Ornaments 2018

For about six years I’ve made ornaments as part of a holiday swap. This past Christmas (2018), I made lightbulb snowmen and penguins. This time I took still photographs of the process, and wrote about my process below.

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  1. I bought a big box of bulbs at a home & hardware warehouse store: one box of 16 bulbs, and an additional box of 4. In all I was making 10 snowmen and 10 penguins. Usually the headcount for ornaments is 12-15. I make a few extras: one for myself (so I can recall what I made year to year) and then a few extra. This is just in case someone participated in the swap and I learn that on swap day.
  2. I saved the lightbulb boxes, and we also had another bulb box lying around. These boxes are used for “drying stands” when I paint the lightbulbs one side at a time.[Baby food jars, small-mouthed jars, and old egg cartons are also useful for this purpose.]
  3. I used a large jar of white acrylic paint and a square foam brush to paint layer upon layer of white paint onto 20 bulbs. I held them up to the light to see where to reapply the paint. This took a few days.
  4. Next I painted the penguin bulbs half black. I drew a pencil line bisecting the lightbulb from one side of the silver base to the other. In the area I wanted black, I wrote “black,” and repeated this ten times. Then I painted that area and allowed these 10 bulbs to dry.
  5. Next I did the snowmens’ hats. I used clear school glue and wrapped the silver lightbulb base in thick red yarn to look like a hat. I tucked in one end of the yarn on the second rotation of the yarn, then wrapped down to cover the edge of the base. Then I kept wrapping upward. Getting the yarn to really stick to the top of the bulb base was a challenge. I did my best to spiral it up to a finished point and leave a straggling piece. Then I left the bulb to dry a few hours. Once it was dry, I trimmed this end piece off. The base was completely covered in red yarn.
  6. Next I did the penguins’ flippers. I cut curvy flippers out of glittery black foam sheet. These were wavy curves about 1.5″ long. 20 looked like a shallow curved letter “S,” facing right, the other 20 looked like a shallowed curved backwards “S,” facing left. One of each type was used as a right and left flipper.
  7. On the penguins I removed a small part of the backing on one end of the flipper to expose the adhesive. The rest of the backing was left on, but it was painted black and allowed to dry.
  8. I used superglue on the exposed adhesive part of the flippers and glued them in the black area framing the penguins’ white belly, along the “waistline”, the part of the bulb that starts curving outward. Repeated this gluing 10 times.
  9. I cut teardrop shapes out of orange glitter foam sheets.
  10. Next I did the snowmen’s arms. I cut a total of 10 strips of dark brown chenille stems (aka pipe cleaners) in 2.5″ lengths. Then I cut 10 brown chenille stems at a length of 1″. Then I wrapped the 1″ pieces around the 2.5″ stems very close to one end, pointing in either direction so the whole thing looks like a small tree branch. These were the “arms” of the snowmen.
  11. On the snowmen, I took a painted white bulb and used superglue to attach the brown chenille “arms” to either side of the bulb. I used to part of the bulb where the curve begins as a guide, the “waistline” on the snowmen.
  12. On the penguins, I wrapped the lightbulb’s silver base in red yarn similar to those on the snowmen (see step 5.)
  13. I got a bag of assorted pompoms in “Christmas colors”: red, kelly green, light green, white, sparkly red, sparkly white/silver, sparkly kelly green, and sparkly light green. I used 20 of the pompoms that were about 1/2″ around.
  14. I checked all the yarn “hats” to make sure they stuck to the lightbulb’s base. I cut off the yarn end at the top. I secured any loose bits with superglue and allowed each to dry.
  15. I superglued the pompoms in one of six colors onto the 20 ornaments.
  16. On the penguins, I took a black and white painted bulb and attached flippers/wings in the black area framing the white area. I used the edge of the lightbulb’s curve as a guide, so that the flippers/wings are positioned just above the penguins “waistline.”
  17. On the penguins and snowmen, I cut many tiny squares out of the black glittered foam sheet. I estimate they were 1/8″. Once all 40 of those were cut, I cut the corners off of them so they looked more like a lumpy piece of charcoal.  These were the eyes. I cut 40 more this size that would be the mouth.
  18. On the snowmen, I cut 30 (thirty) additional squares of black glittery foam sheet at about 1/4.” I also cut the corners off of all these. These were the snowmen’s “buttons.”
  19. On the penguins, I fine-tuned their “feet,” those orange teardrop shapes I cut. I cut the pointy part off into a semi- circle. Then in I cut three indentations into the opposite end. These were trimmed further with an Exacto knife on a cutting mat. There are 20 of these. Once I had cut them all, I paired them up by size.
  20. On the penguins, I used superglue to apply their eyes.
  21. On the penguins, I cut small triangles out of the orange glittery foam sheet. These were the beaks.  These were probably 1/4″ at the bottom and about 1/2″ long.
  22. On the snowmen, I cut very small triangles out of the orange glittery foam sheet. These were the noses. These were probably about 1/16″ at the bottom and not even 1/2″ long. I eyeballed these, I didn’t measure them precisely as I went.
  23. On the snowmen, I used superglue to glue on their eyes. I allowed these to dry.
  24. On the snowmen, I used superglue to glue on their noses below the eyes, in the middle. These noses pointed to the left or right. I allowed these to dry.
  25. On the snowmen, I used superglue to glue on their buttons on the “belly”, the lower, rounded part of the bulb. They were close to 3/4″ apart. I allowed these to dry.
  26. On the snowmen, I glued their mouths on to form a smile, or curve whose ends are both turning upward. These were four (4) of the black glitter foam pieces that were originally 1/4″ squares.
  27.  On the penguins, I superglued their orange glittery “beaks” on below their eyes, but in the middle. I alternated the position for variety. Sometimes the triangle pointed downward, sometimes it pointed left, and sometimes it pointed right.
  28. On the penguins, I superglued their orange glittery “feet” on the lower part of their “belly” area.
  29. On the snowmen, I painted the white with iridescent white paint. It dries clear with sparkly pastel glittery flecks in pink, green and blue. It sparkles like snow when hit by light. I used large paintbrush on the large white areas of the snowmen, and a tiny pointed paintbrush on the areas near the face and buttons. Then I allowed them to dry.
  30. On the penguins, I painted the black with a glittery glaze for black paint so it would better match their flippers/wings.
  31. On the penguins and the snowmen, I encircled the bulbs with clear nylon thread (aka fishing line) and tied it with a little slack and cut the ends. Then I cut a 4″ piece of nylon thread and threaded it under the tied one.  This 4″ strand is the hanging string for the ornament. I like at least 2″-3″ from the ornament to the branch it will hang on. I tied a double knot in this second nylon thread, and trimmed the excess.
  32. Using permanent marker, I signed each ornament with my initials and the year at the very bottom.
  33. And that’s it! I had 4″ x 4″ boxes to wrap these and used tissue paper for padding. They were well-received.
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Easily Confused Words: Immortality vs. Immorality

