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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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A Secret Room Full of Michelangelo's Sketches Will Soon Open in Florence
Claudio Giovannini/AFP/Getty Images
Claudio Giovannini/AFP/Getty Images

Parents all over the world have chastised their children for drawing on the walls. But when you're Michelangelo, you've got some leeway. According to The Local, the Medici Chapels, part of the Bargello museum in Florence, Italy, has announced that it plans to open a largely unseen room full of the artist's sketches to the public by 2020.

Roughly 40 years ago, curators of the chapels at the Basilica di San Lorenzo had a very Dan Brown moment when they discovered a trap door in a wardrobe leading to an underground room that appeared to have works from Michelangelo covering its walls. The tiny retreat is thought to be a place where the artist hid out in 1530 after upsetting the Medicis—his patrons—by joining a revolt against their control of Florence. While in self-imposed exile for several months, he apparently spent his time drawing on whatever surfaces were available.

A drawing by Michelangelo under the Medici Chapels in Florence
Claudio Giovannini/AFP/Getty Images

Museum officials previously believed the room and the charcoal drawings were too fragile to risk visitors, but have since had a change of heart, leading to their plan to renovate the building and create new attractions. While not all of the work is thought to be attributable to the famed artist, there's enough of it in the subterranean chamber—including drawings of Jesus and even recreations of portions of the Sistine Chapel—to make a trip worthwhile.

[h/t The Local]

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15 Things You Should Know About Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe’s enchanting floral still lifes are now a deeply ingrained part of American culture—so much so that they often eclipse her other colorful accomplishments. For a more complete portrait of the artist, who was born 130 years ago today, brush up on these 15 little-known facts about her.

1. FLOWER PAINTINGS MAKE UP A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF O'KEEFFE'S BODY OF WORK.

Though O'Keeffe is most famous for her lovingly rendered close-ups of flowers—like Black Iris and Oriental Poppies—these make up just about 200 of her 2000-plus paintings. The rest primarily depict landscapes, leaves, rocks, shells, and bones.

2. SHE REJECTED SEXUAL INTERPRETATIONS OF HER PAINTINGS.

For decades, critics assumed that O'Keeffe's flowers were intended as homages—or at the very least, allusions—to the female form. But in 1943, she insisted that they had it all wrong, saying, “Well—I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flowers you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower—and I don’t.” So there.

3. SHE WAS NOT A NATIVE OF THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST.


Joe Raedle/Getty Images

O'Keeffe was actually born on a Wisconsin dairy farm. She'd go on to live in Chicago; New York City; New York’s Lake George; Charlottesville, Virginia; and Amarillo, Texas. She first visited New Mexico in 1917, and as she grew older, her trips there became more and more frequent. Following the death of her husband in 1946, she moved to New Mexico permanently.

4. HER FAVORITE STUDIO WAS THE BACKSEAT OF A MODEL-A FORD.

In an interview with C-SPAN, Carolyn Kastner, curator of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, explained how the artist customized her car for this use: "She would remove the driver's seat. Then she would unbolt the passenger car, turn it around to face the back seat. Then she would lay the canvas on the back seat as an easel and paint inside her Model-A Ford."

Painting inside the car allowed O'Keeffe to stay out of the unrelenting desert sun, where she painted many of her later works. The Model-A also provided a barrier from the bees that would gather as the day wore on.

5. O'KEEFFE ALSO PAINTED SKYSCRAPERS.

While nature was her main source of inspiration, the time she spent in 1920s Manhattan spurred the creation of surreal efforts like New York With Moon, City Night and The Shelton with Sunspots.

6. O'KEEFFE IMMERSED HERSELF IN NATURE ...

While in New Mexico O’Keeffe spent summers and falls at her Ghost Ranch, putting up with the region's hottest, most stifling days in order to capture its most vivid colors. (The rest of the year she stayed at her second home, located in the small town of Abiquiu.) When she wasn't painting in her Model-A, O'Keeffe often camped out in the harsh surrounding terrain, to keep close to the landscapes that inspired her.

7. …WHATEVER THE WEATHER.

