Merry Christmas, everyone!

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

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Wrapping-up crafts

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stars and candy canes

stars and candy canes

Hey there!

Christmas is almost here and you should to get going on wrapping your presents. I have prepared some ideas for you to mix it up a little.

If you are using printed paper, it is not necessary to put extra decorations on the present. In that case, a simple ribbon will do, otherwise it would be too flamboyant.

With single-colored paper there are countless options. How about some stars or candy cane-hearts?!

I found this double-sided wrapping paper, which makes any additional materials unnecessary…

double-sided wrapping paper

double-sided wrapping paper

Just fold the end in the middle of the item and wrap it all around to the back. Make sure the sides are even before you cut out the half of a tree in the folded side. Use the same pattern to create the counterpart with extra paper in the opposite color. You can also cut out the tree entirely, instead of cutting one half out of the paper and gluing the other one on. This technique works with stars or any other Christmas-themed patterns as well!

Lately, themed tape has been very in-style. I think it looks festive when you want to spruce up simple brown paper. Stickers are also a great alternative…

themed-tape and sticker wrappings

themed-tape and sticker wrappings

Ok, I admit—every now and then you need to put ribbons on a present and I combined them with ornament decorations…

Christmas ornament decorations

Christmas ornament decorations

I hope you can use some of my ideas to inspire your wrappings. Have fun crafting!

self-made X-mas cards

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folded Christmas cards

folded Christmas cards

Today, I want to show you some ideas for self-made Christmas cards in the form of postcards and folded cards. There are no step-by-step instructions because I think the designs are easy enough to be self-explanatory. My creations should motivate and inspire you to get started on your own project. Before you get crafting, draw sketches of the visions of your cards. This way you won’t forget anything and you can change little details if you need to.

There are so many ways to design your cards: you can paint on patterns and whishes on paper, craft patterns to decorate the cards with, and I used Christmas-themed paper and ribbons. I prefer the traditional Christmas colors red, white, and green, but you can use any color you like.

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polka dot tree

I made all the patterns myself by drawing the outline of the card on quad paper and fit the pattern on the card. To get the size of the card just right, I used standard postcards as patterns.

Let’s start with one of the easiest designs: a simple triangle polka dot tree. To add a bit more excitement, I encircled the tree with a black line and glued on a star on top of the tree. The multicolored polka dots make it seem like the tree is decorated. Also, the inside of the card is red.

trees trees trees card

trees trees trees card

The trees trees trees card is my very own design of crafting cards. I used scissors that cut a great pattern into the edge of the upper corner and the same scissors to cut the themed paper on the inside of the card. The pattern is also repeated on the front of the card. You could substitute the middle-strip of trees for a Christmas-whish or little cut-out trees instead.

squad tree

squad tree

This last folded card is my absolute favorite. I decided to add the frame after I made the tree, because there was something missing. The square pattern has natural lines that I used to create the frames and edges of the tree.

As you can see, none of these cards have writing on them, which gives them a cleaner and more elegant look. But with postcards, it’s totally different…

There is no Christmas without ribbons, but why should they always be on the presents?

These next two postcards have ribbons as a great 3D-look. I fastened the ribbons with hot glue. Note: Fabric-ribbons tend to dissolve on the ends once you cut them. To avoid that, attach double-sided tape on the back of the ribbon BEFORE you cut it in shape.

plaid Xmas

plaid Xmas

See you next time on pen.paper.polkadots for new ways to wrap and decorate Christmas presents!

polka dot Christmas

polka dot Christmas

Happy first Advent-weekend!

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my advent decorations

Happy first advent-weekend, everyone!

Just thought I’d share with you my creation for this year’s advent-time. I hope you all have dug out your Christmas decorations and went all over the place! There can’t be too much red at this time of year.

Enjoy this magical time and keep up the crafts.

Up next on the blog:

A mobile for babies. Great gift for occasions such as birth, Christening, or any other occasion….

 

The Chalk-Style Holiday Coloring Book – Review

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chalk-style-holiday

“Chalk-Style Holiday Coloring Book” by Valerie MCKeehan, Design Originals an imprint by Fox Chapel Publishing, ISBN 978-1-4972-0164-4, $9,99 or 6,99€

The “Chalk Style Holiday Coloring Book” caught my attention because I hadn’t seen coloring books with a black background before. The colors are so much brighter this way.

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Valerie’s colored samples

The book starts out with an introduction of the author, handletterer and chalk-style artist Valerie McKeehan. She gives a short insight into her work how she transfers her pencil sketches on the chalk board and digitalizing them to add color on her computer. Valerie includes many of her colored examples to inspire her audience.

Tips and tricks on coloring in chalk-style art help you to get the best effect for your picture. Valerie suggests using gel-pens to add your own design on the black background. I would also use a white pen to create extra (snow) decorations. Gold and silver pens add a festive touch to it. She also uses layering and shading to create 3D-effects in the drawings. To learn more about these techniques, stay tuned for my series “How to Color”.

