2011 Christmas/Holidays Ornament!

Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 11:19 pm 1 comment

Happy Holidays!

I hope you all are doing great- I’m doing good, and even better to be able to fill you in on my most recent project. This year’s ornament is a completely new design! I’ve hardly been able to contain my excitement to unveil this year’s design and creation… And am glad that I can finally do so. Warning, this post might be a bit long!

Two things really drove me to make what I decided to make this year.

First, I’ve lately been upset by the notion of just how much stuff we ‘waste’. What we throw into a hole today will become tomorrow’s mess. So, let’s make keepsakes out of our refuse. Hence, this year’s material of choice, aluminum soda cans!

So I had the material (and trust me, that was a long process, deciding), next I had to decide what to do with the shiny, thin metal. What have I been most excited by? My brother, Evan, has recently gotten engaged to his fiance, Brianna. The thought of my family structure changing (for the first time ever) is definitely memorable. I’m happy for Evan, and this is a great way to remember it; A heart.

And then finally, every good thing should be topped off with CANDY. Come on, I know you agree!

The Process:

It took a while to refine the process for making this year’s ornaments. After all, I was using a material I’d never used, and I was designing the process as I went. The first step was to decide just how to give the ornament its ‘wow-factor’ – something unique about it. I decided that I would make the flat aluminum become 3-dimensional, and I’d do it by pressing the metal into a die or mold.

First, I started with creating my die out of steel… And then I realized I couldn’t cut it with my scroll saw without killing my blades!


So after I made that fancy steel design, I just gave up and switched to using an acrylic die. Here it is:

At this point, I was ready to start producing!

1. Cut the usable aluminum from the can. First, score the can with a razor (embedded in mathematics!).

2. Carefully peel/tear the usable part of the can from the rest.

3. Flatten the aluminum! This was a fun part of the building process to figure out how to do. I just searched around my apartment for all kinds of different diameters of cylinders. Started with my salt shaker, then used my 1″ PVC pipe, then something else, and finally, found an ancient thermometer case with the perfect size. Basically, I had to roll the thin aluminum the opposite way that it was already shaped in. This makes it flat.

4. Cut the aluminum to the right size (with a standard pair of scissors) and then duct-tape it to the die.

5. Press the design into the aluminum. I spent some time playing around with different sizes and shapes of tools to press the aluminum before I decided to sacrifice a C-clamp and remove the steel rod that gives you the ability to tighten it down. : )

Almost done (this pressing part took a bit over 20 minutes):

6. Fold the pressed aluminum (to match up as perfectly as possible). I eventually realized that I could cut a line into the die to act as the start for my perfect fold.
7. Epoxy both sides together (and let it set for maybe 10 minutes).

8. Cut the aluminum to the heart shape (with scissors).

9. Paint it! I tried paint pens, but ended up becoming an artist and used acrylic paints. 2 coats of white, red stripes, and finally, the year and my signature snowflakes.

10. Drill the hole for attaching the hanger.

11. (Final Step!) Twist the hanger wire into place!

Total Production time per ornament: About 1.5 hours!

The Final Finished Product:

Okay! You’ve now seen the entire process that it takes to make just one of the ornaments that I made this year. I hope you enjoyed all the photos! I know that the whole scheme of this year’s post was a bit exhaustive.. I want you all to know that you mean just this much to me!

With much love,



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Almost time to start Raisin’ Hope in Philly! 2012 Christmas Ornaments

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Daniel Markgraf  |  Sunday, December 25, 2011 at 7:52 am

    The ornament is beautiful and would make Pop proud. Thanks so much for carrying on his legacy!! This one will be hard to top, so you better start thinking now for next year!!!


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