Immortality and immorality are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Immortality (pronounced “ihm-ohr-tal-ih-tee”) is a noun. It means a state of living forever, never being able to die.

In a more figurative sense, it can be used for situation of a person who seem to survive or be resilient when circumstances have been particularly difficult. Situations that would eliminate the average person.

  • Immortal, a related word, has noun (person, place, thing, or idea) and adjective (describing) uses.
    • The adjective describes works (literature, speeches, music, art) that have a timeless relevance and quality.
      • The noun refers to creatures that cannot die. Usually these are religious deities (aka gods/goddesses), iconic persons, or fictional characters.

Immorality (pronounced “ihm-ohr-al-ih-tee”) is a noun. It is a behavior and personal character word, and it’s negative. Immorality is reflected by behaviors like embezzling money, cheating strangers, or cheating on lovers and partners.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Imogene was excited about being an intern in her country’s federal government after studying political science at a prestigious university. 

Unfortunately, a few weeks in she overheard items in a meeting. Her superiors assumed she she couldn’t understand and wasn’t really paying attention to any ethics or immorality that might be going on around her. But she did. She knew she should probably contact a member of law enforcement or ethics board about what she witnessed. Her country might not be destined for immortality, but she wasn’t going to let it be compromised for obvious, foolish, or corrupt reasons that have doomed the fate of other places in the past. 

Easily Confused Words: Bezel vs. Bevel

Bezel and bevel are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Bezel (pronounced “beh-zuhl”) has multiple meanings.

As a noun:

  • It can mean the angled plane close to the blade’s edge on a chisel or other scraping tool.
  • It can means the metal setting parts of jewelry, like the prongs that holds gems and stones in place on a ring with elevated parts. Engagement rings typically feature bezels to hold a large diamond or main stone in place, as well as any smaller framing stones.
    • On a watch or clock, it holds the surface glass in place.
    • On a smartphone or smartwatch, it holds the screen glass in place.

As an adjective:

  • It describes tools for jewelry making used to set glass or gems into a bezel.
  • It describes how a ring or other jewelry is constructed.

Bevel (pronounced “beh-vuhl”; rhymes with level, revel)

  • As a verb, it means to cut at an angle.
  • As a noun, it means the angled cut made to something through beveling. On countertops, rings, mirrors, and on furniture, just to name a few, beveled edges can be chosen for purely aesthetic reasons (mirror edges), or for comfort (ring bands), or safety reasons.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Bevann was designing more unisex jewelry this season. All the ring bands had beveled for the ultimate comfort when wearing them. The stones used included small ones recessed in the surface of the ring, with a central raised stone held in place by bezel setting. There was also some high-tech effect. By pressing a button that looked identical to one of recessed stones, a hologram projection of the anniversary date and a personalized message appeared. No customer of his would ever be in the doghouse for forgetting their anniversary date ever again.

