Book: The Art-Full Tree

by KateG on 06/11/2011

in Books, Fibre+Needlework, Historic Craft, Holidays, Paper+Mixed Media, Sewing+Fabric

November (and a little bit into December) is book month at

The Art-Full Tree; ornaments to make.  Jan Gilliam and Christina Westenberger.  The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2011.

If your thoughts are turning to decorating your tree this year, you might like to have a look at The Art-Full Tree, which is inspired by objects in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.

The book begins with a quick history of the museum, that was started by Abby Aldrich Rockerfeller who started collecting and exhibiting folk art in the 1920’s, at a time when common crafts and amateur arts were not highly valued.  She left her collection to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and this collection forms the core of the current Folk Art Museum in Willamsburg, Virginia.

The museum has had a long and treasured tradition of decorating a holiday tree every year with ornaments made by staff, volunteers and guests of the museum.  Some of these ornaments are inspired by items in the collection, and others are based on the skills of each contributor.

The Art-Full Tree presents 33 ornament projects that have been inspired by some of the most popular items in the museum collection.  The book is an interesting combination of museum catalogue, inspiration notebook, project instructions and stitch guide and template sections.

Each project features the original artwork, with a short history of the item and some information on the artist or style of art.  There is a very detailed materials list, and step by step instructions and photographs on making each ornament.

There is a wide range of crafting techniques used in the creation of the ornament projects, including needlepoint, paper craft, punch needle embroidery, foil work, metal punching, painting and collage.  My favourite ornaments are Recycled-Card star (inspired by a compass design quilt), Scherenscnitte Birds (inspired by a cutwork picture), and Aluminium Butterfly (inspired by a metal weathervane).

I really like the process of taking a formal artwork in a formal setting, that is meaningful to the people around it, and appropriating all or part of the work to inspire the creation of anther objet, in this case tree ornaments.  I feel that readers of The Art-Full Tree will be inspired to look around them, in their local museums, public spaces, or around their own treasured and meaningful objects, and to create ornaments for their own family trees that are small and perfect reminders of things that they love.

To win a copy of The Art-Full Tree, please leave a comment on this review.  The comments will be open for 72 hours, and a winner will be selected at random.  Good luck!  Congratulations to Becky!

About the reviewer: Kate is a busy mother of four with many craft projects on the go, including, but not limited to, crochet, knitting, sewing, dyeing, paper making, spinning, felting and bookbinding. Kate has challenges in the areas of finishing things, saying no and craft supplies storage. She also has a very very patient and tolerant husband.



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{ 78 comments… read them below or add one }

1 beth lehman November 6, 2011 at 8:22 am

fun! I have been saving some ornament ideas for Christmas to pinterest, hoping to make some this year!

2 Nissa Ulven November 6, 2011 at 8:48 am

I started working on a beaded flower ornament last night. Working my way up to a tree topper. I went to Colonial Williamsburg at Christmas with my dad when I was 11. The wreaths on the houses were amazing too.

3 KathyC November 6, 2011 at 9:28 am

This looks like a very interesting and useful book!

4 Cindy G. November 6, 2011 at 9:30 am

I love how this book includes information about the collection and the artwork that inspired each ornament! Seeing how the art is translated into an ornament would help me to come up with my own creations. I love the photo above with the aluminum butterflies incorporated into gift wrapping. I’m not sure that I have time to pull of something like that this year (plus I have a pile of gift wrap I have to whittle down), but it’s definitely something I can do for next year.

5 laura November 6, 2011 at 9:40 am

This sounds like a great book. I’ve been gradually making decorations for our tree over the last few years (as well as buying some) and I always get really excited to rediscover the random assortment of goodies when we put the tree up each December.

6 Mary Emmens November 6, 2011 at 9:46 am

Wow I think I need this book, last year was the first year we had a tree, I’d love to make some decorations and need to be inspired!

7 kelly November 6, 2011 at 10:01 am

that book looks full of inspiration!

8 Aly November 6, 2011 at 10:08 am

I love the Folk Art Museum, and the book sounds lovely.

9 MicheleB November 6, 2011 at 10:33 am

I love the idea of handmade decorations! I’m slowly but surely working our annual Christmas tree into something more personal, not just the boxed ornaments we bought from Target.

10 Kelli November 6, 2011 at 10:42 am

Lovely! I already see several that I would love to make!

11 Helen November 6, 2011 at 10:51 am

The book looks wonderful!

12 Kate November 6, 2011 at 11:00 am

Wow, my museum studies class just finished up a lecture on Colonial Williamsburg! Didn’t learn they had a folk museum there, but we were mostly concerned with the absurd term “authentic reproduction,” and that whole angle.

With all the ornaments I make, this might go a long way towards (slightly) rehabilitating Williamsburg in my mind!

