Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Stained Glass

Christmas makes me think of stained glass. I love how the light shines through it. I thought it might be fun for you and your kids to make stained glass Christmas ornaments for your own family and for Christmas presents.
Here are two different sets of directions for making your own.

Stained Glass #1

Craft foam and plastic wrap are the secret ingredients in these Christmas ornaments.

Materials and Tools
Holiday-shape cookie cutters
Heavy-duty plastic wrap
Black crafting foam sheet (available at craft stores)
Broad-tip washable (water-soluble) markers
Black dimensional paint
Fine black wire
White craft glue

1. Place the cookie cutter on the foam and trace around it. Draw another line 1/4 inch inside the first line to make a 1/4-inch frame. Cut along both lines.
2. Tightly tape plastic wrap to a baking sheet. Color the plastic heavily with the markers, making an areas slightly larger than the foam frame. Make sure the plastic wrap stays smooth.
3. Run a bead of black dimensional paint around the inner edge of the back of the frame. Press the painted side of the frame onto the colored plastic wrap.
4. Bend a 4-inch length of wire into a U-shape loop for the hanger. Slide the ends of the loop between the frame and the plastic and press the frame over the ends of the loop.
5. Flood the inside area of the frame with glue.
6. Let the ornament dry undisturbed for 36 hours or until the color shows through and the glue is almost translucent. Do not touch the glue. Gently peel the ornament from the plastic. (If it sticks, let it dry an additional eight hours.) Turn the ornament over and let it dry on a clean piece of plastic for another eight hours or until dry to the touch.
7. If any glue or black paint leaked from under the frame, trim it off. Add a dot of glue over the ends of the wire hangers.

Stained Glass #2

Materials Needed:
Clear, plastic disposable cup
Permanent markers
Hot glue gun

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray foil-lined cookie sheet with non-stick spray.
Color the cup any way you choose with the permanent markers. When colored to your satisfaction (not all spaces have to colored) place cups on foil-lined cookie sheet and place it in the oven.

Check after a minute and watch closely. The cup will melt and you do not want it to burn.

Each cup will melt in a different shape; play with the placement. Remove from foil when slightly cool to keep from sticking.

When completely cool, make a hole with the hot tip of the glue gun and string a ribbon through the hole to hang in window or on tree.

Both of these ornament activities should be made only under close adult supervision.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Traditions

I was Internet surfing the other day and I ran across several sites that explain the meanings behind many of our Christmas holiday traditions. I thought I would share a few abbreviated traditions with you this month.

Wreaths-were made of woven branches and twigs. They are now used as a symbol of the crown of thorns that was placed on Jesus’ head before the crucifixion. The use of wreaths dates back to Greek and Roman times. They were a symbol of victory.

Bells-were used in pagan traditions to scare away evil spirits. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow originally composed the song “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day in 1864.

Stockings-there are two possible stories about stockings. The oldest reference to the use of stockings is found among in the writings of Washington Irving in New York in the year 1809.His story described how Santa leaves gifts in stockings that children hang by the chimney. Another tale talks about a father who didn’t have any money to give his daughters’ to get married. The daughters left their stockings on the mantle to dry by the fire on Christmas Eve. They were surprised to find in the morning that Santa had filled their stockings with gold coins, and they could afford to be married after all.

Christmas Lights-Edward H. Johnson (a partner of Thomas Edison) introduced Christmas lights in 1882. He hand made a strand of 80 lights, and put them on his own Christmas tree.

Poinsettias-the Christmas legend of the poinsettia comes from Mexico. It is said that a child who could not afford to buy a gift for Christ, instead picked weeds on the roadside while on her way to church. As she entered the church the weeds were miraculously transformed into poinsettias.

Christmas Cards-the first professionally created Christmas card was painted and printed in England by John Calcott Horsley in 1843. He produced the cards for a man named Sir Henry Cole. The first printed Christmas cards in the United States were created by a German immigrant named Louis Prang in 1875.