I almost let this month go by without sharing some of my seasonal creative projects. This time of year is particularly busy and rich with making. Several years ago, I committed to making ornaments and holiday cards for my family. And every year I have more ideas than I can possibly pursue within the time and budget constraints. Although I admit to getting more stressed than I would like, I actually really enjoy my tradition of a handmade holiday.
The card itself was simple this year – a family photo taken on our property by Else Kerkmann. I printed and mounted the photo onto heavyweight cardstock, trimmed the corners round, and punched holes so I could attach the ornament with ribbon. The ornament was made from polymer clay cut into an evergreen tree shape. Sage and juniper sprigs were pressed into the soft clay before baking and then also tied to the final gold metallic-glazed piece. My 7 yr old loved working with the polymer clay and so I helped her make some heart ornaments adorned with red ribbon and a bell for her teachers.
In addition to a holiday card and ornaments, I often make a few seasonal decor items. This year included an outdoor “Joy” sign made from sage and juniper twigs tied with copper floral wire, as well as indoor lights strung up to express the same sentiment. I also made a little “Tomten” (Scandinavian gnome) with a body handsewn from t-shirt scraps, a faux fur beard, and wet-felted wool hat and booties.
I hope your holiday is a joyous, handmade one.
As a maker, you would think that I never buy commercial Valentine cards. In a perfect world, I would make all holiday and event gifts, cards, and decor by hand. Now just imagine that. Not happening. I buy things like most everyone else, and for the same reasons. Time, resources, personal tastes, etc. So this year I bought Valentines with cute erasers for my 6yr old to give to her classmates. And then I felt guilty. How many cards are actually saved? What is the real lasting value? I bet all of these end up in the trash or recycle bin. In our home, we have amassed quite a collection of (unused) erasers and pencils from every holiday and birthday. Too much stuff.
So I returned the Valentines and erasers to the store, then sat down with my daughters to create special hand made hearts using supplies we already had at home.
The first is a transparent heart filled with glitter and iridescent paper hearts inscribed with sweet phrases. The plastic for the heart was cut from packaging for a bed linen set. We used a sewing machine to stitch the edge in pink thread, but handstitching would be extra special.
Next, we made a 3D heart ornament using a hot pink paper that we had collected from a recycling bin. Using a paper punch, we cut 14 hearts, folded them in half, and glued them together. We added the ribbon before gluing the final sides.
Finally we cut up an old, dark pink, wool sweater that we first felted by washing and drying hot. Felted wool can be cut without unraveling. We used a sewing machine to stitch around the edge with pink thread, filling the heart with polyester fill that we had saved from an old stuffed animal. “Love” was handstitched onto the heart with cream wool yarn.
I can never assume that these handmade Valentines will be saved or cherished any longer than a storebought one. But I’m OK with that since the resources we used were either on-hand, or upcycled. The real value is the experience of making them and giving them away. That is a lasting, joyful memory.
Winter has officially arrived with the first snowfall of the season. It has been a busy few months here on our new property. Observing the seasonal changes of this high desert landscape has been a favorite activity of mine. At least that is my excuse for not posting about all that I have been making recently. I do want to share it all, but I will spread it out so I don’t flood my otherwise quiet blog with too much noise.
The holiday season means a bevy of creativity in my studio. Decorating the house, organizing and filling the Advent calendar, creating a seasonal card, and making ornaments are just a few of the things on my to-do list.
This year, my card is a 3-dimensional construction – a little house. Photos (credit: Eji Eustaquio) adorn each surface of the house which was created using SketchUpPro. I printed the 3-dimensional box pattern on glossy photo paper, then used spray mount to glue it to heavy cardstock. Assembly involves cutting, folding, and gluing each of the boxes by hand, as well as adding a hanger ribbon. Mini candy canes are hidden inside; revealed by lifting the roof flap.
The ornament this year (shown as a prototype) is made from paper and felt; a small Himmeli gem made from rolled magazine paper, with an origami star above, and a felted wool ball and tassel below. The final version will likely use different colors of magazine paper for the Himmeli gem, and glossy or glittery origami paper for the star.
May you find inspiration for your own handmade holidays this season!
Creating handmade cards, ornaments, decor, and gifts for the holidays is an ambitious undertaking every year. I won’t lie. It is much easier to go out and buy everything – where the biggest challenge is just choosing (and maybe being able to afford those choices.)
This year, my holiday making took a back seat to an important project; my first time creating a major presentation as an architect in years. It was difficult to shift gears into a mode as a professional with a deadline and responsibilities to a boss and a client. I spent several days floundering and feeling overwhelmed with the task. Big thanks to my former business partner for talking me off the ledge and reminding me what a concept proposal actually looks like. And more thanks to my family for dealing with my moodiness and my obsessive detail-oriented work ethic as I muscled through and created a successful presentation. It feels good to be working as an architect again.
So here it is, nine days before Christmas. I am usually mailing off cards and gift boxes of ornaments and cookies about now. Instead, I am posting these photos; a willow wreath adorned with felted wood balls, red and silver bells, crystals, and a large silver bow; a Himelli geometric ornament made from rolled metallic origami paper; a holiday card with an origami crane floating in a circle window.
Dear family and friends, I hope to get enough made in time. But just know the thought is there, and the effort is ongoing. Love and happiness to everyone this season.
Handmade ornaments are my traditional yearly Christmas gift to family. This year I made ornaments inspired by ones that I made for my daughter’s school auction decor. I used gold ribbon, recycled event “Save the Date” cards, gold glitter cardstock, and acrylic crystals to create a simple dangle ornament. First, I threaded about 6″ of ribbon through the acrylic crystal, pulled the ends even, and tied a simple overhand knot at the ends. Using a 1″ diameter hole punch, I cut a bunch of circles out of the event cards and glitter cardstock. I folded each circle in half and then glued them together to create a sphere shape, alternating the glitter cardstock and the event cards. Before gluing the last folded circles together, I wrapped the sphere around the ribbon and then added extra glue to fix the sphere in place.