Crafted Giving

This year, during the gifting season of Hannukah and Christmas, I wanted to give all, or mostly all, handmade items. I was largely able to meet my goal; the gifts were definitely a reflection of the creative journey I took in 2019, focusing on re-purposing and re-using found items, particularly paper. I’ve already talked about re-using the paper backing of sanitary pads for my cranes. Oddly enough, cranes only played a minor role in my gift giving though. I spent a lot of time playing with old books — folding pages of books found at thrift stores and tearing apart a give away old dictionary. The piece that took the longest is pictured above — a piece of abstract artwork a gave to my son. The four books are folded in a very simple geometric pattern. In the center is a bouquet of origami butterflies. Hidden in the pages of the books are some vintage pressed butterflies that I found for $2 at a consignment store. Fortunately, my son loved his artwork.

My sister, who celebrates Christmas, received this tree made of paper roses from the old dictionary I found at work. I originally was going to make a set of three trees of different sizes. But the roses took way longer to make then I realized ’cause I had to let the glue dry overnight. And they were glued twice. So, she got one tree . . . Sorry, Jen!

Several gifts were traveled-inspired, as I spent so much time on the road this year. The watercolor looking picture is actually a photograph I took from Signal Hill, hiking around St John’s (Newfoundland) one evening after work. I used the Waterlogue app on my phone to convert the photo to the image above. I liked it so much that I then used Snapfish to print a copy on canvas for my husband and additional copies printed on foam core for my Dad and my daughter.

The gift pictured on the right is another quirky re-use of ‘found’ materials. I take the ‘do not disturb signs’ from every hotel room I stay in. I guess that qualifies as ‘found,’ doesn’t it? The new, different ones get hung on a frame outside my bedroom door in a not so subtle attempt to discourage the kids from coming in (no, it doesn’t work — my stepdaughter didn’t realize they were ‘do not disturb’ signs for a year). Anyway, with lots of duplicates and extras, I created this collage for my older daughter . . . She’s a grad student with a wicked dry sense of humor and I thought she might hang it outside her office.

I did revert to some of my old favorite crafts. The crocheted blanket was a gift for my 4 year old grandson. Once upon a time (before he was born), I had started another afghan for him — the small blue squares — but that one never got finished. I had chunky yarn left over from an afghan I made for Andrew’s Mom and from an afghan I made for my youngest daughter. So I used the leftover yarn and the leftover squares to create something new and soft and snuggly. All while tutoring my oldest son in Algebra. This afghan represents Thomas’ final exam. By the way, he got a C in the class, which was, in my opinion, a triumph!

The gift, pictured on the right above, required me to learn how to use my new sewing machine — definitely slowed me down. I lost three sewing machines in Hurricane Harvey. My children gifted me with a new one for my birthday this past year. With all the traveling, I hadn’t had time to open it up. But Thomas, bless his heart, had bought a boy’s size small Dungeons and Dragons themed tshirt as a momento when his favorite card shop went out of business. Thomas is 6′ 7″ and weighs closer to 300 lbs than 200 lbs. He was not to going to wear this t-shirt. He entrusted me with his shirt and it needed to be turned into a throw pillow for his bed. So, I learned how to use the sewing machine. It was so liberating to be able to sew again!

Cranes did figure in my gift-giving in one small way. I decided that one evening, for Hannukah, everyone would get a gift of homemade peanut butter fudge (Thanks to Leslie @my100yearoldhome for the recipe). I packaged a few pieces for each person in a chinese-style take out box and glued a small sliver crane on each one. It’s the closest I come to a ‘Martha Stewart’ moment . . . unfortunately, the little boxes aren’t all that photogenic. When I posted this photo on Instagram, someone thought they were bugs. Which, when I look at it, I totally get. They do look like bugs.

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