08 January 2017

Ancestor Ornaments

About a month ago, I decided to make Christmas ornaments from old family photos.  I have since titled them “Ancestor Ornaments”.  I probably got this idea initially from a visit to Pinterest, but at this point, I do not know whose idea it may have originally been.  I didn’t follow anyone’s directions.  I just basically jumped all in and hoped for the best.

Family pictures printed onto printer paper
Mod Podge Matte Finish
Any basic white glue that dries clear
Foam brush
Wood blanks (I used these from Hobby Lobby: Woodpile Fun)

How I made them:

1. I chose the family pictures that I wanted to put onto the ornaments. I sized them to fit onto the wood blanks.  David printed them out for me and I cut them apart.

2. I found something to use as a working surface. I had an art board that we bought several years ago, for an art class.   Since it is portable and I would have to move the project on occasion as I was working on it, this art board was perfect.

3. I laid out my supplies so that they would be in easy reach.

4. Make sure your wood blanks are smooth. Mine had some rough spots along the edges. You might want to sand them and wipe them off before you start with the painting.

5. I used the foam brush to paint a thin layer of Mod Podge onto the wood blanks. Though I was ultimately making 16 of these ornaments, I only painted 8 at a time.

6. While this initial layer of Mod Podge was still wet, I put the pictures onto each blank, making sure to have them positioned the way that I wanted them before I smoothed them down. Some folks use a brayer to smooth them down, but I don’t have one of those, so I just used my fingers.  I started from the center and worked my way to the edges, smoothing out air bubbles along the way.  For the most part, this was successful, but I did end up with some bubbles that just wouldn’t leave.

7. I let this dry for 20 minutes and then came back and painted a thin layer of Mod Podge over the pictures. I also let this layer dry for 20 minutes.

8. I painted another thin layer of Mod Podge over the pictures and let this dry for 20 minutes. It was mostly dry, but a little tacky in some spots. One thing I learned while doing this is to let them dry for a few days before stacking them on each other if you’re going to do that.  When our daughter went to put them onto the Christmas tree, she had to pull some of them apart.  It didn’t damage them, thank goodness.

9. Then, came the really fun (NOT!) and sticky part of the project, which was trying to glue the cording around the edges and then making a hanging loop with it. I was never able to find a way to do this without gluing myself to the cording, which ultimately pulled the cording off the edge of the wood blanks. Only a few of mine have the cording on the edges because I gave up on this idea. Maybe you will have better luck!

I ended up just putting a glob of regular white glue on the back of each one and laying the edges of the cording into the glue to make a hanging loop.  You can make this hanging loop as long or as short as you like.  If you’re going to use the typical metal ornament hangers, you can get by with a short loop.  We opted not to use the metal hangers, so I made longer loops.

10. Hang on your Christmas tree and enjoy the memories!

It isn’t really a complicated project, just a sticky one when it comes to using the regular white glue.

I didn’t Mod Podge the backs of these ornaments, though I may go back and do that.  We have talked about printing out labels for the ornament backs with more information about the family members pictured as well as the year the ornaments were made and, if there is room, who made them.

I foresee us needing a much bigger Christmas tree if I make these ornaments for each ancestor photo that I have!

Note:  The links in the above post are NOT affiliate links.  I have no affiliation with Hobby Lobby, though I think they are great!  I just wanted to make it easier for you to see what I used. 

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  1. This is a great project and it turned out well. Love you. Zing! Zing!

  2. I am going to make some of these with ancestors and my past cats too.

    1. Cool! I hope that you'll post pictures of them. I'd love to see them!
      Have a blessed evening. :)

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you, Debby. :)
      Have a blessed evening.

  4. what a great idea, love it!
    Groetjes Karin

    1. Thank you, Karin. :) If you give it a try, please send me the link to where I can see yours, too. I'd love to see them.

      Have a blessed day!

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks, Paula! They were a lot of fun to make. I have plans to add to the collection very soon. I have the supplies. It is choosing which photos to work with next that is the hard part. :)

      Have a blessed day!


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