The individually detachable pages are made of acid-free paper under fair-trade principles. Each page has a quote on the back and space to include a personal message.

In a section called “Color Theory” Valerie serves you with basic ideas of combining and mixing colors. Here she says to use black and white to create shades and tints, but I would rather advise you to use complementary colors on the color circle. If you use black or white the color might fade and lose its brightness with the black background. Try it and see which effect you like better. In case you need suggestions for color pallets, Valerie gives you a choice of colors and her fully colored picture on “super easy coloring pages”.

holiday-sample-2

super easy coloring page

Pencils suit the typical chalk-style best, even though the colors might need some layering to make them stand out more. Gel pens can create a great contrast to the black background and Valerie even recommends neon colors for highlights. The only disadvantage of some of the designs is that the drawings presuppose certain colors, because you would not normally color a Christmas tree blue or yellow. Hence, there are limited color options, if you want to make the pictures look authentic and realistic.

If you are a beginner and you still have trouble staying in the lines, this book makes it easy for you to practice, since the black background hides your mishaps better than white paper does.

Some of the designs feature a drawn recipe that will sweeten-up your holidays.

Since I love Christmas, I cannot get enough of this book! There are so many playful designs with wonderful lettering that get you in the Christmas mood. You can find the “Chalk-Style Holiday Coloring Book” by Design Originals on amazon.

In case you are looking for a non-Christmas item, there are various other themes available such as “Blessings”, “Simple Life”, “Nature”, and “Garden”.

Advent Calendar Tree

At Christmas time, there is no German home without an advent calendar. While they are not as widespread around the world, in Germany, it has become a  beloved tradition. It started with Gerhard Lang in 1902. His mother used to give him little boxes filled with cookies to sweeten-up the wait for Christmas Day. As an adult, Gerhard started producing calendars made of paper with pictures to cut out. In the 1920, the typical advent calendar form, as we know it today, started circulating the country. In the 60s, chocolate became the most prominent option of fillings. Although there are many different shapes and fillings to an advent calendar, I sillt prefer a personalized, self-made version of it. That is why my sister and I have started our own little tradition of making a calendar for each other every year. Since the new advent calendar for this year is still in the works, I want to give you the instructions on the one I made for her last year. We had decided to craft a calendar with quotes and sayings. Please excuse the low quality of the picture, back then I did not expect to be running a blog about crafts… Still, I love this creation and I really want to share it with you.cimg1879

Materials:

  • Green carton (large, high thickness)
  • Paper with Christmas-themed prints (you can fashion the cards out of just one print or mix several prints, even different ones for each day)
  • Chain of lights
  • Carton to stabilize the tree
  • Red Napkins
  • Ribbons

For decorations:

(They are up to you, but here are some suggestions, but don’t overdo it, since the cards on the tree should stand out)

  • Little red ornaments
  • Silver or golden stars (you can also paint these on or use stickers)
  • Item to put on top of the tree (angel, star, Christmas-hat)

Instructions:

  1. Creating a Pattern

First, you need to create a pattern for the tree. Put several pages of white paper together with tape and start drawing. To make both sides of the tree match you can fold the paper in half, draw one side of the tree with the middle of the tree at the fold, and cut along the lines. Fold it back up and there is your tree. Make sure the surface is big enough to fit the number of your cards. FYI: the measures of my pattern are 70cm x 50cm or 27.5in x 19.5in, for 18 cards.

  1. Fashioning the cards

Collect the quotes and sayings for the calendar. This can also include quotes from songs, jokes, or your favorite Christmas recipe. Pictures are a great alternative if you do not like the idea of quotes. If you have longer quotes, write them on a page and roll them up in a red napkin and ribbon to go under the tree as presents.

Cut the printed paper in any shapes and sizes; just make sure they are big enough for the quotes but not too big to fit them all on the tree. Number them from 1 to 24. You can either paint the numbers on yourself or use stickers.

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  1. Preparing the Tree

Cut lines of about an inch in the tree where you want to place the cards and slide them in the opening. To avoid the cards from falling forward, and to stabilize the tree, use a second carton. Cut it with the tree pattern and glue it to the back of the green paper. Only put glue above the lines you cut, otherwise you will not be able to slide the cards in.

  1. Fashioning a stand

If you are fine with leaning the tree against the wall or an object, you can skip this point. In case you want your tree calendar to stand on its own, you have to fashion a stand. Use a thick carton that you fold into a triangle. The angle between the floor and the tree has to be slightly less than 90 degrees, so the tree leans back just enough to avoid it from falling over. The side that will be attached to the back of the tree should be at least ¾ as high as the tree. Use glue or double-sided tape to attack the triangle-stand to the tree.

  1. Finishing up

When decorating the tree, start out with attaching the chain of lights. Make sure to have the cards on the tree so you can work the decorations around them. Then you hang the ornaments on some of the corners of the branches and in between some of the cuts for the cards. Finally, depending on what decorations you use, paint stars on the tree, or use stickers if you want to make it a little easier. I used stickers of snowflakes.

Have fun crafting your own tree advent calendar!