Miniature Log Cabin Christmas Tree Ornament DIY

I’d just about given up on getting something Christmasy posted. Etsy shop and ornament orders have been keeping my nose to the grindstone this last month. It’s been a lot busier than I expected, but it’s been a GOOD busy, and I’m very grateful. It makes me happy to think of all the little Santas, penguins, snowmen, etc., dangling in Christmas trees everywhere. I sure hope they make someone smile.
Remember the two big white owls I mentioned last month? They’re now prominately perched in our Christmas tree. When given the option, we opted for fun social activities over crafting time, so we didn’t use all the raw materials we foraged, which I’m sure saved me a lot of glitter clean up too. Our lengths of grapevine worked beautifully as a garland though, and the colors of the dried hydrangeas made it a perfect gap filler.
To me, a tree is just not complete without something fun for the little ones to see. Having always been intrigued by miniature houses, and still having a pile of twigs from our gatherings, I decided to try my hand at a log cabin ornament. Wouldn’t it be neat if you could peer inside of it too?
An empty Christmas light box looked like it was a workable shape and size. I checked out a few templates on Pinterest, then drew a simple one to fit my unfolded box. After cutting out the traced template, it was painted with gesso, then brown paint.

I used an exacto knife to cut a window and door where I thought I would like them. After looking at it some more, I decided I didn’t want the open door, and taped it back in.
A small piece of thin plastic was glued on the inside of the window. Let it dry.
A small hole was cut in the bottom for a Christmas light to fit up through.

A small piece of greenery was cut from a swag and shaped to make a mini Christmas tree. Clear fingernail polish and tweezers made it very easy to glue seed beads on it for ornaments.

A vintage picture was copied and glued to the inside back of the box, in the lower right hand corner. Fold the first corner of the box, on the left hand side, and secure with hot glue. Glue the finished tree where it will be seen through the window. For stability, I glued a small piece of foam down first, then the tree to the foam. Paint the foam brown.

Once the tree is in place, finish folding up the box, and secure it with hot glue. Use sharp nippers to trim your twigs, arrange, and hot glue them to the box.

Fold a scrap piece of the box to form a chimney and glue in on the roof. Paint it with gesso and brown paint. I used a nut pick to punch holes near the center top, then threaded a jute hanging string. I used a thin wire to help thread it through.

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Finish covering the roof and chimney with twigs. I covered the sides all the way to the top.

Working in small sections, brush on some DecoArt Snow-Tex to fill the gaps between the twigs, then wipe it off with a wet rag, to reveal the twigs. I found it helpful to use a small bucket of water, empty it, and refill it with clean water often. Just for caution, I emptied my water outside and not down the drains.

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Ready for the tree!

I hope your Christmas is full of love, laughter, and merry making!  Happy New Year!

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Reversed Etching A Christmas Window DIY

No time for fall crafts this last month; the beautiful late summer weather motivated me to start a garden project I’ve been waiting to do. Although it’s a WIP, I’d like to tell you a bit about it before we get on to the etched window.

Last year, I got rid of the five year old trumpet vines on my garden trellis because new vines were popping up everywhere and taking over. Wanting the trellis covered, but not with vines again, I got the idea of weaving willow branches through the steel frame. Thanks to my niece and sister’s tree trimming, I was able to gather, and weave, two big batches of branches. It needs a lot more branches, but I’m very happy with the way it’s shaping up. I guess I’ll just have to be content for now, until next spring when the weather is more accommodating, and someone starts trimming again.

With the temperatures dropping and Halloween passed, I’m ready to shift straight into Christmas crafting mode.

The idea of reverse etching on old window panes came about after I noticed some little brass embossing stencils in my daughter’s scrap booking supplies. They were so cute! Out of curiosity, I laid one on the overhead projector just to see what it looked like in a larger scale, and that’s all it took, I wanted to get the designs on a window somehow.
Easily a weekend project, they’re great for gift giving, vendor shows, or your own Christmas decor. I used an old window, an enlarged snowflake stencil pattern, small clear ruler, matte contact paper, exacto knife, template pencil, large snowflake paper punch, hole paper punch, 10 oz. Armour etching cream, 3″ wide chip brush, E6000, small beveled glass star sets, and clear glass globs. My pattern was planned around the small glass bevels I had on hand.
My window looked a little rough, so after giving it a good scrub, it got a couple coats of white paint.

A snowflake pattern was used to redraw the design with the glass pieces I had to use.

Copies were made of the pattern, then a window was used as a light box to trace the patterns on their backside.

