Posts Categorized: Projects

Gratitude Garland

Any time is a good time to remember what you’re grateful for, but fall leaves + Thanksgiving makes this a truly perfect time for a Gratitude Garland. Download and print these leaves here, then decorate for the season with this super easy paper project!

Supplies:
Paper leaves / acorn (download here and print on cardstock)
Scissors
Glue or glue stick
String
Marker or Pen

Download and print the leaves & acorn (designed by our awesome summer 2021 intern, Claire Sanderman). I used different colored cardstock for our project – you can decide how you want your Gratitude Garland to look. You could print on white cardstock, or just one color, or do a variety like I did here.

Cut out the leaves.

Ask your family and friends to write things they’re grateful for on the leaves and acorn. You could do this throughout the entire fall, or the month of November if you’re planning to have this as a decoration for Thanksgiving. Or you could do it during your actual Thanksgiving party, as an activity for all in attendance! Here I was getting a preview of how it might look hanging up.

Once at least one of the leaves is filled out, you can put it on your string! Cut the string to your desired length, and then hang it up where you plan to display the garland (over a window, above a fireplace, in an entryway…).

Then take a glue stick and glue the top part of the leaf/acorn stem.

Fold over the string and hold for a few seconds to ensure the glue is sticking (also who DOESN’T love cake and presents?!?)!

Adjust on the string to wherever you’d like that leaf to be, and enjoy putting this gratitude garland together! Happy fall! – Aryn

Hammered Flower Postcards

Finding new ways to unleash your frustrations …er… creativity can be difficult! Look no further than these satisfying Hammered Flower Postcards! You can send a summer note to a friend or loved one, with a bit of your backyard included!

Supplies:

• Flowers (ones with delicate petals seem to work best, like pansies)
• Parchment Paper, cut into small sections (big enough to cover a postcard)
• Hammer
• Postcard template – print on card stock. Download here!
• Paper for flower pounding – you can experiment with what works best. We used card stock for this one, but tried regular paper for the ferns, and water color paper worked well too.
• Scissors
• Pens (for writing your postcard!)
• Glue or glue stick (not pictured)
• Cardboard for under project (so you don’t mess up your table or deck!)
• Pens for writing message and decorating your postcard

Select the flower or flowers you’re hammering (try a bunch of different options to see what you like best – but the ones we tried with delicate petals transferred the nicest!), then flip it so the flower is facing the paper. We found the flower colors bled through one sheet of paper, so it’s best to not do this directly on the back of the postcard template. You may use regular printer paper or art paper (like water color paper) that will later be glued to the back of the postcard template. Cut the paper into four even sections (the size of postcards).

Place a small piece of parchment paper over the flower, and hold in place.

Now it’s time to hammer! Watch your fingers. Gently (or not so gently, although the flowers might splatter about a bit if you use a lot of force) pound the flowers through the parchment. Try to make sure you get all parts of the flower hammered – I suggest following a path along the flower around the edges, then to the inside.

Once you’ve peeled back the parchment, your hammered flower will look something like this. Carefully peel the plant debris off the paper and discard (or compost).

Here’s what our pansy looked like pounded! Farther down in this post, you’ll see a pansy done on water color paper.

This is how our small fern leaves turned out! This is on regular printer paper.

Allow the flower to dry before pasting the paper to the postcard back. You could write your message on your postcard template while you wait! If you haven’t printed the template yet, go ahead and do that – we’ll wait! Tip: Make sure to use card stock, and if you can, un-click the setting that says “fit to print area”. Cut the template into four even parts – you’ll have four postcard opportunities! Smear a fair amount of glue on the back of the postcard – you could certainly write your message and address before you do this, or after (just make sure your hammered flowers are dry before you write).

Then place the hammered flower project on the glue. Press down to make sure it sticks.

Pay attention to the corners, and add more glue if needed.

Once you’ve completed this, your project is done! Write your message, address, and stick a stamp on there, and you’ll send a bit of your backyard to someone you’re thinking of this summer! Enjoy!

Grocery Sack Paper Basket

By Aryn Henning Nichols • Originally published in the Spring 2021 Inspire(d)

Got a bunch of paper grocery sacks sitting around at home? Here’s a fun way to reuse them – weave a basket! Perfect for May Day, Easter, or, really…anything at all!

Supplies:

Grocery sack
Ruler
Clothes pins or other clips (at least four)
Glue (doesn’t have to be glitter, haha!)
Pencil
Scissors
Tape (sorry, forgot to include in below picture!)

Cut the paper bag carefully along the back seam.

Once you get to the bottom, continue to follow the seams along to the edges, so the paper bag will open and lie flat as a long, large piece of paper.

