Monday, 31 December 2012

Christmas Gift Crafting

I'm just back from Canada and fighting jet lag - I think it's much harder in the winter when these dark grey days make staying in bed seem like a great idea!  But I had a really lovely Christmas with my brothers and sisters and their families - and a few jet lagged days is a small price to pay.

This year I wanted to make most of my presents - and I'm happy to say I was pretty successful.  Of course, me being me, despite starting well in advance I still ended up doing finishing touches on Christmas Eve!  But the gifts were all well received and definitely worth the effort.


For each of my brothers and sisters I made one of these family cushions (I put cushions in before I gave them!) - and I was so pleased with how they turned out.  

I designed the name collage in the Cricut Craft Room and then cut it out in Silhouette heat transfer flocking.  

I was pretty excited when I discovered this stuff - as until then I had no idea how I was going to use the collage!  The flocking is on a transfer sheet, so as long as you remember to flip your image before cutting the rest is reasonably straight forward.  

I ironed the flocking on to the felt (this took longer than I thought it would!), sewed up the seams and then finished the cushions with large co-ordinating buttons.


My niece Sarah and her boyfriend Ryan  have just bought their first home so I designed and decorated this frame for them. (Freddy is the cutest dog in the world!) 

I started with a plain frame that I painted a lovely shade of blue.  I cut the words out in vinyl - again using Cricut Craft Room for the design work...

and then stuck them on to the frame.

I painted the front of the frame (covering the vinyl) with a pale mushroom colour and then used a stencil to add the blue and pink dots. I finished it off by stencilling on a few flowers in gold.  (The paints I used were Eco Green Paints which come in beautiful colours.  They are my favourite acrylic paints at the moment!)

When the paint was dry I carefully removed the vinyl exposing the dark blue paint underneath.

For my niece Dylann I made a scrapbook page in Craft Artist using a photo of her and my father which has always been one of my favourites.  To me it looks like he's a 1930's con man, and she's a little lost orphan who has attached herself to him -- in a film you know by the final scene she'd have won his heart forever.

I used the same technique I used for Sarah's frame to decorate this one.  

This final (non-knitted!) gift was for my best friend and her family -- who have been building gingerbread houses with me for 21 years. I made the scrapbook page in Craft Artist and printed it on photo paper.

I painted the frame gold, and then added the vinyl lettering (once again, designed and cut from the Cricut Craft Room).  I added six (six!) layers of ultra-thick embossing powder.  I stamped into the final layer while it was still hot and then added a thin layer of crafty notions gleam - because I love the stuff!

 I also knit up some gifts - but I'll post about those on my knitting blog another day!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Gingerbread 2012

Somehow 2012 is coming to a close -- what an amazing year it has been!  Of course every year for the past 21 years we've marked the beginning of Christmas with the gingerbread construction and this year was no different.

After last year's Who-ville masterpiece  I was feeling a bit of pressure when it came to picking a theme.  There was a lot of interest in an Olympics gingerbread display but I thought that recreating the stadium might be tricky(!) and I really, really like snow on my gingerbread house.  So I vetoed that and decided to go for the snowiest place I could think of - Santa's workshop.

The Coopers (Pat, Caroline and the 4 minis - Gen, Suzy, Mads and Louis) arrived late Sunday morning a week ago and we set to work planning the general layout.  They embraced the theme and quickly decided we needed elves on the inside of the house at work, and a conveyor belt bringing the presents from inside the house out to Santa's sleigh.  

From there we were off!

I really love the help wanted sign - although clearly UK employment law would never permit the bit in parenthesis.  Apparently employment lawyers have not yet hit the North Pole.

 The elves are hard at work inside the workshop, warmed by the roaring fire (Mads made that) ....

...preparing presents to send out to the sleigh through the conveyor belt door.

(These photos were taken before we put the roof on.)

Outside of the workshop, Gen added a solitary elf is ice fishing (even elves gotta eat, although I don't think Santa got that figure from a fish diet)....

... and behind the elf you can see the conveyor belt is full of presents ready for loading into the sleigh.  

I hadn't noticed while we were building the house but only the sack of coal has actually made it into the sleigh.  I'm not sure what the meaning behind that is - perhaps there is a mini Cooper worried about what list they're on!!

Suzy created this great Santa and Rudolph, and the sleigh was a joint effort by Pat and Louis.

Of course, where you have reindeer, you have a reindeer feeding station, and reindeer - errrr - droppings.  

Our gingerbread creations are nothing if not sophisticated!

Although I vetoed the idea of an Olympics theme, I did suggest that a 'nod' to the Olympics would be ok.  And from this little display I think it's clear that Santa was a bit of a team GB supporter!  I think that explains their phenomenal performance!!

Tom Daley apparently trains at the North Pole (why not?).  Here he's at the top of the diving platform waving to his adoring audience (the little green elf).  

...and a pair of swimming trunks are floating in the pool - lost by some poor diver who we can only assume is in hiding while he looks for something to wear.

A bird bath, some trees and a lumpy but adorable snowman (Caroline's annual addition) finished the exterior.

The mini-Coopers are pretty grown up now - Louis is the youngest at 10 3/4 years old.  They are all quite expert in the art of building with sweets and their creativity amazes me.  But adult or 10 3/4, we all enjoy watching the Grinch (animated version) and Charlie Brown's Christmas while the roof sets on the house.
For those of you who wonder what happens to the gingerbread house - well, the following Sunday afternoon  the Coopers have a Christmas party.  While the adults enjoy minced pies and some mulled wine the children stare longingly at the house until towards the end of the party when they are gathered into the playroom, the house is placed in front of them and they are allowed to tuck in.  This year the demolition took about 4 seconds.   

Thanks to anyone who is still out there and made it through this crazy long post!  Wishing you all the best for the holiday season!!!