a veritable plethora of handmade

the family's pile

Here’s an overview of nearly everything the four of us made as gifts this year. There were 8 people in our celebrations this year, and each of us made at least one gift for everyone there. The process was so big I hardly know how to lay it out so you can get the best sense of it all.

Let’s start with Rainer. He was uncertain about the handmade holidays concept, feeling like he had too few skills to make something people would be interested in receiving. He has said, though, that learning new techniques and making presents was simpler than he expected and was really rewarding.

Rainer's pile of gifts

He worked with Tias to make salsa for my sister and with both kids on the calendar for me. He also did three freezer paper shirts, Mediterranean meat rub, flavoured oil, baked Greta Garbo cake, and produced an incredibly polished and moving memory game using pictures from our time in Europe.

Owly for Sandra
Owly for Sandra

Both Sandra and I got Owly clothes. Wearing mine, with it’s chipper little Owly in tattoo position, makes me smile.

Gromit for Matthias

His Gromet for Tias was so cool. Really full of expression and life.  Tias has since worn it daily.

Memories Memory

His best idea, the one I was jealous I hadn’t thought of, was a memory game using photos from our sabbatical time in Europe this year. The thick photo mat board behind each tile gives a really professional touch to these. Fabulous.

Sandra's pile of gifts

Sandra’s array of gifts. Incredible. So many kinds of projects, and nearly all of the ideas her own.

She made jewelry, painted watercolours, knitted a hat, baked Lemon Blueberry Loaf, embroidered a bedsheet and a tablecloth, embellished a mirror, painstakingly created 20 pages in a prairie wildflower ID book, and worked with the others to make me a calendar.

The flower ID book was my favourite of her ideas. My father is an avid prairie ecologist, former agricultural researcher, and a passionate gardener of native plants. He takes Sandra for a weekly ecology/plants science class. She left most of the book blank so that they could work on it together in the spring as the plants start to reappear.

The Judo sheet, though, was a big hit, too.

Judo embroidered sheets

She chose 5 throws Tias likes and printed diagrams from the internet. I traced them onto the sheet and then she went to town.

Sandra's Judo embroidery

Tias was tricky, since he has the least patience, the least faith in his art or crafting skills, and is generally the wiggliest of us all. But the two of us worked together, and I tried really hard to think of ideas that produced big results quickly to help him both enjoy the surprise of how good they turned out as well as actually creating the gifts he needed.

Matthias' pile of gifts

Lots of love here. He did freezer paper stencils on napkins to match the tablecloth Sandra made, a door-mounted shoe organizer to be a storage area for Sandra, a freezer paper stencil shirt, drew the cover for Rainer’s 2009 training log, made marble chocolate nut bark as stocking stuffers for everyone, made salsa with Rainer, worked with the others to make me a calendar, and drew a picture of a deer for my father.

I’ve been trying to pick their brains for their responses to the whole process, to record how they felt about it, how they would change things, etc., but they’ve been having a hard time answering questions.  Tias, however, blew my socks off with his comment.  He said, “I liked how it made me feel important and special…not just going to a store and buying something someone else had made.”

Everyone seemed more excited this year in the run up to Christmas, waiting to see the others open gifts was a tantilizing prospect.  The more handmade gifts we give each year, the more the event focuses on giving rather than getting.  Rainer felt that making gifts was a little more vulnerable.  He said that making something rather than buying it changes the level of rejection.  Luckily my family is not at all emotionally constipated.  Giving to them is very low-risk because they’re good people – full, rounded humans.  They were, in fact, nearly as excited to be getting a handmade Christmas as we were to be giving one.

Here’s a link to the Flickr photo set: Handmade Gifts.  I’ll be adding to it as I get shots of people wearing or using their gifts.  I’ll also do a separate post on my gifts, hopefully later today.

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12 thoughts on “a veritable plethora of handmade

  1. Butterflygirl says:

    Wow…how beautiful….everything! The ideas, the creativity…amazing.
    I am sooo impressed by the Judo sheet and I’m really wishing I could’ve had marble chocolate nut bark in my stocking…sounds yummy!
    I’m just awed.

  2. Annie says:

    This is an inspiring post. Seeing your lead-up prepared me a little bit, but seeing the enormity of your work is amazing. Thanks for being an inspiration to live an uncommon life.

  3. JoVE says:

    Those look lovely. And I love the sense that R. and T. both became more confident in their sense of them selves as creative people with skills. The calendar looks great. But so does everything else.

    I didn’t make this big commitment to handmade but I think doing that table runner also inspired Tigger. So she did napkins for my parents (to go with it or just because). The weirdest thing was that my mom commented on how Tigger must have embroidered the napkins but seemed surprised when I said that I had embroidered the table runner! I decided not to take that as a rejection. She was suitably impressed when I pointed it out. I think we might consciously try to do more next year.

  4. Tinkermama says:

    As much as I love the baby stage, you make me look forward to having “big kids”. What creative and caring little spirits you have.

  5. Tsoniki Crazy Bull says:

    Wow that is amazing! I really want to have a handmade Christmas but electronics is my downfall. We are a video game playing family (w/ restrictions on how often). I think I will strive for a handmade gift for everyone though – start small and build up. 🙂

  6. Pingback: Summer memories

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