Studio Saturdays Create Along: Handmade Holiday Gifts

Welcome back to Part 2 of our Studio Saturdays Create Along! In Part 1 we made handmade giftwrap, using monoprinting techniques from Elizabeth St. Hilaire’s article “Hand-Painted Papers” in the November/December issue of Cloth Paper Scissors. Starting with large maps, layered designs were printed using a Gelli Arts Printing Plate, stencils, combs, and found objects, with amazing effects: dramatic color and pattern working together to produce a one-of-a-kind design (If you missed part one, you can find it here).

In Part 2 we’ll discover other ways you can use the paper for handmade holiday gifts and decor. Elizabeth has a new book out, Painted Paper Art Workshop, and it has tons of ideas in it for printing and collaging with hand-painted papers, so check it out for lots more techniques and inspiration.

Hand printed papers

Hand-painted papers can be used to make a variety of mixed-media handmade holiday gifts and decorations. See the tutorial for this paper star at http://www.makeandtakes.com/origami-starburst-wreath.

Project 1: Picture Frame

Frames make great gifts, and handmade ones are even better. I started with a purchased easel back that measured 8″ x 10″. I then cut a piece of sturdy chipboard to the same size as the easel, and cut a window in the middle that was just shy of 4″ x 6″.

Chipboard frame

Starting with an easel back, a frame was created from chipboard.

I moved the chipboard around the paper to see what patterns and colors would work best for the space.

Hand printed paper frame

Decide what portion of the paper you want to use by moving the frame around.

When I found a good spot I trimmed a rectangle that was ¾” larger on each side of the frame, then glued the paper to the frame using PVA (A bone folder is great for adhering and smoothing glued paper). Each corner was cut about 1/8″ away from the edge of the point. I cut an ‘X’ in the middle with a craft knife, from corner to corner.

Printed paper frame

The printed paper was glued to the front of the frame.

I glued the long sides first, making sure that the edges of the frame had glue, and then the short sides. The middle triangles were glued down, with the longer points trimmed to fit. The frame was placed under a stack of heavy books so it would dry flat.

Covering a chipboard frame with paper

The sides and inside were glued to the back of the frame.

For a nicer presentation I glued decorative paper to the front of the easel and let it dry flat as well. Strong double-sided tape was adhered on three sides, leaving the top open. I placed tape about 1/8″ from the opening, which gives the picture a little border to sit in.

Handmade chipboard frame

Strong double-stick frame forms a border to hold the photo.

With double-stick tape you get one shot at attaching it, so make sure you position it correctly before you stick it down. Here is the finished frame, ready for giving (or keeping, if you can’t part with it):

Handmade printed frame

The finished frame, a great handmade holiday gift.

Project 2: Ornaments

Christmas is all about ornaments, but these look great all year round, hung individually or strung together into garlands. I started by punching 2″ circles out of the paper with a decorative punch. I also punched circles from vintage book text. Each circle was folded in half, wrong sides together, and then glued back to back, alternating printed paper and book text. You can make these as dense or airy as you like, or make them all different.

Hand painted paper ornament

Paper circles were folded in half and glued, back to back.

After gluing on the last circle, I glued in a piece of ribbon right in the center. You can also put a bead on the end to increase the fancy factor.

Hanging paper ornament

Glue a ribbon or string in the middle for hanging.

The last two half-circles were glued together, and here’s the ornament, ready for hanging:

Folded paper ornament

This ornament is pretty enough to be displayed all year long.

This technique also makes great package toppers—just don’t glue the last two half-circles together. For this one, I used an oval scalloped punch:

Paper ornament gift topper

Use the same technique to make a gift topper.

