I am not sure why, but one of my most treasured Christmas traditions is making a holiday ornament for those in my family. For me, sitting down to work on them is the official start of a wonderful family holiday. (My kids live on the other coast, so visits home are rare and very special.) Maybe it is the contemplation that comes as I am working on the things. I believe that every handmade object holds the thoughts of its maker, held long after it is finished. Maybe it is just the joy of the work itself.
My ornaments are not similar to each other in any way from year to year. I never have a clue whether they will be stitched or constructed; made mostly of fabric, or of something else entirely. As a matter of fact, that is the first engaging part of the process: finding the stuff that inspires the form of the ornament. It will be no surprise to anyone that this usually happens at the flea market! This year, apparently, I am using bells to construct my ornaments. I found these in a big old biscotti jar…six for a dollar! (Although economy is not THE driving force behind any choice, it is always a thrill to start with a “bargain” that can be transformed into a treasure.) By picking and choosing, I was able to put together a pile that varies in color; some look to be copper, others, more like brass. Corrosion and time have added blue and green to some. I bought two dozen…then, happening upon them again, bought yet another…I can’t need “just a few more” to finish…finding any in December will NOT be an option. Guess how I learned this…
I am thinking the perforations in the bells will be perfect for beading “a la Miriam Haskell”. (She often created wonderful pins, wiring small leaves and seed beads onto a perforated metal base.) Using various beads and crystals will be a way to make each ornament unique. (Always a goal.) They will also add color and reflectivity. (Important in an ornament, I think…the better to catch the light and spread the joy.) And, last but not least, picking and choosing will just make the work more fun.
The brass bows were found in a neighboring jar. They might become the ornament’s hanging device. I am not sure about the “one-sided” aspect, though. An ornament is a three-dimensional thing. It has to look good from every side. (Another puzzle to be solved.) A few weeks ago, I found brass bows of a different sort (they were a dime apiece! But, there were only seven…so, there could be some choices to be made there.) The vintage bullion braid came from the same table! That vendor sure made my day!
As the hunting and gathering continues, I find other things that further define the form the final ornament might take. The brass and crystal beads could be the bells’ “ringers”…but then that broken string of Japanese beads might add an unusual twist…they reflect the light in such a subtle, but eye-catching way… And then, those old watch hands that look to be ivory (but were far too cheap to be so)…They will have to be in there somewhere, if only to remind me of a wonderful morning spent in the Cow Palace with my kids, just grazing for treasure. Isn’t it wonderful to be entertained by such a simple pleasure?