Holiday Drawing

I have been continuing to keep up with my drawing practice using everyday objects. I am finding it’s a great way to train my eyes to really look at something, and to train my hand to interpret the shapes, shading and details.

Dang, the handle on that vintage coffee grinder was hard! I originally had the handle going to the left, but after drawing the box, the handle no longer fit on the page. Good thing I could swivel it to the right so I didn’t have to scrap this one!

I’ve been saving this sketchbook for my pencil drawing practice of everyday objects. It’s kind of a boring sketchbook, but I do love the paper and the size of the pages at 6 inches wide by 9.5 inches tall. As I’ve mentioned before, I can always make a pretty cover for this sketchbook too.

I got that cool little set of drawing tools (I do love that vintage box) from my cousin Linda for Christmas, so I tried them out on a few holiday sketches.

Surprisingly, pinecones aren’t as hard to draw as they look. In fact, I love drawing them!

I was happy to finish these drawings so I could put away the last of our Christmas decorations.

There are lots of things I still haven’t attempted to draw, such as people and animals, that I’m hoping to attempt one of these days.

More Ornaments Exchanging

You know me, I really love making ornaments, and exchanging them with creative friends. This is the second year I’ve exchanged ornaments with my friend Cheryl. Cheryl has had a crazy busy few months, so I was happy she still wanted to do our exchange. She always includes the cutest goodies in her package. I especially adore these felt gingerbread houses she made for me this year! I love all things gingerbread, so these fit in perfectly on our tree. Exchanging handmade treasures with friends thousands of miles away makes celebrating the holiday season even more special. I am so thankful for your generosity and creative spirit, my friends!

Partners for Ornament Swap in July

I sent out everyone’s partner information for the Ornament Swap in July, so let me know if you have not received that email from me. I am happy to report that we have 21 swappers participating in this exchange!

  • Here is the link to a new Flickr group for us to share photos of our projects. I added a couple pictures of handmade ornaments from my stash.
  • This link will take you to a post with more pictures and suggestions.

Just a reminder that the deadline to mail your package is July 31, so you have a few weeks to create and craft. Have fun with your projects!

Ornament Swap in July

UPDATE: Ornament swap is closed now (as of July 6, 2010). Thanks for the interest!

Go to this link for the Flickr Group for this ornament swap.

Who wants to swap ornaments? This is it, the ornament swap I’ve been thinking about since last December! I am a very “in the moment” kind of person, so I usually think of gifts I want to make the week of the actual holiday. This year, I thought it would be fun to host an ornament exchange in July.

I changed the button a little to make it more holiday-neutral. (i.e., for those who may not celebrate the Christmas holiday but still like ornaments)

Here is the code for the button if you want to put this on your blog to help spread the word:

<center><a href=””><img border=”0″ src=””/></a></center&gt;

(NOTE: I am html-challenged so I will try to get that code working if you’re having trouble with it!)

I love making ornaments! I used to exchange handmade ornaments every single December.

I used to belong to a group of 12 women that would exchange ornaments and holiday decorations, which meant we each had to make 12 of something and bring our goods to a holiday party to exchange. It was a fun experience, but I got burned out on making assembly-line ornaments.

Last year, I participated in one ornament exchange with Rebecka which was quite fun. She sent me this beautiful fabric cracker ornament, which I use as a little candy dish at my desk. She also included the prettiest patchwork card and fabulous chocolates. The best part of our exchange was becoming friends.

I also asked my friend Cheryl to exchange ornaments. She sent me this adorable set of bears she made, along with a stationary pad, winter fabric, a kitty magnet, and a bag of chocolates.

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If you are looking for ideas and suggestions for an ornament to make, I included some pictures above of a variety I have made over the years. You could also do a search on Google or Flickr for handmade ornaments. Freshly Blended has a couple flickr pools from years past that you could browse through.

May I make a couple suggestions?

If you knit, you could make mini stockings or sweaters (see photo above). These are my all-time favorite ornaments to make. The mini mittens are from an old magazine, and the stocking and sweater are from Joelle’s book Last Minute Knitted Gifts.

If you crochet, you could make snowflakes or stars.

If you sew, you could make a mini 9-patch quilt (see photo above), a mini present or a mini stocking.