Always save your scraps—even tiny pieces can be used for tags and cards (Check out Elizabeth’s great ornament card in the article). I cut 3″ x 3″ squares and created an origami wreath ornament (directions for all kinds of origami ornaments can be found on the Internet):

Project 3: Table Runner

Because the print on the Hanukkah paper was so large, I didn’t want to cut it up. The long rectangular shape reminded me of a table runner, so that’s what I made. There are many ways to do this—you can laminate the paper to make it waterproof, brush acrylic medium on to help protect it, or back it to make it more sturdy. I chose to back it with plain peacock blue paper, and used a layer of Mistyfuse between the printed paper and backing to give it some heft.

Paper table runner

Mistyfuse was sandwiched between the printed paper and plain blue paper.

Before creating the sandwich, I wrinkled the paper to give it some texture, then smoothed it out. There are so many types of beautiful handmade papers that would work well for this project, and some feel and drape just like fabric.

Wrinkled paper texture

Wrinkling the paper gave it some much-needed texture.

I ironed everything together, using a silicone craft mat on top, and then stitched the papers in long, curvy rows. You can skip this part—it’s purely decorative—but I love the look the stitching adds to the piece.

Quick tip: You can sew paper on your sewing machine, but be aware that paper dulls needles quickly, so replace the needle before sewing fabric. Also, sewing paper creates a lot of dust, so make sure to clean your machine regularly if you use it to sew paper.

A binding was added, using 1 ½” strips of handmade paper folded in half and glued around the sides. I topstitched over the edging, but again, skip that if you prefer.

Here’s the finished runner, all ready for the Festival of Lights:

Handmade Hannukah table runner

This table runner makes a great Hanukkah centerpiece.

Project 4: Christmas Stocking

I love substituting paper for fabric in some mixed-media projects, like this stocking. Since I knew it would be filled with gifts, I needed to make it stronger, so drew a pattern, cut out the pieces, and lined the front and back with Tyvek.

Printed paper stockings

Stocking shapes were cut from the patterned paper.

The Tyvek was tacked down with glue stick, then machine stitched together (I sewed along some of the map lines). The front and back pieces were attached using a zig-zag stitch. I made a cuff with felt, then sewed that to the top of the stocking. For a little funky detail I cut the felt out between the rows of decorative zig-zag stitches. It’s now ready for filling:

Hand painted paper Christmas stocking

A cut-out felt cuff adds to the funky mixed-media style of this Christmas stocking.

Project 5: Notebooks

Leftover scraps make great notebook covers, and notebooks made great handmade holiday gifts. Here I cut a piece of decorative cardstock 6″ x 11″, and laid it on top of the printed paper to make sure the pattern was where I wanted it. I glued the wrong side of the cardstock to the wrong side of the paper, and when it dried, trimmed around the edges.

Handmade notebook cover

After deciding which part of the paper to use, I glued the wrong side of the cardstock to the wrong side of the printed paper.

Seven sheets of heavyweight drawing paper were cut to7 1/2″ x 6″, folded in half along the 6″ length, and nestled together to form a signature. I made a fold 4″ from the left side of the cover, placed the signature into the fold, and sewed it in with a three-hole pamphlet stitch. The cover was folded around the pages to form a flap, and I sewed a ribbon closure to the edge of the flap. I made another notebook 6″ x 6″ and bound it with a five-hole pamphlet stitch. I used a corner rounder to round the corners of the covers and pages, but you can leave them as is if you prefer.

Handmade books with hand printed covers

Handmade journals make great stocking stuffers.

I have a lot more paper left over, and I know I’ll use it for art journal pages, collage, and mail art. What ideas do you have for using your papers? Leave a comment and tell us! Happy holidays!

More ideas and inspiration can be found here, along with great gift ideas:

Painted Paper Art Workshop by Elizabeth St. Hilaire

Painted Paper Art Workshop by Elizabeth St. Hilaire features ideas for hand-painted papers and collage.

Collage Characters video with Jodi Ohl

In the Collage Characters video, Jodi Ohl shows how to incorporate monoprinting in creating unique collages.

Paint, Print, Layer, Collage with Margaret Applin

Margaret Applin shows how to build beautiful collages in her Paint, Print, Layer, Collage video.

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