Monday, December 11, 2017

Mexican Nicho Ornament

When I first saw Gwen Lafleur's website, one of the things I fell in love with were the Mexican Nichos. They were all so gorgeous I had trouble choosing just one, but I decided to try starting off with a small one. I loved it, but just couldn't decide quite what to do with it. The pretty nicho sat on my worktable staring back at me. A couple of days ago, it suddenly it occurred to me that it would make a wonderful Christmas ornament...and I knew just whose photo to put inside--our little Maltese fur baby, Coco.
First, I gathered some items I thought might work with the nicho and a few tools: a spool of wire, jewelry wire cutters, scissors, beads, and ribbons. While rummaging through my jewelry components stash, I found a carved red heart that I had been holding on to for years. I had added a decorative headpin and twisted a loop in the top, but it didn't work for any of the necklaces I was making.  However, it seemed just the perfect item to combine with the nicho. Red for Christmas, and a heart for love.
I got started by cutting a length of wire, which I twisted into a loop on the back of the nicho, making the loop big enough to hang off a branch. I left the ends very long so that I could attach the carved heart at the bottom.
The heart didn't hang quite the way I wanted so I tried stabilizing it on the back with a few pieces of washi tape. I also wrapped some washi on either side of the base of the wire loop to keep it from slipping.
I still wasn't happy with the way the heart was hanging, so I decided to clip the long wires off and rethink the hanging method. I decided, with another long piece of wire, to try adding some more beads, then wired on a bow and a few more little red beads. I attached it to the top D-shaped loop (which is part of the nicho) and again I stabilized it with washi tape.
The ornament seemed almost finished, but I needed to make a couple tweaks. I switched out the blurry laser-printed photo of my beloved dog Coco for one printed on glossy photo paper from an ink-jet printer at a slower speed. I considered using a color photo, but the black and white worked nicely with the silvery-colored nicho. 
I used a small piece of waxed paper, cut exactly to the size of the nicho, to determine just where to trim the good photo. It was hard to choose which of the pictures to use--they were all so cute. I loved the one of Coco with a giant cup of coffee at a sidewalk cafe, but settled on one of at home him "reading" the New York Times fashion section, with his paw on a Gucci ad.
The nicho opens up and has a space about 1/4" deep. I decided to fill the space so the photo would be right behind the glass. So, I took some wedge cosmetic sponges, trimmed them down a little, and glued them into the case. I also stumbled on some little red faux-berries, and tucked them into the nicho closure for a holiday accent.
I trimmed the ribbon ends, and at the last minute, decided to also add a bit of ribbon to the top loop, where the ornament would meet the tree branch. The ornament is especially poignant for our family--little Coco died last year, the day after Christmas. He was 12 1/2 years old, and had been sick since Thanksgiving. This will be the first Christmas in 13 years without him, but with this special ornament, he will still be with us.

A nicho ornament doesn't have to just be for Christmas: it can honor anyone at any time. 

Envision how adorable it would be with a photo of a new baby, embellished with pastel ribbons, beads or a tiny rattle. It could also be a tribute to an ancestor when done with a sepia-toned photo and earth-tone ribbons and beads. Take a look at the many sizes and shapes of nichos that are offered on Gwen's website...I hope you'll love them as much as I do!



Jill McDowell said...

Linda, what a beautiful way to personalize the tree over the holidays. The niche is just perfect. And I love how you embellished it. P.S. I just adore all of your pics of Coco. He surely must have been special. I’d have this out all year long.

SandeeNC said...

I love the ornament, made all the more special with his cute little face!

Gwen Lafleur said...

I love how this turned out Linda... it's such a sweet idea as a memorial for your fur baby, and a fabulous idea for using the nicho as well! Thank you!

Lynda Shoup said...

I love this ornament. Thank you so much for showing the process - what worked and what left you feeling you wanted something different. I find that always very helpful.what strikes my fancy in particular about this ornament is the beautiful way you incorporated the red. I sigh a little each time I see it. So sweet. My sympathy for the loss of your sweet boy.