My son is turning 2 today! It's a bit bittersweet, since he is my last baby, though at the same time it's so much fun watching my two little ones grow and develop their own personalities, and how despite the fact that they both come from the same two people and are raised together in the same, loving home, they are so different! We as parents really don't have any control over that.
If you haven't heard of birthday rings, that's what they're pretty much all about - celebrating their individuality as the years go by. Granted, each family that uses one uses it however they wish for their family, but in ours, it's a reminder and celebration of the child's passions and interests, something that stood out in the previous year. Here's an example of two of the ornaments I have for my daughter (who's now 4, so there's actually 4 ornaments but this is what I had on hand at the moment). The fish was for her first year, because she loved having her pack 'n play or her high chair next to our fish tank, which is currently out of commission, and would watch the fish for hours on end. The second, a rainbow, was for her second year, because at around 16 months she learned all her colors and then spent the rest of the year pointing out all the colors in the world around her. Actually, she still does that.
So, every year, around the child's birthday, you decorate it with ornaments, some people add candles (we have not), and you tell a little story for each year. Don't you think that's such a wonderful and special way to celebrate the child's growth? That's what birthdays are all about to me, celebrating another year of growth and their presence in our lives.
The rings themselves can be purchased. You can get them in all sorts of configurations, some have 12 years, some have 16, possibly more, and you can get extra pieces that go inside so you could add on to it if you wish, or a candle holder for the center. My husband made this one for us, and at some point he'll likely make another one so that once the children grow up, they can take their rings and their ornaments with them. Here's a picture of how this ring got its start.
That being said, this isn't a tutorial on how to make a ring (though when he makes the second one, I may sneak in and take some photos to share with you), it's how to make the ornaments FOR the ring. Like the birthday rings themselves, you can purchase the ornaments as well, some of which are absolutely gorgeous, but you kindof depend on whatever they have in stock as being relative to your child's life. As a parent, I've learned that oftentimes that is not the case, which becomes quite apparent when my daughter asks me to find a coloring page online with race tracks, a Ferris wheel, a hot air balloon, a carousel and hello kitty all on the same page. Children are so incredibly unique, sometimes the thing that stands out the most in your child's life is not going to be something they stock.
I made the pegs in two different ways. The picture with my daughter's ornaments are actually a two-parter, the bottom being a spool that fits right in, and the top a wooden peg that fits inside that wooden spool, both which I found at Woodworks Ltd. In this tutorial I'm using a 1/2" dowel. You'll want to find the biggest dowel you have on hand that will fit in the holes in your ring, and cut it at about 2" or 2.5" tall. I think both options are great, the dowel works for thicker/larger felts, and the spool/peg base is great if you want a thinner object (such as the rainbow). If you're going to use polyurethane or some other varnish, make sure you do all of the gluing/varnishing first and check to see if it fits before attaching the felt.
First thing you're going to want to do is tightly wrap wool around it and poke it at a parallel angle to the dowel, being sure you don't hit the dowel with the needle. Continue wrapping/felting until it is the size/shape you want. I actually found that using this method, I did not need to use glue. I'm sure if my child got his hands on it he'd be able to pull it off, and then I'll glue it, but I don't like using glue when I'm still felting. When I use the spool/peg base, I like to create the felt first, then cut a hole big enough for the ball-tip of the peg, and that is attached with glue. I do felt around the bottom of the ball tip to give it a cleaner finish - it should pop right in.
Since I am making a musical note, I wrapped it in black and felted it down. Make sure there are no bald spots!
I used the end of a paintbrush to wrap the wool for the stem (you can use a skewer), and made sure to stab that all over so that it's nice and stiff and doesn't come undone. I did not need a wire since it's a short piece and not holding up any weight. I flat felted the little "flag" at the top and attached that to the stem. Time to attach it to the note!
Of course, I couldn't help myself and had to give it a cute little face!
I went on to create an alphabet tree for his second year (same method as above, except making the ball a bit larger and omitting the stem/flag), since due to a number of things all happening at once, we ended up leaving the birthday ring out of last year's celebrations. In essence, I'm catching up. That being said, if your child is a few years old, I don't think it's too late to start this tradition, if it's something you like! I maybe would say no to introducing it in the preteen/teen years, but who knows, maybe your child would enjoy it.