Easily Confused Words: Boldface vs. Bald-Faced

Boldface and bald-faced are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Boldface (pronounced “bohld-fayss”) is a typography and printing term. A typeface is boldface when it’s printed with thicker strokes. Compared to other words on the page, the one in boldface stands out more. Usually this indicates emphasis or importance of the word in the sentence.

For example:

  • In a printed dictionary, each word is printed in boldface so it’s easier to find on the page compared to the definitions.
  • In a television or movie script, a word would be in boldface to indicate the character needs to shout or otherwise emphasize a word in one of their lines. Directions in parentheses might be in boldface to indicate important or emphasized gestures to make while a character speaks.

Bald-faced (pronounced “bawld-fayssd”) is an adjective. It describes someone doing something bad with audacity, daring, or too much confidence and not enough conscience. Sometimes the phrase”bare-faced” is used in a similar fashion.

For example, a bald-faced liar, or someone telling bald-faced lies, is lying without care. They act like they are not saying anything wrong or inaccurate, they don’t appear to care about responsibility to others, or consequences for sharing bad information.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Baldrick printed a long list of reasons for forcing the company president to resign. Because he knew his peers would be reluctant, he printed a list of mistakes made over a two years period. Each item in boldface, with the details for each listed bullet point by bullet point. For months, the company president had made repeated bald-faced lies about company performance and its stock. 

Easily Confused Words: Alexa vs. Elixir

Alexa and elixir are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Alexa (pronounced “uh-lex-uh”) is a noun.

  • It is a female name, short for Alexandra, that means defender of men. It is the feminine version
  • In technology, it is the name for the Amazon Echo’s artificial intelligence personal assistant.

Elixir (pronounced “ee-licks-zuhr”) is a noun. It means a cure, usually in liquid form. More figuratively speaking, it can mean something that fixes a problem, much like medicine cures an illness.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Ebenezer thought the elixir for his personal assistant woes was buying an echo featuring an Alexa service. Unfortunately it didn’t understand his dialect when he voiced commands. It wasn’t long before he gave up and went back to trying to hire a human.

Easily Confused Words: Turn vs. Tern

Turn and tern are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Turn (pronounced “tuhrn”; rhymes with burn) has multiple meanings.

  • As a verb, it means to spin in a circular motion, to move in place to the left or to the right.
  • As a verb, with “on,” it means to press a button or otherwise engage an appliance into operating mode. In a more figurative sense, to turn on means to entice into sexual activity.
  • As a noun, it means an opportunity for a person to play or participate in an activity.

Tern (pronounced “tuhrn”) is a noun. It means a seabird that fishes in the ocean for food. Its body resembles that of a seagull. But terns have tapered conical beaks that are sometimes brightly colored. Seagulls have beaks that are shorter and hook downward at the tip.

The following story uses both words correctly:

The beach was isolated on this windy winter’s day. Turner had awoken before dawn to jog along the shoreline. As he rounded the last curve of the boardwalk to get to the beach, a flock of terns flew overhead and landed along the shoreline. The sight gave him hope after spending his first Christmas season by himself in 20 years. 

Easily Confused Words: Hacci vs. Hockey

Hacci and hockey are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Hacci (pronounced US: “hah-chee”/ UK: “hah-shay”) is a noun. It means a knit fabric loosely woven together. With its high viscose content, it feels like cashmere but is much more affordable for clothes makers and buyers. It is easily washed and can be air dried in a towel. It’s perfect for the very popular “sporty meets comfy” women’s fashion of the 2010s.

Hacci works really well for oversized, drapey clothes and accessories. It doesn’t work for a suit or a formal dress that would demand tightly woven, more stiff fabric.

Check out these links for more information:

Here’s video of the pronunciation:

  • QVC (fast forward to 1:12-1:13)
  • QVC UK (fast forward to 1:33-1:35)

Hockey (pronounced “haw-kee”) is a noun. It means a sport with seasonal variations.

  • Field hockey is typically played in summer. Players play on a large, grassy field with goals on either end. Using sticks and running, players aim to hit a rubber ball into the opposing team’s goal. Players typically wear short pants, a t-shirt, high knee socks, and sneakers to play.
  • Ice hockey is typically played indoors on an ice rink during the fall and winter. In colder climates, it can be played at an outdoor rink on a clear winter day.  Ice hockey also has goals on either end of the rink. The players have to hit a thick rubberized disk that slides on the ice with their playing sticks. Like field hockey, the objective is to hit the puck into the opposing team’s goal. Ice hockey players wear lots of padding underneath a jersey and pants. They wear helmets and specialized ice skates. Hockey is a very violent sport, fights break out easily. US movies that feature ice hockey include 2011’s Goon and 2004’s Miracle. A more complete list appears at NHL.com.

The following story uses both words correctly:

 It was Thanksgiving morning and the food was taking hours to be ready. When Hachylah saw her brothers run outside to play an informal game of ice hockey in the backyard, she couldn’t wait to run out and join them.

“Hold it right there, Hachylah,” said her mom. “You can’t run outside in those thin hacci leggings and tunic, you’ll get a chill. Put on your sweats and a coat!”