What to Do With Leftover Paint: Painted Ornaments

5 Materials
2 Hours
After any upcycling or painting project, I always end up with leftover paint – not enough for a big project, but too much to throw away. Here is a super cute way to use up some paint and create some adorable ornaments at the same time!
Create cute ornaments using leftover paint

Gather supplies

Step 1 - Gather supplies.
Gather supplies.
Leftover paint in a variety of colors (Mine was Black Dog Salvage Furniture Paint)
Inexpensive glass bulbs
Paint Brushes
Wire Hooks
Extra glitter (just because I like it!)
Rainbow Flakes sparkly stuff
Ultra-fine Black Sharpie
Start painting!

With a little imagination, I used bits and pieces of some ornaments I liked on Pinterest to paint my ornaments. If you don’t feel you are a good painter, snowmen are easy – white blobs!

This photo shows the base coat on the ornaments before any shading was added. Snowmen bodies, scarves and hats were all painted in this step.

TIP: A muffin tin makes a great place to let your ornaments dry between steps. The original boxes they came in may hold the ornaments too tightly and smudge your paint if it is still wet.
Add shading

Step 2 - Add shading and effects.
This little guy was painted using Clean Canvas for the base of his head and Go Green for the scarf. After the paint dried a little (but not totally – too wet and you will drag it back off), I thinned some Roanoke Rain with the General Finishes Extender to get the paint a little more blendable. It should be pretty watery and pale at this step – it doesn’t take much paint for this effect. I took a small amount on the brush around the outside edge of his head to get the shading I wanted. Where I felt like it was too much blue, I just went back and added more white to the center and blended it out.

I also added some light pink cheeks using a very thin mix of Appalachian Sunset, Clean Canvas and Extender.

The carrot nose was a mix of Caution: Dogs at Work with a little bit of Appalachian Sunset and Dirt. I didn’t want the color to be one dimensional, so I didn’t blend it “too much.”
Detail on scarves

For the scarves, I wanted to create a little bit of interest with some stripes and plaids. Using a liner brush and paint thinned down with the Extender, I added layers of different colors over top of the base color.

I went back and added in “coal” for eyes using the wrong end of a paintbrush and simply tapping it in the Black Dog paint. I added some red holly berries in a couple places using this method. You could add a tiny dot of white to create a “shine” using a toothpick or smaller brush end. Smiles were simply squiggly lines with another line at each end.
Create outlines

Step 4 - Create outlines.
Not everyone does this but I like the way the little black Sharpie outline sort of cleans up my imperfect paint lines and makes everything pop. See the difference?

For some of the snowmen, I outlined them with a solid line; in other places I used a dashed line around the outside edges.
Add snow

Step 5 - Add snow.
I like to use a stiff, crappy brush for this step even though the snow is water soluble. I used Aleene’s Glitter Snow and crystal white Darice Glitter to create the sparkly snow effect. Using a dabbing motion, I added the snow to the top of this ornament, then sprinkled some of the glitter onto it while wet.
Snow on the bottom

On some of the ornaments I added snow along the bottoms where the snowmen were sitting. Same method – dab it on and add glitter. I even took a little bit of the glitter snow and swiped it along the snowman’s cheeks for some sparkle there.
Add rainbow flakes inside

For the large clear bulb, I removed the metal cap and used a funnel to put some of the rainbow flakes inside.
Make snowflakes

Where the ornament was empty around the sides, I added snowflakes using thinned down Clean Canvas and the skinny liner brush. There are a couple different ways I like to do this. They don’t have to be perfect, because snowflakes are all different! You’ll see in the picture that I use my pinky to steady my brush as I paint.

I simply made a “+” sign with long tails, then went back and added a smaller “x” across it. At the ends of the “+,” I put tiny dots.
Little snowflakes

Create little asterisks with the white paint. Makes just the right shape and super easy.
I added some white dots as more, smaller snow by using the wrong end of the brush like I did for the eyes.
Add ribbon and hanger

Step 6 - Add ribbon and hanger.
Lastly, I added some ribbon and a wire hanger to the bulbs and they were ready to hang or give as gifts!

Fun, easy and a great way to use up that extra paint!
Suggested materials:
  • General Finishes Extender   (http://www.woodcraft.com/product/811243/general-finishes-water-based-finish-extender.aspx)
  • Black Dog Salvage Furniture Paint   (http://www.woodcraft.com/brands/5637185826/black-dog-salvage.aspx)
  • Aleene's Glitter Snow   (Pat Catan's)
See all materials
Lori Haught Harper
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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3 of 8 comments
  • Cathy R Cathy R on Jan 14, 2021

    Precious !!!

  • Mary Mary on Jan 08, 2023

    These are awesome! I'm thinking of starting now and making a set of them for all the kids and grandkids for next year. Thanks for the great idea!

    • Lori Haught Harper Lori Haught Harper on Jan 09, 2023

      Thank you, Mary! So glad you enjoyed the tutorial, and I know your kids and grands will love their ornaments!