Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Making Snowmen

Last Christmas I made 4 snowmen out of various supplies and bottles I had lying around.  I wish I had a photo of all of them but I didn't think to do that!  So here I have photos of my first one I ever made and the last one, made this year.  I got the idea at an art show and they were selling well (meaning, people were purchasing!)at $30 on up & I truly think mine look better, IF I can "toot my own horn".   This Christmas I only made one and of course I didn't think to take any photos as I was designing her.  I give them away as gifts as I think they are much to fragile to try to sell in my Etsy store.  I thought I could give you some instruction so if your interested in doing some for next year you can start collecting supplies. Right now the Christmas decorations will be drastically reduced so it should be very cheap for you to pick up some that you will want to use in making your own snowman. *Yes!*  I love a sale!

The supplies I have listed are not all necessary.  It just depends on what you want to do or add to your snowman.  I look often at Estate sales, auctions and garage sales and find most of my supplies.   
  • First thing you will need is a see through bottle or vase of some sort.  Usually one with a narrowing at the opening to allow a Styrofoam ball to sit on.  You can also use glass lamp globes.  Watch garage sales!  I got the tall, crackled vase above for a quarter!
  • Lights:  I use 36" 18 Light Silver Wire Cool White Battery Operated LED Micro Miniature Christmas Light String Set With Timer.  They will run on 4 AA batteries and will only be on for 6 hours at a time.  Any miniature lights should work, even if you need to plug them in.  Michael's, or Joanne's carry this brand and you can use their weekly coupons to get them 40-50% off. 
  • Hot glue gun & glue sticks
  • Scissors (decorative edge if you like)
  • wire cutters
  • Starch
  • Small Square Craft sticks in various colors (maybe 2" or under) I use these for the nose especially.
  • Package of Christmas Trees (from old bottle brushes- I found a pack at Big Lots for $6 that has a wide assortment of sizes and a dozen trees.)
  • Old Christmas book or hymnal
  • Glitter- I use silver and like to have it in square for the head.  I also use the tiny round for accenting other parts of the body.
  • Gesso White paint
  • Fake snow, or rock salt
  • Styrofoam balls- it will depend on your bottle size what size you need to purchase.  I find these often at Estate & garage sales. 
  • Christmas decorations:  snowflake garland or other small garland, picks (like the snowflake above), pearls, Christmas berries or other Christmas floral, tinsel, small glass ornaments, glass rocks or vase gems, etc.  ANYTHING that would look good either ON your snowman or IN your snowman. 
  • Feather Boas, faux fur, cotton batting, old junk ties, ribbon, etc.  Anything that can be used to accent your snowman by making shaws, scarfs, wraps, etc. 
  • Antique findings:  Old keys, lockets, knobs, wooden thread spools, vintage jewelry, corks, marbles, etc.  I even used an old hammer handle in my snowman pictured above...the tree is sitting on it.
  • decoupage glue
  • Buttons, nails or tacs for eyes & mouths.  White/ or pearl ball head straight pins.  Smaller ball black straight pins. 
  • Netting from anything.  The netting that looks like a bird cage veil is from a red craft supplies sacks that held glass gems.  But you can also find it on onions, apples, spices, etc.  Just keep your eyes peeled for netting and then SAVE it.  Examples above in white & red. (The white is hard to see in my photos but if you click on photo to enlarge it you will notice it on the finished snowman by the mirror) 
  • Old postcards.  I used the one shown above and decoupaged it to the back of an Amaretto liqueur bottle and it fit perfectly in the indention of the bottle.  The old writing shown through the glass and "fillings" and the back side was the pretty Christmas postcard picture.  You can also use them as the floor of a globe.  If your globe is wide then scan the postcard in and re-size it bigger to fit the base of your open glass globe and print on heavy card stock.  Then cut into the circle to close up the globe then fill as though it were a bottle.
  • White metal hangers.  I don't use these in all of my snowmen but if I fill them really full like the big one shown above, then I'll cut the hanger to fit inside the bottle and wrap the lights tightly around it and then insert it down among the fillings of paper & fake snow and tinsel. If you like, you can leave enough coming out of the bottle to poke into the base of the "head".
  • Natural Brown Vine Covered Wire for the arms.  Give them a very rustic appeal, wraps around your bottle nicely without needing glue and will hold items well (like hammer handle). 
Okay, I think we should be ready to start.  I begin by painting all the Styrofoam balls I will use.  I paint them with white gesso paint, coating well into the holes of the Styrofoam.  Then before the paint is dry I sprinkle them with silver glitter (usually square cut).  Don't overdue it, just a light dusting of glitter is good. 

While those are drying you can work on your snow "person" body.  Decide where the arms will go and wrap your wire and cut it to fit. Sometimes this is around the "neck" of the bottle and sometimes in the middle.  Examples in photos above. 

Most of my Snowmen come out as women.  (Snow women just does not have the same ring to it as Snowmen.)  I have a lot of vintage jewelry and I like to dress up the gals with a bird cage veil, rings, broaches, colorful hats,  feather boas, etc.  One of mine even carried a purse!  But you can make men of course too.  I have taken an old hymn book with a Christmas song and cut it into a spiral.  I layer this into the bottle carefully as old pages like to rip easily.  I have also cut out cute old song titles and decoupaged this to the front of the bottles.  You can make a man's top hat from old book pages.  You can also print out saying on plain computer paper and tea stain them too if you don't want to mess with an old book.  I would like one to say "She loves Christmas".  That will be my next design that I will decoupage to the bottle front. 

Just pack the inside of the body by layering up with your tinsel, garland, book page spiral, etc.  You can use the wire lights to help spiral all these things together and up to the top of the bottle. You can add the fake snow to the bottom of your bottle first if your not going to pack it full. (If it's packed as my taller snowman above is then the fake snow will not show unless you use a lot) If you are packing them full then you will want to wrap the lights on the hanger wire & then push it down into your packed body.   I use vase gems in  the bottom of larger vases or bottles.  It's a cheap filler for a bigger snowman.

Add your Styrofoam head by hot gluing or using the hanger and poke into the base of the "head".  Then poke in an orange stick for a nose.  No need to glue it.  I then poke in  black nail tacs for the eyes and mouths on smaller balls.   I only use them for the mouths on larger balls, otherwise the eyes look too small.  I use buttons for the eyes on larger balls,  held in by black straight ball pens. 

Next hide the join of the head & the body.  You can use the feather boas, old ties, jewelry, make a neck scarf, (starched like it's blowing in the wind)  florals or pine garland.   Get creative. 

Add embellishments to the body.  I have used cork buttons, jewelry, postcards, book pages, old keys, etc.  I have starched a shaw to wrap around the the back and over the arms and then sprinkled it with small glitter.  Whatever you like.  

Add embellishments to the branch arms.  Hold ornaments, Christmas florals, string lights between the two arms, hold a sign, a candle, whatever you can think of. 

Now fix a hat.  I have used old wooden spools, old jewelry (or both as big snowman above has rhinestones wrapped around a wooden spool).  You can use glass knobs, small Christmas trees.  Whatever you fancy! 

Use the straight pins to add the bird cage netting if you desire. 

Now you should be finished with your snowman.  I would love to see your creations.  Send me a link to your photos if you make one or more!  Also, let me know if anything looks confusing or if I have left out anything important that is not letting you move on.  Merry Christmas!

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