You can make beautiful, vintage style spun cotton ornaments from blank spun cotton shapes. In this tutorial, we will explore basic craft techniques and present you with some of our favorite creations. The making of each of the following ornaments will be explained in more details further down.
Spun Cotton Ornaments – A little history
Spun cotton ornaments, originated in the Saxony region of Germany back in the second half of the 19th century, during the late Victorian era. These old fashioned beauties were made with cotton batting (and sometime wool batting too), a fluffy, raw looking material made of non woven fibers.
People in those days would wrap and press the cotton batting, by hand, around a metal wire frame. Next, they would cover the ornaments with a starchy liquid to give them a smooth workable surface. Finally, when dry, they would paint the ornaments, and decorate them with glitter, home made paper trimmings, and even cut out paper faces.
Traditional spun cotton ornaments were made during the Holidays to be displayed on the Christmas tree. Families would fashion ornaments in the shape of fruits, angels, children, Santa Claus, and even animals.
In this tutorial, we wanted to present you with a twist on this traditional technique, and show you how you can make beautiful vintage style ornaments, starting from modern blank spun cotton shapes.
Making your ornements from blank spun cotton shapes – The basics
We love to work with blank spun cotton shapes because it is fast and convenient. There is no need to create a shape out of batting, just use an already existing one. The shapes come in literally hundreds of different forms: fruits, balls, teardrops…
Just like traditional spun cotton ornaments, spun cotton shapes originated in Germany. They are made of soft paper, rolled by machines inside of a mold.
Blank shapes can be painted (acrylic craft glue works great), covered with glittered (sugar style glass glitter give them a terrific vintage look), glued to other materials…
Icing on the cake, unless glass ornements, spun cotton shapes are shatter proof.
Altering the shape of the shapes – yes it’s possible!
It is possible (and easy) to compress the shapes a little bit in some areas to create ridges and small depressions. For example, you can alter ball shapes into pumpkins, peaches, oranges or plums for exams.
In the above picture, we made a ridge into a ø40mm ball. We will then use it to make a lovely glittered peach ornament.
To dent or compress the shapes, simply spray a fine mist of water on them, and use a tool to apply pressure (the handle of a metal spoon will work just fine). Let dry and voila :)
Use a wooden pick and don’t get paint on your fingers
Why not use the hole that is inherent to all of the shapes to hold your spun cotton ornaments with a pick while you work on them? It’s very convenient.
You can also use the wooden pick to rest the shape while the paint dries. When you are done painting or decorating, simply insert the stick in a piece of foam, or just rest it in a heavy cup.
Easily add hanging loops to your ornaments
Since all shapes have a hole on one side, it’s easy to add a hanging loop.
You can easily fabricate a little hanging device by looping a short piece of wire around the handle of a paintbrush. Once done, simply insert it into the hole of the shape. For a secure bond, pour a little glue into the hole before inserting the metal loop.
A few of our vintage style Christmas ornament creations
Vintage angel ornaments
We love our cute little angels and fashioned them from the 47mm tall peg doll shapes. Once painted, we dressed them with lace and created the wings with fluffy white bump chenille. You can visit our full tutorial page for all the details.
Glittered Plum Ornaments
We made our plums from ø40mm spun cotton balls and used German glass glitter to coat them.
The first step was to create a ridge along one side of the spun cotton ball. To do so, spray mist a little water on the ball and with the handle of a spoon (or a similar object), press down to create the ridge. Let dry
Then, paint the ball with purple acrylic paint. Try to blend a little bit of grey into your purple to create a more vintage color.
The leaves are made with white cardstock, painted to the desired color. Or you can simply use a dark green color cardstock if you have some, but we think it looks better if you paint your own cardstock. When the pain is dry, glue a piece of metal wire on the back side of the leave. This piece of metal wire should overhang by 2 cm.
Time to add glitter! Cover the plum and the leave with regular white craft glue (use a paint brush) and sprinkle the glitter over with a spoon. Tap of the excess. Wait a few hours until the glue is completely dry.
Almost done! Make a hanging loop (see instructions above), cover the tip of the loop with glue and insert into the plum. Without waiting, cover the tip of the wire overhanging from the leaf with glue and insert into the plum as well. You are all set :)
Vintage Lemon Ornaments – WATCH OUR VIDEO TUTORIAL
To make these sparkling beauties, we used our blank lemon shapes. The process is very similar to the one we used to make the sugar plums ornaments.
Vintage Apple and Pear ornaments
TIP : to give your ornaments a vintage-y look, try to avoid colors that are too bright or too flashy. Instead, incorporate into the paint a small amount of grey. Give them this antique Victorian style look that caracterizes vintage ornaments.
Vintage Peach Spun Cotton Ornament
To make the peach, we used a ø 50mm spun cotton ball. However, you could also use ø40 or ø45 balls and the peaches would still look great.
One of the most difficult thing with peach ornaments is to blend the yellows, the reds and the oranges and create realistic ombre effects. You may have to practice a little. It is important to work with all colors at the same time, so one doesn’t dry out before the other.
TIP: Spray mist a little water onto the blank ornament before adding the paints. This way, the cotton won’t absorb the paint too quickly and the paint won’t dry too fast. You will have more time to work on a perfect color transition.
However, don’t sweat it too much, people will be impressed even if your blending technique isn’t perfect. And don’t forget: a little sugar makes everything better :)
Elves with felt scarves spun cotton ornaments
This one is a little different from the others because we used a string to create the hanging loop instead of using a piece of metal. We used ø 20 mm balls for the heads, painted them with a solid color, and simply dabbed 2 black dots for the eyes. The felt hats are stitched in the back and glued onto the heads. We used hot glue to fold the scarves and to attach them to the heads.
Happy Crafting with SPUNNYS
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