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Gifts you can make yourself that will be way better than macaroni art

Imitation gold leaf can dress up any picture frame.

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The holidays are right around the corner, and yet you can't find that perfect gift.

Why not make it yourself?

Whether you've got the skills to paint the Sistine Chapel or can't even draw a stick figure, making a gift is possible, and local artists are here to inspire you.

There are many reasons to make a gift. Grandma will love it. And your girlfriend will think you've gotten in touch with an entirely new side of yourself.

But best of all, it's hella cheaper than a visit to Macy's.

Some ideas are incredibly easy and involve accessible supplies. Homemade gifts can be as simple as making an ornament. Craft stores sell glass balls that can be filled with items, felt pieces that can be cut and stitched together, or wooden ornaments that just need painting.

Other ideas involve a little more resourcefulness.


"If you purchase a pre-matted frame, you can have your child color or paint on the mat with crayons, colored pencil, or watercolor, then use it to display a favorite photo of them or your family," says Megan Kilen, one of the artists at the 253 Collective. This idea can be upgraded for creative adults as well. Try some metallic pens on the mat if you're feeling particularly wild.

Julian Pena, another artist of the 253 Collective, suggests using simple frames and embellishing them with imitation gold leaf or silver leaf.


As for what to put in the frame, don't sleep on the self or family portrait. This makes a great gift for your sweetie, but can also be the perfect thing to give family members who live far away. Even with your average point-and-shoot camera, you can get some great shots. Tripods and self-timers turn any camera into a photo studio.

"To shoot outside, get your subject in the shade, preferably with a reflective light source like a light-colored wall along one side of them, to brighten their faces and flatter their skin," says Hillary Tregillus, owner and photographer at Fresh Leaf Photography in Olympia. "Inside, pose everyone in front of a darker background, never in front of a bright window, turn on all available lights, moving any you can to the sides of the group but facing the subjects."

Tregillus also suggests remembering to point your chin up just a tiny bit to up your photogenic appeal. "Shooting straight is okay. Shooting from slightly above can be even better, but don't shoot from below unless you want to go nose diving," she adds.

Cards, Wrapping Paper and Masterpieces

If you want more of a challenge when making your homemade gift, Pena has suggestions for more advanced crafters: screen printing or silk screening to create holiday cards, wrapping paper, decorations, or works of art.

"Screen printing is a great way to create a stencil using photosensitive emulsions, actual objects, or many other things," Pena says. "This sounds complicated, but a product called Yudu attempts to bring this creative process to everyday consumers. It basically includes all the traditional tools used in the screen printing process in one package." Instructions come in the package and there are ample YouTube videos about Yudu as well.

The possibilities are endless.

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Comments for "HOLIDAY GUIDE TWO: DYI Santas" (1)

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Julian said on Dec. 14, 2011 at 11:25am

Love the article!!

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