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Craft a Christmas star

chenille stems give handcrafted ornaments a vintage feel
chenille stems give handcrafted ornaments a vintage feel
Gretchen Goetz

When I was a child the Christmas season often included making holiday ornaments. My grandmother made Christmas trees out of Readers Digests by folding every page at an angle into the center until it stood up on its own looking like a squat, fat tree. Then she’d spray paint it gold and glue on tiny ornaments. She would enlist us kids in the folding of a half dozen magazines so we’d end up with a miniature forest. My mom would painstakingly pin sequins, one at a time, onto foam balls over the course of many evenings. These glittering orbs were then hung from the tree by a slender strip of velvet ribbon. When Christmas was over, these handcrafted works of art were carefully wrapped in newspaper and put away until next year, when we would unwrap them again and marvel at their beauty and wonder what we could make that would be even more magnificent.

Making ornaments to hang alongside your store-bought ones is a wonderful family activity for cold winter evenings spent in front of the fire. I have some to share over the next few days that are reminiscent of the Fifties and Sixties, when aluminum trees reigned supreme and silver tinsel was draped not only on the tree branches, but on everything else, as well. Hang them on the tree and in windows. They can also be used to top Christmas packages or arranged, on a swath of red velvet, with family heirloom ornaments to decorate a mantel.

The basic material for all of the ornaments is what was once called a pipe cleaner but is now referred to by the craft industry as a” chenille stem”. Whatever you call them, they are inexpensive, come in a wide variety of colors and are easy to work with.

Gold Three-Dimensional Star

To make a three dimensional star, form diamond shapes from gold chenille stems. A single stem will make two diamonds. Adhere the ends with hot glue. Insert one diamond into another, forming a cage and glue at top and bottom. Stars can have from five to eight points; mine has eight, so I used sixteen diamonds. Wire or glue cages together to form a star shape. If you prefer wire, choose a thin gauge in a similar color. Coil a half-length of a stem in a circular shape and glue to the center of the star. For a finishing touch, glue small gold beads to star points.


  • Profile picture of Martha Lindberg
    Martha Lindberg 4 years ago

    Oh, these bring back such happy childhood memories! I really like the togetherness of making ornaments as a project, for school or at home. And I remember how impressed I was with the Reader's Digest tree ornaments. Thanks so much for this article!

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