For the past couple of years I’ve made my own ornaments as Christmas gifts. I was encouraged in this endeavor by a challenge from the Art Bead Scene blog where we make handmade ornaments and share them with each other via blog posts. I think it’s been 3 years now that I’ve included this festive activity to my Christmas line-up. Each year I like to incorporate a new technique I learned; and this year I settled on doing some more saltwater etching. I was introduced to this method in October at the Inspired by Nature bead retreat hosted by Heather Powers. I love this weekend full of classes, friends, inspiration, and jewelry-making. I still am basking in the afterglow of it from October.
I was impressed with this method because it uses easily available ingredients and is non-toxic – two bonuses compared to other etching solutions I’ve experimented with before. I can also use stamped images, which is much easier than the image transfer methods I’ve also used before. While at the class I thought this would be a fabulous technique to try for ornaments this year. And now that most have been sent to their new homes, I can post some pictures.
I did two designs. The first was made with a stamp of “O Holy Night”. I made a star-shaped template that I used to cut the shapes after I’d etched the copper sheets. Then came a lot of filing and sanding – and I mean a lot! Many of the recipients have told me how “O Holy Night” is their favorite Christmas song and I’m pleased to have created something that reminds them of this hymn. It’s my favorite as well. It gives me goosebumps and brings me to tears every time I hear it. It’s a powerful tribute to the night that God became man and how that truth transforms us and the world.
My second design was… a bird (that’s a huge surprise to those who know me, I’m sure). Nearly everything I make has a bird on it. I loved this stamp and thought it would work really well as an ornament. I picked a simple oval shape to frame the scene (I’m done cutting out stars for a while). After all the ornaments were cut out, I cleaned the copper and gave the pieces a patina in liver of sulfur bath. This is my favorite part! Then I buffed them gently to heighten the contrast of the etching. It’s rather like magic – the pieces come out of the bath dark and oxidized and then after some light sanding, they take on a beautiful, warm tone. Oh I love it! Then they are sealed with Renaissance Wax (which smells amazing) and ribbons added for hangers.
Here are a couple of shots of them “in action” on the Christmas tree.
I hope that the ornaments on your tree are filled with special memories, and that your hearts are filled with joy and peace this Christmas Eve. Only one more sleep till Christmas!
Blessings to you,