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Handmade holiday: Crafted gifts share spirit of season

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With just less than a month until Christmas, the holiday shopping season is well under way.

The newest video games, gold and diamond jewelry and iPads undoubtedly will top many lists. Kindle Fires and virtual video glasses for the iPhone have emerged as must-haves this year.

Holiday shopping can cost hundreds, even thousands, of dollars and put people in a financial hole.


Beckie Farrant

Home: Greenwood

Blog: Infarrantly Creative

Website: infarrantlycreative.net

Focus: A creative website looking at recycling and repurposing everyday household items for home decor, fashion and accessorizing

Johnnie Lanier

Home: Bloomington

Blog: Saved by Love Creations

Website: savedbylovecreations.com

Focus: A craft-centric site that features tutorials and how-to’s on topics such as crochet, holiday projects and jewelry

But with the help of some thrifty local shoppers, spreading Christmas cheer doesn’t have to leave you saying “bah humbug” every time you look at your bank statement.

Instead of spending savings on store-bought gifts and slogging through packed malls, simple yet elegant handcrafted items can ease the burden both on your psyche and your checkbook.

“It’s way more personal than going to Target and buying a gift card. It’s more unique, and people will cherish that,” said Johnnie Lanier, who started the blog Saved by Love Creations and posts dozens of homemade gift ideas. “Shopping can be really hard on you.”

According to Gallup, a national research and polling company, the average shopper will spend $770 on gifts this holiday season. Even in harsh economic times, that number has increased from $764 last year and $616 in 2009.

Avoiding all pricey gifts on your list might be impossible. But mixing in some handmade jewelry, toys and decorations can balance that out, Greenwood resident Beckie Farrant said.

Farrant is the founder of Infarrantly Creative, a website devoted to helping people find creative, unique and inexpensive ways to decorate their homes, as well as have stylish clothing and accessories.

A holiday feature dating back to 2010 has been her “Pennywise Presents,” in which she and her guest bloggers suggest how to make such things as personalized picture frames, medallion earrings and pop art based on personal photographs.

“Custom gifts are so fun to give,” Farrant said.

Lanier is a former Greenwood resident and Bloomington-area blogger who started the website Saved by Love Creations. She was working in the medical field in 2009 but felt that her artistic side was being stifled.

A regular at other crafting blogs, she had learned so much that she wanted to try it herself.

She focuses on budget-friendly projects that are knockoffs of more expensive home decor, clothing and jewelry. Her aim is to break them down into easy-to-use tutorials that almost everyone can do.

Since starting, she has been able to leave medicine and run her blog full time.

“People are really into the earth-friendly, eco-friendly, crafty sorts of things,” Lanier said. “It’s really taken off.”

For people who might be considering making some of their own gifts this year, she suggests going to a website such as Pinterest. The social community will feature ideas on many kinds of crafty projects, allowing you to get ideas and mimic what stands out, she said.

To help people get started, Lanier and Farrant have shared some of their favorite projects for this holiday season. The step-by-step tutorials should fit at least a few people on your holiday shopping lists, all while spending a minimal amount on supplies.

“Try to think outside the box,” Lanier said. “People love handmade things. They’re usually more grateful for that than anything they get from the store.”

Wine bottle lantern

Maker: Johnnie Lanier


Three empty wine bottles

Acetone nail polish remover

Acrylic four-ply worsted weight yarn


Sink full of ice


Gloss enamel glitter

Low-grit sandpaper

Drill with sander attachment (optional)

Cosmetic sponge

Copper foil tape

Three battery-operated LED votive lights

Krylon dual satin nickel spray paint

2-inch-by-6-inch piece of wood, about 1 foot long

Cutting the bottles:

1. First step is to cut the wine bottles. This is accomplished with yarn and acetone in a quick, simple process.

Pour acetone in a Dixie cup

Tie yarn around the bottle where you want the cut to be and tie in a knot. Cut off excess yarn at the ends.

Dip yarn in acetone and slide onto bottle.

Light yarn and twirl bottle so the entire area around yarn is heated for 20 seconds.

Put bottle in ice; you will hear a pop when the bottle breaks clean.

I cut mine at three different heights to have a tiered display. We are working only with the upper piece of bottle in this tutorial, but the lower part makes a great dish, glass or candle holder.

2. To get the edges smooth, dear husband and I teamed up and used the sander drill attachment with low grit sand paper.

3. Before you begin painting, clean the bottle well. Use warm, soapy water, pat dry with lint-free cloth, then clean entire surface with alcohol.

Painting the glass:

1. I was going for an ombre red-yellow from bottle opening to cut edge. The effect was created with several layers of gloss enamel glitter, applied lightly with a cosmetic sponge.

2. Use cosmetic sponge to apply a very thin layer of glitter enamel. Avoid going over areas you have already painted.

3. Let first coat dry for 30 minutes, and apply two more coats the same way.

4. When third coat is dry, apply red gloss enamel glitter to top and neck of bottle. Mix yellow and red to create orange for a gradient effect as you work your way down the bottle.

5. Repeat red and orange for one or two more coats, until you are happy with the results. Once dry, tape upper section of bottle and apply white frost enamel for contrast.

