(January, 1912, page 8)
Some Eleventh-Hour Gifts
By Florence J. Moore
After all, it is not the intrinsic value of a gift that counts, but the fact that the giver thinks of us; and the smallest remembrance which indicates kindly thought is of more value to the recipient who also shares the Christmas spirit than an expensive present which carries with it only the suggestion of dollars and times. Is not this true?
Then, many times, at the last moment – literally the eleventh hour -- we find ourselves lacking a gift for some friend whom we wish to remember. We might go out and buy something, but that we do not wish to do; we want the remembrance to bear a personal message of love and good-will – to be something of our own handiwork. And right here enters in a class of “fancy-work materials” too often overlooked in these days of the dominant needle.
A few hours spent with water-color paper, blotting-paper, a box of water-color paints or artist’s crayons, a little gold in or gilding and some narrow ribbons – all costing “next to nothing”—will result in a half dozen or more wonderfully attractive gifts. One does not need to be an artist in order to evolve them; if one is painstaking, the very first attempts at coloring with these simple pigments will be most satisfactory. Sketch the design until you have it to please you – in many cases a portion of some embroidery-pattern may be utilized; then trace it lightly on the part which is to be decorated, and paint it in.
There are articles innumerable which may be easily made, and one bit of work is sure to afford a working suggestion for another. Calendars, shaving-pads, blotters, cases for postcards, letter, stamps and court-plaster, candle-shades, sachets, and so on and on, may all have a foundation of water-color paper. None of these things are new in themselves, but it rests with the worker to make them as novel and pretty as possible by varying the decoration and introducing all sorts of quaint and dainty conceits.
If one has had no experience whatever it may be well to practise on some little article – or on something which may be utilized in the making of a small gift should the work turn out satisfactorily. Having once tried her hand, the worker will have gained confidence in her own ability – which is the main thing – and thereafter will have no difficulty. It may be said, right here, that water-color paper which has been “stretched” is easier to work on that that which has not been thus treated, and that work done on it has a more finished or smoother look. To stretch the paper, place the sheet on a board and turn up the edges a very little, say one fourth inch, so that the water will be prevented from running off. Pour on water until the surface is covered, allow to remain a few moments, then drain it off – taking care that the under side of the sheet is not dampened. Give the edges that were turned up a coating of glue (on the under side) and fasten the paper to the board, stretching it until perfectly smooth, and let remain until quite dry. Take care to not touch the paper while it is wet. To remove it, cut around the glued edge with a sharp knife. The outlines of articles to be made may be traced on the sheet and painted in before taking up the sheet if one prefers to do this; later they may be cut out and used.
Stenciling lends itself admirably to the decoration of articles of this character, and I have found the new artists’ crayons very much easier to work with, particularly on paper that is at all porous, than paints which are mixed with oil or water. They come in a variety of shades and are used as you would use the paints, but without mixing, the crayon being substituted for the brush.
First, is the little holder for lingerie ribbons. Cut two circles of water-color paper, decorating one piece with a cluster of violets, forget-me-nots, holly, or whatever you please, and arranging so that the stems cross in the center where they will be tied by the tiny bow of ribbon. On the other piece paint a tiny border, with the inscription “Yards and yards of love,” in gold or violet ink lettered on it. Place between the two circles a roll of lingerie-ribbon, and pass a narrow ribbon, matching the predominating tint of the decoration through the center, tying the ends in a pretty bow.
The same circle, with different decoration, or the same (since each gift will go on a mission all its own, and the design, once perfected, may be readily transferred to the various articles by means of impression-paper, tracing lightly) may be used for a penwiper, sachet, blotter or – cut larger – shaving-pad. For the penwiper place it over several circular pieces of chamois, cut a trifle larger, tying all together by means of a ribbon, either in the center or at one side. Take for the sachet a circle of silk, seven inches or more in diameter, place within it a smaller pad of cotton, thickly sprinkled with sachet-powder, gather the edge, and draw up until the circle of water-color paper will just cover it, and paste the latter in place. To the shaving-pad is attached the shaving-paper, also my means of a ribbon passed through the whole at one side, leaving a loop to hang by and tying in a bow at top of the cover.
