Last-Minute Handmade Holiday Gifts

Studio Saturday is taking a short break this week. Please enjoy this post, portions of which were previously published on our sister site, Artist’s Network! ~ Jeannine

With just a couple of days before Christmas, there’s still plenty of time to make last-minute handmade holiday gifts for friends and family. I’m going to show you some easy and fun gifts to make, and they start with Elizabeth St. Hilaire’s fantastic hand-printed papers that use gel monoprinting plates and acrylic paint, featured in the November/December 2016 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, and featured in this blog post.

These papers are unlike anything you’ve ever seen; she starts with printed papers like maps, blueprints, and flight plans, then uses Gelli Arts Gel Printing Plates to create a patchwork of vibrant designs. But giftwrap is only one use for them—you can also use them for last-minute holiday gifts!

last-minute handmade holiday gifts

Project 1: Picture Frame

Frames make great gifts, and handmade ones are even better. I started with a purchased easel back measuring 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″.

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

To see what patterns and colors work best for the frame, move the chipboard around the paper until you find an area you like.

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.

The printed paper is 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.

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

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 of the back of the frame, leaving the top open. I also placed tape about 1/8″ from the opening, which gives the picture a little border to sit in.

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):

This frame makes a great last-minute handmade holiday gift.

Project 2: Notebooks

Leftover scraps make great notebook covers, and notebooks made great last-minute handmade holiday gifts. I cut a piece of decorative cardstock 6″ x 11″, and laid it on top of the printed paper where I wanted it. I glued the wrong side of the cardstock to the wrong side of the paper and let it dry under a heavy weight. I then trimmed the paper flush with the edges of the cardstock.

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 to 7 ½” 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, using waxed linen thread. 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 with no flap that measured 6″ x 6″ (finished size), 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. Fill these with watercolor or mixed-media paper to turn them into mini-art journals or sketchbooks.

last-minute handmade holiday gifts
Handmade journals make great stocking stuffers, and are perfect for art journaling and sketching.

I hope you have fun making these last-minute handmade holiday gifts, and if you still have some hand-printed paper left over, make something for yourself! Have a great and creative holiday!

If you love creating monoprints, make sure to see these great techniques from Joan Bess, the author of Gelli Plate Printing: Mixed-Media Monoprinting Without a Press, and the inventor of the Gelli Arts® Gel Printing Plate.

Get great ideas for holiday gifts and decorations in the November/December 2016 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine!
See more of Elizabeth St. Hilaire’s amazing techniques for painted papers and collage in her book Painted Paper Art Workshop: Easy and Colorful Collage Paintings.
Discover ways to add shine to your mixed-media artwork in Shimmer and Shine Workshop: Create Art that Sparkles, by Christine Adolph.

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