Every year, I make a calligraphy Christmas ornament to add to my growing collection of tree baubles. It’s not a difficult project, and the ornaments last for years (as long as they’re kept away from little hands — like any ornament). Today, I’ll show you how to make a calligraphy Christmas ornament yourself, and I hope that the project becomes an annual tradition in your house, too!
1. Make a Christmas Ornament Cutout
First, take a piece of 140 lb. watercolor paper (I like Strathmore), then use a sunny window or a light box to trace around this ornament template in pencil. Then, cut out the shape that you just traced.
Next, use a large hole punch to make a hole in the top of the ornament. Try to center the hole the best you can.
2. Make a Calligraphy Pencil Draft
Once you’ve punched the hole, use your pencil to draw two sets of three curved guidelines. Then, draft out a calligraphed holiday message on those guidelines, and connect plenty of flourishes to the calligraphy. (I used Janet Style calligraphy to give the ornament an elegant look.)
Now, embellish the ornament with various holly leaves, berries, stars, and pine boughs.
3. Add Watercolor Calligraphy
Moisten 2-3 tones of green tones on your watercolor palette, and use those greens and the watercolor calligraphy technique to trace over the calligraphy draft. (I used Hooker’s Green Dark, Viridian Hue, and Sap Green from my Winsor & Newton Cotman palette.)
When you’ve finished tracing over the calligraphy, use your dip pen to add color to the embellishments.
Finish up this step by painting the top of the ornament with silver watercolor, then fill in the stars with gold watercolor.
4. Reinforce Your Strokes
When all of your watercolor has dried (~5-10 minutes), use a good eraser to get rid of your pencil draft lines. Then, load silver watercolor onto your nib, and use that silver to create reinforcement strokes. I normally create my reinforcement strokes to the right of downstrokes, but I’ll make an exception if space is tight (like on the “B” in “Bright”).
5. Add Filler Strokes
Now, use a pencil to draw small, curved strokes that fill in the negative areas remaining in the piece. Pay special attention to the edges of the ornament, where you should put plenty of these strokes.
Then, use your dip pen to draw over the strokes with the same green watercolors that you used for the calligraphy.
Once your watercolor has dried, you can apply Microglaze to your new Christmas ornament (as described in the How to Waterproof Paper article) to protect it.
6. Add Twine and Hang
To finish up this project, thread your favorite ribbon or twine through the top of the ornament. Then, hang it on your Christmas tree!
I love this project because it serves as a blueprint for many different ornament concepts. You can play with the shapes, the holiday messages, and the colors to make unique ornaments. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even make a batch of calligraphy Christmas ornaments for your friends and family as a 2020 holiday keepsake! I encourage you to have fun and experiment. Thanks very much for reading TPK, and have a fabulous and creative weekend!