Another sachet – illustrated – is a trifle more pretentious. Cut two pieces of the water-color paper, each six and one-half by eight inches, or of size desired. Scallop the edge irregularly and gild, edging with a narrow line of black ink. Paint a cluster of violets at the right side of one piece – that which has the gilded border – and at the left side the inscription, quaintly lettered:
“I looked for something sweet to send to you;
The purple violets asked if they would do.”
Do the lettering with green ink, touching up with gold. Two strips of half-inch violet-colored ribbon cross the back diagonally, and a pretty bow is tied where they meet in the center. Under the ribbon may be tucked a card of greeting. Place a layer of cotton wadding sprinkled with sachet-powder – violet in the present instance – and paste the two pieces lightly together.
A postage-stamp case that is quite out of the ordinary, and the decoration of which seems especially suited to a gift since pansies are proverbially “for thoughts,” is formed of a piece of water-color paper five inches long and four and one-half inches wide. Fold three times, in equal parts, and glue together at one edge. Now take a piece of the same paper a little less than three inches wide, or just wide enough so that, when folded once, it will slip easily into the case formed by folding the larger piece, and five and one-half inches long. Having folded it through the center, cut two sheets of waxed paper and sew in at the fold. Paint a large purple pansy at the top of the case or first piece, scalloping the edge in the shape of two petals. At the top of the second piece paint two more petals, scalloping the edge and shading down so that when the holder is in the case these petals will come just above the others, finishing the pansy of five petals. Add a stem and leaves, and with gold ink or paint letter the word “Stamps” across the lower part. Edge the holder and case with the gilding, also. A similar case may be made for court-plaster, changing the lettering to suit the contents.
Take a block of paper three by five inches; cut a piece of tinted water-color paper a trifle larger and paint on it a pretty little winter scene, or decorate it as pleases your won fancy. Procure a little calendar-pad and make a cover of the same water-color paper by cutting a piece three by four and a half inches, folding through the center, cutting two slits in the back, near the fold, and inserting the ends of the strips of ribbon which attach the calendar to the block, and to a long end of ribbon a small pencil. The calendar-cover may have the year printed upon it with gold ink, or another decoration may be substituted; and a pretty postcard may take the place of the hand-painted block-cover.
Blotting-paper is admirably adapted to decoration by means of artist’s crayons, and a desk-blotter, large enough to take in a full sheet of note-paper cannot fail to be acceptable to a friend who has a desk and does much writing. To make such a blotter take two pieces of blotting-paper, each twelve inches wide and nineteen inches long. For one of the models shown light gray was sued. Fold across the middle to form a book; paint on the front cover a spray of autumn-leaves, pass a half-inch ribbon, red, through the fold, bringing it to the outside, and tie in a bow over the end of the spray. A calendar may occupy the lower right-hand corner, and the decoration may be stenciled, or done in any way that is preferred.
Notch the edges with a pinking-iron, or leave them plain, as you wish. Sketch in the bare branches of a tree, and on one limb paint three little birds “piping for spring.” Bind together with a strip of inch-wide satin ribbon, matching the inner sheet of blotting-paper in color, carrying it down the fold, inside, out and up to the top outside, fasten securely, and bring the end forward, forming a pretty bow on the cover.
Using the same general model, these blotters may be varied indefinitely. There are postcards which may be chosen from any high-class assortment, and which have perfect sepia and pastel tinting’ such cards will be found of great value when one comes to the making of gifts similar to those described.
On the pieces of water-color paper remaining after you have cut the various articles described, and others, paint sprays of holly, “Santa-Claus” heads, or any device serving as a reminder of the season. Tuck these in with your more pretentious gifts, and be sure the addition will be a pleasing one.
A little folder for holding a photograph or small picture adds greatly to the attractiveness of the gift, and the expense, either of time or material is not worth considering. Using the tinted water-color paper, cut a piece so that one half, when folded through the middle, will measure four by five inches; the other half, which holds the picture must measure four and three-fourths inches from the fold, and six and one-half inches the other way, allowing three-fourths inch on sides and end to fold over and hold the picture in place. Cut out the corners, and fold so that the case, open, measures five by eight inches. Cut a piece of white water-color paper, four by five inches, and on this paste a tiny water-color scene; if it can be one which the friend to whom you are sending the folder knows, so that it will recall pleasant hours, so much the better.
A camera will play a very pleasing part in the preparation of these little gifts, as one can photograph familiar scenes and arrange them in a variety of decorative ways.
