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RePurposing For Christmas Ornaments

Knowing my affection for old dolls, my hubby repaired and repurposed this itty-bitty one for me.

Knowing my affection for old dolls, my hubby repaired and repurposed this itty-bitty one for me.

Our German exchange student, Klara, was with us a few years ago for the holiday season, and she was astounded at American decorations. I don’t think the word “tacky” was in her vocabulary, yet I had the distinct impression that this was her opinion of many of the outdoor decorations in our neighborhood. She would roll her eyes at the large, inflated Santas, Grinches, snowmen, and all of the other silly blow-up versions of Christmas characters. I have to say, I pretty much share her sentiment. But she was no grinch, nor am I.

I made these ornaments back in the 1970's, from school glue and yarn. They don't look great at all unless placed in front of a light. That changes everything.

I made these ornaments back in the 1970’s, from school glue and yarn. They don’t look great at all unless placed in front of a light. That changes everything.

Old newspapers, flour, water & paint became a Nativity set made by my husband.

Old newspapers, flour, water & paint became a Nativity set made by my husband.

In Germany, we saw all sorts of tiny wooden ornaments at the homes of Klara’s grandparents and other people we visited. Some of the things they showed us were traditional figures, and quite old. There’s so much I appreciate about well-crafted holiday decorations, and I suppose I’m a bit nostalgic about some of the not-so-well-crafted items I grew up with – plastic elves with glued-on “realistic” beards, candy-cane striped styrofoam balls set in plastic holly wreaths, and sparkly gold-glitter ribbons. Something really appeals to me in these old decorations, so, clearly I am not exempt from falling for “tacky” ornaments and such.

Tiny clay dancer/bell I made for my ballerina daughter

Tiny clay dancer/bell I made for my ballerina daughter

For this post, I wanted to show you some of the Christmas ornaments that have become my favorites over the years. Scott and I have quite a large collection. In fact, we have so many ornaments that we always have to leave many of them packed because even if we get a pretty large tree, there’s just not room for them all. Most of our hand-made ornaments are re-purposed materials.

A gift for our animal-loving daughter, an old glass ball in a perch for a clay chinchilla (made by Scott Freeman)

A gift for our animal-loving daughter, an old glass ball is now a perch for a clay chinchilla (made by Scott Freeman)

We also display our old stuff differently, year to year. Some antique glass balls and lights may go into a clear glass vase on a shelf; flocked poinsettias may end up on the tree instead of in an arrangement. Some of the really fragile tree ornaments find a new home in the China cabinet. I’m no decorating queen, but I get help from my family members, and it usually turns out nicely.

Small bottles, beads, and hardware are turned into funky angels.

Small bottles, beads, and hardware are turned into funky angels.

Bits of fabric become tiny canvases for painted ornaments.

Bits of fabric become tiny canvases for painted ornaments, which I made for my family.

I enjoy taking a walk through Christmas past via all of these old treasures. I don’t think I’ll ever have need of an inflatable Santa.

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About Mollie Walker Freeman

I am a fine art painter, & I am studying to be a health coach at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.

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