For many crafters, glitter makes everything better.
It adds sparkle to even the most mundane items, especially at holiday time. Consult a few glitter fanatics and the project ideas pour out like, well, so much superfine glitter.
"Glitter can transform any item. It can completely change something old into something new," says Jessica Okui, 31, a craft blogger from the San Francisco Bay area.
Okui's next project: glittering her young daughter's dirty, white tennis shoes. She'll use fabric glue, then lock in the colorful glitter with an acrylic sealer.
For the holidays, Okui has glittered origami cranes in gold and silver, and posted the images at her blog site, Zakka Life.
Hannah Milman is a self-described "glitter freak," but that comes as little surprise, since Milman is editorial director of crafts for Martha Stewart Living magazine. The crafting-industry titan came out with a line of glitter a few years ago, and continues to add colors, shapes and sizes (available at Michaels Stores).
For Milman, anything can be glittered, and glitter can be most anything. Besides the stuff sold as glitter, she recommends seed beads, sequins and craft-store rhinestones — just use the right glue. Milman recommends an archival-quality, water-based craft glue for most projects (Elmer's will do) and fabric glue for glittering on a fabric surface.
She can speed-talk through a long list of glitter projects for the holidays. Her favorites:
Glitter seashells in two tones to make elegant ornaments.
Personalize store-bought holiday cards with strategically placed glitter (use a glue pen).
Glitter small plastic animals to make a winter wonderland scene.
Find branches, pine cones and acorns, and glitter them.
Glitter jingle bells and worn-out ornaments for the Christmas tree.
"You can really achieve all those fancy, glittered ornaments you see in the stores," says Milman. "You can do that yourself, and it's an heirloom forever."
Milman also suggests glittering your own photographs. At Martha Stewart Living's Web site, a photo can be transformed into a "glitter by numbers" image.
For Sandra Lee, host of HGTV's "Sandra Lee Celebrates" holiday specials, glitter defines the winter holidays.
"You can't have Christmas without glitter," Lee says. "Glitter is what makes it magical."
In her holiday specials, which air Saturday nights through Dec. 19, Lee employs a healthy amount of glitter. She suggests these fast glitter tricks for holiday decorating and entertaining:
Use a spray adhesive and dust a store-bought flower centerpiece with glitter. Lee recommends using a superfine, iridescent glitter on red roses.
Make holiday "crackers" by filling empty toilet-paper rolls with treasures and wrapping them in gift wrap. Cover that with gold glitter netting (or spray with adhesive and dust with glitter).
What, pray tell, is glitter's allure?
"It's the brilliance. It's something it does to the synapses of the mind. It just makes you happy," says Barbara Trombley, who launched the first art glitter business in this country in 1983. Today, the Art Institute Glitter, based in Cottonwood, Ariz., makes 400 glitter colors in nearly a dozen sizes and types.
"If you hover over a tray of glitter and move your head a little bit ... it makes you appreciate color so much," says Trombley.
The downside to glitter is its pesky tendency to travel everywhere a crafter doesn't want it to go. Sealants keep glitter in its place after a project is finished.
Our experts have their own ideas for corralling glitter during the creative process: Milman divides glitter colors in wax-lined cupcake baking cups, because the glitter won't stick to the wax. Lee works some of her glitter projects outdoors. Okui applies glitter inside a cardboard box that has a lip to it. She recommends using a face mask — especially with kids — when using fine glitters.
This holiday craft is simple enough to do with young children.
Art Glitter Tree Ornaments, by Jan Hennings (adapted from the Art Institute Glitter's blog, artglitterblog)
Clear, glass ornament
Heavy card stock (scraps will work)
Thin ribbon in coordinating color
Clear beading thread
Glitter (your choice of color, size, shape)
Paper to make temporary funnel
Craft glue or spray adhesive
Plate for shaking glitter over
1. Drop a spoonful or more of fake snow into ornament with a paper funnel.
2. Cut out a tree or other holiday shape.
3. Spray with adhesive or cover with craft glue.
4. Sprinkle with glitter. Shake off excess.
5. Make a tiny hole at the top of the tree and tie some clear beading thread through the hole.
6. Roll tree shape around a pencil and insert into ball.
7. Feed the two ends of the clear thread up through the two holes in the top of the ornament and tie in a knot.
8. Add ribbon (glittered, if you desire) to the ornament's hanging hook.
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