As wonderful as the holiday season can be, sometimes the added expenses can be a bit too much. In addition to all the decorations, food and additional entertainment, there are so many gifts and cards to buy for so many people. This is where taking out your glue gun and getting a bit creative can truly pay off. A handmade gift says that you thought about that person, it says that you care and it says that you spent time working on something truly unique. It is a far better gift than another gift card and it will last a lot longer too.
Duane Brown is a local artist living in Denver. He’s the brilliant mind behind Invisible Labs, a creative design agency that specialized in some of the boldest and best graphic design work this side of the Mississippi. He has several excellent ideas for holiday crafts that anyone can make at home.
Posters and Prints
Old South Frame and Gallery
1588 S. Pearl St.
Denver, CO 80210
“People say print is dead, and it’s just not true,” offers Brown. “The resurgence of quality prints and posters are extremely popular among young adults. Screen print and letterpress are big right now.” Consider consulting with a designer or a friend with a screen printer, and create a print specifically for the 2012 holiday season. For something very special, consider having your work of art placed in a beautiful frame for your close loved ones. It will be a fantastic gift that is sure to be cherished year after year.
Needle Felt Projects
Denver, CO 80203
Needle felting is basically a simple process that takes wool and uses a barbed needle to make a thicker, more condensed material. Brown offers this suggestion as another great gift idea, “needle felt projects are something anyone can do. Shops like Fancy Tiger even sell kits. It is fun and very easy to learn.” Fancy Tiger also offers classes in needle felting, so now it’s a gift and a fun day of learning something new.
Meininger Fine Art Supply
Denver, CO 80203
A handmade journal can be a very personal gift, one that your lucky recipient would get to use day after day for the rest of the year. “I’ve seen a kit or two at Meininger, but it severely limits your creativity since the papers are already chosen for you. Picking out papers to cover your book cover in is the best part,” explains Brown. “I learned to make journals in design school. It’s not easy and it is pretty time consuming, but handmade journals can be stunning. Heck, my wedding proposal was centered around a handmade book I made for my now wife. Apparently it worked.” So check out one of the many sites on the web with simple instructions for making a journal and you can still head to Meininger to pick up plenty of beautiful and amazing paper.
Handmade Christmas Ornaments
2780 S. Colorado Blvd.
Denver, CO 80222
“I made some very popular ornaments using Sculpey a few years ago and actually made enough money from sales to purchase a good bit of presents for my family,” offers Brown. “You can always, of course, make some rad dreidels with Sculpey too, for your awesome Jewish pals.” If you aren’t familiar, Sculpey is a type of clay that is perfect for molding but also firm enough to hold fine detail. You can bake it in your home oven to lock in your design, and you can purchase different types to paint or buy pre-colored packages. Pick some up at your local Michaels and then let your creativity do the rest.
The Colorado Bead Company
1245 E. Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80218
This gift idea comes from another local artist, Lisa Young. Young started her own jewelry-making business and has been creating beautiful works of art for years. She has even been providing jewelry to local theatre companies for use on stage in theatrical productions. As Young explains, “you just need a few tools, beads and some imagination. You can even repurpose your own jewelry.” There are many great bead stores in town, like the Colorado Bead Company, so head out and start picking out some beautiful treasures. And as you are stocking up on your supplies, consider this great tip from Young, “one of the easiest crafty gifts you can make is a memory wire bracelet or necklace. Memory wire is made from stainless steel and is used as a beading medium much like you would use nylon, hemp or wire. It’s called ‘memory’ because it is already formed in the shape of rings, and it stays in this form for the most part. It’s great because it’s pretty much one-size-fits-all.”
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.