These are so simple to make, but look awesome on the tree. You can completely customize them to your own style, personality, whatever. I personalize them by painting a child's name on the back, or adding other special text, and give them as gifts, or just plain choose what images *I* want on my tree. The beauty of them is you can design them how *you* want.
Ornament blank, either premade, out of paper mache, which already have a loop added; or those wooden shapes that come as is.
Thread/thin string for hanging, if using the wooden blanks
Paint: neutral base and a rich gold (or whatever suits you to border)
Image of your choice (do not use inkjet images from a home printer..they are waterbase, and will smear and bleed, ruining everything. I took images I already owned, and ran them through the color copier at the local printer)
Contrast image, pretty paper, text from a Christmas/greeting card, whatever, for the back
Waterbase varnish and white glue (Technical note: for this tut, I used Mod Podge, which I am not very experienced with. After doing two of them, though, I was really disappointed in the homemade results from it, and went back to my preferred way of doing them, which is the white glue and waterbase varnish.)
Optional: Very small drill bit, and possibly a manual handle to go with it
Paint the blank in your neutral color.
Center over the image, and trace a circle around it. I do this by holding the picture up to the light, and moving the ornament around behind the paper til it looks right, and then laying down and tracing from the back..I find this the easiest way for me. Cut out the circle. (You can do this before or after painting, doesn't matter.) Lay over your circle, and make sure the edges are completely flush, and won't be sticking out, or hanging over.
For the back, cut out another circle, either of another image you want, or a nice, decorative coordinating paper; another idea I have done is use previous Christmas cards to cut out appropriate text, usually in the pretty fonts they use; or else, just hand paint something, like your kid's name, over the previously painted base.
Spread a thin layer of the white glue, evenly over one side of the ornament. You don't want it *too* thick, or it will warp and bubble the paper. Make sure it goes right to the edges, though you want to avoid getting it on the sides, if possible.
Carefully apply the image onto the surface of the glue, and smooth down, wiping any air bubbles to the edge. Run your finger around the very edge, to press down the edge and keep it from sticking out. Dab a tiny bit of glue into cracks with a toothpick if necessary.
Repeat with other side. Let both sides dry completely, so you are not sealing moisture into the ornament, and setting up a disaster waiting to happen.
Paint carefully all around the edge, with your gold or contrast paint. You can keep it strictly on the edge, or you can run it down into a small border around the image, like I have done.
At this point, if you are using the wooden blanks, you will verrrrryyy carrrrrefulllly twist the point of the drill bit into the edge..
..until you have a small hole in the side, about 1/8-1/4 inch down. It's really simple to do this, and pretty quick.
Make a knot in your thread/string, and push it into the hole you just drilled, and fill it with glue. Make sure you pop any air bubbles, and let it dry completely. This method is strong enough to handle average tree-hanging use. It's not, however, strong enough to handle tropical storm winds blowing in at it all night long. Ask me how I know. :p
Brush varnish on one side, let dry, repeat on other side, and the edges, and let dry. Sometimes, at this poinr, I like to tint the varnish with a teeny smidge of brown acrylic paint, and dab it on in a mottled way, giving it an aged patina. Repeat with a second coat of clear varnish. (Note: this pic is the modpodge I used while making the tut...waterbase varnish is generally clear. )
Done!! :D Hang on your tree, and love it for years to come. :p