How to Make Antique Inspired Ornaments With Clay Molds

Recycle old ornaments with paint and clay to make these stunning, old world gilded ornaments that are sure to become a Christmas favorite!
gilded clay baroque mold ornaments
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If you're like me, you have some Christmas ornaments that you're tired of. Maybe they look dated, or they've just lost their appeal. Rather than throw them out, upcycle them into stunning antique looking ornaments using paint and clay! It's easier than you think, and I'll walk you through all the steps below.

Wow, right? I love how these DIY ornaments turned out, and they weren't that difficult to do! So grab your shabby old ball ornaments (or pick up some inexpensive ones), and the items listed in the supplies, and get ready to remake your ornaments into some that look truly special!

How to Make Antique Effect Ornaments

This is one of those projects where the right clay makes all the difference! I tried this ornament upcycle with my oft used  DAS air dry clay, but the results were a very heavy design that cracked, and was cumbersome to work with. I went back to the drawing board and purchased paperclay, which dries to a lightweight piece, can be attached while still wet, and is a breeze to work with.

Supplies Used:

* cake molds don't work (I tried);  use only stiff craft molds or you won't be able to release the clay
**  you could use dark paste wax instead

I've illustrated the steps below, and described them in more detail. Included are tips to help you have success with these beautiful DIY ornaments. While each step is simple and fairly quick, you will need a couple days of dry time to finish each ornament.

First things first. Clay dries out very quickly. To prevent this, dampen a paper towel and put it inside a ziploc bag. Keep the unused, wrapped clay in the sealed bag with the paper towel until you need more.

Step 1 - Base coat

If you're upcycling old ornaments, like I did, brush on a base coat of white (you may need multiple coats).

DIY tip: keep the hanger on the ornament and carefully hang ornament to dry from a wire hanger or piece of twine that you tack between a doorway

Step 2 - Soften clay

Work a small piece of clay between your fingers to soften it. Roll it into a ball or a log before placing it into the silicone mold.

Step 3 - Add clay to mold

Press clay firmly into the mold, making sure you fill it completely. Use hand to flatten clay, and then fingers to gently scrape away excess clay ensuring the back is flat  (you'll have quite a bit that is removed, add it back into sealed bag).

Step 4 - Remove clay

Yes, while it is damp, remove the clay from the mold. You can bend the mold away from the clay design and gently use fingers to encourage it to pop out.

Step 5 - Glue mold to ornament

The clay mold needs to be glued to the ornament while it's still soft and pliable, so it can take the shape of the rounded ornament. Brush tacky glue on the back of the mold and gently press it to ornament. Hang ornament in a safe place until the clay is completely dry (about 8-12 hours).

DIY Tip: use your fingers to further press the edges of the clay to the ornament if you see any gaps

Step 6 - Paint

Paint ornament and mold with a coat of chalky white paint. This really helps to merge the two together so it looks seamless. Hang to dry.

Step 7 - Wax

The ornaments are beautiful as is, but this step really ages them and adds that vintage, old-world charm, so don't skip it! I'm including a couple of different ways to achieve this look, depending on what products you're using.

  1. Brush a coat of clear paste wax onto the entire ornament. While the wax is still tacky, sprinkle on some Dixie Dust. Let sit a few minutes, then rub off excess with a lint free rag. You can add more of the dust if needed.
  2. Brush entire ornament with clear wax. Dip a rag or small brush into dark wax and brush onto ornament, paying special attention to any grooves or dips. Let sit a few minutes and then rub off excess with a lint free rag. The coat of clear wax will allow you to move and manipulate the dark wax, removing excess or adding more where you want more of an aged appearance.

Step 8 - Gild

When the wax is completely dry, dip the tip of your finger in the metallic gold paint and lightly rub it onto the raised surface of the clay mold. This step is optional, but I think it takes these painted ornaments to the next level!

Step 9 - Paint and glue ornament top

Once the ornaments are completely dry, remove the tops and spray paint them gold. Then, I highly suggest you use a strong adhesive to glue the tops to the ornaments. I didn't do this step, and two of my ornaments fell and broke! After all that work, I was very upset! 😩😩

PRO tip: my favorite way to quickly spray paint ornament tops without them flying everywhere is to stick them into a piece of craft foam.

Hang ornaments from velvet ribbon on your tree, or even display them in a bowl. These antique inspired ornaments make stunning Christmas decor, and would be wonderful gifts for anyone who loves antiques and old world decorations.

gold ornaments, antique ornaments, velvet ribbon, fairy lights

You can see more of my dining room Christmas tree here. If you'd like to make my DIY paper ribbon with song lyrics for your tree, click the link for the tutorial.

Click to view my entire library of Christmas ideas

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  1. Can you use plastic ornaments to reduce breakage or do you recommend glass?

  2. Great idea, Cindy. These are so beautiful. I love working with molds. The ideas are endless. Thanks so much.


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