Christmas tree decorating habits

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Lot’s of people have there Christmas tree already put up. In Germany maybe not als long as in the US. In my family the tree was brought to the house late on the 23rd or in the morning of Christmas Eve. For us it has always been a real tree. And those need to unfold a bit before being decorated.

When I grew up my mom used to decorate the tree. Usually after she was done with preparations in the kitchen and when my dad took over to prepare his part of the Christmas dinner. (but that is a story for another day.) We children didn’t get to see the tree until Christmas Eve after church. What was usually early evening.

Our tree was rather traditional with some silver balls, wooden toys, straw stars and some chocolate rings with sprinkles (who knows which ones I mean?!). Also there were some more wrapped chocolate figurines. And we had real candles. We had the tradition of undecorating the tree after New Years when we were allowed to pick one of the candies daily from the tree.

I do not know how long this practices lasted. There was a year when I had an idea for a different decorated tree and suggested it to my mom. That was the year when tradition changed and my mom and I started to decorate it together. The “new” tree was decorated mainly by natural things: dried fruits, pinecones, nuts, cinnamon sticks, star anise and such. What we kept was the real candles. Instead of the Christmas balls we used apples. My parents still do that and when I spent Christmas with them, that is the tree I am seeing. And often it is still my “chore” to decorate.

natural christmas treeTo be honest I can hardly remember the first version of the tree and I doubt my little sister knows we once had a different tree.

As you can see the concept of changing up the Christmas decoration yearly as some people do is rather foreign to me – not that I don’t admire that.

So it comes to no surprise that in my own home and with my own tree I also follow the same theme year in and year out. My tree now is always silver and white. Over all it is a rather simple version of a tree. It all starts with white and silver balls. (We received those as a wedding gift by my aunt to be always reminded of snow. I thought that was one great gift.) And then I add my real candles. I have never had a tree with electric lights and wouldn’t even know how to get them on there. In the first years I created one new ornament every year and added them to the tree. I am now at a point were I do have enough and can’t hang all. I do collect some cute little ornaments like my silver bells or my little pottery trees.

white silver christmas treeSince we are usually spending Christmas Eve and Christmas with family I decorated my tree on the 23rd. But I will not light candles before Christmas. It just doesn’t feel right.

I usually take down the tree around January 6th. Often I am a bit lazy though. Because one disadvantage of using real candles is that it will make a huge mess. I have to clean all my glass balls and the candle holders and often the floor. It’s not done in an hour. But it is worth all the trouble to me.

The whole tree decorating business is quite different with everyone. I know a lot of people who do it like I have done all my life and the tree is only being put up Christmas Eve. But I feel like in recent years the trees are being decorated earlier and earlier. Some beginning of Advent some when ever it suits.

I got a real cultural shock when I spent my year in the U.S. and was rather perplex when right after Thanksgiving Dinner a big box was open, a fake Christmas tree unfolded and ornaments put up. It was so weird seeing the tree 5 weeks leading to Christmas. What I really enjoyed though was all the presents being collected underneaths. I liked that tradition a lot and adopted that. What really blew my mind though was when Christmas Day right after everyone open the presents the big box was put out again and the tree put back in the attic. I was really dumbfounded with that. For me Christmas was just beginning and here my host family was done with it. If someone asks me I often say that I didn’t really had a Christmas in 1999.

It is so interesting how everyone is having so different traditions and rituals. So if you have a few minutes to spare please let me know how your tree looks like and when you are putting it up.

Wishing you a wonderful Merry Christmas and the best of times with all your loved ones,

Tobia

Little Beech Nut Bells in Red and White – Tutorial

creative DIY_beech nut bells decoration

Yes, I think the Holiday Season has started for me. Today I want to share another tutorial for this those cute beech nut bells in red and white with you.

I really don’t know how I came up with the idea. I think I was talking one of my walks through the park or my favorite cemetery and just saw those beech nuts lying all around on the ground. Don’t they look like little calyx or bells? And then weeks later I was shopping and came across those festive little red bells.

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Pine Needle Wreath – Advent Wreath 2017

pine needle advent wreath | adventskrank aus nadeln

Hey there,

Writing my advent wreath posts is the sole reason this blog exists. Yes, pretty sure it is true. This year I want to share a Pine Needle Wreath with you. Not a regular pine wreath but one made of needles.

You may wonder what the difference is? Oh there is one! Mainly time. But lets start from the beginning!

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Cozy French Knitted Advent Wreath :: Tutorial

french knitted adevent wreath

It’s this time of the year…

The crazy wreath making time of the year. I was going to show you a different one from what you see right now. The one I planned (for two years), made and then I realized I can’t show you because my mom reads along… So I had to come up with another idea.

Looking around in my chaos that is my craft lab the idea of a cozy advent wreath hit me. Well maybe it was because I am all crazy about my french knitting lately. So why not combine the two and make a nice simple french knitted advent wreath, right?

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Sorbian Easter Eggs {Tutorial}

Hello,

I have a confession to make: I am not big into Easter decorations at all. Heck I don’t even own Easter decorations. Usually it’s just a pot of flowers and that’s about it.

