Making your own Christmas decorations

The end of the year has rolled by again, and soon it will be Christmas. It was a very successful year for microTOOL. New clients came onboard and loyal clients continue to stick with us. We realized new features for users and have published software versions. Our user conference in May was an absolute highlight with wonderful contributions and an active exchange. Of course plans are already underway to develop newer versions, and events and user conference are also planned. As has become our tradition we would like to end the year with a small project. We don’t want to model requirements diagrams or system contexts – this project only requires some cookie cutters, a straw and some string. We are making Christmas decorations.
cookie cutters ready to make decoration The necessary materials for your do-it-yourself Christmas decorations such as silly putty, for example by the brand Fimo, can be bought in many toy stores. It’s available in many different colors, is very moldable and hardens in the oven at 110°C.

But watch out: silly putty is not suitable for children under 8 years. An adult should supervise children using the silly putty as well as the hardening process in the oven. You probably will have some cookie cutters in your drawer. You can decide for yourself if you would like to use straw to fit out a hole with which to hang up the art work. You could also use a thin string or a thin ribbon.

Step by step Christmas decoration

Mix two or three colors with each other. Do this by mixing one piece of silly putty with another piece of a different color. The amount of silly putty you use, will depend on the size of the desired object, e.g. a star, Christmas tree or reindeer. You’ll develop a feeling for the right amount – if you need a little more silly putty then just add a little more. And don’t worry: the more children are involved the more colors will be added to the mix.

Roll out, stamp out, hole, harden, hang up – done

The next steps are just as simple as mixing colors. Roll out the putty, press in the cookie cutters and remove the left over material. If the edges fray a little you can correct that with a knife. This is also possible after the hardening process.

Cutting out your christmas shapes

Carving out your christmas shapes

Heat the oven to the temperature recommended by the silly putty brand (usually 110°C). It doesn’t matter what kind of fan setting you use in the oven. After all you don’t want to bake a cake, you just want to remove the moisture from the putty. Before you shove it in the oven you should make a hole with a straw for hanging it up later. Of course you can use other objects besides a straw, but it is a useful way to get the job done.

Creating a hole for hanging

Creating a hole for hanging

Ideally you should place baking paper under the putty before you slide it in. After 30 minutes you can remove your Christmas decoration from the oven. But be careful: it is still very warm. The shapes will only harden completely once they cool, so be patient for a few minutes. While you wait you can ask yourself the following question. How can I improve the next time I do this? Maybe you want to avoid fingerprints next time. Or maybe you need a flat surface, if so you might want to use a rolling pin. You can also use the internal core of aluminum foil to roll out the putty.

As always, practice makes perfect. Or at least more beautiful pieces should come about. When in doubt just remember: not perfect is the new perfect!

Christmas tree decoration - second try

Christmas tree decoration – second try

And … the end result on the Christmas tree?

Finished homemade Christmas tree decorations

Finished homemade Christmas tree decorations

We wish you a wonderful time as you create your decorations this Christmas among loved ones.

 

Thank you for 2015. We look forward to 2016.

Your microTOOL team

ps: If you would like to send us your “experiments” we would be happy to put them up on the blog.

 

My name is Michael Schenkel – and I believe in tools, if they are useful. Tools that support users in their work, tools that provide a common working environment for all types of roles in a project.

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