Saturday, January 1, 2011

Homemade Holidays

Now that we just finished my family's Christmas celebration, it is safe for me to share all of the homemade gifts I gave this year without fear of spoiling any surprises!  I know this may be too little too late, for those of you who were looking for ideas to give this year...but if you like to make stuff, you may want to tuck this one away for next year!  (Or start now...why not?!)

First, a little background...spending 7 months trying to sell our house was incredibly stressful for me, and when I am under unusual amounts of stress, I have found that I turn into an uncontrollable art and design monster.  (Hand felting was one of my favorite new pastimes that came from those 7 months, due to the therapeutic benefits of repeatedly stabbing something with a barbed needle!)  The last time I had a big upset in my life, I started my business Junk Mail Gems, took on a 2 year volunteer role as the chair of the IDSA Minnesota chapter, left my corporate job and started a design firm with two partners.  So, as you can see, I try to channel my negative energy into something positive which is very healing AND rewarding in the end.  Anyway, during these past 7 months of house selling (or lack thereof) I tried to channel this unquenchable creative desire into making something useful: Christmas gifts!  And there you have it.

This first one sounds really ridiculous but looks cool, so I'm glad I tried it.  It really was an experiment that came out pretty sweet. If you have little kids who love Play-Doh like I do, you may recognize the little colored bits in this pendant as being those tiny pieces of dried up Play-Doh that get stuck in the perforated plastic heads of those barber shop guys. Yup, I was just nutty enough to see an art project in these little dried up Play-Doh scraps.  I filled a silicone mini muffin pan with the Play-Doh bits, poured in some resin, and out popped a cool, shiny disc.  I bent a loop with some jewelry wire, glued it to the back, attached a cord, and gave one to my sister.  Oh, and I have one in my jewelry box now too.  It's definitely a conversation piece!

This is NOT something that I made, but something that I bought from my dad to give to all of my in-laws.  My dad keeps bees and makes beautiful honey, and this year he sold quite a few jars to people thanks to my mom's email and Facebook marketing! He has his own labels and everything. 

I made some recycled record bowls for my sister and sisters-in-law, as well as my Grandma.   They really are not tough to make.  I picked up some records at the thrift store, and besides that, all you need are some mixing bowls.  I started with this video online.  I did have a little trial and error and in the end figured out that I get a lot more space inside the bowl to hold things, if I form the record between TWO bowls.  So, basically I set a record on an inverted bowl and put it in the oven just like the video shows, but then instead of smooshing it inside a bowl, I forced a slightly larger bowl over the top, sandwiching the record between two bowls, forming it from the inside AND outside.  They are very fun and quick to make and sure make a fun gift for a music lover! I have step by step pictures and will try to share that in the future.

In my needle felting frenzy I ended up with several things started and not quite finished yet, but I did manage to finish a few gift items. Above is a little felted cactus that I made for my mother-in-law who lives in Arizona.  I got one of those teeny tiny little clay pots for him to sit in.  The internal "structure" is made from some rolled up scraps of wool sweaters that I felted, and then I needle felted the pieces together and all of the colors on the surface.  I think he turned out pretty cute!

 I made needle felted pins for my Grandma (the daisy, as her middle name is Daisy), and for my mom (the paint palette, since she's an amazing artist).  They were some of my very early experiments with needle felting, and I have tons of pin backs for my Junk Mail Gems pins, so turned them into pins!  Come to think of it, they would have made great magnets as well, because they are so light weight.

 Next up are some sets of necklaces and earrings that I made for my mom and sister.  I hand made these little beads that look like Christmas cookies that my mom makes every year, out of Sculpey clay.  These were a lot of fun.  I sat down one night and baked up dozens of miniature cookies in my oven and later strung them into necklaces.
 Of course, it made way more little cookie beads than I think I'll ever be able to use, although I ended up making one for myself too, but they were really fun!  I also made a few magnets for my frig that were a little larger while I was at it.

I'm always looking for fun ways to preserve my kids' artwork, and have been continuously scanning and photographing Sammy's art as he does it, so that I have digital copies.  This year I made Sammy's own art calendar for each of his grandparents.  Each month showcases another work of art created by Sammy.  I included a page with his recycled magazine collage, as well as his nature collage.  Some months have a small photo in the corner of him actually making the art.  This works great for 3D art too...I set up all of his little painted wooden models and took a photo for one month as well!  This would be a fun way to preserve your kids' art, catalog it by year, and share it with others.

 This particular piece of Sammy art was called "Water and a Boat."  Since Sammy was drawing Grandpa's boat when he did this, I had it printed on a cap for Grandpa to wear.  (with a title along the bottom, just in case the average art aficionado couldn't tell it was water and a boat!)

I remembered my grandma mentioning on the phone to me recently that it's so hard to even find pretty stationery anymore in the stores, because people are doing so much email these days.  So, of course, the light turned on in my head.  I had some personalized stationery printed using another scanned piece of Sammy's artwork, along with a sheet of address labels and a pen with her name on it.  It turned out really cool!

 Also for my grandma, I made this Scrabble serving tray.  You may remember this from a previous post.  My favorite parts are the handles made from the wood trays! ;-)

 This one I made for my sister-in-law, who plays piano and is an elementary school music teacher.  I found some old sheet music (there are boxes and boxes at the thrift store) and decoupaged the tray.  I sprinkled a tiny bit of glitter in the varnish and then poured some clear resin over the top.  I also gave her an old magazine, maybe from the 20's or 30's, published for was another thrift store find that I found really fun to read and thought she might as well!  I particularly loved all of the ads offering vacation packages and other side jobs to give teachers an escape from their crazy classrooms! ;-)

This is a wine bottle carrying case that I made for my dad, who happens to make his own wine.  The fun part about it is not just that it is made from recycled wool, but that this plaid wool came from an old pair of hunting pants that HIS dad (my grandpa) used to wear, which were passed down.  When my dad found out that I was felting old wool sweaters from thrift stores to make stuff, he gave me these hunting pants to turn into whatever I wanted.  They were getting pretty worn, but I still found them to be special since they were Grandpa's pants.  My grandpa made wine too, so I thought he too would approve of this fun way to repurpose his pants!  The metal eyelets and the lace were actually part of the pants...the bottoms, on each ankle, had laces.  I thought this was the most interesting part of the pants so I utilized that piece.  I would like to make him a couple more, but between my need to utilize my seam ripper more than 4 times, and my sewing machine needle breaking, I was uttering too many bad words to continue.  I think I'll take a step back and make more in the future!

There were a couple other gifts that I gave made from felted wool sweaters that I can't seem to find photos of...a stack of felt coasters for my sister, and some stacking baby blocks for my nephew.  I'll post 'em if I find the pics!

I received some other great homemade gifts as well, which I hope to share here soon...I hope this helps to inspire you to make some fun things for next year!  (or for other birthdays and holidays in 2011!)

1 comment:

  1. Gretchen -- you certainly inspire me although I wouldn't even know where to begin. I love reading about all of the homemade and very thoughtful gifts. I'm a huge proponent of putting thoughts into a gift instead of just handing over your average gift card. You are an amazing artist.



Related Posts with Thumbnails