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Christmas silhouettes

This next holiday project was inspired by something I saw on the Nate Berkus show, in which a couple of DIYers each received a crate full of crafting supplies and had two days to completely decorate a room. When I saw the reindeer painting one of them made I really liked the simplicity of the red and white design, and I had to make one myself.

Here’s mine:

You can watch a video of the show here. (Can you imagine how much fun it would be to get one of those crates full of goodies?!) The reindeer painting is about 3/4 of the way through.

I referred to some photos of reindeer, then got out my sketchbook and drew one the size I wanted. (If you don’t want to draw your own, you can find an image you like and enlarge it on a photocopier.)

I painted a 12″ x 24″ stretched canvas with red acrylic paint. Instead of leaving it simply red and white, I decided to rub a little black gesso around the edges for a little added interest and texture. Then I transferred my drawing onto the canvas and painted the reindeer white. As a finishing touch I painted the edges of the canvas with metallic silver paint.

I had another canvas the same size, so I made a partridge too.

Together they add a pop of red and a hint of Christmas!

Retro Stocking

In our home, we are big fans of mid-century modern design. When it comes to Christmas, though, most of the decorations that are available are fairly traditional. I’ve kept an eye out the last couple of years for stockings that would fit our style, but have never found any, so this year I decided to make some.

Referring to these glasses (our prized set made up of eBay and second hand shop finds) for inspiration:

I cut two stocking-shaped pieces of grey felt, then some retro shapes from red and white felt, and sewed them on.

As a finishing touch I embroidered some atomic star shapes before sewing the front and back stocking pieces together.

Another one in red, with white and gray shapes, and we have a pretty cool pair of midcentury stockings!

This post is linked to Today’s CreativeMade by You Monday and the DIY Show-off

Hanging paper ornaments

Next in my series of inexpensive Christmas decorations… these paper ornaments.

I loved the shape of these when I came across a photo of them the other day… they have a midcentury feel to them, don’t you think? There are many images and tutorials online for these… here’s one at Design Sponge.

I had some red and turquoise paper, but wanted to add some shine. I couldn’t find any silver paper like the image I had in my head, but I did find a large bow at Michael’s made of flexible plastic, with one side completely covered in silver glitter. I took it apart, cut it into strips, and it worked perfectly…. aside from the fact that there was glitter everywhere! (as a good friend of mine always says, “glitter is NOT our friend!”) I don’t usually use glitter, but every now and then you just need a little sparkle.

I cut strips of paper 1″ wide, then cut the centre strip to the height I wanted the ornament to be. Cut the next two strips in a different colour, approximately 2″ longer than the first, and the last two (outside) strips about 2″ longer than those. I didn’t measure, though. Line up the ends and staple together, then line up the other ends – letting the outer strips curve into shape – and staple.

A cluster of them hung above our dining table was a festive addition for our Christmas party last weekend. You really can’t get much simpler or cheaper, but they are actually rather effective. Some of our guests remembered making these when they were kids and found them quite nostalgic!

Magazine Trees

Christmas is coming! Are you creating any homemade decorations this year? I am, mostly from paper or things I already had around the house. First up: some cute Christmas trees made from magazines. The instructions are on Martha Stewart’s web site.

Instead of recycling those old magazines, upcycle a few into Christmas trees! These are so easy, kids could make them… but I like their simplicity. I made one from a magazine and two from an old paperback book.

The instructions in Martha’s video say to do the first fold on every page, then the second fold on every page, etc. Instead, I did all three folds on each page, as I went. This way, when you get to the third fold where you’re tucking the corner under, you can make a crease by pressing it against the pages below, which makes it easier to get a clean fold and it’s much less fussy.

Also, the instructions say to use spray adhesive for attaching glitter to the trees. If you don’t have spray adhesive, a glue stick will work too. Just hold the folded edges together, and lightly run a gluestick along them. Then open out the tree again, place it on a plate or sheet of newspaper and sprinkle with glitter.

I found a package of silver stars from IKEA in a kitchen drawer (meant for decorating the stem of a wineglass) so I attached one to the top of each tree. Such a simple craft, but you know…. they look quite pretty lined up on our bookcase, with soft Christmas lights catching the silver sparkle.

The last and the first

Happy new year!

My last project of 2009…. tiny sweater Christmas ornaments. I had hoped to make more so I could mail some to far away friends, but didn’t get them done in time (maybe next year!)  In the end I did make about enough that I was able to give some to local friends and family, as well as keep a few for our own Christmas tree.

Each sweater took two hours or less to make, depending on the yarn ( I used this pattern from Heartstrings Fiberarts).  After the first one or two I had the pattern memorized, and it was fun to experiment with different yarns.

I really like the rustic look of Noro Silk Garden, but it was slightly tricky to work with on such a small scale, the ones made from sock yarn went up much faster. I made hangers by bending wire with round-tipped pliers.

My first project of 2010 is something for me…. a friend gave me the most lovely pattern by Connie Chang Chinchio – the Cayuga mitten and hat set.  I had already admired them on Ravelry, so she was very clever to buy this pattern for me (I don’t think I mentioned it…)  I’m using one of my favourite yarns, Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk Aran, in a scrumptious, slightly turquoise, French blue sort of colour (which is difficult to photograph accurately).

Here’s the band with its vine and berries, blocking in preparation for picking up stitches to carry on with the rest of the hat…. I’m excited to see how this will turn out!