Introduction: Hand-painted Glass Ornaments

Customized Christmas ornaments are a fun and easy craft to get you into the holiday spirit. You can paint any design you can imagine, but today I'll be showing you three simple designs as inspiration!

Step 1: Gather Materials

I'm going to show you how to do three styles of ornaments, all of different difficulties. The materials you'll need for each are below:

For all ornaments:

- Clear Glass Ornaments

- Nail Polish

- Small Containers to Hold the Ornaments (glass yogurt containers work well)

- String

- Scissors

- Glossy or Matte Sealant Spray

1. Additional Materials for Opal Ornament:

- Rainbow Nail Polishes (red, orange, yellow, green, 2-3 blues, purple)

- Iridescent Flakes/Nail Polish Topper

- Cosmetic Sponges

2. Christmas Candy Ornament:

- Acrylic Paint (white, black, red, green, brown)

- Small Paint Brushes

3. Rudolph Ornament:

- Acrylic Paint (brown, orange, red, yellow, black, white, pink)

- Small Paint Brushes

- Small Iridescent Glitter (optional)

- Mod Podge or Craft Glue (optional)

Step 2: Set Up Your Ornaments

You'll first want to remove the metal tops from your ornaments and set them up on your containers. The containers should be something you won't want to use again for anything else (they'll have nail polish in them by the end of this project), and they should have rims small enough that the ornaments can sit on them comfortably without falling inside them.

Step 3: Pour Nail Polish in Ornaments

For each style of ornament, you'll begin by pouring nail polish inside and swirling it around to coat the entire interior of the ornament. You can use whatever polish you'd like for the Candy and Rudolph ornaments, but the Opal one works best with a medium blue base.

For mine, I used a medium blue creme for the Opal, silver holographic glitter for the Candy, and light blue shimmer for Rudolph.

Step 4: Pour Out Excess Polish

Set the ornaments on their sides on top of the containers for a minute to let the nail polish pool, and then pour the excess polish back into your bottle.

Step 5: Leave the Polish to Dry

Turn the ornaments upside down (with the opening facing into the container), and leave them to dry. The remaining excess polish will slowly drip out of the ornaments, leaving an even coating inside. I'd recommend leaving them to dry for a day or two. Once it has dried, you may find that the polish isn't opaque enough, so feel free to repeat this process until you're satisfied with the outcome. If any polish has stuck to the lip of the ornament, gently wipe it off with a paper towel.

Your ornaments are now ready to design.

Step 6: Cut Up Makeup Sponges

We'll start with the simplest ornament, the Opal ornament. This one requires no actual hand-painting, but you'll need some basic supplies.

The first thing you'll want to do is cut up cosmetic sponges into small pieces - you'll need one for each color of nail polish you'll be using.

Step 7: Dab Polish Onto Ornament

Apply your first color of polish to one of the pieces of sponge. You'll then use the sponge to gently dab the polish onto the outside of the ornament. Your first coat likely won't be very opaque, but leave it for now and come back to it once you've added all your colors.

Step 8: Add Polish Until It Is Opaque

Create a random pattern with your polishes, dabbing on each of your colors all over the ornament. You'll want the colors to slightly overlap so they can blend together near the edges. Once you've covered the entire surface, go back over the polishes with more layers of polish until they are as opaque as you want.

Let the polish dry for a few hours before continuing.

Step 9: Add Iridescent Glitter

Once the polish is dry, apply a clear nail polish topper with iridescent flakes to your cosmetic sponge. Dab this over some areas on the ornament to give it a more opalescent appearance. You don't want to overdo the glitter - most areas will only have a few single flakes, but you can concentrate more in a couple spots.

Let the whole thing dry, and you'll be ready to seal the design (skip to step 20 if you aren't painting the other two designs).

Step 10: Paint White Circle

The Christmas Candy ornament features a Brach's Peppermint Nougat and requires a small bit of hand-painting. You'll want to start by painting a large white circle - slightly off-center - with acrylic paint. Let the paint dry, and then add more layers of white until it looks opaque.

Step 11: Add Red Around Edges

Mix red acrylic paint with a bit of black and use this color and a small paint brush to add the crimson stripes around the edges of the candy. The stripes are roughly rectangular in shape, but you want the edges to be a bit more random and curved. You might need to go over the paint if it doesn't look opaque the first time.

Step 12: Add Tree

Paint the tree. Use a mix of green and black to paint a triangle with flowing edges in the center, and then add a brown line at the bottom.

Allow the paint to dry, and move on to step 20 to seal the design.

Step 13: Paint Rudolph's Outline

The Rudolph ornament is slightly more difficult and will take a bit more time. Begin by mixing brown, red, and yellow to create an orange-brown, and use a small paint brush to draw a rough outline of Rudolph. Fill the whole thing in with your brown paint until it looks opaque.

Step 14: Add White to Ears and Mouth

Allow the brown paint to dry, then move on to adding details. Use white to add the inner parts of his ears, the area around his mouth, and the patch on his neck. For the ears, you can also add a bit of light brown around the edges to add some shading.

Step 15: Add Antlers and Eyes

Using black, fill in the antlers and outline the eyes, filling in the pupils. Since the image you're painting is viewed slightly from one side, the eyes won't be even, and one will look larger than the other.

Step 16: Add Details

Use white to fill in the rest of the eyes. If you accidentally cover any of the black, simply wait for the white to dry and paint over it again.

To make the painting more realistic, you can also add shading in this step. I went back over the brown with a fresh layer of paint, and while it was still wet, I mixed a bit of the base with black to add shadows in Rudolph's fur, and I added a bit of yellow for highlighting. I also added more black to the antlers and used a bit of white to blend in highlights where it looks like light it reflecting off of them.

Step 17: Paint Nose

Add the red nose. You can use a bit of black and white to add shading here as well - just make sure to blend your colors while the red base is still wet for the most natural look.

Step 18: Add Snow

You can add a bit of white to mimic snow. For this, I used an old paint brush and a tiny bit of white acrylic paint and gently pressed the brush bristles-first onto the painting. This gives it a spotty appearance with lots of tiny snowflake dots.

To add a bit of sparkle, you can also mix Mod Podge or glue with some small iridescent glitter and apply it over the snow.

Step 19: Let Paint Dry

Allow all of your ornaments to dry completely before you seal them. I recommend waiting at least a day to give everything time to dry and avoid the colors bleeding.

You can reattach the metal tops of the ornaments before or after you seal them.

Step 20: Seal Design

Once they're dry, it's time to seal the designs. You'll need a sealant spray (either glossy or matte, depending on your preference) and a well-ventilated space. You'll want to defer to the directions on your can of sealant, and be sure to wear eye protection and gloves.

For my ornaments, I attached strings via the loops in the metal tops and tied them around the railing of my deck. I sprayed them with a thin coat of glossy sealant, ensuring that I had covered each side. The directions on my sealant said to wait fifteen minutes between coats, so I let them hang there before adding additional coats (I prefer three coats of sealant, but this depends upon how thick the sealant is, so do what looks best to you).

Allow the sealant to dry (preferably leaving them outside if possible).

Step 21: Enjoy!

Your ornaments are now ready for use - just attach a hook to them and hang them on your tree!

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