Every year for Christmas someone in my family makes a set of ornament "tags" for each person that go on their stocking. Last year I made these, and recorded the process. When I thought of this idea, I couldn't find any Instructable or how-to online that was *quite* what I was going for, so I thought I'd put one together. If anyone reviewing this Instructable has an idea of a better or easier way to do part of the process, please post comments below to help out other makers! This was an experiment and I'm sure there are ways to improve my "figure it out as you go" process.
Step 1: Supplies
Ok, prep is major here. You will need a few things ready to go before assembly.
Tools and Supplies:
- Pen (not a Sharpie, something like a ballpoint that won't get on the cookie cutters)
- Craft knife/X-Acto knife type of thing
- Modge Podge type of glue
- Quick dry craft/tacky glue of some sort
- Paint brush for glue
- A self-healing mat or cutting surface
- One cookie cutter per person/ornament desired. The simpler the shape the better. I got 3"-4" colored metal ornaments from Walmart for less than a dollar apiece.
- Pretty string for the hanger loop
- Tiny things to glue into the ornament to make it sort of a shadow box. Shaped beads and buttons are a great resource, as well as dollhouse miniatures, small cloth flowers, anything tiny that looks good and might represent the person or season in some way. There are examples of the finished product at the end of the Instructable that should help with ideas.
- Board. I used foam board with one adhesive side because that's what I had laying around. Cardboard will also work great, or foam board with no adhesive, or foam board with both sides adhesive. You need enough to fill the insides of each ornament.
- Printouts. You need 2 items per ornament, the front/inside and the back. For what I made, the inside is a picture of the person that the ornament is for. Make sure when printing that the size of the picture will fit the ornament. This might require some fiddling around on a computer or copier. I will not be delving into the specifics for the computer work, there are plenty of other resources online for resizing images. For the back, I designed in Illustrator a red and white background, with a green plaque, the person's name, and the year. Make sure the background will be big enough for the ornament plus a smidge for wiggle room. Wrapping paper and stickers would work great for this without having to fool around with image software. I used a laser printer for my printouts. Inkjet should be ok, but make sure the print is thoroughly dry before you start. Not sure about glossy photo prints for this purpose, it seems like it would just be easier with paper.
Step 2: Cut Out Your Shapes
Put your cookie cutter on top of your board and use a ballpoint pen to draw the shape on the board on the inside of the cookie cutter. Make sure the "top" (not sharp) side of your cookie cutter is the "up" side.
Use a craft knife to cut the shape out. (Don't cut into your table, use a self-healing mat or something underneath.)
Dry fit the shape into the cookie cutter and make any touch-up trims on the board that seem necessary. You want a snug fit, but if there are little gaps it's ok.
Step 3: Put Your Face on It
I decided to use the adhesive side of my foam board for the inside. This was arbitrary. If you don't have an adhesive side to your board, use Modge Podge to adhere your inside picture to the board. The following instructions are for what I did, modify for your situation as needed.
First, I left a white border on my images when I trimmed them. Don't do that. Trim your images right down to the edge, because then you won't have to worry about getting any of that white border on your final product. This is also when you'll find out for sure if your image is the right size.
Peel off the film to reveal the adhesive on the board. Place the picture on the adhesive and smooth it on (flip it over and smoosh it so it's on there good).
Use scissors to trim the image right to the edge of your board, leaving no extra paper sticking out.
Step 4: Put the Back On
The back is a little different from the front.
Paint a thin layer of Modge Podge on the blank side of your board. Place your back image on the board and smoosh it on. If you have trouble getting it placed exactly the way you want, hold it up in front of a light or use a light table to give you a better look at the placement. (Let the glue dry a bit.)
Trim the paper, but leave a little extra sticking out, about 2/3 the thickness of your board. It doesn't have to be perfect. The reason I left this extra paper was to sort of "wrap around" the edge of the board and fill little gaps I had. I considered using a patterned fabric to get better "wrap," and I don't see why fabric wouldn't work great. Because paper isn't super flexible, I put little cuts at all the warp points (corners and curves, wherever the paper could tear when inserted into the cookie cutter).
Step 5: Put a String on It
A step I kept forgetting to do was putting in the string. Before you insert the board into the cookie cutter, you want to go ahead and take a bit of string and tie a loop around the cookie cutter at the top of your design. You can see this in the pictures of the star-shaped ornament, but I forgot to do it in the house-shaped one, I had to remove the board and put in the string, then reinsert the board.
Step 6: Put It Together
After you have your board covered and trimmed, and your cookie cutter has a loop through it, put the cookie cutter face up on your table surface and place the board on the cutter face up. Push it down into the cookie cutter gently, letting the backing curl up on the edges, until the board is snug at the bottom of the cookie cutter, pushed down to the table surface.
Inspect your paper for any slight peeling that might need adjustments.
Step 7: Secure Your Board
Use a brush and some Modge Podge to fill in the edges in between the board and the cookie cutter. Also, paint the glue over the image to protect it and seal everything up. Let it dry thoroughly.
Step 8: Decorate Your Little Shadow Box
Use some tacky glue to put little decorations on your ornaments! I had fun figuring out what all to put in everyone's ornaments. I found some Christmas themed buttons, which were great because the little button loop things that came off the backs of the buttons worked as anchors to glue to the sides of the ornaments. I used Legos, fabric flowers, a soccer ball bead, some scrapbooking things, and even made little deer head trophies out of little deer toys and some paperboard. You can decorate them with anything, as long as it's small enough!
Like I said at the beginning, if you have ideas to add to this Instructable, post comments! I'll do my best with questions, but mostly it's just about having fun and being creative. These do take a bit of work to make, but they are great keepsakes. Have fun!