a mesmerizing trance. It seems like I spent hours staring at those lights. (Maybe I did.) But I wanted to make some lights that didn’t need electricity, in fact, not really lights but a garland that resembled glowing lights.


Glitter Lights  



  1.  Place each wooden light in a small hobby vice that will attach to your table or counter top. Take a 5/64″ drill bit and your electric screwdriver. Drill a hole straight through the stem.litepaint-14
  2. Place a tooth pick through the hole and paint the bulb of the light white. Suspend your lights so they dry. I tried many methods with varying success. By far the best method was to use the Imperia pasta drying rack with parallel dowels. Repeat until you have three dry coats of white paint.
  3. Remove the painted bulbs from the pasta drying rack and paint the necks of the wooden bulbs silver. Either return the bulbs to the rack or place the bulbs in a test tube rack to dry. Repeat for a second coat of silver. (I got my Styrofoam test tube holder from the lab at my doctor’s  What a find!) litepaint-9
  4. Paint the lower half the bulb section gold by filling a very small cup about the size of a shot glass with paint. Then dip the tip in gold paint. This will create a smooth line at the bulb’s center. Let this gold paint dry for two hours.
  5. When your bulb is completely dry lightly paint the top of the bulb with glitter paint. Then when dry, paint the bottom. While the paint is still wet dip the bulb into a small container of glitter only to cover the gold paint. Place the bulbs back on the rack to dry and leave over night.
  6. Remove the toothpicks and thread the braided cord ribbon through your holes. Use tweezers to help you tease the cord through the hole. Make a small knot before and after your bulbs so they stay in place. Repeat with other finished bulbs spaced equally along the cord.                                             litepaint-12

Happy Holidays and have Wonderful New Year!


Snowflake Ornaments

This coming Saturday, December 5th is P.S. 84’s Winter Fundraiser and Family Portrait Day. It a great deal because you can get your little darlings photographed by some of New York’s most talented professional photographers and parents!

Part of this event includes a craft fair and I will be selling some of my holiday creations. Some of these creations will include decorative snowflakes! And I am totally glad to share my process with you!Snowflakes-materials


  • 100% cotton Yarn in a fingering or DK weight. (Cotton fabric is best because it will distort the least during starching. Cotton is always a good fiber or non-clothing items such as toys and dish cloths because it can hold up to repeat washing.)
  • 3.5 or 3.75mm crochet hook in wood. (Everyone has their preference but I think that wood hooks work best with cotton because they don’t split the yarn strand like plastic or metal.)
  • Sharp scissors
  • Tapestry needle to tie in ends. (Clover is my favorite)
  • Cornstarch powder
  • Epsom Salt
  • T-pins or blocking pins. You can use regular sewing pins but make sure that all your pins are new. Old pins can rust onto your snowflakes. And note that the cornstarch will destroy the pins for fabric.
  • Blocking board or clean cardboard covered in Saran wrap.
  • Parchment baking paper
  • Clear thread or fishing line.

Close-up woman knits crochet Christmas decoration - snowflakes

I used several patterns to make my snowflakes and some were original. But for the purposes of this blog post I will refer you to the ultimate snowflake pattern book: 100 Snowflakes to Crochet by Caitlin Saino. This book is fantastic because the patterns are presented in both written and chart form. The patterns are also ordered in degree of difficulty, size and yarn required, which is especially useful for time management.

Once you have made your snowflake you must starch it. Unstarched, they look like sad limp jellyfish. But starched they are elegant creations. (Or alt least I think so.) The method that you use to starch greatly depends upon your final use. You can use many methods using liquid starch, salt starching, cornstarch and even Elmer’s Glue. I used the cornstarch method. This method is hard as concrete but still has the ability to be washed out and re-starched.