Arrange the patterns to your liking, on the front side of the window, and tape them into place.

  

 

    

Flip the window face down. Clean the glass thoroughly. Apply matte contact paper down over your patterns. Use an old plastic gift/credit card to help apply it smoothly and work out any air bubbles. Trace the patterns on to the glass with a template pencil.

Remove the paper patterns from the front, then, use an exacto knife and a small clear ruler, or straightedge, to cut the snowflakes out of the contact paper.

  

  

I used a large Martha Stewart Snowflake Punch and a regular hole punch to punch more shapes out of the matte contact paper. I found it worked best if the paper was inserted into the punch sticky side up. Card stock was punched a couple times in between each large snowflake to keep the punch from getting sticky and causing the contact paper to bind.  My hole punch was pretty sharp so I didn’t have to punch the card stock much to keep it clean.

Peel the contact paper from the punched shapes and arrange them around the snowflakes.

   

I stood my window up, in a window, to get a good look at it. Tiny pieces of painter’s tape marked where more dots were needed.

The etching process goes quickly. You will want to be near a water source where you can rinse the etching cream off easily. I hook a short length of garden hose to my sink faucet and rinse over the old drain in my basement, works like a charm.
Lay the window on a flat work surface. I usually lay a big piece of cardboard over a 33 gal trash bin, and use it as a table near my sink. With your fingers, or fid, make sure all your pieces are burnished down well. Spray a paper towel with glass cleaner and lightly wipe your window again to remove any fingerprints or sticky residue, especially around the edges of the contact paper shapes.

For good coverage, the etching will be done with two coats, one horizontally, one vertically. It doesn’t make any difference which one you do first. Use a soft, natural bristled 3″ paint brush. When working with etching cream, work in a well ventilated area, wear eye protection and rubber gloves.
Shake the etching cream well. If it has sit for a long period of time you may want to stir it first to make sure there is no sediment in the bottom of the bottle. Pour about half of etching cream into a wide mouth lidded container.

  

Brush on the first coat of etching cream over the contact paper shapes, horizontally, in long, straight, even strokes. Do not over brush. Let the etching cream set 2 minutes.
Rinse out the brush and wipe it dry. Cover the container so the remaining etching cream doesn’t dry out.

After 2 minutes, gently rinse the etching cream off of the window by running water over it as you rub very lightly with your hand. Don’t disturb the contact paper shapes. Let the window glass dry naturally, or put a fan on it for a few minutes.

  

Lay the window flat again and apply the second coat of etching cream, vertically this time, in long, straight, even strokes. Let set 2 minutes, then rinse the window clean. Some of the contact paper shapes will probably start coming loose with the second rinse.

  

Put any remaining etching cream back in the bottle, wash the brush and container. For safety reasons, please remember to mark all your work containers and bowls, and keep them in a separate area far away from any food containers.
Peel off the contact paper to reveal your design. Use an exacto knife to carefully pry up stubborn edges if needed. After all the contact paper is removed, clean the window with glass cleaner.  Repair any glazing if needed.

  

After lightly distressing the paint on the window edges (which I should have done when I painted the window), a hot glue gun was used to add some greenery and pine cones to the front, upper left corner.  Lay the window flat, face up, to glue on the glass embellishments with E6000, matching them to the shapes in the snowflakes underneath.  Let the glue dry at least 12 hours.
Eye hooks can be added to the top for hanging in a large window, but, I think they’re prettiest leaning in a lit Christmas display on a mantle, console, or buffet. You can decide.

  

I know Thanksgiving is not even that close yet, but, I’m really excited for Christmas. Our youngest daughter has returned home from teaching in South Korea for a year, which means we will have everyone home for the entire holiday season! I’m looking forward to crafting, playing games, holiday movie nights, shopping trips, and hopefully some snowman building.
Some pretty white owls caught my daughter’s eye at a craft store the other day, so we picked out a couple. It looks like we’ll be going with an out-doorsy, nature theme on our tree this year. In anticipation, hydrangeas have been hung to dry, and the grand kids and I have been foraging for materials. It’s going to be fun to see what we can make for the tree. I can hardly wait to get started!

 

 

Our Elfun Christmas Tree

This is just for kicks, and, I think, a fitting ending to the year.  I love seeing all the beautiful Christmas trees others post on line, so I thought I’d share mine.

 

I wanted to really brighten up the Christmas tree this year and make it more fun for the kids.  I had a few elves and some red and green lights in mind when I made a trip to town a couple weeks ago.  That was before my daughter, grand-kids, and I went into Hobby Lobby!  A decoration wonderland!!

