Monday, November 21, 2011

Making Christmas

I started thinking the Grinch had a point the first time I saw a Charlie Brown Christmas tree for sale.  You know, the crappy little tree that's probably supposed to remind us that there's more to Christmas than buying a bunch of crap?  (I was going to link you to some of these examples, but I figured that might undercut my point.)

So, here's a decoration you can make that will cost about ten bucks and will not send the message, "I fail to grasp the frequently repeated message of a cartoon that has been an important part of my culture for almost half a century."  

You will need to have bought some stuff at some point, but mixed messages are an important part of the holiday season.  You can make it eco-friendly by using old magazines, comic books, and/or leftover wrapping paper instead of tissue paper.  

What You Need:

  • Paper mache reindeer
  • tissue paper
  • stamp and ink pad
  • Mod Podge
  • Optional: Paint, ribbon, bell
I haven't seen any reindeer at Ben Franklin this year, so mine's from Michaels.  Either wait for a sale or use a coupon because there's no way a fake reindeer is worth $9-$20 (I'm not even sure a real one is worth that much).  You'll get a better price with a coupon, but they'll probably be on sale for 30% off for awhile.

Other important information: the reindeer at Michaels are covered in gold foil.  It sheds all over everything and conflicts with my vision, so I also bought a thing of metallic finish white paint to try to get a better base shade.  

DecoArt's Metallic Finish White Pearl is bad, and it should feel bad.  Fortunately, some random white paint I found in my house has my back.  Now my reindeer has a nice base coat, and I've gotten to inhale twice the paint fumes.

For the decoupage, snowflake stamp on purple tissue paper.  I was originally thinking pale blue, but I couldn't find my last set of tissue paper, and I decided to do purple with a blue ribbon (and maybe a bell).

If I've learned anything from stamping tissue paper and gluing it onto a fake reindeer, it's that subtlety gets you nowhere.  What seems like an elegant and discreet pattern on a whole piece of tissue paper loses something once you start tearing it into pieces and gluing it on fake livestock.  If you're using stamps, aim for something between "well thought out pattern" and "smears of ink."

So, same stamp, same paper, black ink.

I've posed the semi-finished reindeer for display mostly because I thought you'd enjoy looking at something other than the newspapers strewn across my table.  For the face and ears, be prepared to do a lot of tearing and on the spot folding.  Once you're past the broad, mostly flat parts, you're going to get glue on your hands.

Sunday I picked up another reindeer and stamp since Michaels was having a sale, and I had a grant from the My Mom Foundation.  This one I decided to keep gold, which is changing the texture a bit.  I'm also trying to apply the glue and press the paper to it.  According to a Michaels project sheet, this is apparently called "the right way."  Unlike "painting" the paper on with glue, the right way involves getting your hands covered in glue, scraps of tissue paper, and ink.  But at least I didn't buy an overpriced ironic Christmas tree!

Other tips: don't have a cat.  Cats are instinctively drawn to sit on any piece of paper you're interested in, so they are not conducive to decoupage.  On a more positive note, Stampabilities Cheapest Piece of Crap Ink Pad ink dries quickly so it won't smear when your cat goes to sleep on recently stamped tissue paper!

Work is delayed until the glue dries and the cat sits somewhere else.

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