If you like to work with felt, you could use a cookie cutter to cut out two matching shapes, embellish as desired, sandwich the two sides, and do a blanket stitch around the edges to hide the backsides (see gingerbread man and cardinal above). You could also embellish a pretty bird or felt stars with beads.

If you are a paper crafter, you could make a little wintery house or a pretty tree.

If you are a photographer, you could mount a mini scene onto cardstock and frame with rick-rack or ribbons or yarn.

– – – – –
Feel free to include a little something special, whether that is stationary, a notepad, sewing notions, a pincushion, a piece of fabric, some favorite recipes, some candies, tea light candles, whatever you think your partner might fancy (examples pictured above). You can definitely include a store bought item or a handmade item. Think of something you might like to receive.
– – – – –
If you would like to participate:

Send me an email  to tadawilhelm [at] hotmail [dot] com with your mailing address (and your blog address, if you have one, so your partner can get to know you). Let me know if you are opposed to sending your ornament internationally. Otherwise, I will put everyone in one group and draw partners. I will try my very best to email your partner name within a week after the swap closes. Your partner won’t know you have their name, and you won’t know who has your name until you receive your ornament in the mail.

Sign-ups will close Sunday, July 4. I hope to send your partner’s info to you by Saturday, July 10. That should give you about three weeks to make your ornament and send it to your partner, along with a little something special.

Christmas in July Ornament Swap – Planning

UPDATE: Ornament swap is closed now (as of July 6, 2010). Thanks for the interest!

I usually start thinking about crafts and gifts for Christmas the week before Christmas. I am an “in the moment” kind of person! Last Christmas, I participated in two ornament exchanges, one with a friend and one with a blogger who would become a friend. I love making ornaments and exchanging them.

I am starting to get my thoughts organized for our Christmas in July Ornament Swap.

I even made a button for us to spread the word! Here’s the code to copy if you want to post it to your blog. For now, it will just link you back to my blog.

UPDATE: I got some feedback that my original code didn’t work, so try this: (thanks Vicki for your help!)

<center><a href=”” target=”_blank”><img src=”” /></a>

If you are interested in participating, I have a few questions:

1. Should partners be assigned where you are exchanging with the same person who has your name?

2. Or, should partners be random and anonymous?

3. Or, should we exchange in groups, so for example, you would make five of the same ornament to send to five people?

4. Should we exchange just ornaments, or do you want to include another little crafty project of your choice, such as a potholder, mini quilt, patchwork card, pincushion, favorite holiday recipe, or whatever your fancy?

I have a couple giveaway items planned for participants in the swap too, so stay tuned!

I am hoping to open up the sign-ups in a couple weeks, around the end of June. I’m thinking our deadline to mail our crafty items should be the last week in July. Let me know in the comments or an email what you are up for, if you are interested in participating. Remember, it’s summer so we want to keep it simple!

Sample of Ornaments

While bringing our Christmas decorations up from the basement, I realized we have several boxes of ornaments, which seems overwhelming. I package them by category, the glass balls, the antiques, the handmade, and the store-bought varieties. I don’t put all of them out every year; I think it depends on the mood and the tree. I wanted to share with you today a sampling of some of the ornaments I treasure most.

I got these ornaments from my mom when I was age one, two and three. I guess that means they are antiques, right?

I have always cherished these fragile ornaments, mainly because they are from my mom.

Here are a few ornaments made by my Grandma over the years, including this cute little felt Santa:

Dave and I each received a felt mitten ornament a couple years ago:

My grandma worked with a variety of materials, from felt to beads:

I always thought this pearl angel, which I’ve had for over ten years, was so delicate and pretty.

This wreath was a clever design with some green and red faceted beads and wire.

This candy cane, made from green bells, always shines and sparkles next to the Christmas tree lights.

This set with the felt drummer boy and his drum is one of my favorites in the my collection:

My sister and I started exchanging handmade ornaments a few years ago, and I especially love these cross-stitch ornaments:

This mixture includes various ornaments I have made over the years:

That’s just a small sampling of the ornaments in our collection. Dave’s favorite ornaments are the glass balls that make the tree shine, but I like those of the handmade variety. Don’t forget – look forward to an ornament swap here in July 2010!

