Every day between December 1st and December 25th, we bring you a new festive ‘how to’ as part of our DIY Advent series.
The Beehive is a craft and urban homesteading collective. Bound together by a common thread of making things by hand, this collective was formed in 2011 by members of the arts community in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Focusing on handmade, DIY, and sustainability, we hope to engage and promote a lifestyle of creativity and self-sufficiency.
What is your favourite handmade present you’ve ever received from someone?
As a group, we could go on and on about the many thoughtful handmade gifts we have each individually received from our friends and family. Seeing that we’re such a crafty bunch, we have many people in our lives who appreciate our love of handmade, and who are makers themselves. It would be impossible to narrow it down! I suppose our collective favourite handmade gift is just that – the awareness from our loved ones that we cherish things made with time and great care.
Do you have a special tradition you do every holiday season?
Many of us have our own separate holiday traditions that revolve around baking or preserving treats to give away as gifts, or to decorate and prepare our homes for the holidays. A couple of traditions within the Beehive that have started include both of those ideas. Early in December we get together and make fresh wreaths with local, seasonal foliage. Closer to the holidays we join forces in the kitchen to make big batches of sweets together. Last year we made an amazing brittle, and previously we had made caramels with sea salt. Usually our traditions also include some mulled wine or eggnog to go around!
For you, how is Etsy “where one-of-a-kind gifts come from”?
We all work hard to only give gifts that are local and/or handmade, and Etsy has been an amazing resource for that. There is always a creative way to find that perfect Christmas gift for someone without going to the dreaded mall. Last year, Meg’s sister needed a laptop case, and we remembered seeing some amazing bags at the One of a Kind show in Toronto earlier in the season. Etsy was the first place Meg checked, and there they were! Her sister loved it.
Last year we were all quite taken with the beautiful wrapping paper that our Scout Bee Jenna made by carving her own stamps and printing them with white ink onto kraft paper. We just had to try it for ourselves! This is a simple, beautiful way to spruce up your holiday gifts with a handmade touch.
- Kraft paper
- Ribbon or cotton twill tape
- Lino or woodblock carving tools
- Paring knife
- Good white glue or carpenter’s glue
- Scrap pieces of wood, foam board or polystyrene
- Craft foam
- String, twine, raffia, pipe cleaners or elastic bands
- Acrylic paint
- Paint brushes
- Flat bottomed plate for paint
- Sponge / Paper towels
- Prepare the amount of kraft paper and ribbon that you would like to print onto. We used three different kinds of crafted blocks to print our wrapping paper and ribbon. Scraps of wood, foam board or polystyrene can be used as the base for blocks with foam, string and string-like materials.
- For blocks with craft foam: cut shapes and motifs and glue them to the block.
- For blocks with string, you can both wrap the string around the block to create an allover texture, or draw a pattern or motif with glue on block base and lay string into the glue. Allow these blocks to dry thoroughly before using.
- For potato printing blocks, first cut the potato in half. You can work with either positive or negative shape on the surface of the potato – cut a basic shape into the potato and cut away excess around your shape, or use the shape of the potato and carve you motif or pattern into the surface of the potato. Using a paper towel, blot off excess moisture from the cut surface and allow the potato to dry slightly before printing with it.
2. To print with your blocks, you can either brush paint directly onto the surface of the block, or use a sponge as a homemade stamp pad – just load the sponge up with paint, press your block into the paint surface of the sponge, and print away!
After all of our printing was dry, we wrapped our gifts and tied scrap fabric and ribbon into bows for the final touches. If you don’t print your own ribbon, you can use whatever else you have on hand for this – kitchen twine, raffia, string. You really can’t go wrong – it all looks cute! Play around with different combinations until you have the prettiest patterned packages.