Upcycling Holiday Cards from friends and family into Gift Tags

Re y led Christmas cardsGreeting cards have all been sent and received.  Here’s one great way to repurpose Christmas cards from last year: make them into gift tags.

While most of your gifts must have been wrapped and given away by now, you can make a note to save the cards you get this year to work on after the holiday break.  You can even do this with your kids.  You can also watch out for those gift catalogues (like this year’s catalogue from Tiffany’s which came debossed and patterned in gorgeous snowflakes) and then use them before throwing away.  Make a mental note to save the bakers string or yarn that you come across for this very purpose, or watch out for the slimmer ribbons that will accompany the gifts you received.

You’d be surprised at how pretty these can be, more so after you personalize them with a scribbled greeting from one of the younger kids.
Re y led Christmas cards

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Upcycling wire

One thing I’ve been trying to learn about and be good at is working with craft wire in various gauges.  The problem with wire, though, is that once you work with it, there’s no straightening it out to be reused in its original state. It also takes time to untangle and undo.

Over the weekend, I had started to reorganize my beads and found a stash of them “all wired up” but not quite in the way I would be happy with.  It took some reworking but I finally got them undone and the wire set aside for upcycling.

I sorted them by thickness and cut them in uniform lengths.  I’ve been experimenting with creating findings out of coiled flattened wire.  Pounding wire takes some practice because (1) you have to apply roughly the same pressure to the entire wire, more so if you’re trying to come up with multiples of the same size.  (2)  You have to work a wire from one end to the other on the same side, more so in the first pass when you are flattening a round wire.  This requires holding down the wire on the end you have already flattened to make sure it spreads out on the same side.

I have become comfortable with my hammer and tiny anvil and often work on a flat surface with the anvil on a magazine or some such support.  While we normally think that pounding wire actually thins it out and weakens it, working on wire this way actually hardens the wire because the action compresses it.  (This, of course, is a crafter’s explanation of what the process does..).

I start on one end and move slowly in multiples of 10.  (Pound one area 10x and then move a few millimeters out until I reach the end. ). Imagine yourself squeezing out the last bits of toothpaste from the tube and you’ll get what I’m trying to do.  I them flip the piece and do the same to the other side and I keep repeating this from end to end, both sides, until I achieve the thinness or width I want.  Again, remember to do it uniformly for all sides and all pieces.  Once done, I used my jumping pliers tool to create these coils.

Upcycling craft wire

It takes a while but it beats throwing away wire you’ve spent good money on.  They lend a rustic and handmade feel to my creations which I will be experimenting more with.  I really like the feel and look of the upcycled wire even against such elegant barrel faceted beads like the ones I have pictured here.  Some people produce the same effect with random wire wrapping on an ensemble like this as well. I just prefer the destructured feel it produces when you like them on with beads.

Upcycling craft wire

Paper Crafts: Recycling Gift Wrapping Tissues into Flowers

One part I like about the holidays most is the wrapping of the gifts. This year wasn’t all that much because Angelo had picked smaller toys, and we really didn’t have many gifts going out. I had postponed my holiday giftgiving to after Christmas, being that we as Catholics, do the Feast of the Three Kings which is another excuse to give gifts. I only have a few I’m putting together, so it won’t be much.

I hate having to throw away good giftwrapping paper, though, more so when they have those cute designs. For my own gifts, I stick to the regular green, red, silver or gold giftwrappers. I am trying to get rid of my stash of several years which I had acquired at a post holiday season sale at IKEA. I had bought some 10 rolls of at 25% the original selling price. January is always a good time to buy holiday wares because everything is being pushed out of the store for a song.

I’ve been busy putting my craft corner in order, and while I am nowhere near finishing, I think I did major progress sorting things out, and one problem I have is that I put away stuff to cut or punch at a later time that the best way to get rid of them is to actually do what I had intended to do in the first place.

I had a beautiful holiday gift bag that had held a present from a friend with gold and white striped tissue in in it. Two sheets. I usually fold my gift bags and had to get rid of the tissue when an idea struck me. How about trying to do pom-pom type flowers? I thought I’d give it a try, and I ended up with a half dozen or so “blooms” like the one pictured below.

PaperKrafts: Recycled giftwrapping tissue - 1

How I did it:

1. Fold the paper tissue into two, then fold further into a width that would accommodate your paper punch. I had used a rather wide mega punch so I ended up folding the two-fold into three.

2. To achieve the pompom effect above, I used a multi-flower punch and you can see the original shape below with a view of the back of the flower:

PaperKrafts: Recycled giftwrapping tissue - 3

3. I ended up punching a dozen (6 x 2) and I moved the batch by a 1/8th inch turn clockwise to make the flowers separate.

4. I then stapled the whole bunch together and fluffed the petals to form the pompom.

These, I will use sooner than the coming holidays, but if you have a lot of pompoms, you can store them in a jar or a shoe box to avoid them from getting flattened, or you can punch, move the petals to “alternate” but not fluff and store flat.

Voila!

PaperKrafts: Recycled giftwrapping tissue - 2