Baubles, Bangles and Beads

If you read the last post and made a Papier-mâché ball, you are ready to make this Christmas bauble.


Christmas decorations were originally made out of glass.  They originate from Lauscha in Germany, which has a long history of glassmaking.  The Greiner’s were a well know family of glassmakers.  In the late 1500’s Christopher Muller and Hans Greiner set up a glassmaking factory and in the mid 1800’s Greiner’s ancestors were still producing glass in the area, including Christmas Baubles.  They would have been quite expensive, not for ordinary folk, I believe Queen Victoria ordered many.  Do go and research the history of glassmaking in Germany – it’s fascinating – among other things, they made marbles and the first glass eyes!

Many of the baubles made at that time were in the shape of fruit and nuts.  I’m guessing because that is what people might have used to decorate their trees.  The Baubles were also painted with Christmas designs.

When my sisters had babies, my Mum decided not to have a tree.  She was concerned that they might pull it over on to themselves, or the fallen pine needles would stick in them when they were crawling.  Instead, we had a ‘branch’.  My Dad would fix an appropriately shaped tree branch up on the wall, and my Mum decorated it with glass bird ornaments, lights, snow and tinsel.  As well as baubles, I put pine cones on the Christmas tree and sometimes iced and decorated ginger biscuits.  Below are a couple of decorations that Beanie and J’s Daddy and Uncle made out of Fimo when they were younger.  They go on the tree every year.


So, what do you with the Papier-mâché ball?  Firstly, an adult will need to cut the ball in half.  Before removing the halves, draw a line across the cutting line – this will make it easier to line it up and put it back together.  Make a small hole in the top of one half –  you may find this easier to do if you leave it on the ball.  The thread from old present tags is perfect to use for the hanger.  Once you have threaded the cut ends through, make sure you tie it in a big knot so that it doesn’t slip out – you could tie it tightly to a tiny safety pin which should ensure that it is anchored inside.


Now you can put in some things that smell of Christmas.  Cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise (or some old pot pourri if you have any).  We sprinkled the contents with sweet orange oil.

Next, you have to join the two halves back together.  Glue the edges, line up your mark and make sure it fits flush.  To cover the line, you will need to apply two more layers of Papier-mâché.  In the Argie’s Barge post, I suggested you might try alternating your layers – one with images/colours and the other plain print.  This enables you to see which bits you haven’t covered.  Anyway, finish with plain print as it is easier to cover with paint.


Above is the finished ball.  Now the exciting part – decorating it!  Before you start you will need to give it a coat of white acrylic paint, emulsion or Gesso.  Allow it to dry.  When dry, make four or five holes in the bottom to allow the fragrance out, and to enable you to refresh it with more essential oil.


This one was painted red and allowed to dry.  Holly leaves were cut out of some wrapping paper and glued on.  When the holly leaves were dry the bauble was painted with clear nail varnish.  You can find craft alternatives to this, but this is a good way to use up nail varnish that has gone a bit gloopy.


How you decorate your bauble is up to you.  You can paint on it, put glitter on it, even print off a small photo of yourself and paste that to it.  It would be nice to paint the year on too.  You can buy a paper ball quite cheaply – but where’s the fun in that?  By making one, you will develop some good skills which will lead on to making more elaborate treats!

If you make a bauble we would love to see it!

VERY IMPORTANT: Don’t put the bauble near your tree lights.






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