Tag Archive for 'christmas'

Tips for Making Quality Kusudama

Gelli arts kusudama

A friend inquired yesterday about how to make one of the kusudama balls that Matt and I make each year for Christmas ornaments. I realized I never shared the ornament we made for Christmas 2017.

Gelli arts kusudama

I thought I’d pop in again to share the ornament and some quick tips that might help make your ornament go smoother. We’ve done it now for 10 years! Only 7 actually fit on the tree, because I kept having to relearn the same mistake for the first 3 years. That brings me to tip #1.

#1 Start with 3″ square papers for a 6″ diameter ball.

Unlike origami where you start with one piece of big paper and it folds down to a tiny size, the finished kusudama ball will actually be roughly twice the size of one square paper that you start with. The first year we probably used a 6″ square and ended up with a foot wide “ornament” that is really just table decoration now. The next year, trying to learn from my mistake, I think I referenced the instructions again and made 5″ squares, still not small enough. The third year, I thought I was going smaller yet, and still did a 5″ piece, both of these ended up being 10″ balls that are also too big to fit on a tree, and sit alongside the gigantic one for holiday decorations.

Gelli arts kusudama

#2. Origami paper is not preferable for a long term keepsake kusudama ball.

We’ve done a few in origami paper and after a few years of storage and use in between, the corners have all gotten mangled. The paper is just too thin and flimsy. In previous years, we have used recycled magazines, origami and wrapping paper. Christmas 2016 was the first year that it occurred to me to use a paper I decorated myself. I picked a color scheme and used regular office paper with gelatin prints on the front and back. I use basic, cheap craft paint ($1-$2 a bottle) on my gelli plate and the added layers made the paper firm, but not too heavy to fold, or the ornament too heavy to hang from a branch of the Christmas tree.

Gelli arts kusudama

3. It takes a lot longer to make one than you might think

You fold down and glue 60 squares of paper, into 12 flowers with 5 petals each.

I remember the very first ornament we made, I started out thinking if it went quickly enough, maybe we could decorate a whole tree with these handmade ornaments! That was a joke. One, because we made it TOO BIG, and Two, because the paper was so big, it took us way longer to fold and glue Three Since it was our first time doing it, we were learning as we went, and we had to reference the tutorial a lot and that added time and Four, we used white craft glue like the instructions said. Now, we have it down to a science, don’t need to reference the tutorial, and can pump it out in an efficient manner. Still, it takes the two of us working continually about an hour to make an ornament (just the folding and gluing, not including the printing of paper and cutting it down to size, etc.). It takes 2 hours for just me to make one. 10 years later, we have 10 ornaments (7 that actually fit on the tree) and I like having one for every year as a mark of our tradition.

Gelli arts kusudama

4. Use a hot glue gun

The tutorial we originally referenced instructs you to use white glue. Um, no. That will easily triple or quadruple your assembly time and will result in a lower quality finished piece, with a shorter life span. I also tried a double sided sticky tape (like a tape runner), also a no! Every year when I take them out again I have to kind of “fix” the original 3 (white glue and tape runner) and that means gluing them back together again because these adhesives start coming apart over time. We now use a glue gun and it goes SO FAST and the pieces have stayed together marvelously. You have to know how to use a hot glue gun, be safe and efficient. There’s no take back if you glue something together wrong and you want to get the pieces together with fairly good precision. That being said, Matt glued this year and maybe last year’s pieces together, while I folded. If you look at our pieces you can see the meeting point tips aren’t perfect, but off much more and things might not meet together to glue.

Gelli arts kusudama

5. Make sure you work space is clean

There’s nothing worse than soiling a piece you’ve invested a lot of time on.

Here are all of my previous kusudama posts, so you can see the other ornaments we’ve made, individually as well as in the collection.

The original tutorial we referenced has changed, and is now asking for donations and that people don’t share or direct people to the instructions? (how will people be able to donate if you get no traffic), but I’m sure there are tons of other instructions out there by simply googling it.

If you make one and share it to your blog, I’d love to check out the link. Thank you!

2016 Kusudama Ornament

And the finished result #robayrekusudama made from #gelliarts printed paper #gelliprinting I'll post more to the blog shortly.

