A collection of mouth blown, hand painted glass Christmas ornaments is a prized possession. Ornaments may have been collected through the years, or passed down from other family member. Or perhaps you're just starting your collection. Here are a few tips to keep your ornaments safe and sound.
Only gentle cleaning is needed for glass ornaments. Most paints and lacquers are water based, so ornaments should never be cleaned with water, glass cleaner, soaps or other solutions. Any of these could smear the finish and ruin your ornament. They only need to be dusted with a soft bristle brush. Fine sable paint brush or make up brush works well. A small feather duster attracts dust like a magnet.
Protect your ornament from extreme temperature changes. Never store your ornaments in unheated or uninsulated areas such as basements, attics, garages or outside storage buildings. Unheated and high humidity environments can cause stress fractures or cracks in the finish over time. A guest bedroom closet is a safe place or other closet. Also avoid storing or displaying in direct sunlight which can cause fading.
Wrap your delicate ornaments individually before putting away in an acid-free tissue paper. Microwaveable paper towels will work or plain cotton batting. The ideal box would be made of sturdy cardboard or plastic and come with dividers. Specially designed ornament storage boxes are available and usually worth the investment as they will last for years with proper care. Plastic will keep out moisture while cardboard will absorb moisture. If there is the slightest possibility of high humidity or a water leak, then use a plastic container.
And lastly take your time, even with all your ornaments properly boxed, if you drop the box the impact of the fall can cause damage. Even though glass ornaments are generally very light, be careful not to have too many layers, and start with the heaviest ornaments on the bottom. It's much safer to have only 1-2 layers of ornaments and just use more boxes. Check with your local retailers for the discarded boxes that ornaments come in. They come with dividers and usually only one layer to a box. Retailers are usually happy to give these way, but they are bulky and not kept around long. Here at Trendy Tree we're happy to give our boxes away, just drop us an e-mail and we'll save a case for you, you just pay the shipping.
Hang antique ornaments securely on high Christmas tree branches, away from pets, small children and traffic areas. Invest in quality hangers! Check each hanger on your ornament before placing on your tree each year. Make sure it's secure in the ornament. Some ornaments come with hangers that can be squeezed gently and removed, some have glue on them also. If you have lost your hanger, don't discard your ornament. Anytime you have breakage, remove the hanger and keep in a small box for future use. Collectible ornaments can lose part of their value if the original hanger isn't intact. But if you collection is a treasured memory, that would never be sold, secure the ornament with a hanger from an old broken ornament. Any time we have breakage here, we save all the crowns. Always hold the ornament securely in your hand and not by the hanger itself.
Take the extra time to dust, wrap and store your treasures properly. And above all, secure your Christmas tree! You can't imagine how many e-mails and orders we receive from broken hearted people trying to replace an ornament that was destroyed when a Christmas tree fell over or was knocked over accidentally. Very expensive or treasured ornaments are sometimes better showcased in a lighted, glass curio cabinet.
If your ornament is broken, don't discard it just yet! Depending on the type of damage, you could still possibly use it as a decoration on a wreath, centerpiece or floral arrangement. If the neck is broken and will no longer hold the cap, a small dowel or flower stem can be inserted into the ornament and ribbon tied around it to cover the damage. Then the ornament can be secured in place on a wreath or centerpiece. Damaged ornaments are also good for practice if you're just beginning to practice personalization with permanent glass markers or testing new colors of pens. Of course, always keep damaged ornaments away from children or pets and always discard safely.