by Meredith Chilson The holidays are looming, and I’ve pulled down the crates and tubs of decorations and ornaments from the high shelf in the garage. As I sort through the boxes, I realize that many of them are handmade—some of glitter, glue and toothpicks made by tiny hands, others of ceramic, glass or wood. So many memories! As I dig deeper into the tissue and wrappings, I find our Goose Eggs. A family friend made each of us a special ornament over 30 years ago, and I think of her and our happy times as I hold the egg in my hand. How young we were!!
I look at the egg. I happen to look at a basket of fluffy feathers I’ve gathered from the chicken as the girls have been molting. How fun it would be to make holiday decorations from objects found in the hen house! I sort out the feathers, call my neighbor to see if she might be willing to donate a goose egg or two, gather my supplies and head to the Internet for instructions.
It wasn’t long ago that directions for blowing and cleaning eggs were posted HERE on the Fresh Eggs Daily blog site. I’m going to use goose eggs as well as hen’s eggs. My chickens have just begun laying well after their annual molt, and I do quite a bit of baking in December, so I’m hoping I can use the blown out “remains” in cookies. I have plans for the shells, too. I am only going to blow out a few eggs, so I’ll use my own “wind power”, and then rinse the insides with vinegar. These directions suggest bleach and water, but I will be using the syringe that I use for my animals, and I don’t want to use bleach in it.
Goose eggs--so big and beautiful and sturdy! I’ll need a small drill to make the holes in the ends of these eggs because they are so hard—but I know that they should last for years if I do this right. The goose egg ornaments we have hung on our tree every year are 31 years old—our friend dated each one she made. You can’t see this in the photo, but the ornament with …is it Holly Hobby?...has tiny cracks running through it, from an accidental dropping many years ago. The Mod-Podge finish is still glossy and the decoupage colors are bright. I’m going to carefully trim some pictures from the lovely Christmas cards I received last year and couldn’t bear to toss out!
Now, how can I use all these feathers? I found simple instructions for lining a clear glass ball with feathers RIGHT HERE. I have black feathers from our Silkie and from “Jimmy”, as well as the buff and reds from the Orpingtons and Rhode Island Reds. I should be able to make some stunning ornaments!
Meyer Hatchery photo
As I sort feathers, I save out certain ones. I read the Meyer Hatchery blog, and a couple of weeks ago, there was a post explaining how to make a feather tree. The finished product was so exquisite; I have hopes I can make one of my own. Wouldn’t a tiny, delicate feather tree make a really unique favor at each place setting on a holiday table? Meyer Hatchery also has instructions for making a feather garland.
At HouseGoose, I found suggestions for beaded feather ornaments. I may have to check back with the neighbor who has the goose, since the downy feathers from my hens aren’t quite big enough for this craft. It appears that a small bead is threaded onto the shaft of the feather, and then several of these beaded feathers are hooked together in the center to form a “snowflake”. This site also states a reminder that feathers gathered from the hen yard may have parasites. One way to “sterilize” feathers is to gather them into a zip-lock bag and freeze them for at least 24 hours. A day before use, remove the bag and open it to let any moisture escape.
|Photo courtesy of www.happyhourprojects.com|
I have ideas for using eggs and feathers, just one more ornament I’d like to try this year: eggshell ornaments! Cleaned, crumbled eggshells are spread onto a base, colored with alcohol inks, and given a clear coat of glaze. All the directions for this project are found HERE at www.happyhourprojects.com. I keep thinking of all the eggshells I’ve tossed into the compost—I could have been saving them for decorations!
Every year, when I open up the boxes of ornaments for our tree, I remember once again the people who made the ornaments, the times we spent together, the years that have passed. The ornaments thoughtfully made by friends are among those that are most special.
If you’re in a group that has an annual ornament exchange, have you tried making your exchange gift from found objects? Over the years, I’ve made ornaments from pinecones that have fallen from our big spruce trees; I’ve used willow twigs and acorns I’ve gathered on my walks with our dogs. What fun to have your handmade ornament come from the hen yard! I’ve chosen only a few that I plan to make this season, because I know my time for craft making is limited. Most of these decorations can be made within an hour or two, or in stages. I have ideas for using eggs, eggshells, and feathers.
What ideas can you share?