With my grandson’s encouragement, I loaded my cart with garland, mesh ribbon, lights, and bright, funky sprigs. Oh yes, and elves, one large one and 8 small ones. All of our new treasures, along with some red, green, and white decorations from a couple years ago, would do our tree up just dandy.

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Our elves got a little added sparkle with glitter gel pens, shiny metallic pipe cleaners, and bells on all their toes.

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Mr. Big Elf is in front for all to see, and there’s a little one playing peek-a-boo on a low branch of the tree.

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There’s smiling elves, peeking out all over, as sprite as can be …

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And even a silly one hanging upside down, from his knees.

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I wish you a Very Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year, and many blessings for a joyous holiday season!

 

Fused Glass Snowman Ornament

Christmas orders have been keepin’ me busy, busy, this last month, and delayed progress on my other crafting projects.  Every year I tell myself I’m going to get a jump on things and get started in August, but, yeah, it never seems to work out that way. I guess maybe I’m just not disciplined enough to do it.

But, wanting to share something in the spirit of Christmas, I thought I’d show how I make my snowman ornament.  This little guy was my first ornament design. He’s been a good seller for me and I still offer him today.  I know there’s not much time before Christmas, but he’s pretty simple to make. Please feel free to make him for gifts for your family or friends. He is my original design, so I do ask that you do not make him for sale or profit, Thank You.

I had a client request a few snowmen in purple, so you’ll see the purple colors in this post, but, I’ve used a variety of colors as you can see in the feature picture.  I use Spectrum System 96 colors and a COE96 Uroboros 602502 red.

I like to get all my little embellishment pieces out of the way, so before I start ornaments, I make a batch of holly, carrot noses, and berries.

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After using my pattern pieces to cut my glass –

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there’s three steps I’m mindful of as I shape and grind –

#1 – I lay the hat brace on the backside of the hat piece to make sure it mimics the top shape of the hat, and will fit neatly behind it.

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#2 – Make sure the hatband fits nicely about 1/8″ up from the bottom edge of the hat.

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#3 – Shape the top curve of the hat brim to match the bottom curve of the hatband.

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Clean glass pieces thoroughly. Bend a short length of 17 gauge high temp wire to form a loop.  Glue it in place, in the center of the hat brace, propped on a small piece of kiln fiber, let dry.   I always use kiln shelf paper for my ornaments, but, to each their own..

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While you have the glue out, glue the hatband on the hat and the end on the scarf.  Prop the scarf end with a scrap of glass until its dry.

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Once everything is dry, brush a little fusers glue along the bottom edge of the hat brace, and carefully lay the hat piece over it, covering it completely.  The hat will meld over it so its not seen after firing. Let glue dry well before brushing a little glue on the bottom edge of the hat, and laying the head in place, slightly overlapping. Let glue dry.

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Brush small line of glue along bottom edge of head, and lay the scarf in place, slightly overlapping, at neck.  Let dry.  Place hat brim on the shelf, separately, to fire.

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I use a small tabletop kiln to fire my ornaments.  I start on medium, with the lid open a bit, until the temp reaches 1000 and the kiln paper is done burning, then close the lid and turn it to high. I like a sharp clean look, so I watch closely through the kiln lid window when the temp gets to around 1600 degrees, and shut the kiln off quickly once the glass edges have rounded smoothly .. most often at 1650 – 1700 degrees. After unplugging the kiln, flash vent to 1100 degrees, and shut the lid until the kiln is at room temp.

After completely cooled, glue the hat brim on with E6000.  I always prop the hat brim and/or lay the rubber ends of my small pliers across it to hold in place until dry.  Use a toothpick to help glue on nose, holly, and the berry.  To add the glass seed bead eyes, squirt a small amount of glue on waxed paper.  Hold the bead with tweezers, touch it in the glue, then put it on the glass.  Let glue dry. Clean away any unwanted glue, that is showing, with a craft knife or small ceramic tool.

Hope you have fun with him! Please contact me if you have any questions. I’d love to see what you create if you’re willing to share!

My Vintage Style Christmas Tree – Part Two

I thought it would be fun to make some colorful ornaments to brighten up my tree.  They are all pretty simple … System 96 glass with some noodles and stringers. I fired everything in my small tabletop kiln, on kiln paper. All of these were taken to about 1700 degrees. I like to watch the action through the little window so I don’t over fuse and get that muddled look.

There had to be a stocking, of course! I used two pieces of thin white for the stocking top.

