Gifts of Christmas Past

I feel so lucky to belong to 2 different art groups – both with very generous, supportive artists that I can call my friends. The ages, life experiences and skill levels of these women vary greatly but we enjoy getting together once a month to show what we are working on, fulfill a challenge or learn a new craft.  There are times where all we do is laugh and talk and eat. We’ve helped each other through sickness and health, happy and sad times. I’ve learned so much from them and they have helped me in my quest to become a better artist.

Every Christmas we have a gift exchange. The main rule is that it must be handmade. I have been able to dig up photos of almost all the gifts that I have made for the various members over the years; so I thought that it would be fun to reminisce about them in today’s post.

img_20161215_092846.jpgThis year’s Christmas gift to Beth was a paper cut shadow box. I had never made one before but studied pictures and You Tube postings and it worked out pretty well. My only problem was not planning enough space so I wasn’t able to light the display from behind and make it into a lightbox as well. Beth loves vintage campers so I added a bit of color on the cutout camper, along with some stickle icicles and a wreath on the door. Even without the back lighting, I think it turned out well.

img_20151208_121659.jpgI made an earlier version of a diorama 2 years earlier for Cathwren, using plaster bandage wrap to cover a handmade box and to clump along the bottom of the box to create snow. I added a miniature fence, wreath, tree and cardinal into the scene, as well as some snowflakes and a label with a seasonal sentiment. I did a little distressing, added a little blue acrylic paint and glued on metal feet so it could stand.





Lynn received a set of matchbox ornaments that I had a lot of fun making. I found some plain white matchboxes at Hobby Lobby, then carefully took the lid apart so to punch a hole in the cover. I glued it back together and got the glitter treatment on the outside. Old, vintage christmas cards, were miniturized and glued inside as part of the background. Then the main figures were  cut out again,  and glued with pop up glue dots to give them dimension. Some of the cards didn’t have enough background to cover the whole inside so I added Christmas washi tape instead. A little thread loop at the top and some danglies at the bottom and they were ready for wrapping.



I had a difficult time trying to decide what to make for Rhea’s gift. Like most of my art friends,  Rhea dabbles in a lot of different crafts but she seems to have a real flair with assemblage. I decided to make some fancy paper feathers using a heavy white scrap paper printed with white designs. White on white… A few of them got the glitter treatment to make them even fancier. I figured that she could use them in one of her assemblage pieces. They turned out better that I expected;  the white on white look was very classy and elegant.


Chris received a wreath from me; simply made from a wreath form, old book pages, some strong tea and a hot glue gun. I cut the leaf shapes free-handed (no pattern), soaked them in a tea solution to age them and glued them on to the wreath form. Even though it was simple to make it really did take a long time to arrange and glue down all those leaves. It ended up looking so nice that I made another one for my sister.



The very first year I participated in the gift exchange, I made an Asian influenced lantern for Lori.  I used 3 types of handmade paper, skewers,some embossed brass vintaj shapes and cord (the gold braided cord was unraveled to create a loose feathery look). The lantern was a little wobbly all-in-all but not too bad a try for someone new to paper crafts and mixed media.



I ended up making gifts for Brit on 3 different years. The copper-worked box (above) was made last year and I finished it so late that I ended up taking a photo of the outside and inside cover at the restaurant where we partied just so I could have a record of the work. The photos came out a little blurred. The box, when I bought it, had a mirror in the center. I removed the mirror and created 2 copper-embossed plates. The outside cover was an image of a fanciful cat (Brit loves cats) and the inside cover had the initial B. The box is designed so that if she wants to switch the covers around, she can. I aged the metal with Jax patina, then burnished the top so the patina was left in the debossed areas.


An earlier gift given to Brit was a decorated cigar box, using metal duct tape  and a variety of metal-working tools in order to give it an industrial, steampunk look. The cover included chipboard letters, a couple of  different kinds of needlepoint canvas, copper foil tape, a vintage photo, a few cogs and black acrylic paint to age the duct tape. The inside was embellished with more Victorian beauties, copper foil tape, an old key and distressed scrapbook paper. I tore a few holes in the paper and glued down some old book pages underneath to age it even more.



The first gift I made for Brit was a pencil/marker pouch using about 6 plastic grocery bags ironed together to create a durable plastic fabric. I painted the inside of the outermost layer and added snippets of colored plastic  within the layers before ironing. Once the bags were all fused together, it was a simple matter to sew the pouch. There were also enough leftovers to create a brooch.

I think that you can tell by looking at these different gifts made over several years, that I like to explore and try new things; and that I have the most awesome friends that really challenge me,  stretch my skills and help me to grow as an artist. Their encouragement and positive feedback motivates me to do my very best. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

As Tiny Tim would say:”God bless us, every one!”


About Jill-O

a girl who likes lakes, trees and critters; making an attempt at living the artistic life.
This entry was posted in book crafts, christmas, crafts, holiday, ornaments, paper art, steampunk and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Gifts of Christmas Past

  1. joannethiemehuffman says:

    What a fun and lovely trip down Memory Lane! I love seeing all your gifts together.

  2. Chris Semelbauer says:

    I love the wreath! I hang it every year for the winter 🙂

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