Make Dotty Sunburst Ornaments

dotty-starburstI found the work of Elspeth McLean thanks to Facebook’s algorithm and I’m completely enamored with it. I thought the dots of her “dotillism” would work perfectly on my Christmas kitsch tree since so much of what I love about Midcentury design is the patterns common in surface design. Whether it’s the dot patterns of the Eames or the boomerang pattern you associate with diners, you can take one look at a pattern and know it came from the 50’s and 60’s. Combining dotillism with a midcentury inspired starburst pattern in a Christmas color pallete, and you get a Christmas kitschy ornament that anyone can make.


step-1Since I wanted my circles to look like circles and not go wonky on me, I needed a path to follow. First I painted the wooden ornament shape a solid opaque white. This took several coats before it didn’t just look like painted wood. I wanted it to look thickly white. So white that without a close look it might even seem like plastic. When I was satisfied with the background color I used a circle template and a pencil to draw on two concentric circles.


step-2I picked a color palette that gave me lots of options, all within a Christmasy theme, and then painted rows of dots using the lines I traced as my pattern. I used a small brush and loaded it fully with paint, then touched it to the ornament and picked the brush back up. I didn’t even try and paint the dots as circles, I just let the paint to the work as it went naturally into a domed shape. (It’s called a convex Meniscus! Yay Science!)


step-3There are literally infinite ways to paint a pattern of dots on the ornament, so you could let your imagination come up with all kinds of beautiful designs. I placed another row of dots between the first two, and then added graduated dots to the center until they reach a large dot in the middle. Same on the outside of the traced circle. Another row of dots and then more dots gradually getting smaller until they reach the border.


step-4When you’re done painting and everything is thoroughly thoroughly dry, erase the pencil lines you traced.


step-5Add some ribbon or thread through the hole to serve as an ornament hanger.


dotty-ornamentPainting in dots was addictively soothing. It requires no drawing or painting skills, not even a steady hand, and the results are so pretty! I might have to take this method up year round. Before long I’ll have a whole backyard full of art as every little rock gets covered in dots.