Every year since 2008, Matt and I make a Kusudama ornament. I always reminisce about how the first year I thought we’d make enough to decorate the whole Christmas tree. Two hours later (racing each other the whole time to make as many petals as possible) we had ONE ornament finished and it was the size of a soccer ball. Now, we finally make them ornament sized and only aim to make one a year. We are up to 9, though only 6 of them are small enough to hang from the tree (it took us a while to get the size right).

Making messes

This year, like every year, I wondered “what are we going to make the ornament out of?” The first few years we used old catalogs and magazines. Then for a few years we used origami paper, then wrapping paper and finally last year an old page-a-day calendar. This year it occurred to me that I could MAKE my own paper. I looked at my Color Inspiration board on pinterest and was instantly taken with this picture of a pillow on a chair. So, pinks and rust as a base with pops and accents of color and pattern.

Trimmed down, hand printed papers for our annual kusudama ornament

I printed, double sided, on the paper using my gelli arts plate and hand cut paper stencils, and trimmed down the paper to 3″x3″. It actually worked better than a lot of the other papers we’ve used because with the additional layers of paint, it was that much more sturdy. The origami paper ornaments have a tendency to get banged up corners because the paper is so thin and fragile.

See previous Kusadama ornament posts here

We follow this 2 step tutorial each year.

Annual Kusudama Ornament

Kusadama collection

Happy New Year! Matt and I sat down and made our annual kusudama Christmas ornament this weekend, just in time to pack away all the decorations. Actually, we made two because last year we never got one done. We have quite the collection now. I’m so glad that Matt enjoys making them as well.

In 2008 we started an annual tradition of making one of these #kusadama ornaments. Last year was the first year we didn't do one, so we made two this year to catch up. This one was made from a mylar coated wrapping paper which made it difficult to assembl

We made this mylar coated wrapping paper one. It made folding and creasing the paper a chore, but it looks very pretty on the tree.

And then here is the make-up #kusadama from last year. I don't know why it never occurred to me before, but I cut down an old 365 Met art calendar to make this one. It's especially fitting this year as my friend Fred that passed away a few months ago alwa

And this one is my new favorite. After piling up years and years of the 365 Metropolitan Museum of Art calendars, I had the idea to cut down some pages to make an ornament. It was actually perfect, because my coworker/friend Fred would always get this calendar for us. Every single day, the first thing he’d do is come and look at the new piece of artwork and then go look it up on google. He passed away a couple of months ago, and I wish I had thought to make him an ornament from a calendar years ago.

Below are the previous years’ ornaments.

Our annual #kusudama ornament. We've made one every year, starting in 2008. Our first one was an oops and ended up being about 10" in diameter, too big and heavy for the tree. #robayrekusudama

2011 ornament

Kusadama from 2012 (but made in 2013)

2010 kusudama ornament

2009 Kusudama ornament

kusadama recycled ornament

Just some facts about the ornaments if you are interested in making one for yourself:

Paper squares (64 pieces) should be no bigger than 3″ square for a resulting 4.5″ ornament. Trust me, our first “ornament” is about 12 inches in diameter! Next year if I remember, I’m going to try 2-2.5″ sized paper, but I’m not holding my breath, as I accidentally cut 4″ on one ornament again this year.

The instructions (if I remember correctly) say to use glue. There is no way you’d ever get this done if you were waiting for each piece of paper to glue together. The first year or two we used an adhesive tape, but that started acting funky over the years, so we have switched to glue gun and it speeds up the whole process and the pieces hold together SOLIDLY!

We follow this 2 step tutorial each year.



Annual Kusadama 2013 edition

Happy New Year!

Our annual #kusudama ornament. We've made one every year, starting in 2008. Our first one was an oops and ended up being about 10" in diameter, too big and heavy for the tree. #robayrekusudama

I wanted to drop in and share our new kusudama ornament we made for 2013, above. We used a black and white patterned origami paper I picked up from Michael’s. Below is 2012′s ornament that never got shared on the blog.

Kusadama from 2012 (but made in 2013)

We didn’t get around to making it in time for Christmas 2012, so we went with all red colors for Valentine’s day instead.

When we made the first one in 2008 I had a vision of having a tree decorated entirely with these, but then we realized how labor intensive it is, so we just made the one, but now we have 6! Only 4 of them are small enough to actually fit on the tree, but still, it is cool to see the collection grow each year. I love this holiday tradition.

  2010 kusudama ornament cropped
2009 Kusudama ornament  recycled ornament

You can click on each picture above to read that year’s post.

