Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Arizona Saguaro Cactus, decorated Saguaro Christmas Ornaments and behind the scenes Studio Photos and Tips

 The Christmas Saguaro ornament is available at MelodyODesigns at Etsy 

As a tribute to my adopted home state of Arizona I've designed a new decorated Saguaro Cactus Christmas Ornament made from polymer clay to add to my Southwestern Christmas Ornaments Collection. Saguaros are iconic images that immediately come to mind when one thinks of Arizona. They are native to the warm Sonoran desert and can reach a height of 40-60 inches (12-18 meters). After the rainy season when water is plentiful an adult saguaro can weigh 6 tons or more. 

When the saguaro reaches 35 years of age it begins to produce white flowers with yellow centers that attract bees and butterflies and the fruits provide much needed food for birds, jack rabbits, mule dear and many other native animals. The indigenous people of the area used the saguaro for both food and building materials and members of the Tohono O'odham people still gather the fruit today to use in making ceremonial wine, jellies, candy and use the seeds to feed their chickens. Branches normally begin to appear when the saguaro is around 50-70 years old. Their life expectancy is 150-200 years. 

Saguaro at Catalina State Park near Tucson, Arizona. Photographs courtesy of Sy Brandon
Saguaro at Usery Mountain Regional Park, Phoenix, Arizona
Saguaros primarily grow in the southern part of the state and are not native to the Sedona/VerdeValley where we live, though there are some that flourish in the courtyards of private homes. However, the hoards of both international and US tourists who visit the Sedona area still seem to want to take home "all things saguaro" as souvenirs and gifts. Tourism is a huge industry here. In fact, the Sedona/Verde Valley made the list of Lonely Planet's Top 10 US travel destinations for 2013  So, it made sense to add a saguaro to my ornament collection that sells at two wonderful sister Christmas Shops in Sedona, "Feliz Navidad" in Tlaquepaque and "Merry Christmas Sedona" in Uptown, as well as at my online shops.

While behind the scenes in Santa's Workshop..........some of the tools and raw materials that were used in making the Christmas Saguaro Ornament:
 After the ornament is cut out with a craft knife it is textured with a piercing pin tool to mimic the spines of the cactus. 

The white and yellow flowers were painted onto the raw clay with a mixture of TLS (Translucent Liquid Sculpey) and Genesis heat set oil paint. They were painted using the tip of an "out of ink" Extra Fine-tipped Sharpie pen.  

The cactus is decorated with little round red Christmas balls. The balls were decorated with tiny dots of Liquitex Iridescent Bright Gold Heavy Bodied Acrylic and applied with the tip of a "spent and out of ink" Pigma Micron 01 pen. A #11 gold seed bead was pushed into the top of the ornament to give it a "hanger". 

The star was made from gold PREMO polymer clay that was rolled out in a thin sheet, lightly powdered with corn starch and punched out with a Fiskers star punch. Once cured, the star was lightly covered with a layer of Art Glitter Clear Fabric Adhesive and diped into Art Glitter Vintage Fine Glass Glitter.

The Christmas Saguaro, other Southwestern/Arizona Christmas Ornaments and many other pieces are available at MelodyODesigns at Etsy

Article and images © October 28, 2013


  1. What a great idea to use the empty markers as a paintbrush. And I love the idea of the would be a perfect gift to remind someone of their Southwestern roots.

  2. Totally neat! I pray that these will be best sellers for you!

  3. Wonderful, love your Saguaro!! Brings me back in time to when we lived in Arizona.

    What a great use for empty sharpies!! I love to read your posts, you always have such awesome tips to share!!!