Directions for Starching and Blocking:


Making the Starch:

  1. The starch mixture ratio is 1 part cornstarch to 4 part cold water. (I use 1/4 cup cornstarch to 1 cup water.) Combine cold in saucepan and whisk until fully blended.
  2. Set the stove flame to medium and bring the mixture to a very slow boil. You must watch and whisk continuously for about 10 minutes. If left unattended, the starch will scorch and turn brown. Cook until the mixture has the thickness of paste and then remove from the flame.
  3. Let the mixture cool down to handle. Place one snowflake in the pan and immerse. Use a wooden spoon to press the paste into the cotton fibers.
  4. Remove the snowflake from the pan and massage the starch into all the fibers. Press out excess starch from the fibers with your hands. Wash your hands clean and place the snowflake on the prepared blocking board. (After starching many many snowflakes the starch dried and chapped my hands so much that I eventually had to use gloves. so don’t forget to moisturize!)



  1. Whether you are using a blocking board or plain cardboard covered in Saran wrap it is important to cover it with Parchment paper before laying down your snowflake. The paper will make removal painless and cleanup simple. If you choose, lightly sprinkle the surface with Epsom salt. (The Epsom Salt adds a crystalline texture and has the added benefit of preventing your house pets from eating your flakes. But I really prefer to use Epsom salt on the white snowflakes only.)
  2. Position your snowflake so that all the arms are flat and straight. Step back to see if the arms are aligned and proportional with each other.
  3. Start pinning in the center of the snowflake and work your way out. Use Q-tips to wipe the excess starch from the spaces between the yarn. If using Epsom Salt, sprinkle on top while wet.
  4. Let your snowflakes completely air-dry before removing your pins. (If the snowflake’s center is not fully dry before you remove the pins; the flake will bow and look like a potato chip.)

    Warped Snowflake like a potato chip

    Warped Snowflake which now looks like a potato chip.

  5. Depending upon humidity, the snowflakes will dry in 24 to 48 hours.
  6. Once removed, break off the loose starch and hang with invisible fishing line.


Yay! It is an indoor blizzard!

Thank you to everyone who has bought my Snowflakes. I really appreciate your support. I wish everyone a merry holiday season.

Appliques Away! Three Kings Banner

Things around here have been super crazy as I race towards my Christmas Craft obligations. Wwwwwhat? Isn’t it still Autumn? Why am I being a crazy and starting Christmas projects. Alas, time allocation and logistics make it impossible to do otherwise. Jingle, Jingle Jingle. When is Christmas over?

My Finished Banners

My Finished Banners

My main WIP is a trio of banners for my church’s Nativity play. Each banner is to be carried by one of the Three Kings of the Epiphany. (Or carried by the kings’ servants, depending upon the number of boys that sign up.) I tried to find a good (not country kitsch) patterns to follow while making the banners, but no luck. (It is actually pretty hard to find Christmas quilting or Applique patterns that do not have Santa, snowmen or candy canes in them.) The best source for images of the Nativity is Adoration Quilts by Rachel Brown. It is a lovey book with great designs and loads of great ideas. But I required patterns for a larger scale. So I had to design my own.

Mosaic of the Three Magi offer gifts to the Virgin Mary in Saint Apollinare Nuovo. This Arian church was dedicated in 504 to Christ the Redeemer in Ravenna Italy on November 4 2012

Mosaic of the Three Magi offering gifts at the Church of Saint Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna Italy. The mosaic dates from 504 A.D.

The Three Kings of the Epiphany (sometimes called the Three Wise Men or Magi) visited the new born Baby Jesus in Bethlehem by following a great star in the sky. Most modern scholars think that these men, the ultimate number is not  known, were Zoroastrian Astrologers from the region of Persia in modern Iran. But European Christian tradition and folklore, especially during the Middle Ages, created a very different narrative.

TOURS, FRANCE - AUGUST 8, 2014: Stained glass window depicting the Three Kings who see the Star of the East in the Cathedral of Tours France.

Stained glass window depicting the Three Kings who see the Star of the East in the Cathedral of Tours France.

The traditional version of the Magi’s Visit depicts three kings from three different kingdoms in Asia, Africa and Europe. John of Hildesheim, a writer and Carmelite friar in the 14th century, wrote one of the most popular folk accounts of the three kings named the Historia Trium Regum. John of Hildesheim was highly educated and traveled extensively within the Holy Roman Empire of Charlemagne, so he was very influential among the clergy. His writings describe each king’s life before the journey to Bethlehem, their lives after reaching the Baby Jesus, and the history of their relics.

