Some Native American tribes and clans like to decorate Christmas trees just like the rest of us. However, they seldom use the kind of ornaments that we do, opting instead to things that have meaning in their own spiritual world and objects that are related to nature.
One of the things commonly used on Native American Christmas trees is pieces of mirror. Many tribes believe that mirror helps to keep evil spirits at bay during this sacred holiday.
In the case of my family, we would save mirror that had been broken over the course of the year. My great grandmother believed that putting it on the tree at Christmas time helped to undo any bad luck that breaking the mirror might have afforded in the first place.
When I was little, I would make ornaments out of the pieces of broken mirror we had saved. Sometimes I just added a colorful string or ribbon to hold the ornament. Other times I added things to the mirror to give it something positive to reflect. I’d like to share some of those ideas with you.
To get started with this project you will need to make sure you have several items on hand:
Silk or ribbon roses,
Trim (e.g., lace, braid, appliques, etc.),
Broken piece of jewelry,
Etching stencil kit.
Glue sticks and
You can begin by mapping out the ideas you want to use for your ornaments or you can just “wing it” during the development stage. I recommend having at least a partial plan in mind so that you will know exactly what items to have on hand.
To begin making your mirror ornaments, follow these easy step-by-step instructions.
Step 1. Make some mirror ornaments that stand on their own. In other words, just let the shape of the mirror be the ornament itself. Simply add a hanger to the piece by gluing yarn or ribbon to the back of the mirror and put it on the tree.
If you don’t have any broken mirror pieces, most craft stores carry a supply of mirror pieces in difference sizes and shapes.
Step 2. Spray a light coating of artificial snow onto the ornament to give it a wintery looking effect. The snow can be white or one of the pastel colors that are sometimes popular.
Step 3. Spray or apply a fine coat of glitter to the mirror to help make it shimmer and reflect off the lights of the Christmas tree. I like using what is called “snow” glitter. It is almost clear in nature, which makes the mirror appear to shimmer all on its own.
Step 4. Paint designs on the mirror. One idea is to use Native American symbols for traditional holiday greetings like Joy, Peace, Love or Noel. While in my day, I used plain craft paint, today, it is fun to use stained glass paints that are somewhat pearlized, glittered or translucent in nature.
Step 5. Acid-etch a design onto the mirror. Etching kits can be purchased at most craft stores and the process is really quite simple. I like to etch on things that have a meaning in Cherokee culture like animals or flowers.
Step 6. Trim the mirror piece out using lace, braid, ribbon or appliques. This technique is especially good for Victorian style ornaments.
Step 7. Add jewelry findings, broken pieces of jewelry (e.g., pendants, cameos, pearls, etc.)or lose jewels to the mirror. This can be done alone or in conjunction with some of the ideas in Step 6 above.
Step 8. Combine various pieces of mirror together to form a unique snowflake design. The layers of shape and texture make the ornament one of a kind and give it both depth and interest.
Step 9. Glue ribbon or silk flowers to the mirror at the top, bottom or center. This can be done alone or in conjunction with ideas outlined in Steps 6 and 7.
Step 10. Using permanent ink like India ink and a quill style pen, write messages on the mirror. These can be poems with special meaning, wishes for family members or for the coming year as well as thanks for a good year.
Think up your own design ideas or combine multiple ideas together. Think about making mirror ornaments for all of your friends of family members just to show them how much you care. Have fun and explore your own creativity.