On a recent trip to Port Lavaca, Texas, my family and I were entertained by a wonderful family whose home was situated right off of the bay. A short trek from the back patio door led to a concrete ocean wall that also served as a board walk. During a leisurely afternoon stroll my husband and I came across several oyster beds. The typical oyster shell ranges in shape and size but often has a narrow end that slopes downward and outward until a large curve end forms. These shells are often overlooked by collectors because of their conglomerate nature, but their basic shape and design can be quite appealing. So, with a little help from my husband, I combed through the oyster beds until I found several oyster shells that were uniformly shaped. They were perfect for making one of a kind Christmas ornaments.
Santa Face Christmas Ornaments
Drill and 1/16 drill bit
Paint brushes, fine and medium tipped
Acrylic paint: red, white, black and yellow
Plastic canvas needle
Wash the shell thoroughly with soap and water. Dry the shell completely before proceeding. To accelerate the drying process, blow dry the shell under medium high heat.
Using the permanent marker, place a small dot in the center of the upper end of the oyster shell.
Use a 1/16 inch drill bit to drill a hole completely through the shell. Don’t forget to wear protective eyewear to keep bits of shell out of your eyes.
Wipe the surface of the oyster shell to remove any shell dust from the underside of the shell.
Paint the underside of the oyster shell with white acrylic paint. Place the paint as close to the side edges as possible. A medium tipped brush would work best for this step. Allow the paint to completely dry. If necessary, paint a second coat of white before moving on.
Using a pencil and light pressure, draw a dividing light that indicates the area for Santa’s hat. Allow the line to travel up the sides of the oyster shell. The total outside area of the hat should be slightly triangular in shape.
Draw another light line to separate Santa’s face from his beard. This line will be painted over, so don’t worry about making it any shape other than straight. Use the natural curvature of the shell as a guideline for where Santa’s beard should begin.
Draw a u-shape from the bottom of Santa’s hat outline to the beard dividing line. This is the basic outline of Santa’s face.
Mix small amounts of red, white and yellow paint to achieve a flesh tone color. Paint the interior u-shape of Santa’s face. Allow the paint to completely dry.
Use your imagination to divide the face into thirds. Imagine that the divisions are separated by two lines. The first line is at the eye level and the second line is the lip level.
Now add a little more red to the flesh-toned mix to create the lip color. Paint Santa’s lips directly onto the bottom imaginary division line. Santa’s top lip should be thin and the bottom lip should be full. Allow the top lip to extend slightly past the lower lip line.
Now add Santa’s smiling eyes. Using an extra fine tipped brush and black paint, paint a long half-circle onto the top imaginary dividing line. This half-circle should extend upwards. Add another half-circle directly beneath the top circle of each eye. This time, use a slightly more peachy color of the flesh tone paint. This will give the illusion of Santa’s cheeks lifted into a smile.
Add two round eyes onto the top half circle. Use black to create both the outline shape and to fill in Santa’s pupils. The pupils should rest directly on the eye lash line. Add a small dot of white paint to Santa’s black pupils to give the illusion of light shining in them.
Use white paint to paint one straight line above each eye. Carefully extend the eyebrows outwards by using small horizontal brush strokes. Fill in Santa’s eyebrows until they are full and bushy. Remember to allow the paint to dry periodically during the painting process.
Add a nose between the eyes and lips. If you were to divide the imaginary level lines for the lips and eyes into four more equal sections, you would add the tip of the nose onto the line directly above the mouth. Paint a small circle onto the face, and add upward curving lines around it to make the nose. Use a slightly darker flesh tone color for his nose.
With a fine tipped brush, add Santa’s mustache beneath his nose. Allow the mustache to extend over and downward so that if follows the curvature of his face and stops below his bottom lips. Allow his face to dry.
Paint the red section of Santa’s hat. Allow the paint to completely dry before adding the white furry trim, or the white paint will pick up the red turning the fur pink. Once dry, paint the white furry section of Santa’s hat. Use circular brush strokes to create depth. Again allow the paint to dry before proceeding.
Now add Santa’s Hair and beard. Begin with small white brush strokes extending from below the sides of Santa’s hat and over the top edges of his face. Once the area is covered with short strokes, add larger circular brush strokes to connect his hair to his mustache and beard. Allow his beard to extend to the bottom area of the oyster shell.
Once the paint is dry, lightly spray a varnish sealant over the painted surface. Allow the varnish to dry at least four hours before adding any decorative elements.
Cut a six-inch section of gold ribbon. Thread it through a plastic canvas needle and insert it through the drilled hole. Tie the ribbon into a square knot, and then into a bow.