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12 Geeky Handmade Christmas Ornaments

Looking to geek up your Christmas tree this year? Then maybe you should try making or buying one of these great one-of-a-kind, handmade ornaments.

1. Gotta Catch 'Em All

It’s fairly easy to make cute geeky ornaments with the basic clear ornament balls you can buy at any craft store, but the clever use of gold fabric and a little paint that creates a simple, adorable face makes this Pikachu ornament by DeviantArt user KaitlynClinkscales too cute to resist.

2. Holding Out For A Hero

Wanna make your holidays a little more super? Then follow Happy Looks Good on You’s lead and buy a few clear ornaments, fill the inside with paint, swirl and pour out the excess, and glue on an appropriate superhero logo. You can, of course, find more detailed instructions at the link.

3. Choose Your Own Adventure

You might have noticed by now that you can turn those clear ball ornaments into all kinds of amazing designs of your own. Of course, it takes some real artistic skills to paint one of those balls with a design this amazing. Fortunately, DeviantArt user LadyNin-Chan has the skills necessary to make an Adventure Time Christmas ornament become real—and real awesome.

4. Get Cultured

These Petri dish ornaments by Etsy seller artologica might just be the best ornaments a biologist could ever hope for. Some even look like wreaths! And don't worry about hanging any potentially hazardous bacteria samples on your tree—these designs are made from harmless watercolors.

5. Christmas Trek

Etsy seller Regeekery has all kinds of fantastic geek Christmas ornaments including old toys converted to tree decorations and fancy snowflakes bearing the TARDIS. But as great as many of the other ornaments are, nothing beats the geekery of this pun-tastic Wreath of Khan design.

6. Creature Feature

Cthulhu has never before looked this cuddly or this Christmasy. You can bring home your own adorable and festive monster thanks to Etsy seller SWStitchery, who custom makes every order.

7. Playing Video Games

Etsy seller useyourdigits has created the ultimate collection of Christmas ornaments for any true gamer featuring all the top gaming consoles from the last 20 years—all laser cut from black acrylic.

8. Meth Heads

While you're waiting for the last episodes of Breaking Bad to air, deck the halls with this hand-stitched tribute to the drug-fueled show made by Etsy seller madebygwen.

9. The Ornament That Lived

You can make your own gorgeous Golden Snitch ornament with a small golden glass ornament, wire, tissue paper, gold paint and some gold glitter. Tiny Apartment Crafts has all the instructions you need.

10. LEGO My Death Star

This is by far the most famous handmade geek Christmas ornament on the web—and with good reason: it features LEGOs and Star Wars. What more could you ask for? You can make your own LEGO Death Star with the help of this tutorial from LEGO master Chris McVeigh. He also has instructions to build your own Millennium Falcon if you need something on hand to destroy the Death Star.

11. It's Bacon!

If you can't get enough bacon, but aren't quite hardcore enough to hang meat off your tree, try making your own plush bacon ornament with this Instructable by chelsea7500.

12. It's Elementary

Whether you prefer the old-school Doyle stories or the BBC Sherlock series, there’s no denying how amazing the residents of 221B Baker Street happen to be. If you’re a die-hard Holmes fan, then show your love of the world’s greatest detective by making your own 221B Baker Street ornament with the help of this Instructable by harry_watson.

Bonus Tree Trimmings:

Already have enough geeky ornaments? Well then perhaps you’d prefer to spruce up your tree with a Doctor Who tree skirt from Etsy seller Nerdventions. She also has a Hoth-inspired Star Wars tree skirt available.

And, if you’re looking for a tree topper, this 8-bit Super Mario Bros Lakitu featuring a 1-Up mushroom from Etsy seller LighterCases is a pretty awesome option for any gamer’s tree.

Do you guys have any geek ornaments you made yourself? If so, tell us about them in the comments, and if you happen to know of any other great tutorials to make your own geeky Christmas decorations, please share the link so everyone can try their hand at the craft project.

For 12-12-12, we’ll be posting twenty-four '12 lists' throughout the day. Check back 12 minutes after every hour for the latest installment, or see them all here.

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© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
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Animals
Boston's Museum of Fine Arts Hires Puppy to Sniff Out Art-Munching Bugs
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
© Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Some dogs are qualified to work at hospitals, fire departments, and airports, but one place you don’t normally see a pooch is in the halls of a fine art museum. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is changing that: As The Boston Globe reports, a young Weimaraner named Riley is the institution’s newest volunteer.

Even without a background in art restoration, Riley will be essential in maintaining the quality of the museum's masterpieces. His job is to sniff out the wood- and canvas-munching pests lurking in the museum’s collection. During the next few months, Riley will be trained to identify the scents of bugs that pose the biggest threat to the museum’s paintings and other artifacts. (Moths, termites, and beetles are some of the worst offenders.)

Some infestations can be spotted with the naked eye, but when that's impossible, the museum staff will rely on Riley to draw attention to the problem after inspecting an object. From there, staff members can examine the piece more closely and pinpoint the source before it spreads.

Riley is just one additional resource for the MFA’s existing pest control program. As far as the museum knows, it's rare for institutions facing similar problems to hire canine help. If the experiment is successful, bug-sniffing dogs may become a common sight in art museums around the world.

