Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Mother's Day Thank You from Mother's and Daughters

On behalf of Mothers and Daughters Creations, I'd like to extend a great big thank you to everyone who participated in our Traditions blog roll. We hope you've enjoyed the challenges and memories we've shared.

The fun actually continues throughout this week, as you have until this coming Saturday, May 16th, at 12 noon, to submit challenges for a chance at some of our fabulous blog candy.

We'll be recapping the entire Blog Roll for you, with links to each and every challenge. Watch for that here and on the MDC challenge blog as well. I'll be posting additional tutorials throughout the week as well - including the instructions for making this fabulous floral creation. This is one of our terrific blog candy surprises. Yes, that is authentic Theodore Haviland Limoges being shown off by hand made paper flowers.

Stay tuned... the fun continues!

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day! And I am truly having a wonderful one. My son, Jacob, surprised me by driving home from college last evening for a late dinner and to have Mother's Day breakfast with us. And my husband is spending his day with me working in the garden. What could be better!

If you've been following the Mothers and Daughters Blog Roll, you know that it's been all about traditions and memories. Today I want to remember a woman who is uniquely responsible for the love, happiness, and joy that fills my life every day: my late mother-in-law, Frieda. Without Frieda, well, my husband wouldn't be here now would he? ;)

I'm one of the the few people I know who wishes that she had more time with her mother-in-law.

I first met Mother Frieda during a weekend visit to my parents-in-law's home in Florida when my husband and I became engaged. She was already in failing health and shortly after our visit, her health declined precipitously. She had a massive stroke the day before our wedding and another six weeks later. We flew to Florida when she was transferred to a hospice, where I remained, joined by dear friend Marsha, to care for her and to perform the sacred Jewish rituals for her, the chevra kadisha, when she died. The time I spent with her was important to us both. Marsha and I recited her favorite Hebrew prayers and recite the Mi Sheberach, the Hebrew prayers to ease suffering and improve health.

During the times she was lucid and able to communicate, our family was able to express our love and appreciation for her, and to reassure her that her husband would be coming home with us to live. This had been a great source of anxiety for her, as my husband's elderly father was newly blind and though very independant, she had been his "eyes" for many months.

After my father-in-law died in 2004, I returned to their home several times to clear things out and prepare their home for sale for my husband and his brother. During those trips, I learned much about the wonderful, intelligent, forward thinking, and kind woman that she was. As I read through notes she wrote in her careful handwriting for lectures she gave at Elderhostels about important women in history, women of valor, Yiddish themes, and the importance of family, I discovered that her values, her belief system, her views about family and her role in her world were more like mine than she ever knew and I wish that we had had more time to explore and share our philosophies and perspectives. I know she would have enjoyed that, as I would have.

Marsha had once again accompanied me to Florida to help me with the onerous task of sorting, shipping, packing, and disposing of all the things they had cherished. My husband's parents lived into their ninth decades and were avid travelers and collectors. My most poignant memory is of the afternoon that Marsha and I were cleaning out the walk-in closet in their bedroom. I was gathering my mother-in-law's shoes into a large garbage bag when a tissue and a piece of writing paper fell out of one of them and landed on the floor with a thunk.

Wrapped in the tissue was a diamond ring in a platinum setting and the note, folded up into a small wedge of paper, was addressed to me. We quickly went through all of the shoes and found more "treasures". Over the course of the year before she had died, in the toes of three different shoes from three different pairs, she had tucked her diamond engagement ring, her original wedding band (not the one she usually wore, but the ring that no longer fit over arthritic knuckles), and another pearl ring. Each was accompanied by a note, thanking me for my kindness and sensitivity for things I had done for her.

After we returned home from our initial visit and during her last year at home, I had sent care packages to her every couple of weeks... sanitary undergarments, lotions and scented body washes, and other things I knew she needed. She was a fastidious woman, always particular about her appearance, even when she was infirm. She always called to thank me when the packages arrived, but her notes and the jewelry were a tangible indication of how much she cared for and appreciated me and how much those boxes of goodies meant to her. My only regret is that she was not there with Marsha and me when we found them. Then again, maybe she was.

Happy Mother's Day, Mother Frieda. We remember you fondly. Oseh Shalom bimromav. Hu ya'aseh shalom aleinu.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Easy Gift Bags

This is Part 2 of the Mothers and Daughters Traditions Blog Roll Day 3 challenge. In the previous post, we talked about gift boxes. Here, I'm going to show you some quick and easy ideas for decorating bags and for making your own bags from a template.

I love the ease of using decorated bags for gift-giving. A few simple embellishments can turn a simple bag into a work of art. The simplest thing is to take an existing bag and put your special touch on it. Even bags with holiday themed prints can be recycled by covering the holiday images with your own hand stamped and decorated ones, matted and mounted on coordinating papers.

For a more feminine look, I like to replace the knotted cord handles found on many bags with a wide piece of sheer, wired ribbon or soft satiny ribbon, pulling it through the holes and knotting it.