Ornament Swapping

For the past several years, I have participated in ornament swaps, some as large as 12 participants and some just between my sister and two nieces.

I thought it would be cool to make an ornament for each and every one of my blogger friends, but I should have started that project back in January! (maybe next year)

I received a tip from my friend Cheryl to join the Handmade Christmas Ornament Swap 2009, sponsored by Daisy Quilts, which is how I met Rebecka. She sent me this adorable handmade ornament, which is like those Christmas crackers. The embroidered message is such a nice touch. I am going to use it to store the chocolates she sent me to brighten up my desk at work. I forgot to take a picture of the ornament I knitted for Rebecka, but you can see a picture of it here.

ornament swap from Rebecka

Rebecka also made me this fabulous card, which is a mini quilt by itself.

handmade card from Rebecka

I asked my friend Cheryl if she would be interested in exchanging handmade ornaments. I received this love-able pair of teddy bear ornaments from her. Aren’t they the cutest? Again, I forgot to take a picture of the ornament I knitted for her, but you can see it here.

teddy bears ornaments from Cheryl

Cheryl sent me a few other goodies too, which included that adorable piece of Christmasy fabric, a notepad, a kittie magnet that looks like Callie, and a bag of chocolates. Mmmm, chocolates.

goodies from Cheryl

I will definitely cherish these ornaments because they were made just for me, not part of an assembly process or in a factory. Mostly, I love these ornaments because they remind me of these two friends I met through our blogs and shared hobbies. Thank you, Rebecka and Cheryl! Merry Christmas to you and your families!

Etsy Shopping

I don’t have a lot of gifts to buy because we give couples’ gifts on Dave’s side of the family, and we exchange names on my side of the family. We have a relatively new tradition with friends where we just go out for dinner instead of buying stuff for each other. But I did a little shopping on etsy anyway.

I bought these fabulous handmade pewter ornaments from Bee Hive Kitchenware. I loved each one of them so I just bought the whole set.

I also bought one of these felted balls from Flapjack and Pippin for no reason. I just loved it. It can be used as a pincushion, practical, yes. But it can also just sit in the corner of my drab desk at work and cheer things up a little bit.

I bought one more item that is being shipped from the UK, so it will take a little while longer. I will show you that as soon as it arrives.

I bookmarked a few other fun, whimsical handmade items on etsy that I might order before the holidays, just for the fun of it!

Holiday Traditions

Like most families, my family has a lot of traditions.  Since my brother, sister and I are grown up and have families of our own, those traditions with my parents have changed over the years.  We have also added new traditions over the years with our new families.

I participated in Sew Liberated‘s Holiday Traditions Exchange this year.  Meg at Sew Liberated matches two people to share  our crafts, cultural, and thoughtful reflections about what the holidays mean to our family.  This includes things like:

  1. a handmade holiday decoration,
  2. our family’s favorite holiday recipe,
  3. a “tradition” tutorial, and
  4. a mix CD of our favorite holiday tunes.
Exchange Package

My partner is RaeAnn, who lives in southern California with her husband, three boys, and a little girl on the way!

My most favorite holiday tradition I wanted to share was our annual Cookie Day where all my aunts, uncles and cousins on my mom’s side get together the Saturday after Thanksgiving and bake as many cookies as possible.  Our record was 26 different kinds!  I made this apron for RaeAnn’s holiday baking.

Poinsettia Apron

I also made the patchwork basket picture below to hold a couple of my favorite Cookie Day recipes.  We are also a very crafty family so we also make lots of things for the holidays, mostly ornaments.  We usually exchange ornaments with each other so I knit these mini mittens, sweater and stocking ornaments for RaeAnn’s tree.  Those ornaments were packaged inside the patchwork drawstring bag.

Ornaments for ExchangeI included a copy of The Christmas Carol story, a play we try to see every holiday season; and the soundtrack from The Charlie Brown Christmas Special, a favorite in our house.

Exchange Book and CD

I hope my partner likes her package and shares in some holiday traditions from my house.  Merry Christmas, RaeAnn!

Be sure to go to the Holiday Traditions Exchange Flickr Group to see more photos of what others are exchanging this year.