Thursday, July 25, 2019

Christmas in May and then July, Sort of...

I can't remember where or when I stumbled across a blog post about making Christmas ornaments using dried flowers and leaves from the garden, but I saved it. It was time to give it a try. I like doing  projects, especially if it is tied to the garden. Giving credit due- here is the link to the post- 

The dough takes three ingredients
1 cup baking soda
1/2 cup corn starch
3/4 cup warm water

Simply mix the dry ingredients together in a saucepan, add water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan, it is time to take off the heat. After it cools a little bit gently knead the dough to get it to its doughy consistency.

Roll it out and use a cookie cutter to make your shaped ornament.  Use a pencil or straw to make a hole for your ribbon hanger. Bake at 200 F for about an hour, until dry or leave to dry overnight (high humidity areas would be better to oven bake)

Sounds easy doesn't it? Okay, time for a few lessons learned:
  • Sprinkle corn starch on the counter top before kneading
  • Roll it out to quite thin. How thin? About 1/8th of an inch thick.
  • Use a sharp edged cookie cutter- I used a drinking glass, didn't give a real clean cut.
  • Don't bake on parchment paper, it seems to hold moisture.

In May I went into the garden looking for items to use to make the ornaments. Newly emerged leaves on my Japanese maples were great! I especially like the red ones. I also had some small violets blooming then, so I plucked some blooms and leaves from them. I knew the leaves and flowers had to be small enough to fit on the ornament, so small was best. Bringing my harvest in, I carefully set them between two sheets of parchment paper. Weighing them down with a number of hardbound books, they sat on our dining room table for a few days. After a few days I checked on them, nice and dry! I moved the dried pressed leaves and blooms upstairs, where they could remain until it was time to make the dough and apply them. One of my daughters and son in laws come to stay for the majority of July, so I waited to do the rest with her.

Fast forward to July- we made the dough, rolled out the dough, cut the dough into ornament shape and dried them. It was time to gather the pressed leaves and Modge Podge, some brushes (sponge or bristle) and begin. Well, I knew I had brushes, SOMEWHERE. After looking in every spot they might have been, we let necessity be the Mother of Invention. I had some leftover foam from covering some chairs. That and a pair of scissors, voila, we had our 'brushes'. 

Directions tell you to paint a layer of Modge Podge on the ornament, arrange the pressed leaves/blooms on the ornament, then paint more Modge Podge over the surface, covering the leaf/bloom well.  Make sure not to cover your hole for the string/ribbon. Various flowers and leaves make a nice assortment. Like I said, the red Japanese maple leaves look great, they held their color well. I used some Hydrangea blooms, their color faded a bit but they are really nice too. I had a pair of tweezers to use to move the fragile dried leaves.  **On a side note- don't leave pressed/dried items on the table overnight....a roving kitten in the middle of the night will play havoc with your project.**

Red Japanese maple 
Viola walterii 'Silver Edge'

Green Japanese maple 
Here they all are, drying. It is milky looking when the Modge Podge is first applied, it does dry clear.  I bought the matte finish. You can experiment with whatever finishes you like. One of the sources I used also sprinkled silver glitter on the white dough. The world is your oyster, do what you think looks great.

Drying on the dryer overnight

The nice part of this project is you can collect and dry items from the garden all year long. Once dried they keep well. I think I will buy some metallic cord to use instead of the ribbon, but this is what I had on hand today. This was a fun quick project to do and like I said above, there are some lessons learned. The biggest is in the rolling thickness. If you have guide bands that slip on your rolling pin for rolling thickness, use them. I might try using a couple thick rubber bands on the rolling pin. Some of the ornaments cracked while drying- the Modge Podge and leaves hid those flaws a bit.
Would I do this with kids? I don't think so, there is a need for fine motor skills and an easy hand in painting the Modge Podge over the dried items. If you do this project, let me know how it worked for you. You can share photos on The Queen of Seaford Facebook page. Have fun!

©Copyright 2019 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.


  1. Oh, I want to do this! I really want to do this! Thank you for showing the way!

    1. Hope you have success with it Kylee! Let me know how it goes.

  2. Great idea, and they look really professional. I like the idea of collecting them throughout the growing season, so you have representations of all the seasons. Lovely!

    1. Thanks Beth. They don't look great but it is a start. Better job next time I hope.

  3. They look amazing! I love pressed flowers/leaves, but don't have many good ideas on how to use them. Needless to say, I've added this to my list of crafts to indulge in...

    1. Let me know if you do this Margaret! I am sure yours will be beautiful.

  4. I love theses! I’m going to try making some. Glad you shared this now when we have interesting foliage still.

    1. I was able to harvest some baby fern fronds recently Karin, will be fun to try this again.

  5. I like the results with pretty leaves on them. If you made tiny ones they could even become pendants as a necklace.

    1. That is a good idea Terra. Would have to harvest tiny blooms and leaves but doable!


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