By General Crafts Contributor Michelle
Bring some old-fashioned charm to your Christmas tree this year with this homespun beauty. Make a new Christmas tradition by creating an angel topper of your very own that you’re proud to display year after year.
Here’s what you’ll need to make your own angel:
- DAS Air-Hardening Clay , white.
- One 2-inch styrofoam ball.
- 13-inch paper mache cone.
- Aluminum foil.
- White, pink, brown, black and yellow acrylic craft paint.
- Crackle medium.
- Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic Spray, satin finish.
- One white chenille stem.
- 2-inches of a 16 gauge, or other heavy wire.
- Dimensions Feltworks 100% Wool Roving in Ivory/Nutmeg.
- American Crafts 3/8 in. Velvet Scallop Ribbon in pomegranate.
- Lara’s Wood Star 2 1/4 inches.
- Sulyn Vintage & Sparkle Glitter in Slivered Tinsel Town.
- Doodlebug Doodle Twine in Ladybug.
- A very small detail paintbrush.
- Hot glue gun and glue sticks.
- White glue.
- Wire cutters.
To begin your angel, attach the styrofoam ball to the top of the cone using hot glue and pressing it down so it the ball is impaled on top of the cone about 1/4 of an inch. Tear a strip of foil about 3″ wide, and roll into a tight “snake” about the width of a pencil.
Glue one end of your foil “snake” about 3/4 of an inch below the styrofoam ball, and begin wrapping it around the cone to form your angel’s shoulders and chest. When you look down at your wrapping from the top, you are aiming to try to make it a football type shape (See above photo), but with more bulk on the front of the angel, to form her chest. Repeat with another foil snake, if necessary, to add a little more bulk. Remember, you’re going to be covering this with clay, so make it slightly smaller than you want your final result.
Using your clay, cover the styrofoam ball with a thin layer of clay. When the head is evenly covered, begin covering the neck and chest with a thin layer of clay. When you get past the body of your angel, and near the paper mache cone, just make a smooth transition by tapering the clay onto the cone in a thin even layer. This part won’t show in the end, so you don’t have to be particularly neat, just make it so it won’t be lumpy under the dress. Create an all over smooth surface on the head and body by wetting your fingers a bit with water, and smoothing the surface of the clay.
To create the cheeks, press pea-sized balls of clay onto both sides of the angel’s face. Using your finger, press the edges of the balls down to apply them to the surface of the face, and then with a damp finger, smooth the cheeks to help slightly flatten them. To make the nose, take another pea-sized ball of clay, but this time make it into an oval shape. Apply it like you did the cheeks, but don’t flatten it, round it a bit instead, and taper it a bit at the top to form the bridge of the nose (See step 2 for the nose in the above photo). To form ears, make two pea-sized ovals, and flatten them a bit. Stick them on both sides of the head, and attach them like you did the cheeks and nose. (See above photo for ear shaping).
Using your wire cutters, cut two 1-inch pieces of wire and bend them into a “u” shape. Poke them into the arm area of your angel, as shown in the picture. Don’t worry if they don’t feel very secure, we’ll glue them in after the clay dries.
To make the arms, cut one chenille stem in half. Begin applying clay around 4-inches of the stem (leaving a 2-inch “handle” of chenille stem on each arm) rolling it like a snake to form the arms. Taper the arm, making it wider at the top and getting more narrow as you reach the hand. Make a slight indent for the wrists, taper the end to a bit of a rounded point, and flatten slightly to form hands. Hold the arms up to your angel, and make sure they don’t look like they’re too long, or short. To look proportionally correct, they should be about the same length as the height from the top of the angel’s head, to the end of her torso. Work at making both arms as alike as possible, making sure they’re both the same length and thickness. When you’re happy with the arms, bend them into a gentle curve, and let them dry.
