Making your own tree ornaments is a winter holiday tradition.
This is an easy way to make one vintage ornament or a bunch from antique or vintage brooches.
Decorate your own Christmas tree, or use them as a sustainable and affordable gift idea this holiday season.
Each one is unique!
And what’s even better – you can use them as a brooch again after the decorations come down.
Styles of winter ornament hangers
Winter ornaments need a way to hang, whether from a Christmas tree branch, an evergreen tree in the yard, or the window pane.
Vintage ornament hangers are available online, suggesting from the wide selection of commercial styles that holiday celebrations have incorporated ornaments for a very long time.
What’s the right ornament hook?
Ornament hooks are a cross between a fishing hook and an opened paper clip.
Use anything you have on hand that has two pieces, one on each end: 1) a hook for hanging and 2) a loop to attach to the ornament pendant.
These antique ornament hooks are more elaborate than is required, but the manufacturers must’ve gotten excited about the commercial possibilities.
How to make a vintage ornament from a brooch
1. Choose your ornament hanger.
Simple ornament hangers are still sold today for just a few pennies each, provided you purchase a few hundred and have a junk drawer to store them in until you die.
You can find them in silvertone, goldtone, green, and black, made from metal or string, with complicated loops and curls, or your most basic hook.
I decided to make this vintage brooch ornament using a vintage hook, because I couldn’t pass up the bright red Brite Star box.
2. Find a vintage brooch.
Vintage brooches are everywhere: thrift and antique stores, flea markets, and consignment shops. You can buy them cheap in lots of 10, 20, even 50 on Etsy, on Ebay, or on Shopgoodwill.com.
In fact, I collect and sell vintage brooches in my shop.
You can ask your mother, grandmother, aunt, friend, friend’s aunt.
Someone will have a brooch, or several hundred, you can have.
I chose this one because of its evergreen bling.
3. Consider a theme or vintage ornament collection.
Brooch manufacturers in the 1900s were so prolific that you can choose a theme for your tree ornaments and never run out of possibilities for brooches to add to the collection.
Fill a tree with bird brooches.
Or use only silvertone brooches for an entire tree of silver vintage ornaments.
Use only rhinestone brooches, or only brooches with red glass.
If you give yourself time enough to find a handful of star-shaped ornaments, an entire tree can be decorated like the night sky.
4. Find places to insert the ornament hanger loop.
Hint: look for holes.
Some brooches won’t have any holes or gaps in the design, and you’ll have to return them to your jewelry box or put them back on that thrift store wall.
5. Locate the center of gravity.
The center of gravity on a brooch is likely not found on the stick pin itself.
If you’ve ever tried to use a brooch converter to turn a lapel pin into a necklace pendant, you’ve experienced the sad physics of a brooch: it falls forward, making your great idea (and the expensive brooch converter) a bust.
This will apply in most cases also to your DIY ornament attempt.
Simply wrapping the ornament hanger around the brooch’s sharp, straight pin won’t work.
You have to find another option. (See hint above about a hole.)
6. Loop the end of the hanger around the brooch.
Choose the end of the hanger that closes, and loop it into the gap you’ve chosen in the brooch that will allow it to hang best without falling forward.
7. Hang it!
My mother is a consummate holiday tree decorator. Usually, she’s taken the traditional route, and the tree is filled with white lights and a huge range of ornaments going back to the 1930s.
She’s also gone the other way.
Once in the 80s, she spray-painted sand dollars metallic gold and hung then alongside coral-colored ribbons. Just the gold and peach and white lights that year. The tree looked amazing, and I still have those sand dollars, just in case.
For now, I’m a traditionalist.
Don’t feel like making your own?
No worries. I will have vintage ornaments made from brooches for sale at minusOne this holiday season.
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