Wow! I can’t believe there are only a few days until Christmas. My son’s birthday is this Friday, too, so it is absolutely crazy at my house right now- we are throwing a birthday party for him and 25 of his closest friends on Friday after school (he is in Kindergarten- we are inviting the entire class). Then I might start wrapping Christmas presents on Saturday.
Every Christmas, I get more and more annoyed with the commercialization of gift-giving in general. I don’t care whether it is Christmas or my birthday, it really is the thought that counts, in my opinion. My family did the most ridiculous, pointless thing one year. We used to have a grab bag- most families do, right? Except, I think that some people in my family had gotten so picky and had so completely forgotten the point that it was decided that year that the grab bag would be a “gift card grab bag.” We essentially exchanged plastic fifty dollar bills. I think that was the last year we did the grab bag. Big surprise.
So anyway, every year I try to make as many gifts as I can. I usually crochet most of them, but I have made soaps, bath salts, and crocheted jewelry in the past. The gifts that I do buy tend to be things that require thought- books, mostly. I am a librarian, after all.
This year, aside from the crocheted gifts, I have focused on jewelry. I found more ideas on Pinterest (big surprise) and I thought I would post my experiences. I found that there were some essential modifications and some that I felt were just better.
Scrabble Tile and Washer Pendants
The instructions for these suggested that you Mod Podge scrapbook paper to the 5/16ths washers, and then cover with Dimensional Magic. Bad idea. Some of the scrap paper lifted and cracked, and some of it just flaked right off. The Mod Podge does not work well enough on metal. I tried E600 and it was too goopy. I ended up with good old fashioned Elmer’s. It worked the best (on the metal washers but also on the scrabble tiles). After I cut out the paper with an Xacto knife, I used a cheap plastic watercolor brush to paint a light coat of Elmer’s glue onto the washer or scrabble tile and stuck the paper onto the item. After I let that dry for a couple of minutes, I brushed (with a different brush) a light coat of Mod Podge over the image to seal it. As a matter of fact, here is an image of some of the different materials I use for the project:
It isn’t going to be perfect. That is where the files come in. After the Mod Podge and the Elmer’s have completely dried, give the edges a good file. I try to go in the direction of the paper on the item so that there is no lifting.
You can really tell that the black one hasn’t been filed well enough. My favorite one above is the one that says, “rest for three slower and soft measures.”
After filing, all that it needs is a coat of Dimensional Magic (Diamond Glaze- above- is the same thing). Be careful of bubbles, and realize that it comes out very runny. You don’t need much. Outline your area with it first and then fill in as needed. Sometimes, I find that I can just move around with the tip of the bottle and it will fill in on its own.
The only other thing needed is a bottle of E600 glue and bails for the backs of the scrabble tiles.
I had a really hard time deciding which kind of necklace to use, and ended up choosing ball chain. It looks the best, matches any design I choose, and doesn’t interfere. Some of the ribbon and leather necklaces I tried just looked all wrong. They really took away from the pieces themselves. I couldn’t take a picture because Amazon hasn’t gotten the spool of chain to me yet.
Aside from the glue, the biggest change I made from some of the others I have seen online is in design. I don’t like using scrapbook paper for everything. It just seems so canned that way. Sometimes, I do use it. However, for this project, I also used sheet music, an old Archie comic book, Yoga Journal, Newsweek, a picture of my niece, and who knows what else. I feel like my own creative expression shined so much more on those than when I just used scrapbook paper. I was able to add a message that was unique to the person I had in mind for the gift or that was unique to me. Scrapbook paper can make necklaces that are pretty, for sure. When I venture away from scrapbook paper, I can make necklaces that are pretty AND have meaning.
The tiles above are at the Mod Podge stage. Notice Archie, Om, the symbol for Karma, the tree (which I love), and more. None of these were “scrapped.”
The message I really want to get across, though is this: I think gifts need to be meaningful. If you haven’t agonized over whether it is a good choice, then maybe it isn’t. If you are giving because of obligation, you can still give a meaningful gift. You might just become someone’s favorite aunt. You might make someone feel special without ever realizing it. I don’t think the Walgreen’s Chia Pet or even a gift card can do that.