When the clay head and body are completely dry, paint the entire angel, cone and all, with a base coat of white acrylic paint. When the arms are completely dry, paint them with a base coat of white acrylic paint. Let everything dry completely. Next, mix some brown acrylic paint with some white to make a medium brown color. This is going to be the under color for the crackle finish, so you don’t have to be super precise with the color, it just needs to be darker than the top coat color, in order for the crackling to show up. Paint the head and body of the angel, and the arms, with your brown. Let dry completely. Apply a coat of crackle medium over the angel’s head, body and arms, and let dry according to the directions on the bottle. Mix a touch of yellow and brown paint with some white to make an ivory color (or just use a pre-mixed bottle of ivory paint, if you desire). Paint over the top of the crackle coat (on both the head and body, and the arms), being careful not to overstroke and disturb the crackling process. Let dry completely. Now it is time to paint the face. Mix a bit of white, red, and yellow together to make a light peachy pink. Paint the center of the circles of the cheeks, watering down your paint slightly on the edges of the circles to help fade the edges and give them a more natural look. Add a touch of paint to the nose too, to give it a slight blush. Next, using your black on a very small detail brush, make two small circles for eyes, leaving a tiny white spot in each for a reflection. Over each circle, add a small arc of black paint to represent the eyelid. Add two thin arcs for eyebrows. Using your red paint on your detail brush, make a small line where you want the lips to be. On top of the line, make two small arcs for the top lip. On the bottom of the line, make a small oval shape for the bottom lip. If you’re not confidant in your painting abilities, try practicing forming the eyes and lips on a piece of paper, before you paint them on directly on your angel. Just remember they’re just made up of basic shapes and lines. Let your face dry completely, and then spray both the head and body, and the arms, with clear coat. Let dry.
Remove the wire “U” shapes from the body, and glue in place. Let dry. Thread the chenille stem end of each arm through the wire “U,” pull up the excess so the top of the arms are up by the shoulders, and wrap the chenille stem around itself to secure the arms in place. You want them to dangle freely so don’t wrap them so securely that they don’t move.
Unroll your wool roving, and cut a strip that will fit around your angel’s head. Glue on according to the above photo directions.
Cut 3 strips of wool roving, slightly longer than will go around your angels head, and roll them into snakes. Braid together as seen in the above photo. Wrap around your angel’s head to form her braided crown hairstyle, and glue in place. I also made some ringlets for the back of my angel’s head by wrapping some very small strips of dampened wool around a paintbrush handle and let them dry, and then glued them in place. Instead of a braided crown, you could also just loosely roll a small ball of wool and make a bun for your angel’s hair, or just simply glue long strips of wool for a long hair style.
To form her dress cut a piece of cheesecloth about 18-inches long by 16-inches wide. Fold the top of your rectangle down 6-inches, so the whole rectangle now measures 18″x10.” Find the middle of the top folded edge of your cheesecloth. Add a dab of hot glue to the front of your angel’s waist and adhere the middle point of your cheesecloth to the glue. Now pick a side, and working toward the back from the glued middle, begin slightly gathering the folded edge of your cheesecloth and gluing it around the waist. Keep gathering and gluing until you reach the back, and then repeat on the other side. You have now completed her skirt. To make her top, cut a strip of cheesecloth 12-inches by 4-inches. Fold it in half lengthwise, so your strip is now 12-inches by 2-inches. Measure over 6-inches to find the middle, and adhere the middle to the front of your angel’s chest with a very small dab of hot glue (Be sure to position the strip so it covers where you glued the skirt waist to the body). Take both ends and pull them around back of your angel on either side. Working at the back now, cross one over the top of the other to form an “X.” Take the end that is now on the top, and pull it under the angel’s arm on that side of the body, across the front of the chest, and up over the opposite shoulder. Glue in place, and repeat with the other end. Now you should have an “X” of cheesecloth on the front now too.
Create the halo out of wire, as directed in the above photos, and then apply white glue with a paintbrush and dip it in tinsel glitter. Let dry, and then poke into the top of the head, through the hair, pushing through the clay, into the styrofoam ball. Carefully pull it back out, and add a dab of glue to the end of the wire, and gently reinsert it to secure.
Using your white feathers, follow the pictorial directions above to create the wings, and then glue them onto the back of the angel’s body at shoulder level.
Cut a length of pomegranate ribbon to go around the angel’s waist. Add a small button to decorate her top, and a bow in her hair, if desired. Paint the wooden star with white glue, and then cover it with tinsel glitter. Let it dry, and then glue a piece of the red and white striped twine to the back of it so your angel can hold it. Position your angels hands together, and hold them in place with a dab of glue. Loop the twine from the star around her joined hands so she can hold it in front of her. Fluff up the layers of her dress, and put her on top of your tree. Now stand back and admire you beautiful homemade angel!