Look even Playmobile subscribes to John of Hildesheim's text!

Look even Playmobile subscribes to John of Hildesheim’s text!

The three kings of the middle ages were named: Casper, Melchior and Balthazar. The kings brought valuable gifts fit for a monarch. (Kinda like bringing wine to a dinner party. It’s just rude to show up empty handed.)

Balthazar was an old King of Saba, possibly in Europe or Macadonia, who brought the gift of frankincense. Frankincense is dried tree sap from the Boswellia tree and is used for perfume or incense, particularly in religious worship. So this gift is symbolic of of Jesus’s deity.

Frankincense is still used in many religious services

Frankincense is still used in many religious services

Melchior was a small middle-aged King of Arabia who brought a gift of gold to the Christ Child. Gold is only useful to the living and thus a symbol of Jesus’s humanity.

Casper was a tall young King of Ethiopia who brings a gift of myrrh. He is depicted with dark skin in some European countries. Myrrh is dried tree sap from the Commiphora myrrha tree. Myrrh was used as an antiseptic, an anointing oil and an embalming oil. (nowadays, it used in most all-natural toothpaste. Don’t worry it has antixodent properties.) Additionally Myrrh has traditionally symbolized death due to its use in embalming. Thus this gift foreshadows the suffering and death of Jesus for humanity’s sinfulness.

I wanted to pay homage to the European narrative while not contradicting the logical modern legacy of the Magi. And so the images were simple and recognizable. I fashioned the crowns to look like a turban, an African crown and a European crown. The three landscapes are desert, grassland and snow.

The trees that produce frankincense and myrrh were from the Arabian peninsula and north Africa. So it did not seem to make sense that Balthazar, the European King would bring either of these things. Thus I switched around the gifts to make more geographical sense. The Arabian king brings myrrh. The African king brings frankincense. And the European king brings gold. I hope that historical purists are not too insulted.

There is one banner for each of the three kings. Each banner incorporates a crown, a gift and a landscape. The styling of these elements is influenced by the European tradition. The main method of construction is the use of Applique.

What is Applique? Applique (or appliqué in French) is the method of one material applied to another surface material. The technique is common in home sewing and the textile industry. The method of attachment can refer to anything from painstaking hand-sewing beads to a wedding gown, down to ironing on a 50 cent denim patch over a hole in your jeans. The method that I am going to use is somewhere in the middle.

Making and applying your own Appliquenavityquilt-1


  • Printable Freezer Paper. This material can be bought in any supermarket and is used to wrap food. I prefer the craft specific version which is an ink-jet printable 8-1/2″ x 11″ sheet.
  • Lite Steam-A-Seam 2, Double Stick Fusible Web. (I highly recommend this brand for its durability and the paper placement on both side of the fusible web.) (Very Important! If you are using a web with paper on one side you must place parchment paper under and over the applique material to protect your iron and work surface from the web glue.)
  • Sharp sewing scissors
  • Cheaper scissors for cutting the fusible web paper
  • Iron which is not used for steaming or is totally dry.
  • Parchment paper
  • Ironing board or pressing surface.
  • Pressing starch with sizing.
  • Base fabric (100% cotton quilting fabric) which will serve as “the plate” upon you will serve your design.
  • Applique Fabric in various colors: 100% cotton quilting fabric is needed to stand up to the iron’s heat
  • Sewing Machine with thread to match fabric



nativity patterns myrrh-crown copy

Arabian King’s Crown

  1. Print out a pattern that you like on to a sheet of freezer paper with an ink-jet printer. Print with an ink-jet printer or draw upon the matte side of the paper. The glossy side will lie against the right side of your fabric.

    Step 1 and 2

    Step 1 and 2

  2. On your pressing surface, iron your base fabric. Your base fabric is the foundation upon which the applique gets its strength. It can be cut down to not show afterward but for now it is the land upon which your will build your house. Use the pressing starch lightly to get out all creases. Then iron your freezer paper (again mat side up) to your fabric.navityquilt-3
  3. Use your sewing scissors to cut 1/2″ around your whole design. This may seem like a lot but it can be trimmed down later.
  4. Either print out a second copy of the design on to a new freezer paper sheet or remove the first copy from your fabric to use again.
  5. Iron and starch your first applique fabric. Iron your freezer paper to the fabric and cut out the piece you wish. Repeat from step 4 for all the separate pieces of the design.
  6. Once all the fabric has been cut, put away your scraps. (Don’t throw them out, just yet!) Take out your fusible web and choose a piece which will lie below the others.
  7. Cut your fusible web to the approximate size of your fabric piece.
  8. Peal the lighter paper side off (the side without a grid). (You could draw directly onto the grid side and avoid the freezer paper step. But remember to draw all your designs in mirror or reverse.)
  9. Place your fabric on the fusible web right side up. Re-cover the fabric with the lighter paper side.
  10. Lightly iron and allow everything to cool. Cut around your fabric and leave no selvage.
  11. Remove the paper from both sides of the fusible web and fabric.
  12. Place and position this applique fabric piece on your base fabric piece. Cover with a piece of parchment paper to protect your iron and then press. Your first applique piece should now be secure.
  13. Follow step seven layering your applique pieces as desired.IMG_6238
  14. When all the pieces are secured in place. Use a sewing machine to lightly sew-down all the pieces. Practice first to determine what stitches you want to use. (I use a straight stitch for this.) If you have left a large margin between your finished design and the base fabric, you can use a blanket stitch around the design. (But be very careful to prevent the bunching of your stitches or the base fabric’s edge!) Trim your base fabric as necessary.
  15. Repeat steps 7 through 10.
  16. Select were you want your finished applique.
  17. Remove the paper from the back side. Place your finished applique on fabric in the desired location and iron. Sew to base for a secure hold.


NY State Sheep and Wool Festival Recap

Two weekends ago was the The New York State Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, New York. And like many local craft fanatics, I was in attendance. (Yes, this post is sooo late. But leaving the husband and kids at home for the weekend does mean you have to repair the resulting damage after.)                             Rhinebeck-outside

The day was crisp and sunny with all of Autumn’s beautiful colors on full display. Rhinebeck was the picture postcard of a northeast fall.

The Dutchess County Fair ground on Saturday was full for this exciting event. The array of wool related crafts and supplies was amazing and quite frankly almost overwhelming.

Craft specialties on display included: spinning, weaving, needlepoint, felting, knitting and crochet. In addition to the wool-related crafts, the festival featured livestock judging, sheep dog competitions and tons of craft workshops.

The livestock competitions and displays were mostly limited to Thursday and Friday but many animals were still in residence over the weekend. The different sheep breeds varied drastically in size, color and wool. I am not an expert on sheep but it is easy to see why breed specific wool makes such a difference in a yarn’s texture and gauge. A big draw at the festival were whole-cut fleeces from one sheep for the proposes of making your own yarn. Of course you must wash it, card it, dye it and spin it first.

The finished craft vendors and exhibitors were not grouped by their discipline, which made navigation a challenge. In truth, the festival organizer needs to hire a logistics consultant to assign booths. But the amazing creations and products were worth the subway-crowding experience. It was definitely worth the trip up the Hudson.

Among the craft supplies and finished products were large amounts of felting supplies and felted crafts. Many finished crafts were Montessori inspired creations like those from Flowering Heart Farm. While other creations were completely original like the designs from Going Gnome. The growing popularity of felting was reflected by the Best in Show Award which was given to a felted purple blanket of wild flowers.

A wonderful highlight of the festival were the Hooked Rugs. (These rug designs are not your typical “acrylic rainbow rug hook kit that you hide behind the macrame”.) The designs and kits from Hooked on Ewe and The Paisley Studio were beautiful and stylish. Every finished pattern kit was of heirloom quality. I had to restrain every finger on each hand not to take up another project before Christmas. But now I do know what to ask for this Christmas.

Many of the craft supplies were works of art in themselves. One booth by Melissa Jean with handmade porcelain buttons was amazing. The glazing and firing process gives colors a multi-surfaced appearance. Many buttons were whimsical shapes like flowers, stars and leaves which made them all unique.