The artist would rig up tents from tarps, contend with unrelenting downpours, and paint with gloves on when it got too cold. She went camping well into her 70s and enjoyed a well-documented rafting trip with photographer Todd Webb at age 74. Her camping equipment is occasionally exhibited at the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.

8. SHE MARRIED THE MAN BEHIND HER FIRST GALLERY SHOW.

"At last, a woman on paper!" That’s what modernist photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz cried when he first saw O'Keeffe's abstract charcoal drawings. He was so enthusiastic about this series of sketches that he put them on display—before consulting their creator.

When O'Keeffe arrived at his gallery, she wasn't pleased, and brusquely introduced herself: "I am Georgia O'Keeffe and you will have to take these pictures down." Despite their rocky beginnings, Stieglitz and O'Keeffe quickly made amends, and went on to become partners in art and in life.

9. O'KEEFFE AND STIEGLITZ WROTE 25,000 PAGES OF LOVE LETTERS TO EACH OTHER.

When the pair met in 1916, he was famous and married; she was unknown and 23 years his junior. All the same, they began writing to each other often (sometimes two or three times a day) and at length (as many as 40 pages at a time). These preserved writings chart the progression of their romance—from flirtation to affair to their marriage in 1924—and even document their marital struggles.

10. SHE SERVED AS A MUSE TO OTHER ARTISTS.

Thanks in part to Stieglitz, O'Keeffe was one of the most photographed women of the 20th century. Stieglitz made O'Keeffe the subject of a long-term series of portraits meant to capture individuals as they aged, and she made for a striking model. Though he died in 1946, the project lived on as other photographers sought out O'Keeffe in order to capture the beloved artist against the harsh New Mexican landscapes she loved so dearly.

O'Keeffe later wrote:

When I look over the photographs Stieglitz took of me—some of them more than sixty years ago—I wonder who that person is. It is as if in my one life I have lived many lives. If the person in the photographs were living in this world today, she would be quite a different person—but it doesn't matter—Stieglitz photographed her then.

11. SHE QUIT PAINTING THREE TIMES.

The first break spanned several years (the exact number is a matter of debate), when O'Keeffe took on more stable jobs to help her family through financial troubles. In the early 1930s, a nervous breakdown led to her hospitalization, and caused her to set aside her brushes for more than a year.

In the years leading up to her death in 1986, failing eyesight forced O'Keeffe to give up painting entirely. Until then, she fought hard to keep working, enlisting assistants to prepare her canvas and mix her oil paints for pieces like 1977's Sky Above Clouds/Yellow Horizon and Clouds. She managed to use watercolors until she was 95.

12. AFTER GOING BLIND, SHE TURNED TO SCULPTING.


By Alfred Stieglitz - Phillips, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Although her vision eventually made painting impossible, O'Keeffe's desire to create was not squelched. She memorably declared, "I can see what I want to paint. The thing that makes you want to create is still there.” O'Keeffe began experimenting with clay sculpting in her late 80s, and continued with it into her 96th year.

13. SHE'S THE MOTHER OF AMERICAN MODERNISM.

Searching for what she called “the Great American Thing,” O'Keeffe was part of the Stieglitz Circle, which included such lauded early modernists as Charles Demuth, Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, John Marin, Paul Strand, and Edward Steichen. By the mid-1920s, she had become the first female painter to gain acclaim alongside her male contemporaries in New York's cutthroat art world. Her distinctive way of rendering nature in shapes and forms that made them seem simultaneously familiar and new earned her a reputation as a pioneer of the form.

14. SHE BLAZED NEW TRAILS FOR FEMALE ARTISTS.

In 1946, O’Keeffe became the first woman to earn a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art. Twenty-four years later, a Whitney Museum of American Art retrospective exhibit introduced her work to a new generation. Fifteen years after that, O'Keeffe was included in the inaugural slate of artists chosen to receive the newly founded National Medal of Arts for her contribution to American culture.

15. SHE WASN'T FEARLESS, BUT SHE REJECTED FEAR.

O'Keeffe was purported to have said, "I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do."

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