Sunday, December 23, 2012

'Tis the season: gingerbread men and 3-D paper stars

A little round up of some baking and crafting from this week/weekend.  Despite the 3 or four inches of fresh snow that fell overnight, I took this morning to finish up procuring and wrapping presents for the family.  Zoe makes an excellent backdrop, and her patience was rewarded with an hour or so hike on some trails across from the nearby elementary school.
wrapping paper courtesy of old seven days papers.
just another way to cut down on waste during the
holidays, doubling as a great fire starter!
another posed picture?
do we have to go home now?
I just want to go exploring. . .

Ninjabread Men!

Gingerbread: yes; men: technically, yes.  For my birthday this year my sister bestowed upon me Ninja-bread Men cookie cutters.  That was back in April, and I've been waiting for Christmas to make them, what with gingerbread being well-suited for the winter holidays.  I could have make cut sugar cookies at some point (and I plan to) but I wanted their debut to be as intended. 
all the makings of a fine ninjabread man
The package comes with a recipe for gingerbread dough, and while I didn't have all the spices the recipe called for, I substituted allspice and they came out tasting quite good.
bring on the heat
ninjamen ready for action
who would turn down a ninja?

3-D Paper stars

*Christmas gift spoiler alert* I can't remember if I found this idea on pinterest or elsewhere, but I thought it would make a clever ornament to give to the respective family households.  I was going to make them out of cereal box cardboard, as described in the first site I found them on although the site she includes for a tutorial describes making them from card stock and scrapbook paper.  I ended up making them from old, colorful calendar pages that are about the same weight as card stock and therefore fairly sturdy. 
I have a habit of keeping "expired" calendars (for years!) which contain images that I really like.  I keep thinking I'll frame some of the images, which has yet to happen, or that I'll do something crafty, which until now, had yet to happen.  There weren't many cereal board boxes in our recycling and I decided now would be a good time to start using up some of my stock-piled calendars. 
I used some pages from an old Anne Taintor wall calendar.  I love her work, which combines vintage artwork with clever and humorous captions.  I didn't use the captions, but the artwork is really colorful, which is what I was looking for. 
assorted colorful calendar pages
The basic process involved tracing stars on the back side of each page, cutting them out, scoring and folding to create ridges along the points and valleys in between the points for the 3-D relief, and hot-gluing two 3-D stars together.  I found a star pattern through google images and traced it onto printer paper to make the template I used. 
tracing the stars
a walk down memory lane as I cut out the stars
The scoring and folding wasn't too difficult, and although my star template wasn't totally even, it still folded well. Because the stars weren't completely even on all five points they didn't quite align too well when I tried to stick two 3-D stars together, so I ended up gluing one 3-D star to a flat star that I had left unscored and unfolded.
almost done.
just a quick trim of the backside stars
and a string for hanging
I finished each one off by threading embroidery floss (two or three strands) through a hole in one point which I made by poking a thicker needle through the layers.  I like how they came out and I plan to do this again, playing around with making them fully 3-D, back and front. 
The key to making the relief of each star somewhat substantial is to start with a star that has points that are widely angled.  If you notice the image I traced, the points are at an angle where the sides of every other point are not parallel.  
wide-angle points - sides along every other point
are not parallel
narrow-angled points  - sides along every
other point are parallel
A slew of them would look nice hanging in a picture window, in a wide doorway, and would be suitable for any number of occasions.

Merry Christmas!


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