Saturday, December 26, 2015

Great Christmas Tree Tour: Charlene Raddon's Homemade Ornaments

Tradition tells us the first tree was brought indoors in Strasburg, Germany, in 1605. Martin Luther decorated it with candles to entertain the children. During this time Christmas trees were embellished with wafers, candies, fruits, paper flowers, hard cookies baked in various shapes and tinsels made from tin and silver. Humans being humans, families were soon competing to outdo each other with their decorations. Eventually, the tradition of a decorated tree indoors spread beyond Germany.

During the 1800s the hand cast glass ornaments became widely popular. Lauscha in Germany was the hub of glass ornaments production in Germany. Later on silk, wool thread, chenille and stiff spun glass were used in Christmas tree ornaments.

Legend plays an important role in the History of Christmas Ornaments. The popular pickle ornament of the Germans carries with it a wonderful tale. Pickle ornaments are glass ornaments formed in the shape of a pickle. The German parents used it to judge the most intelligent child in the family. The first one to trace the pickle got an additional gift from St. Nicholas.

Christmas trees along with the fanciful ornaments entered England in 1840 through the hands of Queen Victoria and her German Prince Albert. Glass ornaments, decorative beads, paper baskets with sugared almonds and hot air balloons were used for decoration.

The first Christmas tree ornaments began as items easily found in nature, such as nuts, fruit or pine cones. German families began to bake gingerbread or other hard cookies in different shapes. Americans strung popcorn or cranberries into strands to string around the trees. Families in the United Kingdom crafted lace or paper into unique shapes to place upon the tree.

Christmas Tree Ornaments reached America around 1880. F.W Woolworth, an American retailer first sold imported glass ornaments in his shop. Decorations also included cut outs of old magazines, cotton wools and tinsel. The First World War disrupted natural commerce and necessitated the production of cheaper ornaments with new technologies. The introduction of injection plastic molding facilitated to figure tiny miniatures.

Mistletoe was believed to have magical powers of healing. The tree was sacred to the ancient Celtic Druids. The cutting of the mistletoe from the oak (mistletoes are parasites, though they can grow on their own) signified the emasculation of the old King by his successor. Having the mistletoe decorated in the Christmas season, originated from the pagan customs. The famous axiom "kissing under the mistletoe" has its origin in the Norse mythology and Celtic rituals.

The Holly, which is strongly linked with Christmas or rather Christmas festival, has a history of its own. Though Christmas Holly history has its roots in Northern Europe, the sanctity of the Holly plant has a pagan origin. The Holly plant is characterized by green leaves that are prickly in nature. It needs a mention here that the Druids adorned their heads with twigs of the Holly plant whenever they went to the forest.

The Germans began making ornaments for mass production in the mid-1800s. Around Lauscha, Germany, glass blowers began molding glass into fruit or nut replicas. After those became a big hit, they began making different shapes, such as hearts and stars, as well as saints, children or animals.

In the 1920s, more countries vied with Germany for the Christmas ornament market. Japan came out with more colorful designs than Germany, while the Czech Republic produced very fancy ornaments. After World War I, glass ornaments began to be produced by a machine in Corning, New York. They were the first glass ornaments to be made by machine.

Tinsel first came into use around 1610 in Germany. The first tinsel was made out of silver, pulled very thin. It tended to tarnished quickly by the heat of the candles placed on the tree. Experiments were made to make tinsel better, and it was next made out of tin and lead. This tinsel was very heavy, however, and would break from its own weight. Tinsel is currently made out of lightweight synthetic material and is used by many people around the world.

The ornaments shown on this post were made by the author.


#1 is made by using bits of fabric, ribbon and decorative trimming glued to a Styrofoam ball. The fabric is cut into elongated leaf shapes to fit around the ball.  A loop made of heavy thread is glued to one end for hanging. These can be made to fit all sizes of balls.

#2 is crocheted using crochet thread into two circular motifs sewn together around a Styrofoam ball.



#3 is made by cutting old Christmas cards into nickel sized circles. The circles are then bent to form triangles. The folds are glued together in 4 rows of five, and the edged decorated with sparkle.


#4 is made with photographs according to the pattern in the photo. You can use pictures of your children, family, favorite places, pets or squares of Christmas cards. After being folded and glued, the edges are then decorated with sparkle. See the box in the top photo.

#5 The snowflakes are crocheted using various patterns which can be found by googling “crocheted snowflake ornaments.”

#6 The stocking is crocheted with crochet thread in 12 six-sided motifs sewn together. My motifs are about 2-3/4” in diameter, making a stocking about 12” long.  Naturally, if you make the motifs larger, adding another row to each one, or using thicker thread, you can create larger stockings.


 #7 are needlepoint backed with felt and trimming added to the edges for a finished look.

Anyone wanting more detailed instructions or patterns are welcome to email me at and I will send them to you.

Start now and decorate your tree this year with your own handmade ornaments.

A woman's smile . . .

Rosalyn Delaney's husband, Josiah, vanished six years ago. Following a private detective's lead, Rosalyn leaves Salt Lake City and boards a train heading to the mining town of Whiskey Ridge, Arizona. She arrives at Rose House, an old mansion reputed to be haunted, only to discover that her missing husband has been killed, and his business partner, Whip Kincaid, is wanted for his murder. Determined to uncover the secrets surrounding Josiah and his death, Rosalyn decides to stay--even though she begins to receive nightly visits from a charming "ghost" . . .

A Ghost's Kiss . . .

Escaping a troubled past, Whip Kincaid had hoped he could make a fresh start in Whiskey Ridge and open a saloon with his friend Josiah. Now, as a murder suspect hiding in his own house, Whip's future looks bleak indeed . . . unless he can find the real culprit. But the unexpected intrusion of Rosalyn ruins his plan to sneak out at night to investigate. Scaring her away is his first step in clearing his name, but Rosalyn doesn't rattle easily. And Whip isn't sure he wants the lovely widow to walk out of his life -- especially when she'll take his heart with her.

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