Saturday, December 11, 2010

Green Crafting

Today, I finally felt like I started to get into the holiday spirit. Keith and I did a little Christmas shopping, and I got to do a little bit of Christmas crafting!

Last week, my mother sent me an email suggesting fabric gift bags for holiday gift wrapping, with the idea that reusable bags would cut down on the time we spend wrapping gifts. Earlier this week, I read on MegaCrafty about all the waste that is caused by holiday gift wrap. According to the EPA, between Thanksgiving and New Years, Americans generate 25% more waste than normal. I read here that during this period, Americans buy 2.65 BILLION Christmas cards, and there is a 40% spike in the purchase of batteries. Most gift wrap, apparently, is not recyclable, so it all goes directly to the landfill.

So, I decided to take a tiny baby step towards reducing waste. (Side note: check out our baby tree! Our place is too small for a real one, but it doesn't quite feel like Christmas without one. For some reason, the cat LOVES this which I mean loves to eat it...which is odd because it's plastic!)

I looked at a tutorial here, but honestly, it was pretty easy to figure out. I had some holiday fabric left over from last year, and cut it to fit some gifts I have already bought. Then I made a few more for gifts I intend to purchase...or because I think it will be useful to just have some on hand. The most time consuming part was just cutting things properly, and that's probably just because I am completely incapable of cutting in a straight line. Each bag probably took 10-15 minutes to make.

So this year, after Christmas when holiday fabric goes on sale, I'm going to buy a bunch and make some more. They're just as pretty as paper gift wrap, and so much more practical!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Something I'd like to try...

Anybody ever seen these before?

Sailor's Valentines were originally made (or brought home) in the 1800s by sailors traveling long distances who wanted something beautiful to bring home for a loved one. Sailors would decorate octagonal boxes with local seashells, often including a sentimental message ("Forget-me-not" was understandably a popular theme). The island of Barbados, often a stopping point on long voyages, became a popular place to buy Sailor's Valentines for those who did not make their own.

The one in the picture above was made by my grandmother, with a sailing ship scrimshaw in the center.This one is my favorite. The center is a picture of my grandfather, which was actually printed in National Geographic magazine after he went on a sailing trip with them. The shells spell out "Love is Forever".

As a history teacher, I love when creativity and history intersect. I like knowing that I'm part of a continuum of people who make stuff - although my reasons for making things might be different, I like to think about why people made things and what significance the things they made held for them. I can only imagine what a cherished gift a valentine like this would have been, brought home by a loved one who had spent years away at sea. I think the history of these beautiful valentines is fascinating, and I definitely want to try and make one - perhaps as a valentine for my sweetie?

Has anyone out there ever made one before? I'd love to hear about your experience.