Looking for a thoughtful, inexpensive holiday gift idea for friends and family? If you’re crafty, Christmas can be a great opportunity for adding a little personal touch to gifts. This year, I decided to make music-themed ornaments out of curled paper. You can really personalize this project based on the interests of whomever you’re giving the ornament to, and also recycle paper you would have thrown away in the process. For example, you could use the pages from an old calendar with pictures of sports, music, etc. I chose to use pages from a music book that was being recycled.
Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
- Paper (recycled calendar, newspaper, etc.)
- Glitter (red, green, silver or gold)
- Glitter glue (red, green, silver or gold)
- Thin ribbon (red, green, silver or gold)
- Glazing medium (optional)
- Cheap paintbrush
- Hot glue gun
- Double-stick tape
- Exacto knife or scissors
- Something hard to cut on (cutting mat or cardboard would work)
- Handheld grommet punch or hole punch (hole punch is less ideal but will work)
- Optional: Scrapbooking stickers with words, (ex: “PEACE” or “JOY”, about 1.5-2” wide)
Total time: About 1-2 hours per ornament
Note: This project may require some trial and error to get the paper curling and assembly just right. Have patience! The more ornaments you make, the faster and easier the process becomes.
Step #1: Prepare your workspace.
To get started, you’ll want to collect all of the materials listed above, and lay out your cutting mat.
Step #2: Cut your 2” paper squares.
Next, cut or tear pages out of whatever paper source you’re using for the project with the scissors or an exacto knife. Once you have a good stack of paper, begin cutting out 2” squares. You’ll need about 23 paper curls per ornament. Keep in mind that if you’re working with thin paper, you may need a few layers per curl. I layered 3 squares of thin music book paper per curl, so that would be 69 total 2” squares needed for my project.
Step #3: Create your centerpieces.
To assemble the ornament’s centerpiece, first grab one 2” square. If you’re using multiple layers for the paper curls, I would recommend using the same amount for this piece. Basic origami folding skills could come in handy here. Set your paper in front of you so it looks like a diamond. Fold the pointed edges in so they all meet in the center. Now, turn the paper over, and do the exact same thing—folding each corner again into the center. Take a piece of double-stick tape, fill in that center square, and then affix your folded edges in so they meet in the center.
Then, flip the paper back over to the first side. Lay down another piece of double-stick tape (or maybe two) so that it covers the surface. This will be the centerpiece that you’ll use initially to attach each of the curled paper pieces to. Create two of these, one for each side.
Step #4: Curl your paper.
Before you start curling your paper, I’d recommend preparing about 23 small pieces of double stick tape. It may take a few tries to get a knack for how to curl the paper just right. Grasp the top left hand corner of your square and make a dog-ear that lines up at a right angle with the very center of the piece of paper. Next, begin to twist this small dog-eared corner beneath itself. From there, grasp the pointed edge with your dominant hand, and use your other hand to curl the rest of the paper around the central point. Now, use one of the pre-cut pieces of double-stick tape to secure the paper, towards the pointed end.
Step #5: Assemble the paper.
As you finish curling your pieces, affix the pointed ends to the double-stick tape on the centerpiece you just created. Between each curled piece of paper, you may want to use an additional piece of tape to make the curled pieces stick to each other. About halfway through this step, I’d recommend beginning to heat up your hot glue gun.
Step #6: Use the handheld grommet punch.
Take one of your finished paper curls and punch a metal grommet through the top to provide the hole from which your ornament can be hung. I own something similar to this. Make sure the backside of the grommet is on the longer side of the paper curl. The shorter and open side of the curl will be the front. Make sure this piece is lined up with one of the points of your centerpiece if you want it to look symmetrical when hung.
Step #7: Affix the front centerpiece.
At this point you’re probably noticing that the ornament is pretty flimsily held together. We’re going to fix that. Lay on a good amount of hot glue over the centerpiece area, making sure to cover the pointed tips of each curled paper piece. Be careful not to overdo it here, just use enough to cover that centerpiece area. Then, take your second centerpiece and lay it on top of the area you just hot-glued. If you’re like me and want to make sure the two centerpieces are angled the same way on the front and back, you may want to flip the ornament over and check that they’re lined up.
Step #8: Cut your ribbon.
At this point, you may want to use a dab of hot glue on the edges of your grommet hole to reinforce the area. Then, cut about a 10” piece of ribbon, stick it through the grommet hole, and knot the end so that both edges of the ribbon point upwards.
Step #9: Add some sparkle.
Yay! The hard part is over. Now for the fun part—adding some glitter! Take your glitter glue and squeeze out a strip of it in a circular motion on top of your ornament. Make sure there’s a bit of glue on each paper curl. Now, use your paintbrush to evenly coat the entire side, making sure to get in between the cracks of each curl. The idea here is to evenly coat the entire surface. Once you’re done, you can choose to add some more loose glitter on top if you’d like.
To finish it up, brush a thin but even layer of glazing medium on top. Set the ornament aside for 15+ minutes. This would be a good time to continue making additional ornaments if you desire. Once the ornament is dry to the touch, flip it over and repeat the glitter addition and drying process here as well.
Step #10: Finishing touches.
This last step is optional. If you have a scrapbooking sticker, put down a little hot glue and lay it on top of your front centerpiece. Gently press down on the sticker to make sure it’s really on there. And wa-lah, the ornament is done!
Thanks for reading along! If you have any questions or need clarification on any of the steps, feel free to comment in the space below.