Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Catskill Christmas Slide Show

For the first time in three years, I'll be putting up the tree again. I may go smaller (about 6 feet) and place it on a platform or small table - it will be easier for me to decorate plus it will look like a 10 footer in the bay window.

Here for you to enjoy are photos from Christmas 2007:

Created with flickr slideshow.

©2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Finished Christmas Tree with Glass Ball and Handmade Ornaments

[Editor's note: This post first appeared at A Catskill Christmas in November 2007 and is repeated here for the 2010 Christmas season]

Well, I need to show off what has come to be about 6 months of work. Yes, my warped mind thought it would be great to start this project back in June, 2007.

See below for pictures of the 8.5 foot beast: Fraser Fir, 1500 lights, 300+ glass ball ornaments, 300+ handmade ornaments.

© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Monday, November 15, 2010

Redux: Moss Ball Ornaments

[Editor's note: This post first appeared at A Catskill Christmas in November 2007 and is repeated here for the 2010 Christmas season]

These are not easy to make but they are much cheaper than buying premade moss balls. I think I saw each of these for about $4.00 in the stores, and even at the wholesale florist places.

I'm not entirely happy with the way they look - I probably should have used large dried rose heads rather than the cedar roses - or even pine cones. Maybe I will dry roses over the summer and try again next year.


Foam ball, 1.5" diameter
Sheet moss
Glue gun
Cedar roses
Star Anise


1. Select pieces of moss, enough to cover entire ball. Don't worry about having to use one continuous area of moss. You can patch holes with tiny bits of moss.

2. Place glue on one end of the ball and place ball in the center of the large piece of moss. Let glue set.

3. Then continue to place small dabs of glue on the ball, pull the moss up and hold it until glue sets.

4. Continue this process until most of ball is covered. Return to bare spots using glue and small pieces of moss.

5. Cut two pieces of ribbon, in equal lengths, each one should cover the circumference of the ball.

6. Glue one end of ribbon and let set. Wrap that piece of ribbon around the ball until it comes back and meets the glued end. Glue in place and let glue set.

7. Repeat with the other piece of ribbon in the opposite direction.

8. Place cedar roses at certain points of the ribbon - attach with glue and let set.

9. Place a star anise at the end where the ribbon ends are showing. Glue in place to cover the ribbon ends.

10. Take a smaller width ribbon and loop it through the end opposite the star anise. Create a loop bow as shown on the left.

Storage: again, better safe than sorry although I can't see bugs liking moss. Wrap in acid-free tissue and store in box with cedar chips or moth balls.

Note: I have also used brass screw eyes instead of the loop bow but it means you need to pierce the ribbon with an awl or scissor end and then glue it in place.

© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Redux: Gilded Dried Pomegranates

[Editor's note: This post first appeared at A Catskill Christmas in November 2007 and is repeated here for the 2010 Christmas season]

This is another fairly easy and quick ornament to make. I just wish the pomegranates weren't so expensive! The best deal that I found was at the San Francisco Herb Company - one dozen medium size, dried and dyed red, for $8.80.

I thought about leaving these unpainted but the red dye comes off pretty easily - so I would have had to use some type of spray sealer anyway.


12 medium size dried pomegrantes
Electric drill with small bit
Brass screw eyes
Glue gun and glue sticks
24 kt gold spray paint
Dropcloth or shallow box


1. Place a pomegranate on a stable surface and lightly drill a small hole in the side opposite the "blossom" or stem. This is to hold the brass screw eye - so don't select a bit that is bigger than the screw eye.

2. Attach the screw eye. Use a glue gun of the hole is too big or the screw eye wobbles.

3. On a drop cloth or in a shallow box, apply a coat of 24kt gold spray paint. Wait 10 minutes and turn the pomegrantes. Apply more coats of spray until entire surface is covered

Storage: if you drill too big a hole you will notice that the pomegrantes are black and fuzzy inside - not pretty. That is why I seal the opening with hot glue if the hole is too big. If not, these might get infested with bugs especially depending on your summer climate.

© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Redux: Cinnamon Stick Bundles

[Editor's note: This post first appeared at A Catskill Christmas in November 2007 and is repeated here for the 2010 Christmas season]

These ornaments are not as simple as taking a bunch of cinnamon sticks and wrapping them in ribbon. For stability, they need to be glued together with a glue gun.


1 lb bag of cinnamon sticks, 6 inch length
Glue gun


1. Sort through the bag of cinnamon sticks and create two piles: thick sticks and thin sticks. The idea is to use thick sticks on the base for stability, use the thin ones in the middle and thick ones on top. You will need about 10 or 11 sticks per bundle.

2. Take 3 thick cinnamon sticks and glue them so they are side by side, almost like making a raft. Let glue cool and set a few seconds.

3. Take 6 thin cinnamon sticks and begin gluing them to the base and building a triangular stack.

4. Take 3 thick cinnamon sticks for the sides and top of the bundle and attach with glue.

5. Cut a 12 inch length of satin ribbon. Place bundle in the center and tie into a bow.

Storage: there should not be any special storage needed with these bundles.

Notes: if you really want the cinnamon smell to permeate, you can lightly grate some of the sticks (messy) or add drops of cinnamon oil to some of the sticks (but make sure it doesn't spread and damage the ribbon).

© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Redux: Copper Pinecones

[Editor's note: This post first appeared at A Catskill Christmas in November 2007 and is repeated here for the 2010 Christmas season]

Here's another chance to go crazy with the spray paint can! When I decided that I wanted pine cone ornaments on the tree this year, I had to think about several issues.

One issue was how to hang them - do I wrap them with green florist wire and then attach them to the branches? That would take alot of time and when removing them they would be difficult to see since they naturally look like part of the tree.

Another issue was what finish to apply - do I really need another gold item what with the Gilded Walnut Garland and Gilded Dried Pomegranates (a future post)?

I took about one-third of the pine cones that I bought at Kennicott, sprayed them with a copper metallic paint, and then attached brass screw eyes to the top for hanging. Again, a strong copper color against green and with some lichen and kiwi green ornaments gives a great and unique look.


30 medium sized pinecones - (6 inch ponderosa pinecones)
Metallic copper spray
Dropcloth or large shallow box
Brass screw eyes
Electric drill and small (1/32") drill bit


1. Select the pinecones and place them on the dropcloth or in a shallow box.

2. Spray with the copper paint in a well-ventilated area. You may need to paint one side then turn them all over and paint the other. Don't forget the tops and bottoms as well.

3. When dry, insert brass screw eyes. You may need to create a starter hole with the drill and drill bit.

Storage: there should not be any problems with storage although some people have written that they tend to place pinecones in a 175 degree oven for a bit to kill any bugs that might be infested. I've never encountered this. I also use pinecones that are lightly lacquered - this seals in (or out) any creepy crawlies.

© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Monday, November 8, 2010

Redux: Pheasant Feather Fans

[Editor's note: This post first appeared at A Catskill Christmas in November 2007 and is repeated here for the 2010 Christmas season]

These ornaments are very similar to the Peacock Feather Fans described in an earlier post.


100 pheasant feathers (ringneck, golden, etc.) 4 - 6 inches long
Copper wire, 24 gauge or less
Wire cutter or scissors


1. Cut a 6 inch length of copper wire.

2. Select eight feathers and arrange so that some are "front" (lighter color) and some are "back" (darker color). Gather together and try to fan them slightly with your hand.

3. Wind copper wire around the quill ends of the group of feathers.

4. Fan out the feathers if possible.

5. Cut a 12 inch length of ribbon and tie in a bow at the top of the quill end.

6. You should be able to hook a wire ornament hanger into the back of the bow to hang the ornament.


Wrap in acid-free tissue paper and place in a large padded envelope or box.


I like to use olive or kiwi green satin ribbon with the pheasant feathers - there is a nice contrast of colors. I also use copper wire rather than standard green florist wire since it may peek through.

© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee