Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Handmade Holiday Part 2: Child Labor

This year I got the kids involved in making gifts for the various grandparent figures in their lives and whichever aunts/uncles/cousins whose names they drew in our family name draw. I think this was an excellent idea, if I don't say so myself. Not because it was any less work for me (it wasn't), but because who wouldn't love a gift handmade by a four-year-old?

For the grandfather-types, we made key hook boards (like the ones we made a couple of months ago) and for the grandmothers, we made bookmarks (inspired by the portrait bookmarks from Handmade Home, except I quickly realized I'd never have time to embroider them all and instead purchased fabric markers and set the boys to drawing right on the fabric):

Z drew Uncle Little-K's name, and we used a picture from his journal to make a freezer-paper-stencil shirt. Z was reluctant in my choice, and finally conceded only if I would use every single thing in the picture. There were a LOT of extra UFOs and asteroids and things which I edited out in the end, for my own sanity if nothing else. I was a bit nervous to show him the finished product, but his face absolutely lit up when he saw it. My brother loved it too:

E drew his cousin M's name, and drew a flower, which we also made into a stencil. I think it came out quite sweet, but I haven't heard a report on how it was received:

M and I tried out an iron-on transfer to make a shirt for his Uncle E. I had no experience with iron-ons, and should have practiced first, because it didn't end up sticking right everywhere and I'm afraid it won't last long (M and I agreed we'd try again for E's birthday), but Uncle E loved it anyway:

We also stenciled a shirt for Papa, with a picture by each boy (I found myself squatting in the basement trying to finish the eyes on an alien octopus sea monster--or something--at about midnight Christmas Eve, trying to keep it as secret from C as possible) of which I never got a picture (I find it amusing that I make shirts for kids with art by grownups, and shirts for grownups with art by kids).
Mostly I hope the boys learn that they are capable of making wonderful things that people will love, and that they can use their skills and talents rather than spending a lot of money to make Christmas merry.


  1. Terrific ideas all around. Tell me about the freezer paper stencils with your boys' drawings. Do they just draw on regular paper & you do the tracing & cutting on freezer paper? Or is there another way to get their designs there?

  2. Sara--to freezer-paper-stencil the boys' drawings, I traced the image onto the freezer paper and did all of the cutting/ironing/painting after they were in bed. (Z's picture came from his drawing journal he does at school; E's was prompted by me. For the shirt we made for C, I took an existing airplane drawing of M's--he was too sick to draw something new that day--and had E and Z each draw something). With more dependable drawers, who understand the concept of "silhouette" and "negative space" you might be able to go straight to the freezer paper, and with an older kid (m's age certainly, probably your big boys too) I'm sure they could do the painting themselves...I just lacked the time and patience to try that out!


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