Just some facts about the ornaments if you are interested in making one for yourself:

Paper squres (64 pieces) should be no bigger than 3″ square for a resulting 4.5″ ornament. Trust me, our first “ornament” is about 12 inches in diameter!

The instructions (if I remember correctly) say to use glue. There is no way you’d ever get this done if you were waiting for each piece of paper to glue together. The first year or two we used an adhesive tape, but that started acting funky over the years, so we have switched to glue gun and it speeds up the whole process and the pieces hold together SOLIDLY!

We follow this 2 step tutorial each year.

Work hours and my life lately

Blerg! I wrote a whole post and even hit publish. The next day I returned to my blog and it’s not there. Who knows what happened to it because only a partial, unedited draft remained in the auto back up in my blog dashboard. What’s weird is that after it went live, I even re-read it online, went back and changed a word or two and resaved it. The mysteries of the internets.

It’s been a crazy few weeks. My hours have been all wonky at work. The week before last I was waking up at 3 a.m. to get to work at 4 a.m. I was getting off at 2 p.m. but then because of the holiday season I was having to stay up super late to finish work for my shop. If subsisting on 3 hours of sleep a night wasn’t bad enough, I had to organize and throw a party Friday night.

My hours have regulated a bit closer to “normal” last week, but as I’ve learned as I have grown older, things I do to my body now don’t TRULY hit me until a while later. Two weeks out at going in to work a couple hours earlier and my internal clock is still not adjusted. This week I’ve been struggling more than I did last week. I’m waking up every hour panicked that I’ve somehow slept through the 3 alarm devices I’ve set. I come home from work and am ready for bed by 6. I remember hearing about a study that said that contrary to popular belief, you can’t catch up on sleep. Once you’ve lost sleep, sleeping more hours than normal doesn’t have any benefits. While it may not have any benefits, I beg to differ that my body (not my mind) wants more sleep than normal. Even tonight, I crashed from 6 p.m. until 9. Somehow I’m still maintaining my 10K steps per day (for the most part).

So, what else have I been up to?

It was a beautiful foggy day today #DeKalb #dekalbil

With new hours at work, I am beyond thrilled to get off of work with just enough time to see some daylight. This has really meant the world to me. I can’t stress how much I spin into a wreck every winter when there is less and less light and then after the time changes, forget about it, I become downright angry. Well, the last few weeks I get off work and feel like I am walking on clouds. We had some days of thick fog when I was working my 4 a.m. shifts and one day after work I went to the Lagoon and walked around and took pictures. While those around me complained about the fog, the daylight was just magical.

Our only #Christmas decoration up so far #wreath It's all about the tree this week. Having it lit just makes me happy. We worried because every year Bishop chews on it, but that's nothing now compared to Fionna. She just spreads the limbs, climbs inside and makes a nest (not pictured, unfortunately) She

We finally decorated for Christmas.

Our very first fire ever, in our #fireplace. Tonight we are decorating, listening to #Christmas music and even sipping holiday drinks.

After living in our house 2+ years, we finally got our chimney inspected and  cleaned. I had been waiting for this forever, dreaming of toasty fires keeping the house warm. Then the inspector shared that “everyone knows that running a fireplace can actually make your house more cold…” blah, blah, blah about drafty windows/doors as well as the thermostat. I was so bummed that we still didn’t have a fire for another week or so. But after we finally did, oh man, we haven’t looked back and have been having fires most evenings. I’ve actually found that having a fire makes our usually frosty (run from the door straight to under the blankets) bedroom to a normal, comfortable temperature.

Plus, it looks so festive, romantic and the cats LOVE it!

5 hours until I have to wake up, 6 hours until I need to be at work and what am I doing? Making Christmas decorations. #priorities

Continuing with the holiday decorations, I made a red and white pom pom garland to go over the mantel. Years back I made some pom poms from my handspun yarn to put in my etsy shop (they might even still be listed on there?) but let me just tell you!!!!!!!!!!! I bought a pom pom maker and this maker is the bomb! I think my friend Ann (a master pom pom maker) uses one too, so I should have known. The way I made them before wasted so much yarn from trimming. These pom poms come out almost perfect and need little to no trimming at all.

Matt and I at the gingerbread house making party. Thank you @cherronsue @uhlisuhzorz @stat1995 @katielicht @yenniec83 @courtneylarking it's been great to see my feed filled with your pictures.

I threw my annual gingerbread house making party. This was the 8th year! I have more pictures I would like to share, so maybe there will be another post in the near future.

