Modern Paper Christmas Tree

Modern Paper Christmas Tree
During Christmas I break all my usual design tastes. Throughout the year I like uncluttered, clean lines, minimalism, and midcentury modern. At Christmas I love it all. There’s no such thing as too much, no style unrepresented, I want every surface festooned with holiday cheer. So when I can make those two styles converge, just imagine the heaven I create for myself. Using some foam core, glue, and scrapbook paper I can make a Christmas tree that would be perfectly at home in Don Draper’s Manhattan loft.

Step 1
To make a tree the same size as mine, you’ll need three pieces of foam core posterboard. Cut each piece in half along the longest edge, and then mark the center line of each new piece with a pencil.

Step 2
Use an exacto knife to cut through the first layer of the foamcore along your pencil line, but don’t cut through that bottom layer. You just want to create a score line where the piece can bend, not cut the piece in half.

Step 3
Now you need to cut your foamcore into the shape for your branches. Line a ruler up with the center pencil mark at the top, and the outer corner of the bottom. Cut that line on both sides to create a triangle.

You’ll also need to cut the bottom edges so that when each piece is bent to make the branches it will still stand up correctly. You need the outside corners to be right angles, so you can measure that with a protractor and line that angle up with the center point. Then cut along the line you’ve created and repeat for the other side. If you have a self-healing mat used for quilting you don’t even need the protractor. You just line the outside edge up with one of the grid lines and then cut a straight line to the center point.

Step 4
To get the foamcore to bend you need to make some room, which means cutting away some of the foam. This will be the inside so you don’t have to be neat about it. I just tilted by knife to an angle and cut away the foam on either side of the scored center line, being careful not to cut through the front of the foamcore.

Step 5
I made six branches for my design, and once they’re folded in half it’s time to assemble. I lined each piece up to it’s neighbor, keeping them at an angle so they’d fan out instead of having each side stick together. Run a bunch of hot glue down the joint of each piece.

Step 6
To connect the two end pieces together, bend them around to meet and form your cone, then run glue down the joint as best you can from the inside. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it just has to keep things in place.

Step 7
The hard work is done, now it’s just a matter of decorating. You could use any method you can dream up for this, but I wanted to bust out my glitter cardstock and my die cut machine and give this a paper tiling treatment. You just need to pick a basic shape – really, any shape will do – and cut a metric ton of pieces. I would recommend using a shape a little larger than the one I used because I was tiling for days, but the results are pretty great. If you don’t have a die cut machine just use a punch and some elbow grease.

Step 8
To cover up the outer edges of the branches, just bend your paper pieces over the tip.

Step 9
To cover up your center joints, bend your paper pieces in the middle and glue right over the top of it.

Step 10
Whatever shape you use to tile your tree with, it’s won’t be small enough to cover the top of your tree in a way that looks good. So we’re going to cover the top with a little cone. Start by cutting a circle out of coordinating paper, then cut a slit across to the center point. Wrap it around the top and cut off all but about a 1/2″ of the overlapping paper.

Step 11
Bend the cone so that it fits around the branches, then glue it in place.

Step 12
I’m never one to pass up glitter, particularly at Christmas, so I finished by dumping glue all over the tree to add a little white glitter to make it look snowkissed.

Foam Core Christmas Tree
I just love the sharp angles and clean lines of this tree. It brings my love of midcentury design together with my love of everything dripping in glitter to create the perfect Christmas decoration for me. Now I’m toying with the idea of making one even bigger.

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Reload Cereal Bowl

Reload Cereal Bowl
I have been getting way too big a kick out of myself lately. This is just one of a few projects lately that have me cracking up at my punny self. Geddit? Geddit? Once you get to the bottom of the bowl, you have to reload! I’m such a mom. That is total mom humor, but I can’t stop giggling at myself. Still, even if your gift list isn’t full of people who share my sense of humor, I think anyone who spends time on the internet, any tech person, any teenage gamer with a bottomless stomach, would get at least a grin out of this cereal bowl.

Supplies
Supplies are simple. You just need a clear glass bowl – I got mine at the dollar store – glass paint, a printout of the reload symbol sized to fit your bowl, and some tape to hold it all in place.

Step 1
Tape the image on the inside of the bowl, with the printing facing the bottom of the bowl. For this image it doesn’t really matter, but if you were using this technique with words you’d definitely want to reverse it before printing. You have to paint it backwards so that when it’s viewed right side up through the glass it’s the right way across.

Step 2
Use glass paint to trace the image on the bottom of the bowl, using several coats as needed to get the opaque coverage you need.

Step 3
When the black paint is dry, paint the entire back of the bowl gold, using several coats again to get solid coverage.

Step 4
Finish it off with a protective clear coat to really protect that paint job from being scratched off, and let it dry thoroughly.

Reload Bowl
Teenagers and dudes are so hard to shop for, but they’re even harder to make for. That was the whole inspiration behind this project, to come up with something homemade suitable for dudes. But every time I do that I end up making something really cool that would work for a huge swath of people. I think there’s a lesson there, but I’m too focused on what has to get done before Christmas to find it.