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Something circular would be nice, but not just solid and plain. I’ve found the easist way for me to save some grinding time, on something like this, is to drill the hole first. Then center the hole under your clear plastic pattern, trace and cut out.

How to combine glass and metal had me stumped for a little bit, until I noticed a pile of little bells I had laid aside to rust .. hmm? Wouldn’t it be neat if they could dangle in an ornament somehow? I started with 1/4″ wide strips of glass, and laid them out as shown below … it worked! I may have to make some of these on a larger scale for my big tree!

The little candy canes are time consuming, but so stinkin’ cute! These are 2 1/8″ long, and made the same way I make larger ones for patchwork candy canes. I’ve read many tips for keeping marks on glass while using a glass saw, but using my scribe and marker has never failed me.

After tracing your pattern, go over your line with a pencil scribe. You could probably use an electric engraver for this too, but I haven’t tried it yet. Fill in the scribe line with black marker and let it dry a little bit. Lightly wipe the marker off, leaving a noticeable line for saw work.

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All of the cutting can be done on a ring saw, but I like to use a band saw to cut the inside line of the cane. Use a regular glass cutter to cut the outside line. On a ring saw, I shape and grind the inside arch and side of the cane first, then go to the glass grinder for the outside edge. Decorate and fire.

Joann Fabric had the perfect piece of fabric for my tree skirt. But, in all honesty, my sewing machine has not seen the light of day for probably two years. I don’t hate sewing, it’s just not in the list of my top 10 things I like to do. With that being said, I asked our close family friend Alison to make my tree skirt for me. Fantastic Job Alison!

My daughter graciously offered her collection of small glass vintage Christmas balls. They’re lovely, old and faded, and in all the right colors. I’m just guessing here, but I’ve seen her eyeing my garland .. She’ll probably want to borrow it next year to go with her Christmas balls. I know how these things work.

The bay window in my kitchen doesn’t offer much of beautiful view this time of year, just out buildings and empty fields. But it does offer a lot of light to shine through the beads and glass, and it will be safe from little curious hands.

I’ve never decorated one of these trees before. There’s a lot of empty spaces, and a little different with no lights, but I’m pleased with the way it turned out. It’s been raining here all day, really dreary. I’m looking forward to seeing it in a whole new light tomorrow.

It was not a good day to take pictures either, I’m afraid. I worked for hours trying to get a real clear shot of my tree. I added light from lamps, a snow blanket background over the window, nothing helped. I waited until dark and tried again. Sorry, they aren’t fantastic, but better than the earlier ones, and the best I have for now.

I invited some little elfish friends to play under the tree.

I hope you and yours enjoy a wondrous holiday season.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

My Vintage Style Christmas Tree – Part One

“Kitschy” – 1) A style of decorative art and design in which ordinary objects have vintage appeal, “old-fashioned” characteristics. 2) Art, decorative objects or design considered by many people to be ugly, lacking in style, or false but enjoyed by other people.

A lull in activity, last week, afforded me some much needed time to catch up on a few Christmas orders and start making a little something special for myself too!

Over a year ago, while making garden garlands, the vision of a smaller, beaded, Christmas garland began forming in my mind.  I could just see it draped on one of those little foil trees; not the bright silver one, but the darker, tarnished looking one.  Ideally, it would be glass and metal, with a vintage, bohemian, kitschy look.  But, although I had plenty of beads, crystals, and such, I didn’t have an outstanding metal element.  That was, not until I set eyes on a lovely old, tarnished silver necklace in a popular local shop, Reclaimed Treasures on Main, in Haverhill Iowa. It could not have been more perfect!  Isn’t it sweet?

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I loosely draped a string around my tree, and measured it, to determine that my garland needed to be about 90″ long to look it’s best.

Not wanting to disassemble the necklace before having some sort of plan, I laid out a mess of beads and baubles, in the colors and sizes I thought I might use, and gave them a good look over.

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I decided the best way, for me, to approach this project was to break it down into small steps, and watch my progress as I went along.

I removed the jump ring that connected the necklace ends together.

To add some length quickly, I linked together 9 beads that I liked.  There were enough beads to make six identical lengths, but I wasn’t really concerned about them matching exactly, I would have substituted some if needed.  I inserted one of these beaded lengths after every other solid orb in the necklace.

Most of my beads already had wires, which was a huge plus. If there wasn’t a wire, I robbed one from another bead or made one. Some reclaimed crystals were added between the other silver orbs, and two of the little floral ovals were moved to each end.

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I loved the look of the grungy pearls, so I went back and added another one beside the small purple crystal beads.

Repeats of some of the beads I used were added to each end before going back and securing all the connections.

