Handmade Christmas Ornament DIY

I was happily invited to participate in an art sisters ornament swap this year. Albeit a last minute invitation – knowing that perhaps I thrive on the last minute, I was up for the challenge? This holiday season is putting that to the test. But while my sugar plums are nestled in bed I will attemp to walk you through their construction.

The hardest part was taking pictures with one hand while holding it together with the other. Pardon the photography.

Handmade Holiday Ornament by Sally Lynn MacDonald / Palettini

The first element of this ornament is this lovely antiqued silver finish birdcage pendant. It has a moving swing with a bird inside. This was from Blue Moon Beads and I did find it still available on aftermarket sites like Amazon, eBay, etsy, etc.

The door to the birdcage slides upward, allowing access for my little feat of engineering on this piece.

OK. See the bottom? That was where my idea started. I couldn’t figure out any way of opening it up without damaging it and possible weakening the structure. But I did figure out how to hang something from the inside / out.

And that something begins with the concept of the toggle bar clasp. No circle part needed, but a toggle bar that’s only feature is its lack of adornment and a small eyehole is necessary. See the shadow underneath the toggle bar on the right? That is showing you that it would have a significant gap between itself and the floor of the birdcage. PLUS, the eyehole is too big to fit through. Use that for another necklace project. The unadorned toggle bar on the left is perfect, if a little bit long.

The eyehole needs to fit inside the hole at the bottom of the pendant. And the bar needs to be short enough that it can move freely inside the cage floor.

You are probably going to have to use wire cutters to snip it down to the right diameter. Hold the bar by the center and snip an equal amount off of each end. Wear protective eyewear, and work inside a box if you can.  That little metal bit will fly.

I selected an oval jump ring that is the same gauge as the eyehole. Anything too thick, like the one on the left, would be difficult to fit in the gap between the hole in the bottom of the birdcage and the eyehole of the toggle bar. An oval helps you to have more working room.

Chandelier crystals are easy to find at most thrift markets. There are usually buckets of them at Elephants Trunk and Brimfield Antique festival. They are so much nicer than the acrylic ones found in jewelry and craft aisles. The connecting hooks are great for attaching the crystals.

Now here is where we start constructing. If you have a little vice grip for your table – you are a lucky girl. But it can be done without, as evidenced by my taking photos of this WHILE holding it together. LOL.

Go ahead and open your jump ring so that you are ready to use it once this next step is done.

Use your needle nose pliers to place the toggle bar into the bottom of the birdcage, with the eyehole inserted into the bottom hole. To keep it in place, I hold the tweezers against the bar as I flip it over to the other side slowly. That’s the hardest part of this project.

Thread your oval jump ring through the eye hole that is sticking out from the bottom of the birdcage and close it. Keep the pressure on, lest your jump ring is so small that it will fall inside the hole – because you will have to start over if it does.

Place the blad of your chandelier connector through the jump ring and bend it closed. Now you can take the pressure off and work at embellishing.

Attach both chandelier crystals to the jump ring with connectors and bend into place securely.

I added some small flower, leaves stamens and wire embellishment through the top with a couple loops of silver cord for hanging. I always attach TWO loops for hanging just in case one gives. Especially with a glass ornament you want to have a failsafe.


And just a simple tip – if you cannot find ornament hooks, or ones that are green, a little florist wire, 22 gauge is perfect for making a loop hook for your ornaments.

Thanks to Cat for inspiring me to do this project and I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas!

Sally Lynn

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