Behind the Scenes: My Annual Family Christmas Ornament

Every year since 2013, the year we got married, I’ve painted a Christmas ornament to celebrate our family’s biggest milestones and memories. This year, we had our most expensive milestone to date: we bought a house! Here’s how I made this lovely ornament out of these simple tools:

Step 1: Sketch the image on the “back” of the disk with a Stabilo Aquarellable white pencil.

Step 2: Go over the the sketch with permanent ink*

*I learned at the end that I should have used an oil-based pen for this step. Unfortunately for me, this was the only black extra-fine point that I had in the house when I made it.

Step 3: Doorknobs! Silver oil-based Sharpie.

Remember: I’m painting on the back of the ornament. I need this detail on top of all the acrylic work that I will do in the next step.

Step 4: Wipe off the Aquarellable sketch with a wet paper towel.

The magic of the Stabilo Aquarellable pencil: it’s water soluble! It’s perfect for sketching on glass and acrylic! Wipe off with water and you’re left with a clean final piece.

Step 5: Paint!

I used acrylic paints that I had lying around the house. I recommend using the thicker, glossy Martha Stewart paints because the stick to acrylic better than the more economic Americana paints.

Step 5b: Flip it over, and LOOK AT IT!

Step 6: Letter on the “front” with Sharpie oil-based, extra fine point white paint marker.

Tip: Use the Stabilo Aquarellable pencil to sketch out the lettering first, then wipe off when you’re done. You can see my sketch marks if you look closely!

Pro Tip: Keep rubbing alcohol handy.

Made a mistake? Sharpie comes off with isopropyl alcohol. I always keep rubbing alcohol and Q-Tips handy. It usually takes 1 scrub with a wet q-tip, then a second scrub with a dry one to get the acrylic back to its original glory.

Step 7: Seal the back.

This is why I wish I used an oil-based Sharpie for the black outlines. Turns out the spray paint messes with regular permanent markers… so my black lines are faded now. I don’t mind because I like that messy look, but those of you who are more precise may want to go with oil-based pen.

Another disclaimer: I’ve been using this glaze for a while now. I love the gloss that it has, but I have learned that when sprayed on acrylic, it has just the tiniest bit of stickiness left. I recommend keeping your final pieces on completely dry, non-porous surfaces (i.e., NOT paper, and definitely with no pressure added on top).

Step 8: Let dry, tie a ribbon on it, and love it forever!

I absolutely love this family tradition of mine. My husband looks forward to it every year. Check out my Instagram @nerdladydraws to see images of my 2013-2017 ornaments, as well as a few of the custom ornaments I made this year!

Do you have a similar holiday tradition? Share in the comments! Merry Christmas!

And I know Christmas 2018 is fast coming to an end, but if you’d like custom ornaments like this one or like the ones featured on my Instagram, check out my Etsy listing! Currently going for $8!

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