Like so! You’ll have some excess bits at the bottom, so go ahead and cut those off, trying to keep as much of the main piece of paper in tact as possible.

You should end up with a piece that looks like below.

Fold the whole thing in half and make a strong crease.

Cut along the crease so you have two pieces of paper now.

Turn them so they are just slightly taller than they are wide. We want longer strips so the basket is the right height (the shorter the strips, the shorter your basket).

Mark every three inches along the top and bottom of each piece of paper – we’ll need nine marks because we will be cutting nine strips.

There will be an excess of about five inches or so, like the below strip. Set that aside for later.

Fold the paper bag along the three-inch marks (we marked both sides of the paper so you can have a more even fold). Make a strong crease.

Once you’ve creased, cut along the fold to make your three-inch strips.

As mentioned, you should end up with nine relatively even three-inch strips (don’t worry, they don’t have to be completely perfect, just do your best to keep them somewhat even).

Pick the least-pretty strip to be the handle. Below is the one I picked!

Grab that strip and fold it into thirds (we’ll be folding the rest of the strips in half, not thirds).

Make a strong crease along the folds.

Then glue the folds together and set this strip aside to dry. Tip: use a clip to keep it together while drying!

Next, start in on the rest of the strips. Fold each in half and make a strong crease.

Tip: I like to use the side of my scissors to make the creases even better!

If there is writing on your paper bag, decide whether you want it to be visible once your basket is finished, or not. If you want to hide the writing, fold the strip so the writing is inside the fold.

Once you’re finished, you should have eight strips that look something like this!

Time to start weaving! Get four strips arranged vertically, then work the other four strips in horizontally, carefully weaving them – under one vertical strip, over the next, under the next, over the last. Like so:

With the next strip, do the opposite (over one vertical strip, under the next, over the next, under the last).

Once you’re done, it might look like this! Now it’s time to straighten up the strips and tighten the weave!

Use your ruler to make sure there’s an even amount of paper sticking out on each of the four sides (it should be about 6.5 inches). Make sure the ends are even on each side as well.

Once you’ve gotten the edges and the amounts sticking out even, keep the weave as tight as you can and tape along the middle square to hold it all in place.

Place a dot in the middle of the four strips on each side, like so:

Use your ruler to make a line connecting the dots.

When you’ve done that, it should look like this:

Use your ruler to make folds along these lines. Do all four sides.

After those folds, it’s time to start forming your basket! Get your clips ready, and start with two strips on one corner.

Fold one strip over to the left, and fold the other strip across it, like so:

Grab the next strip to the left, and work it in opposite (weaving). Pull the strips taught – it should automatically start forming your corner. This can seem a little messy as you’re going, but you can tighten the basket up once you get to the top layer.

The weave at that corner is complete once you get to a point where you can’t make another weave with the current strips you’re using. You’ll be folding the excess pieces over eventually, but for now, just clip it in the middle and move on to the next corner.

As mentioned, it can get a bit messy, but don’t worry. It’ll work out! Here’s my basket with one corner to go.

Get your final corner to it’s top weave and pull it as tight as possible. Then, start your folds. Fold the strip that’s on the top of the weave down over the other strip, like so:

Tuck it into the basket and tighten your fold.

After you’ve folded all the strips down on that corner, clip it again and move on to the next corner.

If you can, you can tuck longer strips into the next piece inside the basket. Once you’ve done all your sides, it should look like this inside your basket.

For the strips that didn’t get tucked in, glue the tabs down, then clip again while it’s drying.

 

If you’d like your corners to have more shape, you could crease at the tip of each corner, then continue that crease all along that corner.

Next, grab that excess piece of paper sack you set aside at the beginning. Roll it into the basket to see how much is sticking up – you’ll be cutting that down to size.

Cut the part that stuck up out of the basket off all the way around, and then trim the length so it’ll fit neatly inside the basket. This piece will tidy up the inside of your basket, and help make it sturdier.

Put a liberal amount of glue on your now-sized-up sheet, then roll it into the basket.

The clips can come in handy here again. Push the sheet into the corners to help the basket hold shape.

Almost there! Now it’s time for the handle. Grab the strip you folded into thirds and glued at the very beginning, and shape it a bit so it makes the rounded handle you’re wanting it to be. Like so:

Now, put a dot of glue on the inside and outside of one side of the handle, and tuck it in between your stabilizing sheet and the inside of your basket (so you don’t see the handle end).

Do the same on the other side of the handle, then clip until it dries.

And you’re done! As you can see, you can follow this method for lots of different sized baskets – the tiny one below was with an 8.5 x 11 sheet! The wider one had more strips (you can make larger baskets by using more strips – the only requirement is that you use an even number on the strips you use for horizontal and vertical, for example – 8 & 8 or 6 & 6). Happy weaving!