Posts tagged ‘pins’

Opulent Ornaments: A Delightful Rabbit Hole

BakersDozenOpulentOrnamentsI went off the deep end about a year ago after I accidentally came across instructions for Paula Nadelstern’s Opulent Ornaments and decided I needed to make one. Or a dozen. Get her directions here. (Embrace the bling; resistance is futile.)

I spent a long time collecting sequins, pins, beads, and other shiny objects and finally found courage to give it a try back in July when I was supposed to be catching up on crib quilts for new additions to the Simms extended family. (Knowing I should have been doing something else with a higher priority made this particular rabbit hole even more delicious.)

As you can see in the picture above, I’ve exceeded my quota, and that doesn’t count the two I have been working on. I don’t want to stop. I can’t stop. I have collected many pounds of bling and all sorts of wonderful containers to store it in.

Each Styrofoam ball is a new canvas and I can’t wait to “skin it” (cover it with Paula’s phenomenal fabric so that there are no pleats or wrinkles) and stick stuff all over it (self-explanatory).  I mostly work on the balls in the evening. I can actually carry on a conversation as I poke pins, so technically it’s “together time” with Steve. I actually volunteered to take a bump on a recent trip back from Florida so I could “ball” in the airport. (OK, so I got a hefty voucher too, but those extra 6 hours went by SO fast!) I even embellished on the plane. Apparently when you’re waiving pins around and spraying sequins in all directions the people on either side of you are willing to relinquish the armrests. It’s all good.

IMG_4030So here’s what you need to get started.

You will need Paula Nadelstern’s fabric panels like the ones on page 4 of her instructions with six large circles accompanied by 12 or 8 smaller ones near the selvage edges. They are available at Search for “mandala Paula Nadelstern” or these collections: Kismet, Chromazone, and her newest line, Super Kaleiders.

IMG_4029Styrofoam Balls
Paula’s instructions call for 6″ styrofoam balls. You can find them at,, and Dollar stores have them too, and you’ll hit the mother load in Canada if you live near a Dollarama. They’re all $1.50. Selection isn’t always consistent, but they have pretty colored cup-shaped sequins too. I hesitate to tell you how many times we have driven 90 miles to the Dollarama for balls. OK, there is great Italian food nearby, so it’s not just for Styrofoam.

Note that Paula also encourages you to try other sizes. I find that smaller ones (4″ diameter) are a little more difficult to skin, but they go fast. The 5″ diameter balls look most opulent if you’re using them as Christmas tree ornaments plus they won’t bring down your Douglas Fir. (These ornaments can get heavy!) I’ve never tried any of the green florist Styrofoam balls, mostly out of fear. Anybody used them successfully? I tend to prefer the smooth skinned balls. Much harder to push a pin in, but you get a nice squeaky sound and it feels like the pins will stay put. The rough skinned balls shed a little, but pins go in easy. Larger balls are usually rough. I’ve made an 8″ and a 10″ ball. Use a thimble to save your fingers.

IMG_4030 (1)You ca#n find sequins just about anywhere, but if you want to go overboard, visit Their website is easy to navigate and the eye candy is magnificent. Prices are very reasonable, especially if you look for closeouts.

My favorites are the hologram sequins and my absolute favorites are the 3mm Flat Hologram Mixed Colors. I use these to cover the raw edges of the fabric. (I tried to outline them in red in the picture to the left.)

Beads & Findings
Check out the beads and bracelets and other jewelry stuff at Michael’s. You can see a silver colored do-dad with a green pin in the center in the picture above. If you can string it for jewelry, you can stick a pin through it and poke it into a ball. Watch for the 50% and 70% off sales on the green label beads. I think they heavily discount them once every three months or so.  Hold off on the glass beads unless you can’t live without them. You can buy them on Amazon in bulk. (See the downloadable list in the next section.) Fla bottomed beads and jewelry “things” are better; they won’t rock with handling which might loosen the pin.

The more the merrier. I like steel and brass pins, glass or plastic head pins, short pins, long pins, corsage pins…you see where this is going, right? I’ve turned into a pinhead. The more variety in color, style, and most importantly, size, the better. As Paula says, “more is more.” (Use a thimble to insert the pins.)

Click on the blue letters to see a list of supplies and where to find them: Opulent Ornament Supplies

IMG_4032I love plastic storage boxes. Just looking at my stash of bling makes me happy. The black tray in the foreground is a jewelry tray (Michael’s). I ripped out the black ring holder thing and covered a piece of Styrofoam packing material with muslin. Makes a nice flat pincushion. The rigid tray goes on my lap and keeps my balls from rolling away. A magnetic pin caddy holds steel pins. (The brass ones fall off, duh!) I use tweezers for grabbing pins out of containers. I’m switching to plastic tweezers; see the list above. Darice makes the round little screw-top containers in a short and tall version. I use them for sequins. The purple and blue tabbed plastic container is for vitamins. Got mine at Walmart and used a solvent to get rid of the days of the week, AM, and PM labels.


Now is the perfect time to jump down the rabbit hole with me. Just dive in. It’s so much fun!

Thanks, Paula, for this amazingly fun project and your wonderful fabric!




November 14, 2017 at 11:40 pm 36 comments

Ami Simms

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