6. Use a flexible adhesive stencil to make designs and patterns on the bottle.

7. Once this is dried for 24 hours, add copper foil tape border around the top of each lantern.

8. To light them, use battery-operated LED votives

9. Cure time is four days for these paints. After that time, you can bake per instructions if the piece needs to be dishwasher safe. Not the case here.

Making the shelf/holder

1. Use a 1½-inch spade drill bit to create evenly spaced holes in a 2-inch-by-6-inch piece of wood.

2. Paint with Krylon dual satin nickel.

3. Use L-shaped brackets to attach to the porch. Place bottles in the holder, and turn it on.

Glass tile pendant

Maker: Johnnie Lanier


Graphic images for the back of the glass tile — should be 1-inch square.

1-inch square glass tiles

Diamond Glaze or other glaze if you prefer

Bezel is used in this tutorial – You could also just leave the glass tile as is, seal the back (with Mod Podge or resin) and glue on a bail for attaching to chain.

E6000 or superglue

Square settings to hold the tile


1. Cut out image with scissors.

2. Apply small amount of glaze on the backside of the glass tile.

3. Spread glaze evenly and pull out any air bubbles with fingertip or toothpick.

4. Place the image facedown on the glaze and gently press it from center to the edges, ensuring no air bubbles remain. The paper should slide on the glaze when you touch it. This tells you that the right amount of glaze was applied.

5. Let glaze harden for a couple of hours and trim extra paper on the sides. Use water and a lint-free cloth to wipe away any excess glaze on the glass.

6. Put a little bit of superglue in the setting.

7. Place the glass tile with paper side down.

8. Let dry, add chain and you are finished.

Snowflake pillow

Maker: Beckie Farrant


Martha Stewart Crafts Fabric Medium

Martha Stewart Crafts Metallic Paint, Champagne

Martha Stewart Adhesive Silkscreen: Snowflake Set



Sewing machine with coordinate thread

Rotary cutter


Pillow form

Disposable cup

1. Cut your fabric 1 inch larger than your pillow form. I had a 14-inch pillow form, so I cut out a 15-inch square of red fabric.

2. Cut apart your snowflake screens so that they are separate from each other.

3. Mix one part fabric medium with two parts paint into a disposable cup. I used 1 tablespoon of paint with a ½ tablespoon of fabric medium.

4. Lay your screen on your fabric and press down. The screens have a slight adhesive on the back. Load your squeegee with paint and then drag it across your screen. Do not press your squeegee into the screen or you will end up with bleeding.

Tip: Taping your stencil down is optional. I did at the beginning to learn how to press and load paint but didn’t do it on my second pillow, and it turned out better than the first one.

5. Remove and rinse screen.

6. Repeat until your entire fabric is stenciled the way you like.

7. With a press cloth over your dried snowflake pillow press to set the paint.

8. Cut two pieces of fabric 15 inches by 12 inches and then fold under the long end twice and sew a hem on both pieces of fabric. With right sides together and the two back pieces overlapping pin and sew your envelope style pillow.

9. Stuff your pillow form into the pillowcase.

Backgammon or Acey Deucey Game

Maker: Beckie Farrant


Box from the Melissa & Doug Birthday Party and Pizza Party toys (others will work just make sure they are close enough to the right size — about 13 inches-by-9 inches-by-1.5 inches.)

120-grit sandpaper


Spray primer

Spray paint


Mod Podge (I use gloss)

Foam brush

Patterned paper or cardstock

Electric drill



Paper cutter or craft knife

30 game pieces (15 of each color)

Bag to store pieces in

1. Using a hammer, knock off the divider pieces on the sides so that you just have the tray with no dividers in it. You could fill in those divots with wood filler, but I like the fact that you know it was “something else” in its past. I think it adds character.

2. Lightly sand the entire surface down. Spray-prime and -paint the boxes. I used Valspar Petrol Blue because I got it for $1 on clearance at Michaels.

3. Measure the width of your trays at the narrowest end. Mine were 8½ inches. Since I needed six triangles, I divided that number by 6 and got 1.375 or 13/8 inches. So the width of the widest part of the triangle needs to be 13/8 inches. The height is 4 inches.

4. I used American Crafts’ new line Hello Sunshine for the lettering. I used the papers Glow (for the letters) and Delicate (both the front and backside) for the triangles. To cut the triangles cut them 4 inches tall by 13/8 inches wide on a paper cutter or with a craft knife.

5. Make sure you use two different colors of paper and you alternate the colors. (Note: Across the board should be the opposite color.) Using an even coat of Mod Podge, glue your triangle papers burnishing them in place so that you don’t get any bubbles.

6. Next I used my Silhouette machine to cut out the letters “Acey Deucey” in the Pharmacy font from dafont.com. If you don’t have a Silhouette machine, then you can purchase scrapbooking stickers to achieve the same effect.

7. I Mod Podged the letters on as well. When everything was dry I gave it two coats of gloss Mod Podge over the entire tray surface to seal everything in place.

8. I purchased small hinges at Ace Hardware. Leaving a small gap — the size of the width of the hinge part — I marked and predrilled holes 1 inch from the edge of the tray. Then I screwed them in place with an electric drill.

9. Then I purchased a clasp for $1.99 at Menards and screwed that in place.

10. I already had dice in my stash, but I did purchase small glass rectangles (one bag of clear and one bag of turquoise) from Dollar Tree for the game pieces. I had a random organza bag in my stash and threw the game pieces in there.

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