There is nothing more special than creating a unique decoration for Christmas. Below I will share with you my journey to create a table top decoration using vintage jewelry, supplies from your yard, and good old fashioned ingenuity. Supplies are listed at the bottom.
Create the Base
Using the 8″ round disk of wood or cardstock adhere a thin layer of moss to the surface. This will be your base to build your scene on. Use moss particles or purchase a thin moss sheet to glue to the surface. Either way, make sure you have pretty good coverage.
Create the House
While the base is drying, using a small wooden bird house (or a vintage house ornament or decoration), remove the string from the top. If using a wooden bird house cut off the perch and discard. Cut a hole for a door into the house and save the wood to use as a template to create a door. I used the round opening where the bird would enter the birdhouse as the top of my door to create a charming little arched door. I cut a small hole into the door to add a window using Shrinky Dink. Color the window with a marker before heating (I used yellow and black).
Take the small piece of wood you removed from the house for the door opening and using the 1/8″ thick by 3″ wide by 14″ long piece of balsam wood, create a door for the little house. Make door a little larger so you can gradually cut it down to get the size just right. I used both the exacto knife and the dremel tool to adjust the size depending on how much you had to cut and where. The dremel was the best tool to adjust the size and shape of the arch and the exacto knife worked better on the straight edges. Shave a little off at a time to adjust. You want it to fit pretty well. You will use this to cover the lights after you put them in the little house. Cut or Drill a hole into the top center of the door to make a window in the door. I left 1/8″ around the edge to secure the Shrinky Dink window.
Cut small disks from branches and play around with stacking them to create a chimney for the little house. I used disks from several different branches to get an undulating look with different textures so it didn’t look like a branch glued to the side of the house. I had one really off angle cut disk and placed that on top to look like a cap for a chimney. Hot glue the disks together against the little house and stack them making sure to glue each one to the one below and if possible to the little house. Remember to remove any strings caused by the hot glue. The glue will want to stick to the texture of the branches.
Next, use the hot glue gun to adhere the little tufts of moss and lichen to the house (gluing to a vintage ornament/decoration is not recommended as it will affect the value). Leave the opening for the door untouched until you finish the door. Cover the surface of the house excluding the roof.
The handful of sticks you collected/purchased will be used to create the roof or you can make small shingles by slicing or splitting the branches (this is much easier with dry wood). There are lots of options to cover the roof, but you want something that will look architectural. With all the fuzzy lichen and moss on the house, you lose a little of the structure so you want to be sure to bring some of that back with the roof. Paint the roof with dark brown paint. Let the paint dry and then add your roof. If you are using sticks, lay the sticks vertically from top to bottom with the wider part of the stick at the bottom of the roof. Over lap the sticks to look like thatch. Another method would be to use straw in the same way or to use shingles (I’m using shingles with a little lichen on top).
Next, paint the front of the door with brown paint. After the paint dries, adhere bits of bark and wood to the front of the door with the hot glue gun or in this example use more of the same material used for the roof. Be sure to leave the opening for the window unobstructed. Glue the strips of leather to one side of the door to work as hinges. Create a small vertical strap to use as the door handle and glue into place. Place the house on the base and arrange tufts of moss around the house to look like landscaping. Then add the battery operated LED lights. I put one bulb in the house and strung the rest around the base to look like fairy lights. The next step is to add the snow.
Once I got this all done I really liked the way it looked for a spring/summer cloche. So I did another one for my Christmas/winter scene. Here Is how I did it.
I started with the same base as in the first one. I added the moss to the base and then decided I really wanted this to look like it was on a hill. I used a large piece of moss and then gently stacked thinner pieces of moss to give it a consistent look. Keeping in mind I am going to cover the area with the snow.
Decorate the tree
Create a small Christmas tree using remnants from an artificial wreath or purchase a bottle brush tree. Using one of the small trees as a base, you can cut the vintage jewelry into small pieces to look like ornaments and either wire them on or glue them. Use a piece of chain as a garland. I found one that had some interesting detail but you could add small beads with wire to add some of that detail if your chain is plain. For the appropriate proportions, take one of the ornaments and hold it against the tree. We found with the tree being so small that we had to adjust the size of the ornaments so they didn’t look out of scale.
Add Dimension to the Base
I wanted to give the impression of the trees being on a hill so I used a large piece of moss to resemble a hill. To achieve these results I used a large mound of the moss that was unusable on the spring cloche. I selected some of the taller sticks and used them for trees. I crumbled a piece of Styrofoam packing material and then glued the styrofoam to the branches to make them look snow covered. I added white glitter to the snow to make it extra sparkly.
Supply List (click on each image to find the source I purchased my items from).
- Cloche or jar (approximately 10in in diameter)
- Approximately 12in square of green moss. I purchased two so I would have a variety to shapes to choose from.
- Approximately 5in square of grey/blue moss
- Approximately 5in large lichen patch
- Approximately 5in small green lichen or variety pack
- 1 small (no larger than 2in) wooden bird house (you can also use an old ornament) or
- Exacto knife. There are lots of options for this one…This is the set I bought nearly 20 years ago.
- Dremel Tool with drum sanding attachment (if you don’t have a Dremel tool use a dowel and double sided sticky tape and a strip of sandpaper to sand the inside rounded edges of the house. Here is the Dremel kit I bought.
- Scissors. My go to is Fiskars for crafting. I always have one pair for general crafting and then I keep another very sharp/new pair for just cutting paper or fabric.
- A round disk of thin wood or very heavy card stock (3/4″ smaller than the size of the cloche opening, I used cake boards found at the cake decorating section at the craft store) http://
- Hot Glue Gun. I have an older version of this one. It has been very reliable and consistent.
- Hot Glue. I always buy the professional grade designed for the glue gun I use.
- Small handful of sticks or dollhouse shingles. This is a big bag you will have a lot left over. For sticks you can get these. But I would recommend you go take a walk and pick some up from the surrounding area…You will have a nice memory and must better selection and no cost.
- Artificial Snow.
- White Glitter. or
- Elmer’s or some other general purpose glue that is water soluble.
- 1/8″ thick by 3″ wide by 14″ long piece of balsa wood (or some other soft wood).
- 4″x4″ piece of Shrinky Dink to make the window for the door. (If you have the time and are inclined, cut out a small window and add a window pane with the Shrinky Dink.)
- 1 to 5 one inch thick branches from a tree with interesting color. Cut into small disks no larger than 1/4″ thick.
- Small LED battery operated light set.
- Blue paint tape
- Small piece of leather (hinges for the door and the handle for the door). You can also use fabric and paint it to look like leather.
- Small hand saw.
- Heavy duty wire cutters
- Vintage/old jewelry or some jewelry parts.
- Bottle Brush Trees.
Variations on this project.
Spring lighted fairy house.
For a smaller version use smaller objects inside mason jars for a farm feel.
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