[h/t The Boston Globe]

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Image courtesy of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Mütter Museum. Photography by Evi Numen 2017.
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History
Mütter Museum Showcases the Victorian Custom of Making Crafts From Human Hair
Palette work from the collection of John Whitenight and Frederick LaValley
Palette work from the collection of John Whitenight and Frederick LaValley
Image courtesy of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Mütter Museum. Photography by Evi Numen 2017.

During the Victorian era, hair wasn’t simply for heads. People wove clipped locks into elaborate accessories, encased them in frames and lockets, and used them to make wreaths, paintings, and other items. "Woven Strands," a new exhibition at Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum, explores this historical practice by featuring dozens of intricate works culled from five private collections.

According to Emily Snedden Yates, special projects manager at the Mütter Museum, hair work—as it’s called today—was common in England and America between the 17th and early 20th centuries. The popularity of the practice peaked in the 19th century, thanks in part to Queen Victoria’s prolonged public mourning after her husband Prince Albert’s death in 1861. People in both the UK and U.S. responded to her grief, with the latter country also facing staggering death tolls from the Civil War.

With loss of life at the forefront of public consciousness, elaborate mourning customs developed in both nations, and hair work became part of the culture of bereavement. "[The 19th century was] such a sentimental age, and hair is about sentiment," exhibition co-curator Evan Michelson tells Mental Floss. That sentimental quality made hair work fit for both mourning practices as well as for romantic or familiar displays of fondness.

Palette work culled from the collection of Evan Michelson and featured in the Mütter Museum's "Woven Strands" exhibition.
Palette work from the collection of Evan Michelson
Image courtesy of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Mütter Museum. Photography by Evi Numen 2017.

Most hair artworks were made by women, and created solely for the domestic sphere or as wearable trinkets. Women relied on multiple techniques to create these objects, fashioning wreaths with hair-wrapped bendable wires—a process called gimp work—and dissolving ground hair into pigments used to paint images of weeping willows, urns, and grave sites. Watch fobs, necklaces, and bracelets were woven using an approach called table work, which involved anchoring hair filaments with lead weights onto a table and using tools to twist them into intricate patterns through a hole in the furniture’s surface. Yet another technique, palette work, involved stenciled sheets of hair that were cut into various shapes and patterns.

Hair work remained popular until World War I, according to Michelson, who co-owns New York City's quirky Obscura Antiques and Oddities shop and organized "Woven Strands" along with 19th century decorative arts expert John Whitenight.

“Women hit the workforce, and death occurred on such a huge scale that it really swept away the old way of mourning and the old way of doing things,” Michelson says. By the early 20th century, tastes and aesthetics had also changed, with hair work beginning to be viewed “as something grandma had,” she explains.

The Mütter’s exhibition aside, people typically won’t see hair work in major museums. Being a craft primarily performed by women at home, hair works were usually passed down in families and often viewed as worthless from a financial and artistic perspective.

“A lot of hair work was discarded,” Michelson says. Many owners repurposed the shadowbox frames often used to display hair work by removing and tossing the artworks within. Works stored in basements and attics also frequently succumbed to water damage and insects. Antique dealers today typically only see hair jewelry, which often featured semi-precious materials or was encased in a protective layer.

Sepia dissolved hair culled from the collection of Jennifer Berman and featured in the Mütter Museum's "Woven Strands" exhibition.
Sepia dissolved hair from the collection of Jennifer Berman
Image courtesy of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Mütter Museum. Photography by Evi Numen 2017.

Yet examples of hair wreaths, palette work, and other delicate heirlooms do occasionally surface. They’re prized by a small group of avid collectors, even though other connoisseurs can be grossed out by them.

“People have this visceral reaction to it,” Michelson says. “They either gasp and adore it—like ‘I can’t get over how amazing it is’—or they just back away. There are very few other things where people are repulsed like this … In the 19th century no one batted an eyelash.”

“It’s a personal textile,” Snedden Yates explains. “It’s kind of like bone in that it doesn’t really decompose at the same rate as the rest of our bodies do. It’s not made of tissue, so if you keep it in the right environment it can be maintained indefinitely.”

Table work culled from the collection of Eden Daniels and featured in the Mütter Museum's "Woven Strands" exhibition.
Table work from the collection of Eden Daniels
Image courtesy of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Mütter Museum. Photography by Evi Numen 2017.

“Woven Strands” features examples of gimp work, palette work, table work, and dissolved hair work. It’s often hard to trace these types of artworks back to their original creators—they typically don’t bear signatures—but the curators “really wanted to find hair that you could connect to an actual human being,” Michelson says. “We chose pieces that have provenance. We know where they came from or when it was made, or who actually donated the hair in some cases, or what the family name was. We also picked out things that are unusual, that you don’t see often—oddities, if you will.”

Woven hair culled from the collection of Jennifer Berman and featured in the Mütter Museum's "Woven Strands" exhibition.
Woven hair from the collection of Jennifer Berman
Image courtesy of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Mütter Museum. Photography by Evi Numen 2017.

Displayed in the Mütter Museum’s Thomson Gallery, “Woven Strands” opens on January 19, 2018, and runs through July 12, 2018. On April 7, 2018, master jeweler and art historian Karen Bachmann will lead a 19th century hair art workshop, followed by a day-long historical symposium on the art on Sunday, April 8.

Michelson hopes that “Woven Strands” will teach future generations about hair art, and open their minds to a craft they might have otherwise dismissed as parochial or, well, weird. “We hope that people see it and fall in love with it,” she says.

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