I grew up with a one simple decoration. Every year we would cut some birch twigs and put them in a huge vase. On Saturday before Easter we would then hang easter eggs to decorate. And as I grew up in a area in Germany where there is a minority called Sorbs living, most of our eggs where made in their traditional way – at least that’s how I remember.

sorbian easter eggs tutorial

Since last year I was having the urge to give this craft another try. I remember we did it as kids but the eggs probably looked horrible. Maybe I can find some on this year’s Easter bouquet.

The sorbs have four different techniques for decorating their easter eggs but I only know how to do the wax batik technique. Wax is applied with special quills to the eggs shell and in various usually very detailed and complicated patterns. Then it is dyed. Different colors can be achieved by dying in many different steps and in-between applying more wax.

To make Sorbian Easter Eggs with the wax batik technique a bit of preparation required though.

Eggs.

I recommend doing this technique on blown out eggs. It is time consuming and it would be sad to have them broken on Easter morning. However it’s up to you but make sure to boil them before starting to craft. Usually the eggs have stamps on them that need to go. With a bit of soap and a brush or sponge you usually get it off. You could also use nail polish remover but you really need to wash the eggs carefully afterwards otherwise the dye will not stick.

Tools.

Feathers are your drawing or better stamping tool for this craft. It’s important to get feather from the wings and goose feathers* are recommended. Then you cut of most of the thin hairlike thingies left and right of the bone of the feather until you have only the tip left. (Sorry not sure how that is called in English but you hopefully know what I mean.) Now you cut your shape. (I just read that a cutter is better suited than scissors… Well next time…) For basic patterns you would need a triangle, a drop, diamond and a arrow shape. The dots are made with the heads of a pin.
tutorial sorbian easter eggs quills and tools

In the picture below you can see what kind of (traditional) shapes can be made with those basic tools:

basic shapes for sorbian easter eggs
source: www.sorbische-ostereier.de

Once you have the quills you need the wax. It is important to use a mixture of regular candle wax and bees wax. The bees wax makes it more flexible to apply and also easier to get off as it melts faster. You also need a tinplate spoon. I used mine out of New Years Eve lead-pouring kit. Then set up you station by curving the spoon in a 90° angle and pushing it into a flower pot. Place a tea light underneath and add a bit of wax to the spoon. Now you are ready to go.

tutorial sorbian easter eggs wax station

How to do Sorbian Easter Eggs.

Your first egg will probably look horrible. Its ok because it’s to learn how the quill works. It is important to work fast and with a steady hand. Not always easy.

  1. Put your quill to the wax and make sure its fully soaked (first time) or fully melted (after already using it). You can see tiny little bubbles.
  2. Now press the quill to the shell and remove immediately. I found it to be practical to remove the tip by slightly moving it towards your body (always making sure you don’t mess up the pattern). If you let the quill rest too long the wax will melt and then you have to jerk the quill away and usually this results in tiny wax drops all over the egg shell.
  3. When you are done with your pattern you can dye your egg. Use only cold dye otherwise the wax will melt. If you are planning to do a two colored egg you only need to have it in the dye a very short time. Otherwise the difference is hard to see.

The following picture shows the steps for a simple wax batik egg with only one dyeing:

tutorial sorbian easter eggs 1 color1. your cleaned egg // 2. wax is applied // 3. after dyeing // 4. after wax is removed

And here you can see the steps for a two colored egg.

tutorial sorbian easter eggs1. your cleaned egg // 2. first coat of wax applied // 3. after first dyeing // 4. second coat of wax applied on dyed surface // 5. after second dyeing // 6. after wax is removed

You get the idea. You can go with multiple dyeing rounds when your pattern requires it. My brain however can only think ahead two rounds.

4. Once you are done with your egg you can start to remove the wax. We used to do it over an gas flame but this time we put the eggs in the oven. Preheat oven to 50°C/120°F, put paper towels on your grate or baking pan and add eggs for about 3 minutes. Wipe of melted wax with an old rag. Tada and you just made your first Sorbian Easter Egg.

How to do patterns.

This is the hard part, something coming with practice I guess. However I found it useful to divide up your egg by either going in a circle from top to bottom or by making a line at the thickest part of the egg. This gives some direction to help with the symmetry. And symmetry is key when it comes to Sorbian eggs. For more complicated patterns I thought it was easier starting from the middle and working your way out of the pattern. I saw online that some people predraw the patterns with a pencil. I don’t understand how this works as you can’t get it of once the wax is covering it. Maybe after dying but that requires the dye covers the rest of the predrawing. Well you figure it out and let me know.

Here are a few patterns I have tried:

sorbian easter egg 2 colored blue by craftaliciousme

sorbian easter egg 1 colored by craftaliciousme

sorbian easter egg 2 colored by craftaliciousme

sorbian easter egg 2 colored red by craftaliciousme

If you need more inspiration and ideas follow my Pinterest Board.
Follow Tobia’s board SPRING :: EASTER on Pinterest.

I found this craft amazingly meditative and I am really hooked. I am pretty sure we have a few more days of scrambled eggs ahead of us.

What do you think, will you give it a try or is it too complicated for you? How do you dye your easter eggs?

Happy wax dipping,

Tobia

PS. If you want to read a bit more about the traditions and helpful tipps check out www.sorbische-ostereier.de (only German)

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