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I love Christmas and like to do as many festive arts and crafts as I can with my granddaughters' to help instill the idea that Christmas doesn't have to cost the earth and there are fun things you can do such as making certain Christmas presents, handmade Christmas cards and things like that.
While browsing Hawkins Bazaar recently I saw this set of Christmas tree decorations to make and as it was priced at only £3.99 I decided to buy one, each set contains everything you'll need to make four hanging decorations - perfect for my three granddaughters plus an extra one for Nan!
When it arrived couldn't wait for my granddaughters' to visit because the characters on the box looked so sweet and I wanted them made quickly to hang from my Christmas tree. When Saturday finally rolled around I covered the table with newspaper, put an apron on the baby and emptied the box. Damn, I hadn't realised these decorations are made from Plaster of Paris (even though it said so on the website AND the box...). Plaster of Paris needs time to set obviously so I got the older one to mix the plaster and then her nine year old sister carefully poured it into the mould, the mixing was an easy process and the instructions are clearly printed so we had no trouble at all.
The next day I retrieved the mould from the airing cupboard and carefully prised out the figures. They are all quite chunky with no thin pieces which could pose a problem, I'm now thinking of a similar set I bought last year which despite being suitable for ages 3+ contained such fiddly figures that I now have a Santa on my Christmas tree with no limbs as they all broke off in the mould! These were quite the opposite, simply by squeezing the mould a little I was able to free the decorations enough for me to be able to shake them out into the palm of my hand. They all came out beautifully detailed and the plaster has hugged the mould well so that the figures are as well defined as I'd hoped.
We had one each and set to work, I helped my 18 month old granddaughter a little but she still had a brilliant time with the paintbrush and I certainly have a very personalised Gingerbread Man on my tree now! Oh, I almost forgot. There is also a length of shiny cord to press into the Plaster of Paris before it sets so you can hang your masterpieces from the tree, a lovely touch as this type of DIY decoration usually comes with nasty looking cotton or ribbon so nice to see some thought has gone into the creation of this set as who wants brown string holding up their beautiful decorations?
They paint up absolutely beautifully. The set contains a Gingerbread Man, Santa, Snowman and Christmas Tree. The decorations are nicely detailed but without being over-embellished, allowing the child to be as creative as he or she wants to. I must confess I put perhaps a little too much effort into my Christmas Tree and turned the whole painting process into a bit of a competition, but even so I'd say my eldest granddaughter's Santa was the definite winner and she made him look so friendly and cheerful. My other granddaughter painted her Snowman beautifully in his little blue coat with matching ear muffs, but the baby's Gingerbread Man is my absolute favourite - imagine a child of that age let loose with a paintbrush, it's a definite abstract piece!
Now they look wonderful on my Christmas Tree along with the other decorations we have made, it's more of an eco-tree now because there is no room for shop bought 'made in China' baubles and my tree is almost filled with home made decorations that look so much prettier. They hang nice and straight and because they are made of Plaster of Paris they are light enough not to bend the branches of my tree, but heavy enough to make them hang straight. The figures stand around 6cm high and have a pleasant rounded effect that brings out the detail and makes the decorations childlike and fun.
I think they make a beautiful addition to my collection of Christmas decorations and I think more of them because the children made them themselves, the paint provided is just enough to complete the four figures but the mould is reusable so I plan to make a few more sets for the girls' to take home for their bedrooms. I shall just buy some more craft paint and I can see this excellent set being used many more times before the big day.
Four charming Christmas decorations made from the plaster of Paris. Tip the plaster into the four moulds, with the golden string inserted into the wet plaster. Once set, the moulds can be coloured using the brush and paints supplied.