Satin ribbon tends to fray, but as long as it contains synthetic fiber, you can heat and fuse the fibers of the cut edges with your heat tool to prevent further fraying. For very thin or delicate ribbon, the heat tool may be too hot; I use a candle, running the flame close to the cut edge. When the fibers melt, there is a subtle but noticeable change. You want to barely melt the cut fibers. Too much heat, and some ribbons will melt into a hard ridge.

To decorate the panels, I like to create bands of paper and lace and overlay those with matted panels that I embellish with either a stamped and painted image or some hand punched and hand stamped flowers. You can also make personalized medallions with monograms or ephemera.

For smaller gifts, you can make your own bag and you have the ultimate control over the size of your bag. Coordinate the bag with a handmade card for a fabulous “designer” gift set.

If you use a double sided heavy paper (lightweight card stock) that is printed on both sides you’ll have a bag that is beautiful both inside and out. When you make your own gift bag, you can design the bag to fit the dimensions of your gift. Remember to leave “finger room” – enough space for the recipient to reach in and easily remove the gift.

If you want the bag to stand without tipping over, the narrower side panels should be about half as wide as the front and back panels. This proportion works well and your bag will stand without falling over, no matter what the actual dimensions are and no matter how tall it is. Here are templates and detailed instructions for making your own bags.

This template can be cut from 12 inch paper and trimmed to the desired height plus 1-1/2 inches (which folds under and in to form the bottom of the bag). With this bag, the seam is at a corner and you have two large unblemished panels that can be decorated on the front and back of the bag. To score the folds, orient your panel in a landscape position and score at ½”, 2-½”, 6”. 8”, and 11-½”. Then turn the bag a quarter turn and score across the lower edge at the 1-1/2 inches. All scores should be valleys on the outside of the bag. If the paper has a directional pattern, make sure to orient the score for the bottom edge properly so the pattern is right side up.

The blue lines in the diagram can be used as guides for cutting away excess if you are making a small bag with particularly heavy card stock. If your paper is lighter weight, when you fold the bottom, natural creases will form where these fold lines are marked.

To Assemble the Bag:

First, fold and set each fold with a bone folder to insure crisp folds and corners. Apply a roller adhesive or light ribbon of glue along the inside edge of the first thin (1/2 inch) panel, fold the panel to the inside and secure the paper. Apply adhesive to the outside edge of the first thin panel on the opposite side, fold it inward and fasten it to the glued panel on the other side.

To form the bottom, cut a diagonal line into the corner (along the blue lines in the diagram).

Fold the side, front and back panels inward and secure with adhesive.

If you are folding, rather than cutting the bottom, fold the sides in, bulging the front and back out slightly, and fold creases in the bottom flaps of the front and back panels, as you would if you were gift wrapping a box. Set the folds with a bone folder and repeat on the opposite side and then secure with adhesive.

Finishing the Bags:

The ways in which these little gift bags can be finished and embellished are endless. The first example is made from a dragonfly print paper from Kaiser's Dancing Jewel line. I trimmed it with a scrap of Wesley from Melissa Frances. A dragonfly stamped in Versamark and embossed in copper is finished with gold and copper seed beads set with Diamond Glaze along his body and over his wings.The wings were stamped twice and layered for a 3D effect. The flowers were punched from scraps of other papers n the Dancing Jewel line, leftover from a previous project.

The second bag is made from Imaginisce's Wildflower Soup paper. I love the bright colors and cheerful print. Trimmed with the reverse pattern and some Prima flowers, a bright red ribbon finishes it off.

When I am making an elegant bag, and for bags that are larger than 4 inches, I usuallyadd an extra half inch to the height of the bag so that I can fold the cut edge over to form a cuff. This gives the top of the bag a finished edge. Another way to combine a finished top edge with a decorative edging is to create a binding to go over the edge.

Use a lace or decorative punch or decorative scissors to create the edging and then trim the length of paper to about an inch wide. Fold the strip in half and set the fold with a bone folder. Unfold and apply adhesive to the entire length of edging, being careful to keep it open. Attach the edging to the front of the bag, taking care to keep the crease level with the top of the bag.

I find it easier to do this section by section, one side of the bag at a time. After you adhere the edging to the front of the bag, snip the inside piece at the corner and press that section to the inside of the bag, and work around all four sides the same way.

Prima flowers and buttons from the Basic Grey Sugared collection, sewn together with red sewing thread, set off the sentiment and anchor the ribbon handle.

A truly decadent finishing touch is tissue paper trimmed and stamped to coordinate with the bag. A fast and easy way to trim with decorative scissors or a lace edge punch is to fold a half sheet of tissue in quarters before trimming, then cut or punch through four thicknesses.

A flower or flourish is a perfect design to stamp randomly on the paper. I used Imaginisce's "Wildflowers" stamp from the Twitterpated collection with Warm Red ink (ColorBox Chalk) to stamp the paper.

(Note: Click on any image to see a larger version.)

