Archive of ‘gift’ category

handmade holidays :: kool-aid play silks

these were the one mama-made gift the boys found in their stockings Christmas morning.  they are play silks, simple scarf-sized pieces of silk dyed in different colors. as a toy, they have limitless potential—so far in our house they have been a way to carry cars, a cape, an umbrella in a fake rainstorm, water under a boat adventure, something to float in the air while you are dancing and on and on.  we had these growing up in a shiny, metallic fabric and we must have used them for everything.  probably the hardest working toy in our house back then.  in a boutique kid’s shop these can get expensive.  so, I was thrilled when I came across this tutorial that goes step by step through how to make them with the food safe dye available in every grocery store in the country–kool-aid.  yup.  it dyes more than just tongues.  I didn’t read the directions closely on first read so I didn’t grab enough packets of kool-aid when I was at the store. as a result, the colors came out a bit week and mottled as you can see:

  

I was especially worried that the yellow would become almost a cream color so I scoured the internet for natural dyes (once I get going on an activity I really don’t have the patience to stop and pick up missing supplies, it leads down lots of interesting roads).  I discovered that turmeric is a great natural dye and we have tons of it.  so, I boiled a big pot of turmeric water for 30 minutes or so before adding the kool-aid and the silk scarf.  the color turned out fantastically vibrant, I am thrilled with the amazing sunshine look. I was less excited about the smell that resulted from combining turmeric and lemonade flavored kool-aid.  in fact, I was fairly certain I had managed to somehow poison myself and rushed around opening windows.

  

{the silk goes into a pot of boiling water with the dye}

but, it was worth it, don’t you think? look at that color! I got my white silk scarves from dharma trading company, which has everything dyeable under the sun. for anyone interested in doing your own color dying, they are incredible.

well, I’m finally at the end of all my handmade holidays.  from here on out it’s all about looking forward onto the horizon of 2012! which, quite frankly, is looking awfully bright and involves lots of sewing.  I do still do that every once in a while!

handmade holidays :: the silly putty game

the boys and I worked together to make a gift for some of their little friends.  we made silly putty and then bagged up a few plastic critters and I printed out instructions for an easy ‘hide and seek’ game…hide the plastic things in the putty for someone else to find (it passes as a game in our house despite its simplicity). 

the silly putty went into—what else!—jars!  (between snow-globe making and the mason jar sewing kits I’ve become something of a jar enthusiast. I can hardly bear to recycle them anymore because all I see is potential.)

as a result of this gift I’ve made a lot of silly putty.  it is so simple.  basically, just mix together equal parts liquid starch and regular glue.  now, after making four different batches I have learned a few things that might be helpful about how exactly to mix it.  for starters, I pour the glue in first and then have a big serving fork ready to sort stir while I pour in the liquid starch second.  the two bind together really quickly but they don’t completely cohere.  so, I mix them together with my hands as much as I can (I find that the starch seems to have a harder time mixing).  after I mix with my hands it basically looks like this:

 that’s when I let it sit for 30-40 minutes.  then, I mix it with my hands again and if it it coming together a bit I try to stretch it out as I’m doing below:

 if it’s not able to pull into a thin membrane like this, let it sit for longer.  I stretch the whole batch out and that seems to help it really come together so that when it sits it becomes one big glump.  it smells a bit but it really works.  I have encouraged everyone to wash their hands after playing with it because it leaves a starch residue on hands and fingers.  but if you can get past that, it fits the category of fun, cheap and easy.

handmade holidays :: mason jar sewing kit

I snuck in a little crafty making this past holiday…a mason jar sewing kit.  yup! pretty amazing.  as soon as I saw this fantastic tutorial from momtastic  I was obsessed and had to make one.

I fell in love with the oh-so-sweet idea of a portable sewing kit. because despite how modern and hip sewing becomes it still carries with it the legacy of mothers, aunts, grandmothers, great grandmothers and a handful of fathers and grandfathers, too.  there is no denying.  in my sewing classes (when we are not sewing, or course) we are exchanging information, discussing kids, gossiping, or looking to each other for support and advice.  as a friend pointed out, that is probably exactly what the age-old sewing circles were all about. she also believes old school sewing circles might have just formed the foundation for early feminism.  perhaps, it’s true. either way,  sewing connects people and has for generations.  all of that is a long way of saying, it might be a good idea to have a sewing kit that is handy and ready to travel.

the only real making involved in this gift was transforming the jar top into a pincushion, which the tutorial illustrates beautifully. then I stuck fun semi-retro sewing supplies into the jar–a diaper pin for pulling elastic through casing, hand-sewing needles, plastic flower buttons, flat head pins, a tape measure, and I made the sewing weight. it all fits in a jar….and that is ridiculously cute if you ask me.

        

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