Packaging orders

I’ve developed my packaging for my holiday garlands this year. The base now has gold embossing and I wrap each order in scalloped tissue paper. I just hope that each order feels that much more special upon arrival.

Part of a large order that went out this week. Some pieces I really loved in there. #robayre

I had a large order of necklaces and rings head out to Australia! I was thrilled with how the pieces came out and so happy with the way the resin worked for me.

Robayre Travel Journal and Stratum Necklaces with vintage atlas pages

I am thrilled to announce that Robayre travel journals (books similar to the one pictured above) and my vintage atlas spiral stratum necklaces are being sold at the Rockford, Illinois Visitor’s Center (East side, in the Clock Tower Center). This marks the first time my products have been for sale in a brick and mortar in Illinois. I’ve long had a dream of one day visiting a store that sells my items, and now that the   time is here I’m both EXCITED and NERVOUS to actually visit. Isn’t that funny?

#gelliplate #gelliarts #gelliprint #art #robayre  Paper Stencils

Then last Friday my best friend came over and we had a Gelli Arts date night. I covered the ping pong table with plastic, showed her an introduction video to the product on youtube and we dove in. I was a little worried about if she’d enjoy herself and love using the plate as much as I love it. I thought she’d like it because I remembered she had taken some printmaking in college. Well, she LOVED IT! In fact she kept saying how much fun she was having, how time was flying and how she wanted to buy her own plate now and how we have to do it again soon. The image above on the left is a thumbnail of a print, and the picture on the right was my stack of handcut paper stencils as I was putting everything away.

The cold and snow doesn't keep this kid from the park

After another good snow, my brother, sister and I took my nephew to the park. At one point he tripped in the snow and got snow between his mittens and sleeve. While I helped him get the snow out he told me “I fell and then I died.” I said, “well, you didn’t die” to which he replied “It’s just an expression!” Yeah, from the mouth of a 3 year old.

Love my lucky penny ring so much! Thank you @courtneylarking

Monday night I went to a book club meeting and my friend Courtney brought really thoughtful gifts for everybody. Additionally she gave me belated birthday gifts which included this awesome lucky penny ring that I love and never want to take off. I love that it is a wheat penny especially. My dad used to collect coins and so I’ve saved wheat pennies any time I’ve found one ever since I was a kid.

2 Years on Instagram

A treasure house

Today I received Christmas cards I ordered.  It inspired me to put together this little collection in my shelf by the wonderfully talented Ann of A Beautiful Party. I don’t think I’ve ever shared this shelf before, but I LOVE it!  I added a few little holiday knick knacks to the shelf. The sewn felt covered stones on pedestal are by Stephanie Barnes, the yarn ball is actually my very first handspun yarn on my spinning wheel, and the party popper is also by Ann of A Beautiful Party. It has goodies inside, but it is too pretty for me to open up. The picture on the Christmas cards is the picture below.

It was an instagram from late last year. I thought it was my sister pulling my nephew, but the caption says it was me pulling Doc. Either way, behind my nephew is my brother pulling the Christmas tree we just cut down at Camelot tree farm. It’s a beautiful tree farm out in the countryside. After tramping through the snow and freezing your tootsies, you head into a little shed to pay and warm up while enjoying hot chocolate and cookies while sitting in old classroom chairs.

While putting together this post I realized that it’s been over TWO WHOLE YEARS that I’ve posted daily to my instagram account! I’m pretty proud of that. I’m also continually inspired by the things my instagram friends share, and the wonderful and supportive community that it is. Go Instagram, High Five!

Edit: Just wanted to ad that I’ve actually been on instagram since 2010, but only have been posting daily for 2 years.

Our Annual Christmas Ornament

Yesterday Matt and I made our annual Christmas ornament. I like the idea of using recycled or repurposed papers to make such a beautiful thing. So far we’ve recycled paper 3 years, and purchased origami paper one year. This year I was fortunate enough to pick up some waste paper from a song book we were printing at work and it made for a beautiful ornament. This is the tutorial pattern I follow every year. This was also the first year we used hot glue and it is by far the sturdiest ornament yet. I highly recommend using hot glue. If you don’t have a glue gun you can find them at your typical marts and craft stores for under $10. Also, don’t make the same mistake we made, use small paper! Our first ornament ended up being the size of a soccer ball and will never make it to the tree. Now we use 3″ square and it works perfectly.