13 ccherry November 6, 2011 at 11:06 am

My museum nerd and craft geek sides both want to get there hands on this book. Thanks for letting know about it.

14 Crystal November 6, 2011 at 11:16 am

Wow, some of those look just darling. I love making ornaments. My tree is entirely decorated in hand made ornaments each year.

15 Marci November 6, 2011 at 11:24 am

Oh, I think I’m ready to start making Christmas ornaments!

16 Jen S November 6, 2011 at 11:50 am

LooKs like a beautiful book with great ideas! Love those aluminum butterflies!

17 Leigh M November 6, 2011 at 11:59 am

It looks like a wonderful book, and making ornaments for our tree that represent the town my children have grown up in will make wonderful keepsakes that I can pass down to them in the future for their own trees!

18 Marci November 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm

Gorgeous book! Lots of great ideas! Thanks for sharing.

19 maf November 6, 2011 at 12:12 pm

It looks like a very inspiring book!

20 Elisa November 6, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Beautiful ornaments! Thanks for having a giveaway, and there’s time to make some ornaments before Christmas.

21 Karen Rocha November 6, 2011 at 12:23 pm

Very cool book! Love the museum and this looks great!

22 Dell November 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm

This looks like a great book to add to my collection. Thanks for sharing.

23 Katherine of Kitten's Lost Her Mittens November 6, 2011 at 12:58 pm

I would love to win this! The book looks beautiful, and I’ve been really into making Christmas ornaments, both to give and to keep. Thanks for the chance to win!

24 Kylie C November 6, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I make ornaments as gifts for my family each year and have been looking to branch out from felt and origami. Those aluminum butterflies sound delightful. Thanks for the chance to win.

25 Lindsay November 6, 2011 at 2:00 pm

What a great idea for a book! I would love to whip up some homemade ornaments to go with the handmade ornaments that we inherited from my grandparents.

26 Serena November 6, 2011 at 2:10 pm

This looks like such a fun book! I love homemade ornaments.

27 Alice November 6, 2011 at 2:17 pm

I came here looking for ornament ideas for a handmade ornament swap in a few weeks. I’d love to win this book!

28 Seanna Lea November 6, 2011 at 2:19 pm

I love homemade ornaments and it would be great to have a different set of things to do other than small pieces of cross-stitch and knitting.

29 Chloe November 6, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Thank you for a chance to win this lovely book! Christmas is my favorite time of year and I try to make at least one new ornament for my tree every year.

30 Ola November 6, 2011 at 2:21 pm

The book looks great! Want it!

31 Dolores Schwartz November 6, 2011 at 2:27 pm

My husband and I spent our very short honeymoon at Williamsburg almost 30 years ago. We didn’t have much money so the one keepsake we bought was a Christmas ornament.
Thank you for the chance to win a copy of this beautiful book.

32 Pamela November 6, 2011 at 2:38 pm

My sister is a crafter and Williamsburg fan. This would make such a wonderful gift for her! I am pretty sure she would share too….

33 Barbara November 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm

I want to start a tradition of handmade ornaments. This sounds like a good start to it.

34 Veronica Combs November 6, 2011 at 4:43 pm

I just joined an ornament swap so this would be a perfect start to my holiday crafting!

35 Julie November 6, 2011 at 4:45 pm

What a beautiful book! If I don’t win it I’ll definitely have to buy it!

36 Connie November 6, 2011 at 4:55 pm

I love the idea of making ornaments with my children for all of us to cherish over the years. What a great book!

37 Beatriz November 6, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Beautiful works :-)

38 Sonja November 6, 2011 at 5:46 pm

This book looks wonderful! I made some paper ornaments last year and loved it.

39 Eve November 6, 2011 at 7:27 pm

My family makes new ornaments every year, so I’d love some new ideas.

40 Catherine November 6, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Inspiring description. Immediately, I was imagining my favorite pieces exhibited in the collection of the PMA. Looking forward to seeing this book and making a visit to Virginia to see the collection in person…..some day.
Thank you for the review.

41 Diana M November 6, 2011 at 7:56 pm

What a great book! We decided this year to make all our Christmas presents and the kids have got right into it and we are already about half way through our list. This book review has given me another idea – we should start making some ornaments for the tree too. The kids would love that.

42 Jackie Quang November 6, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Thank you for the giveaway. We make two new ornaments each year to add to the tree. So this book would be handy.

43 Alexis November 6, 2011 at 8:20 pm

I was looking for inspiring hand made ways to come up with our ornaments this year this would be great from my whole family to come together and have our creative ideas contribute to our tree this year !

44 Elizabeth Thornley November 6, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Thank you for sharing information about this lovely book – it looks amazing!

45 Margaret November 6, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Love handmade ornaments for my tree. I have saved all of the ones my daughter and I have made over the years and we always make some each year. This book looks like it is full of great ideas!

46 Becca November 6, 2011 at 10:00 pm

this looks like a perfect gift for a dear friend!!

