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Sunday, 6 January 2013

Hanging Christmas Decorations - the sequel

Hanging Christmas Decorations, version 2, by Neil Burley

Following on from my hanging Christmas decorations which were displayed at the NEC in November, I was commissioned to make a larger version to be taken across to the January 2013 CHA exhibition in the USA. It turns out there's quite a few differences when the project needs scaling up. I chose to keep to a palette of white, blue and silver reflecting this month's theme of snow and ice.

Here's what I did (and learnt!):
From making the first hanging Christmas decorations, I discovered that the discs can be quite brittle. For this make, and the international travel requirement, I needed to make the embossing powder discs more resilient, so I added chopped up hot glue gun sticks to the mix. I was also tasked with making the discs between 3-4 inches in diameter, so had to work that out too!

You will need (makes three white discs):
- a jar of WOW! Melt-it
- a small jar of WOW! Bright White Super Fine
- a third of a hot glue gun glue stick, chopped
- foil pie dish
- aluminium foil
- baking tray
- oven
- heat gun

To decorate:
- various WOW! embossing powders and glitters
- WOW! Merry & Bright Christmas clear stamp set
- WOW! Blizzard clear stamp
- heat gun
- clear embossing ink pad

Firstly, I made aluminium foil moulds by tightly stretching the foil over  a part used roll of wide masking tape which happened to be 3.5 inches in diameter. I scrunched the foil down the sides to minimise creases and then used scissors to trim the top edges. Make as many moulds as you need, and a couple spare - you won't be able to reuse them.

Next I set the oven to 150°C and got out the baking trays. At this point, I need to recommend you cover the tray with greaseproof paper or non-stick heat proof craft sheet - I didn't, and molten embossing powder (or set for that matter) really doesn't want to come off the metal sheet!

For the 3.5 in discs, I followed a rule of thirds - a third of a pot of WOW! Melt-It, a third of a small pot of WOW! Bright White Super Fine, and a third of a glue stick. For silver based discs, I used a third of a large pot of WOW! Metallic Silver Ultra High with a third of a glue stick. Pop the ingredients into a suitably sized foil pie dish, onto the baking tray and into the oven until melted - takes around 10-15 mins. The low temperature means it's slower melting, but won't scorch so easily if you leave it a little longer. Once molten, bring it out and give it a stir with a silicone spatula to thoroughly mix through, particularly the glue stick pieces - try not to stir too vigorously as you don't want too many air bubbles. Return to the oven for another couple of minutes to warm back up. Then pour each pot into one of the moulds, taking care to hold the pie dishes well - the molten powder is heavier than you might expect. Set aside the poured moulds to set. The foil peels off when they are cool but not cold - I tried refrigerating them and found that the foil didn't come off quite so easily if cold. Continue making as many as you need in batches.

Once the discs are peeled, you'll note that the surface in contact with the foil is dull - this will go glossy again if you heat it with a heat gun. The edges of the discs will be ridged due to the foil - I tried chipping with a craft knife and sanding them, but the most effective way to smooth them, if you need to, is to patiently heat the edge with the heat gun, keeping the disc rotating as you do so. I also found that heating the surface of the discs inevitably brought air bubbles to the surface - just keep heating until the surface smooths again and allow to cool.

I added various coatings to the discs, using Versamark embossing ink direct from the pad to cover the discs and then covering with the powders. It works best to do the edges first, then the sides in turn. When heat setting additional layers, make sure the disc is completely cool, and you only heat just enough for the new layer to melt in.

For the white discs, I added another couple of layers of WOW! Bright White Super Fine before decorating using the snowflake and sentiment from WOW! Merry & Bright Christmas clear stamp set and WOW! Nice Ice Blue embossing glitter or WOW! Blueberry and WOW! Blizzard clear stamp. One white disc is covered in WOW! Sparkling Snow. For the silver discs, I added two layers of either WOW! Metallic Platinum Sparkle, WOW! Silver Bells, or WOW! Bling Bling (from the WOW! Girls Night Out special edition kit) embossing glitters. For the blue discs, I used WOW! Blue Glitz, WOW! Nice Ice Blue with WOW! White Twinkle for the snowflakes and WOW! Blue Blast. I also used some WOW! Metallic Blue for snowflakes and WOW! Clear Hologram Sparkle. The lettering was done freehand with WOW! Embossing Pen and WOW! Blueberry.

Finally, I used a 3mm drill to add holes top and bottom so that a suitable hanging thread could be tied through to hang them in series. I only had one breakage, and that was the disc that I hadn't added glue stick to. And just a bit more advice - set aside a day to do this project - it takes longer than you might think!

WOW! Shopping List
WOW! Merry & Bright Christmas clear stamp set
WOW! Blizzard clear stamp
WOW! Melt-it
WOW! Bright White Super Fine
WOW! Metallic Silver Ultra High
WOW! Nice Ice Blue
WOW! Blueberry
WOW! Sparkling Snow
WOW! Metallic Platinum Sparkle
WOW! Silver Bells
WOW! Bling Bling (from the WOW! Girls Night Out special edition kit)
WOW! Blue Glitz
WOW! White Twinkle
WOW! Blue Blast
WOW! Metallic Blue
WOW! Clear Hologram Sparkle
WOW! Embossing Pen
Versamark embossing ink
Heat gun

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  1. Hi Neil,
    Your Christmas hanger that you've worked with the WOW powder, look class and liked it very much.
    This is a beautiful mobile. A great idea from you

    Greetings from Germany sends you Carmen :)

  2. Looking forward to seeing the end result. How many did you make? Love in particular the dark blue and white one which looks like old china

    1. That's all of them Doris - the end result will be tied up by Tania at CHA very soon :)
      I loved the blue and white too - very much evocative of the old china - something to be played with I think :)

  3. Fab designs and if the ones at Birmingham are anything to go by, these will be talked about just as much.