Tropical Fish Christmas Tree Ornaments Made from Real Sand Dollars
This is a really fun project to make and give as a gift. It will be treasured for a long time and, of course, be a one of a kind. You can make a school of fish to have a themed tree for yourself too. I have mine on my kitchen tree, decorated with blue hydrangea. You can see the tree and window ornaments below. I did this project last year.
I got the idea to post gifts to make from a comment I left on Fairegarden’s site. Frances had made Thanksgiving gifts (which I thought were so unique and clever), and I though it would be great if other garden bloggers would join in showing gifts they made for holiday giving. There are so many creative garden bloggers out there that I am sure if we all post ideas early enough, we can get ideas to make and give this year. Frances was way ahead, giving her’s at Thanksgiving. So here is one gift I made last year.
The first step in the process is acquiring a giant sand dollar. And you can see from the shape how it resembles a fish, where one thing becomes another. The sand dollar is raised in the middle , so it further looks like a fish with dimension.
With acrylic paint, you paint your base coat. Find a real fish photo to use as your model from a book or online.
The sand dollar is very porous so it will take more than one coat, and also, it will not take the paint evenly. This works to your advantage generally.
Thin down a deeper color with water and keep applying to layer the paint and shade the fish. Build up the paint to blend the paint. After you are satisfied, start painting the details, like the eyes and mouth.
After your fish is to your satisfaction, you can make your fish really pretty by using 3-D paint to guild the ornament. You can outline the fish as I did above with silver or gold. The paint is used on T-shirts, but works great here.
See the fish at left? It is also outlined. The paint is being applied below and is really easy to apply. You need a steady hand though, as the paint is very thick and you must apply it slowly.
This process is from the video by Mark Ballard. You can find the video here at Macon.com. You may have to try the link again if it is slow to load. Well worth the 16 minute tutorial. The screenshots are from his video, and he explains the process so thoroughly. Watch him complete this fish to the left.
Mark displays his fish in shadow boxes, but I used mine as Christmas tree ornaments.
My fish were only 3 inches round, much smaller than his. I would recommend to get the large sand dollars that he has. I found a website that sells them. It is called Arrow Sand Dollar. I made six of them and gave the four best ones as Christmas presents. It was a fun project that really did not take much time or artistic talent.
I added craft store beads on filament and added a large jewelry hook to hang the ornament. Mark also displays them on plate stands. I made a wooden shadow box out of 1×2 pine and lined it with a coordinating felt for one that I gave as a present. The possibilities are almost endless.
Here is the tree where the ornaments were placed. The windows had glass and glitter ornaments hanging from filament, rather that the curtains that usually are hanging here.
I suppose, for our Jewish readers, you could make a really rounded gefilte fish ornament, since the salmon is a really pretty red and brown or iridescent silver; then shadow box the gift for Hanukkah. My ex-husband was Jewish and I only ever saw the gefilte fish slide out of a can. In fact, I actually detested the stuff, matzoh balls, too. LOL.
I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and make sure you see Mark’s site for all the details and his really beautiful designs. You only got to see the worse of the six I made. I never thought to photograph the ones I gave away. Someday I will finally learn to document my projects.