12.19 2011 ornament

I like this picture above with all the ornaments we’ve made so far. It’s our first year in our first home and this picture captures so much. It’s like an eye spy. There are four ornaments on our dining room table but can you see the a handmade table cloth that Matt’s great grandmother made? How about a nosey kitty, and a christmas tree, and don’t forget a tired Matt lounging on the couch?

12.20 christmas tree
And since we are on holiday decorations, here is a picture of our first full sized tree. Previously we had a little 3 foot tree that was more of a pain than anything. The cat was constantly trying to eat it and it was always falling over. This new tree was gifted to us by Matt’s parents. Please disregard the lack of a tree skirt. I’m working on it. The tree is covered in white lights (my preference), my handmade gold and silver garland, and a collection of both of our ornaments from since we were babies.

Holiday Season 2011

I hope everyone who celebrates it, had a warm, safe and happy Thanksgiving. I didn’t get to post before hand, but I wanted to share some of the things I am most thankful: An awesome house of our very own, a wonderful and understanding man that I never get tired of being around, a supportive family that lives nearby and get to see often, a sprinkling of friends that add variety, adventure and fun to a life that might be dull otherwise, a fun job with a steady paycheck and coworkers who mean so much to me, wonderful memories and experiences that will be with me forever, a pesky cat that hates everyone but Matt and I, my health (that I should be MUCH more thankful for) and a great body that I should take better care of.

Gingerbread House Making Contest
Friday night I held my Sixth Annual Gingerbread House Making Contest. I hope everyone had a fun time. I think there were 19 entries and over 25 people (little kiddies included) in attendance.

The winner was made by Dacia. She had told me beforehand that she had a great idea and needed to get her secret ingredient right before the event.

Yep, that girl loves her some bacon! There are more pictures from the night over at flickr.

So, now that it is officially the 2011 holiday season I’m trying to create a list of things I want to do.

-winterize the windows to keep the house efficient and warm
-put together the advent box with little presents

-Put up the tree and decorate it
-hang stockings from the mantel
-decorate the outside of the house

-make this year’s ornament
-go sledding (once we have snow)
-listen to plenty of Christmas music
-buy meaningful Christmas presents for family
-think of a good exchange project idea for extended family Christmas
-productive and fun vacation week between Christmas and New years

-make another snowflake wallhanging.

2010 Kusudama Ornament

The other day Matt and I created our third annualKusudama Christmas ornament. This year, I’m proud to say, it’s actually size appropriate to fit on a tree, as an actual ornament.

year three

Here are all three years.

The first year I had a vision of making a bunch of them to cover an entire tree. Even though I reduced the size of the paper, it became obvious rather quickly that this was going to be too big and take too long to hang a bunch from a tree.

The second year, forgetting that I had reduced the paper size the first year, we made the ornament and it turned out GINORMOUS!
This year I used tiny origami paper (probably 3 inches squared?), while in previous years we used cut down old catalogs. Looking at previous years I realize we are getting better at this. The first year it took us 3 hours with both of us racing each other. It still took about an hour to make, but that is still much better than the first year.

If you would like to attempt one of these, the tutorial/pattern we used is here, and I also suggest a tape adhesive, rather than glue, like the tutorial suggests. If we had used a white glue, it would have taken about 6 hours and we would have thrown in the towel much earlier than that.

Recycled Kusudama Paper Ornament

Recycled Kusadama Ornament, originally uploaded by robayre.

Tonight Matt and I sat down to make our annual Christmas ornament. And eeep, if last year’s ornament was too big to hang on a tree well, check out this year’s (the larger of the two). My original vision last year was to make a whole bunch of these and cover a tree with them and white Christmas lights.

I followed this 2 stage pattern. Make sure you have lots of time, it takes about 3 hours with two people working at it. AND we use translucent double faced tape. I can’t imagine how long it would take if you used glue like the instruction say. This year I followed the directions for size and the instructions call for 60 7 inch square pieces of paper. It wasn’t until afterward I reread my post from last year and saw that I stated I used 4 inch square papers. Basically this year’s ornament is equal to a good sized globe in diameter.

Once again I cut apart an old art magazine with a good weight, luster and variety of colors. Next year I hope I return to this post and read it before creating the third ornament. Robyn, cut the paper down to 3 inch squares please. Not that it will make the process any faster, but perhaps one year we might actually make an ornament that can fit on the tree.