I will admit it, I have never used a spinning wheel or dyed anything. Perhaps I will catch the bug someday. But until a magical new closet appears out of the ether, new hobbies are on hold.  The spinning bug definitely bit a majority of attendees at the festival. So If you ever decide to start making your own yarn this is the place to get your own spinning wheel, carding machine or dying kit. I can’t wait for next year!

Halloween Hack from IKEA

RAISIO, FINLAND - SEPTEMBER 21: Sign IKEA at IKEA Raisio Store on September 21, 2013 in Raisio, Finland. As of January 2008, the company is the world's largest furniture retailer.

I go to IKEA often. However, I don’t buy furniture there because my apartment is already stuffed and hex angles give me arthritis. IKEA is not just a store; it is all full retail experience. (Unfortunately this usually means the experience of a full Saturday, ugh.)

IKEA offers no simple way to go in, get what you need and then get out. The floor plans are deliberate mouse mazes and the prices small enough that you grab lots of little things which add up to a whopping $100 at the register. But on the bright side, the IKEA cafe has delicious meat balls for sustenance on this trek of domestic acquisition.

Given this description, my sage Husband has boycotted IKEA. It stresses him out too much to go. It may the total lack of orientation while inside or the slow methodical browsing of the mouse maze. Every time that we did go, he would get lost and I would eventually find him passed out in the couch department.

This is not my husband but you get the idea.

This is not my husband but you get the idea.

On my latest expedition, alone on a weekday, the Christmas decorations were already set up and ready for sale. Perhaps there are only two seasons in the American retail market: Lawn Furniture and Christmas. Boo, now that is scary.

Among this red and white Scandinavian holiday extravaganza, I saw some unfinished balsa-wood ornaments. They came in a box of three for $10.oo. This is a bit expensive for craft supplies but I knew they were perfect for a Halloween project. Instead of Christmas ornaments, I would make Halloween ornaments.

Ornaments for a Halloween Tree



  • Unfinished Wood ornaments from IKEA (papier-mâché ornaments can be used too but the wood ones hold up better overtime.)ikea-hallowen-supplies1
  • DecoArt Acrylic paint in matte finish. (If you use a glossy or oil based paint the paint layers will tend to cloud and bleed. Try to make your paint layers as thin as possible and add additional layers as needed.)paint
  • Gloss varnish for Acrylic paint. I use Liquitex medium gloss varnish. (Acrylic paint will flake off wood or paper unless sealed with varnish.)
  • Brushes: Flat tipped brushes (called brights by artists) for the larger applications. Thin brushes with long fibers (called rigger brushes by artists) for details. And use a soft bristle, round brush for applying the varnish.Brushtypes
  • Embellishments: goggle eyes, ribbon, glitter or sticky foam to be used after all paint and varnish is dry.


  1. Paint your ornament balls with primary coat. Let this first coat dry completely and then follow with a second coat. (I used toy teacups from IKEA to hold the wood balls while I painted and dried them.)
  2. Take a hard lead pencil and draw the preliminary outlines such as a jack-o-lantern’s face or a witch’s hair and eyes. You may have to paint over your pencil marks if you use a HB lead or #2 pencil.
  3. Paint the details of the faces making sure to keep the ball steady in a small shot glass or cup. (Don’t panic if you make a mistake, you can always paint over it.)
  4. When you are happy with your faces, add a light layer of acrylic varnish with a soft round brush to prevent streaks. (Some varnishes have glitter in them but use only two coats!) Don’t over varnish your creations or the surface can actually look cloudy. Dry overnight.

    Step 4

    Step 4

  5. Add your embellishments with either a craft glue or glue gun. (I think that you know which one I prefer.) I just applied ribbons but you can do more. (Some ideas include: adding starched cheese cloth to the painted balls for ghosts or mummies, gluing foam leaves to the pumpkins or attaching pipe-cleaner bodies through the center hole.)
  6. Arrange your little ghouls for display. Boo-eautiful!


    Ornaments displayed on an accessory tree from Muji.

To make a Halloween tree to display your beasties, the best tutorial is actually for a Wedding Wish Tree. However, I would attach a small and flat wood piece to the bottom of the tree base for added stability.