Homemade ornaments

Susan Manzke

After Bob and I were married the beginning of December in 1973, our used mobile home had no decorations — no, I didn’t have a hope chest.

There was no time to craft anything, but by the following Christmas, I was on my way making homemade ornaments. My first attempts were painted plaster bells, stars, angels and such. Happily these turned out fairly well but were packed away when toddlers could reach them — putting them in boxes helped them survive.

Over these many years, I’ve gone through different crafting periods. One year I made lacy angels; another time I made hundreds of paper Moravian stars.

Most of our ornaments have been made by family or friends. A large number of them were created when our children were in elementary school. Those that survived still find a place on our tree. I have clothespin reindeers, walnut strawberries and cork gingerbread men.

We never put the artist’s name on the creations, so I don’t always know who made what. Even so, all have a place in my heart.

Recently, I decided to make Moravian paper stars again. I found some white paper long enough for this craft at a resale shop, and I thought I was ready to go.

Four 20-inch strips were cut and folded in half — so far so good. Next, I laced those together into a square, but that’s as far as my memory took me.

In my computer was a file with directions. I found that and tried my hand at making a star. Folding and refolding points didn’t go so well. I wished I could go back to the original source but couldn’t. That friend had moved out of state.

All I did was fumble with the paper. My efforts only brought me brief hints of the sought-after star. Even three wise men couldn’t help me, so I turned to the Internet. On were many sites with visual directions. I chose Origami Froebel Star (traditional) – Christmas by Jo Nakashima – Origami Tutorials:

After watching the video over and over, I was ready to try again. Okay, I fumbled some when I tried, but eventually I had success. I’ve made one star so far.

I had other ideas. This year our ornaments were going to be really different.

If you remember, our family took photos before we ate Thanksgiving dinner. Rachel then digitally shared those photos with us, which is why I have a group photo for our Christmas card.

Beyond the group shot, we also took pictures of each family and individual grandchildren. These went into my computer, too. Months ago I bought frames so I could update my peanut gallery. I now had the photos to work with.

Seeing all these beautiful people on my computer screen made me want to view them more. But how?

Suddenly I had an idea. I printed up small photos of everyone on our home printer. Then I thought about how to use them.

First thing was to cut them apart. As I was snipping them, those pictures started looking like ornaments. I decided to string them up individually on our tree. That may have worked, but I was afraid the paper would curl.

My next idea was to glue them back to back. That would eliminate the curling problem but could cause another. When using glue, I usually get it everywhere, and glue on the ink might smear.

I ruminated on the problem.

My craft paraphernalia contains a laminator to make pressed flower bookmarks. I decided to use that machine to set my back-to-back photos in plastic.

Bob rolled his eyes as I worked. “You’re going to decorate our tree with what?”

He didn’t have the image I had in my head. I knew this was going to work. After the photos were hung alongside other ornaments, Bob said he liked it. That made me smile.

Happy Holidays from both of us.

Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165;