Tag Archives: Do it yourself

Olde Time Christmas gifts

Without question, having the free time to indulge in long-abandoned hobbies and interests has been one of the most excellent parts of my life since our big move to rural Nowhere.  In the past months I have enjoyed a bountiful renaissance of bread baking, reading marathons, gourmet cooking experiments, exploratory hiking, and craft projects.

With painting in particular, what began as a single-minded determination to create a homey environment/soothing retreat from the strange world around me morphed into an excellent “skill” for the creation of handmade Christmas presents. Full disclosure: I am not, by any stretch of anyone’s imagination (not even famously imaginative people like my good friend Walt D. or Lewis Carroll…have I made my point?), a naturally gifted artist. Which is why I deemed it appropriate to share these successes with you. The idea is not to celebrate my artistic prowess, but rather to demonstrate that, given ample time, motivation, and instructional online video clips anyone can create gift-worthy home decor. Here is my evidence:

Supplies laid out across the kitchen table--Trevor was very patient with the chaos created by these ongoing projects.

Supplies laid out across the kitchen table–Trevor was very patient with the chaos created by these ongoing projects.

1. Whimsical tree art inspired by a print from Pier One. My first attempt (which hangs in my own kitchen) was far less desirable than the second attempt (which I gifted to my mother for Christmas).

2. Dotted initial art inspired by my earlier phase with dots (DIY Dot Art) spouncers. Yes, “spouncers” is a real word, and an awesome tool.

3. Mt. Hood art, requested by my brother after he saw the tree art of my wall during his visit to our house at Thanksgiving. This was the by far most challenging project I have completed to date, as it was rather far outside my “dot-based art” comfort level.

Alex's mountain

I just love the value and sentimentality of handmade gifts, at Christmas and any time of the year. Not only do homemade presents help us to dodge some of the manufactured consumerism of the holidays, they are also incredibly satisfying gifts to give.

**Many thanks to the ever-patient recipients of these gifts, all of whom have texted or emailed me photos of their art because I was too overcome with holiday excitement to photograph my gifts before wrapping them up!

DIY Dot Art

One component of our new life here in Central Washington is that, due to the local economy, we are able to rent a very large house. I mean, really, really, big. It’s probably at least triple the amount of space that we had at our townhouse in Portland. Our newly expanded environment came not only with increased floor space, but also increased wall space. Since we most certainly were not in possession of enough of anything to decorate these numerous walls, and because living in small town means that there are not sufficient retail options for purchasing home decor (oh, that I could just run over to Target and peruse the always-trendy selections of affordable decorations…), I had no choice but to re-awaken my crafty side and tackle the project myself.

Before I dive in, let it be known that I am not a naturally artistic person. I envy those for whom a pencil or paintbrush will magically bring to life the images dancing in their mind’s eye. Therefore, the projects that I share here may require supplies, patience, or tracing paper (or tracing off a computer screen with printer paper, in a pinch!), but they do not require any innate artistic ability. If I can do it, you can too.

1. Pencil-eraser Dot Trees. The inspiration for this project came from a blog that provides very detailed step-by-step instructions; the author even includes a shopping list with exact paint colors and a print out of her tree shape. But that would be too easy, and I prefer to complicate my projects–so I loosely followed her idea, but created my own tree shape, selected my own paint colors, and decided that it would be part of a two piece set.

This project was very time consuming, but extremely simple and the repetitive dotting even had a soothing, mindfulness-meditation aspect. To be honest, and I will always strive to be honest here, I am not 100% in love with my final product and wish I had spaced my background dots further apart to allow the first coats to show through more. However, considering that I used pencils I already had in my desk, paints that were purchased for a different project, and two used canvas boards (I painted over some oils from a MUCH earlier era in my life), the cost for this project was almost zero. I hung them in frames I bought at Hobby Lobby for 50% off and I do think the overall effect really improves the atmosphere in our newly formed guest room.

2. Fading Metallic Dots. This one is basically a copy cat from another blog, though instead of using a 30″x40″ canvas as that blogger did, I used a 4’x4′ canvas that my husband built ages ago and has been plaguing our garage (and admittedly plagued his sister’s garage for many years; thanks Colprons!). Since our canvas had been through several moves and was rather dirty, I painted the entire thing with white house primer before starting. Yes, I do mean the type of primer you would use on a wall, because trying to cover that enormous beast with a tiny artist brush and acrylic paint was taking far too long. Once I set to it with the primer and a correspondingly beefy brush, the canvas was covered and gleaming in no time. Conventional? No. Effective? Extremely.

The best part was that this was a finished-in-a-single-afternoon type of project. I think Trevor was extremely surprised to come home to find a piece completed in the span of a single day, especially after the sluggish progression of the pencil-eraser dot trees. Again in the name of honesty, I admit that I do wish that my gold dots hadn’t turned out with the apparent orangey tint, but overall my husband and I are both very pleased with the outcome and it looks great in our bedroom.

3. Festive Outline Dot Greeting Cards. I get all the credit for this idea. These greeting cards were actually a way for me to test this dotted outline method for some future projects I have been scheming about. The first ones were not pretty, not pretty at all. But later generations were cute enough that they will be sent out into the world via my old friend the USPS.

The lesson here is that dots are easy! Dots are fun! Dots are very forgiving to work with! And, unless the shopping possibilities shape up around here, there are very likely to be more dot art projects in my future.