Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Origin of Christmas Colors and The Christmas Tree

Ever wonder why the colors of red, green and gold are used at Christmas?  And how the Christmas tree became such a part of the Christmas tradition?  Well, following is a brief summary of the origins of these practices.

The Origins of Green and Red as Christmas Colors:
During the 4th century, the Church adopted the practice of celebrating December 25 as the birth date of Jesus Christ.  Christians were already accustomed to hanging wreaths of holly in their homes during this time to celebrate the winter solstice, and they eventually began leaving the wreaths up during Christmas.  This lead to the association of green with Christmas.  The circular shape of the wreath became associated with the eternal of life of Jesus Christ as well as representing the crown of thorns placed on his head during his crucifixion.  The red holly berries represented the blood shed by Christ.

The Origins of the Christmas Tree Tradition:
The color green became a permanent part of the Christmas tradition over the next few centuries.  More specifically, the evergreen tree was associated by early Christians with eternal life.

The production of Miracle Plays by the Church during the 14th century led to the tradition of Christmas trees. The purpose of Miracle Plays was to educate the mostly illiterate public about Christianity.  One such play called The Paradise Play, traditionally performed each year on December 24, told the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.  Since there were no apple trees available that time of year, apples were hung on a pine tree to represent the Tree of Good and Evil.  

Eventually churches began using pine trees decorated with apples as part of their Christmas celebrations.  Families soon adopted the practice putting pine trees with apple decorations in their own homes at Christmas.

Thus was born the tradition of using the colors green and red at Christmas, as well as the use of evergreens as part of the Christmas celebration.

How Did the Color Gold Become Associated with Christmas?
Over the course of time, the color of gold was added as a Christmas color to represent the Gift of Gold from one of the Three Kings.

This post is meant to be only a very brief summary of the origins these Christmas colors and traditions.  There are many other events and pieces of information that can be linked to our current Christmas customs and rituals.  Here are some helpful informational links I used in writing this post:

The Origin of Christmas Colors
The Colors of Christmas: Red, Green and Gold
Christmas Wreaths (Its Meaning, History and Types)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2011 Christmas and Holiday Wine Charm Collection

With the upcoming Holidays, it is time to start thinking about parties, gifts and celebration.  This time of year, I always enjoy making wine glass charms.  They are fun to design and are traditionally some of my top selling Christmas and Holiday items.  So I thought I would share some of my 2011 Holiday Wine Charm Collection - available now in my Etsy shop's Wine Charm section.

If you are interested in making your own wine charms, be sure to check out my Tutorial for Making Beaded Wine Charms post from October 2010.  This is a great step-by-step set of instructions!

And be sure to stop by my Etsy shop and check out my beaded Wine Charm section to see all my wine charm designs!

DJAjewels 2011 Holiday Wine Charm Collection:
Santa Claus Wine Charms

Christmas Wine Charms with Clay Charms

Christmas Ornament Bell Wine Charms

Cloisonne Bell Wine Charms

Antique Gold Christmas Wine Charms

Antique Silver Christmas Wine Charms

Swarovski Crystal Antique Silver Wine Charms

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Helping Uganda - Paper Beaded Necklace Design

In one of my earlier posts, I wrote about "My Gift From Uganda" - a necklace beaded with handmade paper beads from Uganda.  Well, I ordered some of the beads and have beaded my first jewelry design - this necklace pictured here.  I used a combination of red and purple beads accented with a few clear Czech glass crystals and antique silver beads.

I ordered my beads from Outreach Uganda.  This non-profit organization's mission is to help Ugandans, particularly women, overcome poverty by empowering them through education and promotion of self-sufficiency.  There are three beader groups, all run like small businesses and all following fair trade practices.  Each group decides how to allocate their group monies including giving small loans to members within the group.

The organization's online shop offers items such as beads, finished jewelry designs, purses and scarves.  According to their website, money from sales is allocated as follows:

  • 40% to the actual beader
  • 30% for special products of the beader groups
  • 15% shipping
  • 15% direct selling costs
The necklace I designed this week is now on sale in my Etsy shop.  I am happy to have helped this worthy organization through purchase of these beads.  When this necklace sells, I will also donate 50% of the sale price to help buy three textbooks for a beader's child.  

Donating is easy.  Several a la carte options are offered in their store ranging from $10 to help buy one textbook for a child, to $250 to buy a small plot of land for a beader to build a home on.

I look forward to designing more unique jewelry designs using these interesting and colorful beads!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Personalized and Handstamped Jewelry - An Increasingly Popular Trend

Personalized Initial Necklace - Red Patina
There is no doubt about the increasing popularity of personalized jewelry.  Hand stamped jewelry designs are one of the most popular trends today and likely to become a major Christmas and Holiday favorite this year.

This week I have introduced my first Etsy shop designs in my Handstamped and Personalized Collection.  These pieces are so much fun to create, and they have such endless possibilities!  One's imagination is really the only limit.

My personal favorite so far is the Personalized Initial Necklace with Red Patina pictured above.   I used antiqued brass charms which I personalized with an initial.  Then I added a deep red patina using Gilder's Paste and textured them with a hammer.  (For more about using Gilder's Paste, read my earlier post on Antiquing Jewelry with Gilder's Paste.)  The color is then sealed with a glossy glaze.  I love the rustic antiqued appearance that results from this process.  Gilder's Paste comes in an array of colors so the patina can be individualized and customized.

Below are a few of my first designs, but more are to follow.  So be sure to check back in the Handstamped Personalized section of my Etsy shop from time to time!

Simple Initial Necklace

Double Heart Brass and Silver Necklace

Hand Stamped Awareness Necklace

Hand Stamped Bronze Sun Necklace