Gifts Pretty and Inexpensive
By Hannah Waltenmaier
The blotter and the calendar are truly “everywhere present” when preparation for Christmas-giving is at its height, and this is scarcely to be wondered at. Everybody uses a calendar and everybody uses a blotter, hence these gifts are of universal utility, and the two may be very readily combined.
The wise woman will make constant provision for her Christmas-box by adding to her store of materials as opportunity offers. Frequently a dealer in artists’ supply will have water-color papers, odds and ends of mat-board, and so on, possibly a trifle mussed from handling, or which for some reason he desired to dispose of and will sell at a very low price. Then is just the time to buy; for such things can always be made use of, even to the smallest pieces.
A pretty blotter for the writing-table consists of three or four pieces of old rose blotting-paper cut of desired size- in the model four and one-fourth by nine inches; a piece of eggshell-finish water-color paper, white, is cut about one fourth inch smaller all around and with rounded corners. On this is painted a cluster of wild roses or sprays of other flowers, which a bow of old rose ribbon, put through blotting-paper and cover, seems to tie. Between cover and blotting-paper slip a little card with the suggestion, “To blot out all but fond memories.” If desired, a calendar-pad may be fastened at the lower end of the cover, thus making the gift one of double usefulness, as suggested.
An address-book will be appreciated by nearly every one. For the cover, fold a piece of water-color paper so it will measure five by seven inches. Decorate the front with sprays of forget-me-nots – a flower peculiarly suggestive and appropriate for the purpose. Cut leaves to fold between the covers, or procure note-paper of the requisite size, write a letter of the alphabet at the top of each page, from A to Z, punch two holes at the back, and tie with blue ribbon. The inscription “Addresses” may be lettered across the front, or omitted, as desired.
A similar booklet of choice selections from poets and authors, or one of receipts, will be welcomed by the woman to whom either especially appeals. The inscription should, of course, be made to indicate the contents of the booklet.
For a hanging calendar cut a piece of heavy mat-board, say ten by four and a half inches. On a piece of water-color paper paint any appropriate design, fasten it to the board, attach a calendar-pad below, at the top cut two quarter circles facing each other, draw the notched ends of ribbon through to the front and leave a loop at the back to hang by. The person whose time and means are limited, and who can neither paint nor embroider, will yet find the making of such a calendar an easy matter. Instead of the water-color painting let a postcard be chosen, having colors to blend and harmonize with the mat-board, and with a suitable inscription. The result will be really artistic, with the least possible expenditure of money or time.
Then there is the postcard calendar. A few yards of narrow ribbon, a sheet or two of blotting-paper and a dozen postcards will provide as many gifts to send to friends at a distance, or present to friends near at hand – gifts sure to be appreciated if a judicious selection of postcards is made. Each should mean something; should show that thought has entered into the preparation of the gift. For instance, a beautiful marine view, in sepia or refined coloring, should go to one who has never seen the ocean, perhaps, and who longs to see it; a view of some famous church is sure to appeal to one, a historical scene to another, and upon just the right choice of subject depends much of the charm of the gift. Then there are the illuminated text- or motto-cards; among them is sure to be exactly what somebody needs. If one is inclined to be gloomy and look on the dark side, think how great an influence for the better may be exercised by a blotter, sent by one the recipient knows to be a true friend, which constantly suggests:
“Just being happy helps other folks along:
Their burdens may be heavy, and they not strong;
And your own sky will lighten
If other skies you brighten
By just being happy, with a heart full of song.”
Cut the pieces of blotting-paper a very little smaller than the card – or cut them a half inch larger all around, the extra size serving as a mat or frame for the card which, in that case, must be pasted to the center of the upper piece. If cut of the same size, tie all together at end or side, according to the card, with narrow ribbon; in the other case tie the blotting-paper sheets together in the same manner.
A book-marker requires a strip of water-color paper, five inches long and two and one-half inches wide, the ends folded to the edge, forming a half square, and tied with narrow ribbon at the back. The decoration is a spray of forget-me-nots, and the marker slips over the corner of the page to keep the place.
Another similar strip, ornamented with a pretty flower-spray and with ends joined by ribbon matching the coloring of the blossoms, serves for a napkin-ring. Other small pieces will work in for making stamp-boxes or pockets, court-plaster cases, candy-boxes, and innumerable other little things.