47 Steph November 6, 2011 at 10:42 pm

It looks like a great book full of crafty inspiration!

48 Amanda V November 6, 2011 at 10:52 pm

The aluminium butterflies are so beautiful! I make tree decorations for the teachers in our life each year and this book looks full of lovely and unique ideas.

49 Em. November 6, 2011 at 11:10 pm

this book looks beautiful!

50 pinry November 6, 2011 at 11:57 pm

it looks like a beautiful book, and i love that it covers a wide variety of techniques and historical styles.

51 Jane T November 6, 2011 at 11:59 pm

What a book!!! Love what you shared from it with us. I would love to win this prize. Thanks.

52 Kate November 7, 2011 at 12:01 am

Looks great! I’ve done the Freshly Blended Holiday Ornament Swap for the last 4 years, this would be great for ideas!

53 julie November 7, 2011 at 12:11 am

What a great book. I have been thinking about making ornaments with my kids and this would be the perfect book!
Thanks for the chance.

54 davin November 7, 2011 at 10:20 am

That is such a lovely looking book!

55 Chris November 7, 2011 at 11:41 am

While I don’t generally bother with a tree (not generally a decorating person, and the cat likes the direction Up!), I adore making and giving ornaments to friends who do. This looks like a fantastic book :)

56 electricbluebird November 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I would love a copy so I can make these with my girls.

57 Linda November 7, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Thank you so much for letting us know about this book. I definitely want a copy!

58 Deanna November 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm

The book sounds lovely! I still plan (someday!) to cover my Christmas tree in a gazillion crocheted snowflakes that I’ve made.

59 Baukje November 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I hope I am not too late. What a great book!!!

60 Annette November 7, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Over the years, our commercial ornaments have been replaced by those handmade by either family or friends. Each with a memory – what a great way to celebrate with friends and family that cannot be with us over the holidays.

61 Heather MK November 7, 2011 at 2:46 pm

What a fun family tradition this would be! I’d love a copy of this book!

62 jillian November 7, 2011 at 4:06 pm

How awesome! I was just thinking that ornaments might be the order of the day for handmade Christmas gifts this year

63 Deepa November 7, 2011 at 4:34 pm

Those paper cut birds are beautiful! What a wonderful idea for a book. I’m really hoping you’ll pick me. Thanks for the giveaway!

64 cindy November 7, 2011 at 4:51 pm

I love Williamsburg! You could join me with 80 fourth graders on Friday!!!

65 Lisa November 7, 2011 at 7:45 pm

I love handmade ornaments and I would sure love to have this book!

66 Angel Funk November 7, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Oh, I would love to win this!

67 Penny November 7, 2011 at 10:11 pm

I’m always looking for new Christmas decoration inspiration, and Colonial Williamsburg is one of my favorite places! Thanks for the giveaway.

68 Erica Gorzen November 7, 2011 at 10:11 pm

I am always looking for new ornament ideas for my students to make! This would be a great tool to expand what my students are creating!

69 Jennyroo November 7, 2011 at 11:07 pm

Would love to win, thanks for the chance!

70 Natalya Hoak November 7, 2011 at 11:23 pm

I grew up making Christmas ornaments. It was a family tradition! I’m hoping to pass it on to my kids some day and this book would be such an inspiration!

71 KeriCan November 8, 2011 at 3:31 am

What a great new tradition to start with my kiddos – handmade ornaments.

72 Cynthia Dall November 8, 2011 at 11:46 am

Out of necessity, my earliest tree was was covered with hand made ornaments. These were made by three generations of my family. With the arrival of the next generation of my family, I started the kids on their own personal Christmas collection, building on it every year.
The necessity of hand making these family momentous is a thing of the past. However, the desire to make hand crafted treasures lives on into the present and the future. This book appears to be a good road map in that direction.

73 Rae R November 8, 2011 at 11:58 am

I have made ornaments over the years, and friends have given me handmade ornaments. I love them because they bring happy memories to mind, and add something special to the tree.

74 Margaret November 8, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Oh, ornament making is one of my favorite things!

75 Elisha November 8, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Ooh, that looks like a great book! I love handmade ornaments!

76 Becky November 9, 2011 at 9:41 am

Love it! Can’t wait to get a peek inside this book. Christmas at Williamsburg is truly magical.

77 Iva November 11, 2011 at 3:56 pm

I would love to win this book.
Thank you for the great giveaway.

78 Ifan December 9, 2012 at 11:07 pm

Adorable! And you are very brave little ones with peenanrmt markers [] Reply:December 11th, 2009 at 12:34 pmLOL. Actually, we did most of the coloring with paint shirts on, then I realized I hadn’t gotten any pictures of the kids coloring. So, I briefly gave them a marker to color one more ornament so I could snap a shot. So you see, I’m not really THAT brave. []

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