Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Beaded Ornament: A Cautionary Tale

I am not a crafty person but I LOVE them and the kitschier the better.  Do you remember beaded ornaments from the 50s & 60s?

See how ornate the plastic beads are?  Classy.
I figured I could do this.  It's just sticking pins in a styrofoam ball.  Easy!  

Oh no, it was not easy.  First I will remind you that I am NOT a crafty person.  I also have the patience of a two year old, so when obstacles arise I tend to swear and air kick and punch.  And let me tell you, there was plenty of swearing and punchin and kickin during the making of my beaded ornament.

The project started off badly to begin with.  I have a big Christmas tree.  It's 12 feet tall so I wanted a big ornament.  Go big or go home right?  Yeah, so big ass styrofoam balls are EXPENSIVE!   I figured about four of five ornaments would look well balanced on the tree but it costs around five bucks per ball and I hadn't even bought the beads and sequins yet.  Holy crap was the some foreshadowing of doom.  

So I get the ball and a crap load of beads and sequins along with a box of straight pins and get to work.  I gave myself a month for this project.  (Not crafty remember?)  I set up my work station at the kitchen table and turned on the soft rock of the 70's Pandora radio station.  Crafting to 70's soft rock is the only way to craft and nothing annoys the neighbor who allows their dog to bark incessantly than England Dan and John Ford Coley blaring at top volume. 

My work station. 
Now, when setting up your work station and you're using tiny supplies like beads and sequins you should use a towel.  That way things wont roll around and fall on the floor and be eaten by your dog.  You should probably NOT use a towel that is the same color as the tiny beads and sequins.  

I also recommend having a thimble if you are making a beaded ornament.  I didn't have one for the first half of this craft and pushing those pins into the ball hurts like mutha!

Remember how I told you the cost of these styrofoam balls should have been a sign that this project wasn't going to go smoothly?  Well, half way through is where everything started plummeting into a death spiral.  

First, I ran out of beads.  When I went to Hobby Lobby (I love/hate this store) they were out of them.  OUT OF THEM!  Air punch.  Air kick.  A week later I went back and thankfully they were back in stock.  I made sure I bought the same color and matched the manufacturer's number too.  I was thinking ahead!  Got home and the beads were a different color. I mean VERY off.  Air punch. Air kick.  Swearing.

I said to myself, "screw it.  I'm using the damn beads."  Until I ran out of pins.  I had some straight pins in my sewing kit I could use.  Sweet!  No.  The heads of the pins went all the way through the beads.  The swearing coming from my house could be heard for miles.

By the time I finished the damn thing, it had taken a month, several trips to Hobby Lobby and I had lost all feeling in the tip of my index finger.  I was relieved to say the least, until I tried to hang it on the tree.  Because I beaded the ENTIRE thing, it was heavy.  Like a half pound.  LITERALLY!  I had to wedge it in a branch to hold the weight.  I am an idiot.

The finished product.  Can also be used as a weapon.
If you plan on making a beaded Christmas ornament, do the opposite of everything I did.  I'm sure it'll turn out beautiful.  

I don't know if I'll be making an other ornament but I am dubbing 2012 My Year of Crafts.  My next project will be a macrame owl so stick around, it could get interesting.  


  1. Many, many years from now, your son will open a dusty Xmas box and carefully hand this beaded ornament to his grandchild, while explaining how diffcult his mother worked to create such a high density ball of yuletide joy. He'll add that it holds a special place in the cherished memories of his crafty mother and her expressive language of love.

    The kid will accept the gift with pride, and likely sell it on eBay the next day.

    P.S. I've always wanted to say this about one of my friends:

    "She's Crafty!"

  2. I am proud that you stuck it out - tee hee.

    I remember trying to make one of those years ago... I don't think I finished it... if I did I have no idea where it is now.

    And while it might weigh 20 pounds, it is quite lovely. Good job.

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