Sunday, November 28, 2010

Handmade Holiday Ideas

In the spirit of handmade holidays, I thought I'd share some of the things we have made for our kids over the past few years. Most of them are super easy and quick to make:

Rubber Band Board. It doesn't get an easier—nails, a piece of wood, and a bunch of rubber bands. May I suggest getting a bit more creative than we did, and painting the wood before banging in the nails? Your kids will get all kinds of artsy with this.

The ubiquitous puppet show theater. I made this about four years ago and the girls still play with it. I totally winged this, as I have no sewing abilities whatsoever, and it has still not fallen apart. A tension rod, a couple of dowels, and bunch of fabric. Voila!

Amigurumi Star Wars figures—an easy home run. The crocheted characters went pretty quickly, but this project has the added tasks of sewing the hair and clothes for them. Well worth it.

We have given personalized plate/mug sets to many kids for many occasions. I found a box of plain white plates/mug sets at a thrift store and painted them to the child's preference, but the picture above shows the ones the girls painted themselves. You could gift a set that you have painted especially for someone, or give them some plain tableware and a set of special paint to go with it, as a u-paint-it kit. (note: the paint is non-toxic, permanent, and dishwasher safe.)

How about home-made snuggies for all your kids' favorite stuffed animals? I made these for a birthday gift last year and they were a hit. As an added bonus, you will crack up every time you see them.

Hope you can take a few ideas away from this post. Happy making!

I'll gladly answer any questions you have about any of these projects. Just leave it in the comments. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

23 Projects in 32 Days

Seems all I have completed so far is the list. The rest will happen, I suppose, by December 25th. Hmm.

I'm choosing to ignore the fact that it also happens to be the busy season, jewelry-wise. Double hmm.

(deep breaths...)

It's List-it Tuesday

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Artful Stones

When I read GardenMama's blog post announcing an artful stone swap, I believe my response was, "I'm In! I'm In!" She asked us to specify what medium we would be using with our stone and, of course, I said silver. At the time I had no idea what, exactly, I would be doing or how I would be doing it, but the thought of shiny silver wire on rough, muted stone had me giddy (as only a "metals" nerd like myself could be).   

I started with stones we had collected over the summer. Some came from rocky beaches along Boston Harbor, others from the south coast of Cape Cod. 

Because this swap was in memory of a friend of GardenMama's, she asked the participants to include a positive word on each stone. I knew for certain I would be using the word try on some of the stones. Angela at Peach Coglo, had recently written about the word try, and it really struck me. It's so simple and obvious—a challenge or a nudge. Encouragement or belief. A tiny reminder to give it a go.

The words feel,  live, and enjoy decorated the other stones. 

I sent my five stones on their way to my swap partners and waited for mine in return. For the next few days, getting the mail was an exciting endeavor. (It was!) I'll show you the treasures I received in return soon.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Craft Show Hangover

Whew. Another show over and done with. I did the fabulous hand-made artisan show, Craftopia, yesterday and oh, how I love these events. It's like going to a party, that lasts from early in the morning until dinner time, where I see old friends that I only see at these shows. We catch up, share experiences, and commiserate about all things craft.

Look what I saw:

That shirt says, "I went to a craft show and all I got was this lousy, hand dyed, organic, independently designed, hand silk screened t-shirt." Does it get any more clever than that? (awesomeness by HeatherJeanie)

And look what I got:

This delightful stained-glass bunting by Dasken Designs. The best part? We did a trade. Uh, huh that's right.
(The cloudy sky is not doing it justice, but in the sunshine it is spectacular.)

Look what I drooled over:

The whimsical illustrations of SepiaLepus

And look who was my neighbor:

I got to adore the little shirts and plushies by Hilary all day long.

I leave the shows feeling equally inspired and tired. Sometimes I'm frustrated, other times there's a spring in my step. With each show I cross off the list, I breathe a little easier and feel a little lighter—but only until I set my sights to the next one. At this time of year, there's no lag between obligations until mid-December, so it's on to the next one I go!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Nana's Portfolio

The special piece I mentioned in my previous post about handmade books is a portfolio of my grandmother's artwork. When she passed away, we cleaned out her apartment and found her portfolio stashed away in the back of a closet. It was full of pieces she had completed when she studied fashion in art school in the early 1930s.

I was smitten, and touched, and amazed by every one of them. Each piece had visible brush strokes and pencil marks made by the hand of my grandmother. Her name was carefully lettered at the top of each page, and some even had grades scribbled on the bottom—A+, of course. Go Nana! 

These papers were big. They measured 14"x20" so, though I marveled at them for a while, they eventually ended up stashed in a closet once again . Last year I decided these pieces of family history needed to be liberated, and I had the idea to make mini portfolios. I scanned the art (and tiled and scanned some more), and shrunk the images to fit in small books. I made three of them and gave one each to my father, my aunt, and my sister.

I'm kicking myself for not making one for my own family at the time but I will make one someday, so that my girls can flip through and see their great-grandmother's art whenever they please.

Her pictures are glamorous and sleek, with a graphic quality that is so very reflective of that time.

I have always been curious to know what, exactly, the assignments were. Check out this sailor pattern. Looks like a textile pattern to me, and I am tempted to put an order in with Spoonflower. Imagine custom fabric arriving at my doorstep, designed by my very own Nana, some 70 years ago? 
Oh, the possibilities...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Handmade Books

It's interesting, how I came to learn how to make books. I was taking an oil painting class for fun when I found out I was pregnant with my first babe. I withdrew from the class, in a effort to not cause birth defects to the baby-to-be, but the school, not thrilled about giving me a refund for the class, suggested I pick a different class instead. I chose bookmaking because it was the only one that worked with my schedule. To my surprise, I loved every minute of it.

Over the years, my bookmaking phases have come and gone, but whenever I do get up the gumption to make a few, they are always for giving. They make such great gifts because they are easily customized to the age/gender/preferences of the recipient. This year, I am making a bunch of small sketch books for the kids on my holiday list (like the green and brown book). There may be a few for the grownups, too, because I love that floral paper and have the urge to use it. It makes me think of Florence, though I have never been there.

Last year, I made a few as gifts (pictured below). One was bound full of musical notation paper for "A," the other is a very precious portfolio of artwork worth sharing in its own post (coming soon)

I had originally planned on doing a handmade book tutorial, but after remembering just how many steps are involved, I decided otherwise. Here are a few links for you instead:
Make your own Moleskine-like book
Make your own journal
Bind with a Japanese binding (which is pictured in the books I made)
How to make a sketch book
A great list of resources (books and online) here 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

List It Tuesday

I've been meaning to do this for a few weeks now, but Tuesdays keep sneaking up on me. Aimee over at Artsyville is hosting a "List It Tuesday," where once a week she's posting a list of...anything, and we're invited to join in.

I guess I was a little grumpy this morning.