The Charm of Folk Art

Colonial Williamsburg employees Jan Gilliam and Christina Westenberger spent 2010 experimenting with handmade Christmas tree ornaments.

Recycled materials were used to fashion many ornaments, such as metal hearts out of juice can lids, snowflakes out of pages from old books, stars out of used greeting cards and fabric hearts out of old denim jeans.

Along the way, they trashed decorations that just didn't work out, like animals from Noah's Ark and a stitched turnip because they looked bad or were too complicated.

Their successes are showcased in the new Colonial Williamsburg book, The Art-Full Tree: Ornaments to Make Inspired by the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum with 143 pages of illustrations, templates and projects to make decorations for your own tree.

Folk art-inspired ornaments never need to be perfect in form and appearance. The simplicity of their handcrafted look is part of the charm that can be enjoyed for generations to come, say the book's co-authors.

Here are two ornaments from the book you may want to make for your tree this year.

Recycled-Metal Heart Heart template (download at Cardboard, such as a cereal box Cutting mat, an extra layer of cardboard works Metal juice can lid for each ornament Pencil Awl 1/8 inch ribbon, 15 inches long, for each heart To prepare work surface, lay a piece of cardboard down on top of cutting mat. Using the template as a guide, sketch the heart design onto the can lid with a pencil. Use the awl to carefully punch the design into the lid; don't push too hard and end up going through your mat. Add a hole at the top with the awl for the ribbon. Fold the ribbon in half and insert the folded end through the hole from the front just far enough to make a loop. Thread the two ends through the loop and pull tight so the ribbon is held tight to the lid. Tie off the ends of the ribbon at the desired length for hanging.

Aluminum and Copper Star Garland Star template (download at Clear tape 36-gauge aluminum and copper tooling foil Piece of felt Stylus, such as an old ballpoint pen or sharpened dowel Embroidery scissors 1/8-inch hole punch Pliers or bent needle-nose pliers Jump rings in silver and gold tones, 9 mm Narrow ribbon, 24 inches long, for each star Tape star template to either the aluminum or copper tooling foil and place on felt. The felt protects your work surface and allows the stylus to create a deep impression into the foil. Trace the star template, including all the decorative details, with the stylus, using even pressure. Remove the template. If necessary, go over the image more firmly with the stylus. Repeat the process to create six aluminum and six copper stars.

Cut out the foil stars, leaving a 1/8-inch margin on the outside of the drawn lines. Using the 1/8-inch hole punch, punch a hole in one point of the star and another hole in one of the points across from it. Using the pliers, attach a silver jump ring to each hole in each aluminum star and a gold jump ring to each hole in each copper star. Attach the gold and silver jump rings to each other to "string" the garland.

To create hangers, cut two 12-inch pieces of ribbon and attach one to each end of your garland of stars through the jump rings.

McClatchy-Tribune Newspapers

The Charm of Folk Art 1

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