Lichen is one of those things that often goes unnoticed and ignored, but when we slow down and look closely it reveals beauty, strength and perseverance. We had a big wind storm the other day and there were fragments of lichen all around the area, which inspired us to try and use them to create ornaments. We’ve become conscious of the amount of waste that Chrismas time can generate, so this was an idea which could be returned to nature once we‘re done with the holiday season so deer can can feed on them in the depth of the winter. Remember to remove the string once you release it back into nature.
These lichen ornaments require only three things and no glue or tape. They are environmentally friendly and were made from readily available materials.
You will need some cookie cutters, any shape or size, and some string - both of which you probably already have around the house. Lastly, you need some lichen, which you can find outside in nature. We are making these ornaments for Santa’s Reindeer because reindeer love lichen!
Go on a nature walk prior to making this craft and collect different kinds of lichen! They come in many different shapes or sizes depending on the species. Experiment with different kinds and see which ones work best. You will find many types of lichen in a forested area, often finding more of it growing at certain times of year, specifically spring and fall during rainy periods. Lichen grows best in clean air, low traffic zones and where it is humid. Lichen needs dampness to grow and reproduce. We often find it plentiful in deep, dark forested areas or in a forest near a stream or river.
Lichen - fruticose or foliose
Different shaped cookie cutters or a jar lid
We found that the best kind of lichen to use in this craft is a fruticose lichen.
You can find it hanging in trees. It’s often referred to as old man’s beard (Usnea longissima). Another similar kind is called witch‘s hair (Alectoria sarmentosa) lichen. These lichen are branch-like structures that look like coral. Foliose lichen will also work, if you use a large attached piece.
Step 1: Go on a nature walk and collect some lichen.
Did you know that Lichen is an indicator for air pollution? If you find a lot of it growing in one area, in means the air is clean and healthy! Breathe in the good air! We often find it in healthy, rich forests and old growth trails!
Step 2: Put some lichen into a cookie cutter so that it fills the cookie cutter about half way up, flatten with your hand and let it stay in the cookie cutter overnight, until it dries. You can place a piece of string through the top now, or after it dries.
Use an shape that you want! Stars and trees work great!
We used some secondhand cookie cutters that we had around the house and use for crafting. Metal or silicone cutters work well.
Step 3: After it dries, (which takes about 12-24 hours), remove the ornaments from the cookie cutters and add the string, if you still need to.
If you want, write a note to Rudolph and the other reindeers telling them about the edible ornaments that you placed onto the tree for them as a snack, you can also attach their name to the ornament.
Step 4: Hang it up on your tree, or around your house to decorate! They make lovely gifts with a card as well. Be creative - and have fun!