O Tannenbaum! The HMNS halls are officially decked — see it in pictures!

They’re here! The trees have arrived, and they look absolutely fabulous!

The decorators arrived at 9 a.m. Friday morning and began to gussy up the trees amid carolers, cookies and kids — lots and lots of kids. What is just out of the frame of the picture below is the 1,500 kids that arrived on field trips while the decorating was underway. All in all, a busy morning at HMNS!

HMNS Holiday Trees 2012We hope you can come in to see the trees in person, but in the meantime, here are a couple of my favorites:

Oh, The Webs We Weave

I like bugs, so I was immediately drawn to the spider webs on this tree.  The story next to the tree explains why the spider is associated with a traditional Ukrainian Christmas.

HMNS Holiday Trees 2012

Every Critter Under the Sun

This next tree was decorated by the Museum’s volunteer guild, which is also responsible for organizing the holiday tree project. I love the colors, and most of all I love the fact that nearly every known critter is represented on the tree!  Where else can you find a Christmas tree with crayfish and coelacanths, I ask?

HMNS Holiday Trees 2012

Shell We Celebrate?

The Houston Conchology Society always has a beautiful tree, and this year is no exception! Each of the letters and snowflakes are covered in tiny shells like those used in sailor’s valentines.

HMNS Holiday Trees 2012And, drum roll please . . . the tree you may (or may not) have been waiting for . . .

Let’s Get Chemical

HMNS Holiday Trees 2012If you look carefully at our chemistry tree, you can just make out the “H P P Y Ho Li Dy S” banner made up of element symbols for Hydrogen, Phosphorus, Yttrium Holmium, Lithium, Dysprosium and Sulfur.

If you have no idea what Holmium is or what Yttrium can be used for, you should check out the Welch Chemistry Hall. Can’t make it in? Learn how to make these fun chemistry crafts here or check out some fun chemistry kits at the Museum Store — now online just in time for the holidays.

HOW TO: Marvelous Marbled Ornaments

 Materials needed

Materials:
Cheap shaving cream – we use Barbasol
Liquid watercolors (available at art supply stores)
Pencil
Cookie sheet
Shapes cut out of cardstock (heavy paper)
Ribbon
Popsicle stick (note cards will work too)





We decided to use three different colors

What to do:

1. Cut different shapes out of cardstock (we cut out a dinosaur!)

2. Dispense about an inch of shaving cream onto the cookie sheet about the approximate size of the shape you cut out.

3. Put drops of liquid watercolors directly on top of the shaving cream.  Two colors works well, but use three at the most.

4. Use a sharpened pencil to swirl the colors together very gently (use the sharpened tip of the pencil).  Do not push down into the shaving cream too far.  Swirl the paint on top until you have a nice marbled look.  Don’t swirl for too long or you will get brown!

5. Put your cutout on top of the shaving cream and press so it comes in complete contact with the color.

6. Peel the cutout off.  It will appear to be a mess of shaving cream and color until you do the next step.

7. Lay the cut out down and use the Popsicle stick to scrape the shaving cream off the paper.  You will be left with a marvelous marbled masterpiece. 8. Let it dry, punch a hole, tie a ribbon, and hang it on your tree!

 Swirl it all together!

 Scraping away

What’s going on here anyway?
Shaving cream has a hydrophilic head and a hydrophobictail.  What in the world does that mean?  Well, the water-based watercolors are attracted to the water-loving (hydrophilic) head (top of the shaving cream pile) and repelled by the hydrophobic (water-hating) tail (bottom of the shaving cream pile).  This limits the motion of the watercolors and suspends them on the top of the shaving cream.  When you then place your paper on the shaving cream the absorbent paper captures the watercolor image that is suspended on the top of the shaving cream.

 The final product!