Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Advent Activity: Sweetgum Ornaments

Our trip to the woods gave us many treasures, including a collection of five dozen balls from the native Sweetgum tree (Liquidambar styriciflua). Actually the fruit of the tree, these balls have been used decoratively for centuries. We found several holiday applications, like this modern spiky one from Kaboose. Here is our slightly more natural take on this charming tradition.

MATERIALS: sweetgum balls, paper towels, newspaper, a bowl, spray craft adhesive, white glitter
STEP ONE: If you have collected these balls, as we did, from their native habitat, dry them overnight on paper towels and shake them out (little insects love the seeds hidden inside).
STEP TWO: Spread newspaper on your crafting surface and pour your white glitter into a shallow bowl.
STEP THREE: Hold one sweetgum ball by its stem and spray it all over with craft adhesive.
STEP FOUR: Pass the ball along to your young helper to dunk, sprinkle, and roll it in 'snow.'
STEP FIVE: Allow the ornaments to dry for at least an hour.
THE BIG FINISH: There are several ways to display these dazzling beauties. For a natural look, you can simply use their stems to hang them from your tree. For a sturdier and more colorful approach, remove the stem and use a needle and red embroidery thread to make a loop through the ball. They sparkle all nestled together in a bowl, or as part of a centerpiece with greenery and candles. A few of them tucked into your wreath this year can add a snowy touch.


Corynne Escalante said...

what a lovely idea! saw your comment on loobylu and had to check it out...

Kenny & Kate said...

Very cool - this same week we collected these also, but ours were dipped in peanut butter and bird seed and returned outside :-) Very cool blog - so glad I found it!

BrendaLea, the Prpldy said...

I have one of these trees in my yard and I absolutely HATE it! The balls make such a mess. But I sure love they way you have used them!

Young Wife said...

Beautiful! I love these!

Lindsey said...

GREAT idea! We have sweet gums at our library, so we will collect some balls next time we go. I'm going to make some to stick in my fresh Christmas wreath this year. Thanks!