On par with my usual crafting timelines, here I am over a year later finally completing the project that I started talking about last year. I purchased a set of stockings and mittens that look knit and are backed with felt from Factory Direct Craft last year. This year they are hanging from the garland on my stairway.
I originally wanted to use the Jesse tree story to be the basis for my ornaments, but found that those types of symbolic ornaments are hard to come by. Instead, I ran across these cute ornaments from Hobby Lobby on the cheap, and decided to make my own nativity scene animals to go with them.
The ornaments from Hobby Lobby looked like polymer clay. I’ve never used polymer clay (at least not since I was a kid) but I figured I could handle making a few animals. I bought Sculpey III clay from Amazon, and there it sat for another few months before I finally sat down, the night before they needed done, and started my clay animals.
My first animals were the camels, and you may be able to tell. I was least happy with how these turned out, but I doubt Jameson will care. This clay was little harder to work with than some of the other colors.
I had a lot of trouble keeping my nails from scarring the clay, which you can see in these close ups. From farther away though, you can’t tell.
The next day, I made all the rest of the animals in the same amount of time it took me to make just two the day prior, about an hour and fifteen minutes. The rest of the animals were easier. I used pictures online of other polymer clay animals to get the basic idea of what I wanted for my own.
In order to make them ornaments, I needed to bake them with an eye-pin in them (perfectly safe to bake it with metal at the 275 degrees that Sculpey III clay requires). To make sure the eye-pins don’t come out, you bend the eye-pin in the shape of an L before pushing them into the clay.
The sheep were my favorite to make. I started with a base white ball and made lots of little balls to stick on around it, with more balls for head and feet in black. The eyes were hardest, because the shapes needed to be so small.
I carefully put them in the over on an older metal pan and made sure to use an in-oven thermometer to verify the temperature was 275 degrees. I had read that temperature is key for properly cured polymer clay and an oven thermometer is recommended. I had my oven between 285-290 to keep it at 275 for the duration of the baking, which was about 45 minutes for these guys.
I used cross stitch thread for hanging them, since that is easily and securely knotted. (I had first tried a thin beading string but it wasn’t secure enough) All told, there are about 10 snowflakes interspersed with nativity animals and the figurines.
Jameson enjoyed opening the first two (since I was a day late). I made sure an animal was in one of them, since that is quite a bit more exciting than a snowflake. He’s not good at hanging, but he will show us where he wants his ornaments hung.
In addition to our advent stockings, we are also doing the chocolates, opening one of the small cardboard doors each day. We got great chocolate for it, each individually wrapped, from Harry & David. I was expecting I might be able to have some since Jameson hasn’t been too into candy, but apparently he knows the good stuff when he sees it and is eating it all.
He was a little hyper Monday night, running and jumping around like a maniac and taking a good 45 minutes to fall asleep. Last night we tried giving it to him right after work in hopes of toning the hyper down right before bed, but it only worked so-so. Turns out that giving a toddler chocolate in the evening is not a great idea! We may have to move to mornings if things don’t get better, haha.
Jameson has also been asking nearly every night, about 3 times in a row, who all the nativity scene people are in our set. “Dis?” Goat. “Dis?” Cow. He knows the baby, and has started identifying Mary and Joseph and Jesus’s mom and dad. Or just “mommy” and “daddy”. Too funny!