I thought I was done here, but as I was putting things away, I came across some awesome pale green pearls, and couldn’t resist tucking them in next to some of the red crystal beads.  Now, its finished, well … for this year anyway.  I have a sneaky feeling this piece will be a tempting one to keep adding to, don’t you agree?

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We’re not done yet, the real fun is just beginning!  There’s decorations to find, a tree skirt to make, and ornaments to get in the kiln.  I hope you’re able to join me as it all comes together this week-end for Part Two of My Vintage Style Christmas Tree….  Enjoy Your Week!

 

 

In The Spirit of Christmas!

A friend and I were visiting the other day and trying to decide exactly what you would call our obsession with saving scraps and bits.  The term “junk collector” isn’t really fitting and sounds so cold.  We are more like “gatherers”.  We like to gather and save all kinds of intriguing things, big and small, until we discover or create a way to use them.  With a husband in the scrap business, I may get to do more gathering than most, but I really enjoy the challenge of creating with my finds.

After pinning another great Pinterest post on crafting with Epsom Salt, I figured it was time to give it a try.  But, what was I going to put it on?

During short breaks from glass work the last couple of weeks, I’ve been having fun rusting wire, bells, and a few other tidbits.  Looking through them. I found a couple large notebook spirals that rusted nicely, and thought they would look good as flocked wreath ornaments.

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I started with a large rusted spiral approximately 12″ long.  Shape in a circle and clip ends together to determine the diameter of the wire circle you will need for an inner circle, to prevent sagging.  Pre-shape a length of rusty wire into the circle size needed, with a little extra on the ends.  Scrunch the spiral in your hand and thread wire through.

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Trim off excess wire and form small hooks on wire ends.  Cross hooks over and connect the spiral together to form the inner circle.  Pinch hooks tight.  Wrap the loose coil ends of the spiral to the coil opposite of it (right to left, left to right) to complete the outside edge of the circle.

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Not wanting fumes to choke everyone out of the house, I moved to the garage for spraying and coating my wreaths. Using long tweezers to hold the wreaths worked like a charm, and they cleaned up easily with a wipe of  mineral spirits.  Spraying over the garbage bin kept sticky overspray residue at bay.  Adhesive sprays may differ; please follow manufacturers directions.

After spraying, coat wreath well in a shallow container of Epsom Salt.  I waited about 10 minutes, then sprayed the wreath again, before sprinkling it with crystal clear glitter.

You can stop here if you like the look.  Wanting a heavier, fuller appearance, I waited about 20 minutes and repeated the coating step. Then moved the wreaths inside to dry thoroughly.

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Flatten a small piece of textured scrap aluminum for the holly.  Trace first leaf, then flip the pattern before tracing the second leaf.  Cut them out with tin snips or all purpose scissors.  Be Careful Please … edges may be sharp!

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Re-flatten the leaves and punch a small hole for a wire.  File the edges, sand with steel wool, and paint them with a Christmas green craft paint.

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Sandpaper the leaves to distress the green paint.  Spray lightly with adhesive and coat them lightly with glitter.  If the glitter gets too heavy, brush it off with a soft bristled brush.  Let dry well before using your fingers to curve the tips of the leaves, to add dimension.

Many small gauge wires will work for the leaves and bells.  I used Christmas hook wires because they were on my workbench and easily accessible.

Form a small circle on the end of a straightened, long green plastic coated Christmas hook.  Bend it to the side.

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Over lap the ends of the holly, lining up the holes, and clip them together.  Insert the shaped wire.  Squeeze a little E6000 in the gap, where they meet, on the backside.  Let dry.

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Spray two 3/4″ rusted round bells with a clear sealer.  Wire them tightly together.  Hold leaves and position the bells as you view them from the front.  Hold in place and hot glue them enough to hold them in place on the backside of the leaves.  Lay them down to secure with more glue.  If there is a lot of adhesive and glitter on the leaves, you may need to lightly sand the area before gluing.

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Push the long leaf wire through the coils of your wreath, from the front, covering the spiral connection.  Keep leaves firmly positioned while wrapping the long wire around the inner circle wire and coils.  Use small pliers to help thread it through the coils and keep it pulled tight.

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Do any additional shaping on your leaves.  As a finishing touch, give the crown of the bells a quick spritz of adhesive and a little sprinkle of glitter.

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Hope this little project has inspired some Christmas crafting.  If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear how you are using Epsom Salt in your creations.

For now, I guess it’s back to a little glass work for me … there’s candy canes to be make!  glassicartistry.etsy.com

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