Back on Line..... and Jumping into the Blog Roll with Gift Bags and Treasure Boxes

Fifteen years ago I never would have believed that a computer crash would be totally paralyzing! But that is exactly what I've experienced for the past week. Eureka, my system is almost finally back to normal. (Now, if I can only figure out how to get my desktop back the way I had it, I'll be in techno heaven.)

While I've struggled with a nasty flu (not the swine flu, just a regular old knock down drag out seasonal flu) and computer glitches, the Mothers and Daughters Creations Traditions Blog Roll has been happening around me. So I'm signing on this morning to play catch up with some projects for some of the challenges that have been posted this week.

The challenge for last Friday, Blog Day 2, disappeared into cyberspace but I am resurrecting it for you now. Remember, you have until 12 noon on Saturday, May 16th to complete a challenge and post a comment in the appropriate blog to be eligible to win some truly fabulous blog candy! To be eligible, make either a treasure box, explosion box, or a gift bag and post a link to your creation on any of the three blog posts that show how to make these fabulous gift packages. (Post more than one, and your name will be put in the hat for each one you post.) Blog candy for this challenge is a hand-made green and gold treasure box (filled with some card making treasures!).

So let's get started and lets talk about gift boxes first.

The secret to making the easiest gift boxes and bags is to use a lightweight card stock (or heavy weight, stiff paper - 60-90 pound stock) that is patterned on both sides. This gives you a wonderful exterior and a lovely patterned interior without the work of lining it.

Marks paper, Melissa Frances, Kaiser, Imaginisce, Basic Grey, and Bo Bunny are perfect for this and make excellent boxes. Daisy Bucket papers have a unique weight and texture to them. The softness and suppleness makes them especially suitable for "coffee type" gift bags that you will close and fasten at the top.

Last week I gave a preview of some miniature treasure boxes. Whether you make them large or small, the instructions are the same. Both the bottom of the box and the top of the box are set up something like a tic tac toe board, with the bottom or top as the center square and the sides and corner squares forming the sides of the box and rim of the cover.

For the bottom of the box, determine how wide and deep your box is going to be. If you would like a box that is 4 inches wide and 3 inches deep, you will need a square that measures 10 inches on each side - 3 inches for each side and four inches for the bottom of the box. A box that is 6 inches wide with 3 inch sides would be cut from a 12 inch square.

If you want a rectangular box, determine the length and width, and then add twice the height of the box to each dimension. To make a rectangular box that is 3 inches wide, 5 inches long, and 2 inches deep, your card stock needs to measure 3 inches + 2 inches + 2 inches by 5 inches + 2 inches + 2 inches, or 7 inches by 9 inches.

The box top is made essentially the same way, but the sides that form the rim of the top are usually 1 - 1-1/2 inches deep for a larger box and as little as a quarter inch for a miniature box.

Here are some templates to guide you. Rick click and save the image to your own computer and either use it as a guide or enlarge it to the size you want to make your box, print it out, and use it as a pattern.

I have found that the absolute simplest way to cut a box top or bottom is to use the template only to visualize the dimensions, then calculate the length and width of the paper I need for the bottom of the box. Then I score it all the way around with the help of the Scor-Pal, making a score mark at the incremental mark for the height of the box. Using my 3 inch by 5 inch rectangular box as an example, I score the 7 inch by 9 inch piece of card stock at the 2 inch mark on all four sides.

To figure out the size paper needed for a cover, take the length and width of the bottom of the box and add 1/16 of an inch to each dimension. Then add twice the depth of the rim of the box cover to each dimension as well. For my 3 inch by 5 inch box, if I want the cover to be 3/4 inch deep, I will need to cut a piece of card stock that is 3 + 1/16 + 3/4 + 3/4 inches by 5 + 1/16 + 3/4 + 3/4 inches, or 4-9/16 by 6-9/16. That extra sixteenth of an inch is what allows the cover to slide on and off easily yet fit snugly on the box.

Score all four sides at the 3/4 inch mark. On the Scor-Pal, the easiest way to do this is by lining the paper up along the middle of the groove at the 3-1/2 inch mark and score on the 4-1/4 mark. Be sure to consistently line up along the middle of the groove or that "measly" sixteenth of an inch will either shrink or expand and the cover won't fit properly.

After your box has been scored, cut along the score marks of the corner panels, cutting only as far as the inside corner, on opposite facing sides. These are the blue lines in the diagram. When you assemble the box, you will fold along the score lines and these flaps will be secured inside the box and will hold your box together. The cover is made the same way.

To adhere the side panels of the box and cover, I use either an ultra-strong tape adhesive like Scor-Tape or Thermo Web's Super Tape, or I glue them with two-way or tacky glue. If I glue them, I clip the panels with lightweight clothespins to hold them securely until the glue has dried.

I love to make 3D flowers and other embellishments to decorate the top and sides of the boxes. Future posts that will be appearing in the next few days will include a template for a gift bag, an explosion box, and a tutorial for making the fabulous flowers seen on today's miniature boxes.