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Friday, December 23, 2011

Easy Ornaments 1: Reindeer

Christmas is right around the corner.  Actually, at my parent's house, it's tomorrow.  We follow a lot of German traditions for holidays (as does most of America actually without even realizing it), including going to church in the evening, opening presents, and having our main Christmas celebrations all on Christmas Eve.  I've got a lot of last minute shopping to get done today, so I'll save all the German Christmas tradition stories until later when I have time.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share a rather simple craft that pretty much anyone can make for a small amount of money and a little bit of effort: Reindeer ornaments.  The great thing about these is that they come out looking a lot more "effortful" than would be expected considering their cost and simplicity.  They're made of clothespins and embroidery floss!  I came across the pattern on one of those free leaflets at Michael's crafts years ago and loved it. (I tried finding it on their website, but it's not there).  So, what follows is my pattern from memory, inspired from that leaflet.
*Feel free to make this as a gift, for yourself, or to sell, but please do not sell my pattern or copy it without linking here*

I failed to take step-by-step pictures, but I can give pretty good instructions and finished pictures.

  • 1 "spool" brown embroidery floss
  • 1 "spool" light brown/tan embroidery floss
  • 1 "spool" black embroidery floss
  • 1 "spool" green embroidery floss (optional)
  • 1 "spool" red embroidery floss (optional)
  • 3 flat clothespins (I used the baby side, you can use regular, but you might need more embroidery floss then)
  • Tacky glue
  • Scissors
  1. Start with brown embroidery floss and swipe a little tacky glue on the end (about a centimeter)
  2. Beginning on the top of the round part of one clothespin (the flat part of the top), hold the glued part of the floss onto the center until it holds.
  3. Add some more glue around the rest of the top and stick the embroidery floss in a spiral pattern around the top of the clothespin.  Do this until you reach the corners (It's a good idea to use some glue on the corners.
  4. Still with the same piece of embroidery floss, continue wrapping it around the length of the clothespin until you reach the "antlers" (where it splits into 2).  There's no need for glue on this part.
  5. Cut the floss and glue the tail of it to the clothespin.
  6. Take the light brown/tan embroidery floss and swipe a little tacky glue on the end (about a centimeter)
  7. Beginning on the side of one "antler", as close to the brown floss as possible, hold the glued part of the floss down until it holds
  8. Wrap the floss around the full length of the antler
  9. When you get to the tip, put glue around the whole tip to make sure it sticks on the top.
  10. Cut the floss once the whole antler is covered.
  11. Repeat steps 6-10 on the other antler
  1. Repeat steps 1-4 of the head (also with brown floss).  Don't cut it when you reach the "legs" (the split).
  2. Continue with the same piece of floss down one leg as you did in step 8 of the head, but stop 1/4-1/2 an inch from the end and cut off and secure with glue. (just above the point where the inside of the "leg" slants)
  3. Take the brown floss again and cover the same amount of the 2nd leg as you did the first leg (do this in the manner you did with the antlers for the head).  Be sure not to do the whole leg and leave the same amount of space at the bottom.
  4. Take the black floss to make the hooves.  Glue the black floss on the side of one leg as close to the end of the brown floss as possible.
  5. Wrap the black floss around the rest of the leg and secure it with glue in the same way you did the antlers for the head.
  6. Repeat steps 4-5 on the other leg for the other hoof.
  7. Repeat steps 1-6 with a second clothespin.
  8. Glue the bodies together (don't glue the legs together - there should be some space between them.
  9. Take the brown embroidery floss again and repeat as if you're doing steps 1-4 of the head, but do it covering both clothespins.  Stop at the legs.  This makes the body look continuous instead of split down the middle.
  1. Take the black embroidery floss and tie a small knot
  2. Cut at each end of the knot as close to the knot as possible (but not cutting through the knot).
  3. Repeat steps 1-2 for the 2nd eye.
  4. Put aside, but be careful not to lose them.
  1. Take the black embroidery floss and tie a larger knot.  This can be done by tying knots on top of other knots or by looping through a few times before pulling the knot tight.
  2. Cut at each end of the knot as close to the knot as possible (but not cutting through the knot).
  3. Put aside, but be careful not to lose it.
Wreath (optional)
  1. Use the green embroidery floss, measure about a foot (12 inches) and cut.
  2. Fold it in half.
  3. Next use the "twin twister" friendship bracelet technique:  Hold the floss at the fold and holding the ends, twist it.
  4. Fold this twisted floss in half, and let it twist around itself (it should do that on its own if you twisted enough in step 3).
  5. *Note*, if you want the wreath thicker, either double up on the floss, or double the length of the floss and do more twisting.
  6. Put this part to the side.
  7. Cut a small length of red floss and tie a small bow
  8. Do steps 1-4 of the eyes a few times with red floss
Putting it all together
  1. Take the head and glue it to the body a little bit tilted upwards.  Made sure you use enough glue and hold it long enough so it sticks together
  2. Take each eye and glue them  to the head in appropriate spots for eyes.
  3. Take the nose and glue it  to the head in appropriate spots for the nose.
  4. Put the wreath around the neck and pull the end of it through the loop.
  5. Glue or tie to secure.  Be sure to glue the wreath on the top of the neck area so it sticks.
  6. Glue the red bow on the bottom of the wreath.
  7. Glue the red knots around the wreath (not pictured).
  8. *Note* Steps 4-7 are optional
  9. Take a long-ish piece of any color floss of your choosing and tie it around the neck so you can hang the ornament.
  10. You're done!  Hang it on a tree or wherever is most festive!

Now anyone I know who reads this will know how cheap some of my gifts are, haha.  Aside from the glue and scissors (which I just keep in my arsenal), the project cost around $5...and I've got lots of floss and 47 clothespins left over for future crafts.  I've also made toy soldiers, angels, elves, and Santa with this kind of technique.  I don't have any made right now, but my boyfriend has Santa and and elf  hanging up at his place from our first Christmas together.  It was a great handmade gift to have since I was seeing his father, sister, and brother-in-law as well and didn't know them too well.  The one this year is going to his aunt (who does a lot of crafts and art herself).
Below are pictures!

They all looked like mugshots until this one.

Enjoy all your last-minute holiday shopping - I know I won't!

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