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Leather Strip Bracelet

Leather Bracelet
My whole family has just gotten over the flu, and today Atti got back from school with a fever for the second time in two weeks. So if I hadn’t gone in to Christmas wanting to keep things simple, Christmas has certainly become that way. But this bracelet is easy enough to make even from a sick bed. If you can pull yourself off the bathroom floor long enough to make it to the craft store, you can make this bracelet.

Supplies
You will need:
Leather strips – I got mine in a giant bag in the leather good aisle at my craft store. You could always cut your own, too.
Ribbon Crimps – This is a special jewelry clasp with teeth. Sometimes they’re called Ribbon Ends.
2 jump rings
1 larger jump ring
2 tassels – mine are leather tassels from Darice.

Step 1
The leather strips I bought were really thick and stiff, so the first thing I did was soak them in water overnight to make them more pliable. Then I picked out the strips I wanted to use and fed one end of them into one of the Ribbon Crimps. Use a pair of pliers to squish the teeth into the leather.

Step 2
Put each tassel onto one of the jump rings.

Step 3
Then put each jump ring onto the larger jump ring, and that jump ring onto the end of the clasp.

Step 4
Wrap the leather around your wrist twice to measure the length, then trim and attach the other end of the Ribbon Crimp.

Leather Strip Bracelet
I’m kind of obsessed with this bracelet. I think it’s so fashion forward. I love how, by decorating the clasp, you take the annoying propensity of the clasp to fall forward and make it work for you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a feverish boy to snuggle.

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Monogrammed Wooden Coasters

Monogrammed Wooden CoastersI don’t know if it’s just that I’m coming off of a hard year and need to keep things kind of simple, or if it’s just happenstance, but every idea I seemed to have this time around could be made in minutes. I had to repeat the stencil idea from yesterday, but instead of freezer paper – which wouldn’t stick to wood – this time we’re using vinyl shelf paper. Another exacto session and a little paint drying and this project is done in time to give to the hostess of the Christmas party that evening.

SuppliesYou will need:
a square wooden piece – I got mine precut in a bundle of 2 at Michael’s, but you could easily cut a piece yourself. You just don’t want it too thick.
a vinyl stencil – If you’ve got a vinyl cutter this is even easier, but without one you just get your image printed out, tape it on top of the shelf paper, and then use an exacto knife to cut through both layers at once.
Paint
Wood Stain

Step 1Peel off the paper backing and stick the stencil to the wooden piece. Take care to burnish all the edges down really tight to make a good seal.

Step 2Paint your image. I found that a thick craft paint worked best for this. Wood stain or dye or markers – anything very watery – will get absorbed by the wood grain and bleed through.

Step 3When your paint is dry, peel off the stencil. Give the edges a good sanding and if you want to distress your paint a little you can give that a sand as well. I like to take down the sharp edges as I’m sanding because I think it gives it a really finished look.

Step 4Use a paper towel or shop rag to rub wood stain over the entire coaster. Make sure to get the edges and the back as well. Let it dry thoroughly.

Step 5Repeat this process until you have a whole set ready for giving.

Wooden CoastersI’m not normally a fan of the rustic – I’m all clean lines and polish – but there’s something about wood that makes me throw all that out the window. I think these are lovely enough to just sit on a tabletop all the time, but because it’s unsealed wood it will also be the most absorbent coaster ever.

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Stenciled Tote Bag

Stenciled Tote Bag

This is another project just like yesterday’s that came from my “Gifts for Dudes” brainstorm session, and once again, it will work for absolutely anyone. But what really inspired this tote bag is Bear. He will not carry a bag. He’ll carry a laptop bag if necessary, but otherwise he’ll just toss things loose in […]

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Leather Cord Roll

Leather Cord Roll

This year when brainstorming gift ideas, I worked really really hard to come up with some good stuff for dudes. The stuff I thought up is really appropriate for anybody, but they fit in those categories that men often show a lot of interest in – tech, gaming, travel. So, see? Anyone, but since most […]

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12 Days of Christmas Gift Tower

12 Days of Christmas Gift Tower

In all of my Christmas decorating, I haven’t done much with the theme of presents. That’s because all of my decorating is done in part so that the celebration isn’t just about getting stuff. But even I have to make certain exceptions, because there is little that is as pretty and thrilling as a wrapped […]

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Woven Seed Bead Necklace

Necklace

I’m such a sucker for seed beads. Despite their small size, I’d rather work with seed beads than any other kind of bead. Which means you have to be really creative so you don’t just make the same necklace over and over again. To shake things up I thought I’d combine a couple of beading […]

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How to Finish a Quilt

Finish a Quilt

So yesterday I showed you how to use my favorite technique – machine applique – to make a city street scene your kids can use for playtime. Today I want to show you how to take that play cloth – or any other quilt top or even large piece of fabric – and turn it […]

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City Streets Play Mat

City Streets Play Cloth

If you watch the video, and I hope you do because not only is it clearer than the few photos I took but I think I love making youtube videos even more than blogging and I’m having oodles of fun with it, you will know that this project has been in the work for, like, […]

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