Making Micro Bead Christmas Ornaments
Remake Old Christmas Ornaments with Micro BeadsA Christmas tree with lots of different colored ornaments looks busy to me. Not that I am criticizing those of you who choose to decorate that way. I prefer to use a monochrome decorating style with unique or unexpected variations. I love looking at a group of items all the same shape but completely different colors. Or a group of items in the same color range with different textures sizes and shapes like those in the photo below.
The only drawback to a monochrome color scheme is it can become monotonous or boring unless one varies the sizes shapes and textures of the color in use. One way to provide that variety is to use several different types of finishes on your ornaments. For instance some glittered, some painted, some beaded in several different sizes and shapes. You can add further interest by using more than one size of beads on your ornaments; opaque and clear paints; mixtures of glitter colors etc.
My ornament preference for beading is for icicle, teardrop, pendant or torpedo style glass ornaments from the nineteen forties/fifties and early sixties. These ornaments have more of a flat surface and therefore are easier to bead than the round ornaments. For this project you will need micro beads without holes. They are not easy to find but you can get them at eBay. A search on the web will turn up more sites. Most of the sellers put them in very small bags 1"x 1" bags weighing a couple of grams. So, consider this when you are deciding how many to purchase for your project. A little bit goes a long way but you need a fairly large quantity to get good surface coverage. You will also need extra fine glitter in your colorway to fill in the gaps after the beads have been applied.
If you are wondering what type of ornaments can be beaded, just follow the link.
Materials: The important things to consider:
Ornament Caps: If the color of the cap on your ornament matters, remove them before you start and use the spray paint of your choice to color them. Reattach and hot glue them down after they are dry. Check out my step-by-step project sheet for painting ornament caps.
Bead Colors: from experience I find that several shades of the same color and a mixture of clear metallic and opaque beads gives better results than having all of the beads in one shade. For mine I used turquoise, teal, dark green, clear and metallic turquoise. Beads in the lighter shade should be metallic for more impact. Be sure to purchase micro beads with NO hole. Any bead with a hole will be too large for the project and look awkward. Plus the ornament will be heavy and weigh much more when finished.
Bead Quantity: 12 - 1"x 1" bags of various colored glass micro beads will half-way fill a 4 oz spice shaker. Two bags of each type will give you an even mix. For instance four bags each of teal, turquoise, dark green, teal metallic and turquoise metallic was enough to decorate 1/2 dozen 5” long torpedo/icicle ornaments. Starting with a full or nearly full jar of micro beads is best to make sure that you get complete and even coverage.
Background: Unless you use a glitter colored to match the beads, the background color of the ornament you are decorating will show through. Extra fine glitter is best and should be applied immediately AFTER you apply the beads. Wait too long and the glue will be too dry to hold the glitter. If you apply the glitter first, the beads will not stick.
Glue: I used a water-resistant glue that is made for adhering beads or jewelry. Almost any thick crafting glue that dries clear will work. If the glue is too thin it will dry and neither the beads nor the glitter will stick. If the beads stick but glitter does not or beads are too far apart after drying, use spray glue and reapply the glitter. It works nicely to fill in the gaps.
Spray glue is: Very messy. But I got around that by setting the ornament down in a cup and directing the tip of the sprayer down into the cup. And oh, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions to clean out the spray mechanism after use. Trust me you will be glad you did. :-)
Container: a deep dish or bowl to use during the beading process. The beads are tiny and bounce all over the place when being applied. I used a 4 lb yellow Domino sugar container and covered the table with a cloth (paper towels will work as well) to keep errant beads from rolling around and bounding too far. Michaels, Pat Catan, Hobby Lobby and other craft stores carry supplies for beading that will help you keep your micro beads under control.
Clear Spray: a good quality acrylic glossy spray will stabilize the beads and glitter to keep them from coming off after the ornaments are dry.
Ornament Hooks: I use an extra large paper clip bent open in opposite directions.
You will also need an open space to hang newly beaded ornaments until they are completely dry. It does not have to be exotic. I've use a wire hanger weighted down by books suspended over the edge of a dining room table. It will hold about 10 ornaments if I use all three sides. I have also hung them on a hanger from a cabinet with an ornamental top or a lip at the top. If push comes to shove you can put the hanger on a knob on any dresser/chest in your home. No knobs? Roll up a catalog and insert it in the space between the outside edge of the pull and the drawer to stiffen the pull and make it stand off. Just make sure the ornaments are in a place where they can hang undisturbed for a couple of days.
Applying the Micro Beads:
- First combine all colors of your beads into one container. You can use a salt/pepper shaker empty prescription bottle an empty spice jar etc. Shake to make sure they are evenly mixed.
- Coat the ornament one side at a time with glue then sprinkle with beads - holding the bead jar very close to the ornament surface without touching the glue. Proceed until the entire ornament is covered. When finished tap the ornament lightly to shake off any excess beads. Pour the excess beads back into the bead jar.
- Move to a separate work space then, sprinkle with glitter to fill in the spaces where the beads did not stick. Tap the ornament lightly to release excess glitter. Pour the excess glitter back into the glitter jar.
- Be careful to keep the two work areas completely separate! Glitter mixed in with your beads will stick to the ornament before the beads. Beads mixed in with your glitter will make the glitter unusable for any other projects.
- Cover the hanger with paper towel or Styrofoam sheet so that you can hang the ornaments and the hooks will not slide around or touch while drying.
When completely dry, spray with a clear acrylic spray paint to help secure the beads and glitter. Hang and allow to dry thoroughly one to two days.
Thanks for visiting I Love Christmas.com holiday decorating blog. Use our Contact Form to request permission to reprint or quote from this article. For more Christmas decorating ideas visit my Christmas blog: https://www.i-love-christmas.com/Christmas-Decorating-Ideas . Get beautiful, handmade glass ornaments, garlands, metal ornament trees, ornament hooks, tabletop Christmas trees, photo ornaments and other holiday decorations at I Love Christmas! https://www.i-love-christmas.com . Note that I assume no liability for the use or misuse of these instructions or those provided by the product manufacturers.
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