DIY Holiday Craft: String Art Christmas Tree Decoration
This funky little Christmas tree decoration is made with polymer clay, some sewing pins, and thread. Making this ornament involves some detail work, but can be completed in a couple of hours and will add a unique decoration to your holiday tree.
This decoration is not a toy. Although this ornament is not fragile, it should be handled with care.
- One block of Sculpey polymer clay - color of your choice
- 20 to 30 sewing pins with colored balls on the end
- Embroidery floss or sewing thread to wrap around your pins - you should choose a color that compliments your clay but will stand out against it.
- Eye pin or piece of wire that can be curled into a loop for hanging
- Wire cutters to cut your pins down to size
- Poymer clay glaze for sealing your ornament - buy the correct glaze for your brand of clay (more information below)
- Super glue - I recommend the gel formula
- Scissors and pencil
You can use clay tools for this project, but I rely on a few simple items from around my home:
- A few decorative buttons for stamping - You can use a variety of items, like the ends of pens, to make designs in your clay.
- A wood dowel for rolling the clay
- A small screwdriver for cutting
- A dull pencil for making marks and shaping the clay
Important: do not used items from your kitchen as tools if you plan to use them later in contact with food.
How to Make a String Art Christmas Tree Decoration
1. Do a quick test to check that the colored balls on your sewing pins can withstand the baking temperature of your polymer clay. Take a small piece of your clay and stick one of your sewing pins in to it. Bake according to the manufacturer's instructions for your clay at the correct temperature and time.
Check that the ball on your sewing pin does not melt when baked. You do not want to make your ornament only to find your balls melt when put in the oven.
2. Print and cut out the template for the outline of your tree. My template is above, but you can use a different shape if your choose. I made my tree 4 inches tall.
3. Using about 3/4 of the block of polymer clay, roll out a piece of clay that is big enough to fit your tree template. You clay will need to be softened by playing with it in your hands before rolling. Do not roll your clay too thin. Make sure your clay slab in at least 3/16 of an inch thick. I like to roll out my clay on wax paper to keep my work surface clean.
4. Using a sharp tool, cut out your tree shape from your clay slab. Then use your finger to smooth the outside edges.
5. (Optional) Use decorative buttons, pen ends, and other objects to stamp the background of your ornament. This is optional, but adds texture and interest to your finished ornament.
6. Using an eye pin (used in jewelry making) or a stiff piece of wire, create a loop to hang your ornament. Your wire should have a loop at one end with about a 1/2 an inch wire stem.
7. Stick your wire stem into the side thickness of your clay so that the loop sits at the top of your tree (see photo above).
8. Using a pair of wire cutters, cut your sewing pins so that the metal stem is about 5/16 of an inch long (not including the colored ball). I recommend working inside a plastic bag so the sharp ends of your pins are caught in the bag. Then dispose of your pin ends safely.
9. The number of sewing pins that you will need will depend on the size of your ornament and the arrangement of pins. I would start by cutting 20 to 25 pins.
10. Carefully transfer your tree to aluminum foil for baking before placing your pins.
11. Then begin placing your cut pins into your clay tree. The placement of these pins is your choice. I would suggest putting one at the top of your tree to start your string on. The rest of your pins should be evenly placed around your tree.
Stick your pins in deeply enough so that the stay in place. Check from all sides that your pins are straight in the clay and not leaning.
12. Once your pins are in place, bake your tree according to your clay's directions. Keep an eye on your ornament while it is baking to make sure that your colored balls do not melt.
13. After baking, let your clay cool completely.
14. (Optional, but highly recommended) Paint your ornament with a thin coat of polymer clay glaze. This will help seal your pins in place. Do not paint the glaze on too thick, as it can dry cloudy when thick. Make sure to go around all your pins with the glaze. Let dry.
15. Cut about 18 inches of your sewing thread (if using embroidery floss, just use one strand). Make a small loop on one end that is just big enough to fit over the ball on your sewing pin.
16. Place the loop over the pin at the top of your tree (see photo above).
17. Now begin wrapping your thread around your pins to make a design (see photo at top of tutorial). There's no particular way to do this. I wrapped my thread from one pin to the pin below, moving down my tree. I avoided moving horizontally, but this is just one way to do it.
As you work down your tree, wrap each pin completely around before moving to the next pin. You will probably have to try a few different arrangements before you get a design that you like.
18. When you get to your last pin, wrap your thread around it completely. Then make another loop around this pin, tucking your thread through the loop to make a knot. Do this twice.
19. Put a tiny dot of super glue on the knot and let dry. Then trim your thread as close as possible to your pin.
20. Run some ribbon or yarn through your metal loop to hang your finished ornament on your tree. Enjoy!
© 2019 Donna Herron