I like to make my own gifts for the holidays. This year I made elephant ornaments out of old pie plates and inexpensive aluminum cookie sheets.
Any flat-bottomed piece of aluminum will do, but these cookie sheets from the Dollar Store worked out great. I got lucky this time and paid only .50 per pan. The ornaments ended up literally costing only a few pennies per piece.
Gather your tools. You’ll need to cut, hammer, poke, smooth and punch, so improvise accordingly.
Next, secure a pattern. I used an elephant fabric stamp from the internet for inspiration but anything would do. Make sure the outline is relatively simple and you’ll be spared some headaches. I used an old manila folder to make my pattern.
Trace the pattern onto the cookie sheet (cut away the sides of the sheet for easier working). I used an enamel painter’s pen which worked better than a regular sharpie. Cut each piece out by hand. This is where a simplified outline comes in handy.
Prepare the work surface with something spongy (like a towel) overlain with something disposable and flat (like a manila folder). This protects your furniture and gives you something to push against when adding details to your pattern.
Place your blank on the work surface and use a blunted awl, a crochet hook or even an old nail to press details into your piece. The cookie sheet is fragile and easy to poke through but you’ll quickly figure out how much pressure is required. Inscribing a line around the outer edge strengthens and stabilizes the ornament. It might be counter intuitive, but the more details you add, the stronger your piece will become.
Once you’ve added the details, gently press the ornament flat. I used a printer’s roller but, again, anything which gets the job done is fine.
To finish, punch a hole in the top and add a ribbon hanger. Voila! A sweet little holiday ornament which is so light and flat, it can be sent through the mail!
I chose to make elephants because they are beloved by everyone and widely accepted whether recipients follow a spiritual tradition or not. In the past, I’ve used this same aluminum pie plate technique to add pizzazz to paintings (a halo for a folk art Virgin Mary comes to mind) and to tart up wooden frames. To artists, the whole world is an arts supply store, available to all.