Posts Categorized: Today

DIY Paper Gift Bow

What better paper project for a “Wrapping Up” magazine theme than a DIY Paper Gift Bow?! It’s a lovely present-topper for holidays, birthdays, or any gift-day! All you need are a few scraps of paper, tape, and scissors!

When I was younger, my mom taught me to make this homemade gift bow. It is a favorite of mine – a version of it actually debuted our Paper Projects back in 2011 (wow!), but as a flower. These bows always amazed friends at parties – “Whoa, you MADE that?!” (In all honesty, it’s really very easy – but you don’t have to tell anyone that!)

Supplies:
Wrapping paper (or any paper)
Scissors
tape

Choose your wrapping paper. You can make your bow multi-patterened (like I did), or go with one pattern or color to make it more uniform. It’s up to you! You’ll need to make three different sized bow sections (you could do more, if you want to make a giant bow!), so start by folding one corner of your paper up into a triangle. If it’s not an even triangle, trim the edges (so the paper scrap is square-ish in shape).

But keep it as a triangle! And fold the corners together to make a smaller triangle.

And more more time to make an even smaller triangle (it’s the same set-up as making a paper snowflake to start). One you’ve got your smaller, tri-folded triangle, trim up the wide end to be rounded.

It should look like this at this point:

There are three folds on one side…

And one on the other.

We want to cut along these folds, but MAKE SURE NOT TO CUT ALL THE WAY TO THE TIP! It will all fall apart if you do that. Leave a bit uncut at the tip on each fold. Do the three folds, then the one fold on the other side.

Open it up. It should look something like this now!

Grab one “petal,” and sort of roll the sides into itself. This will be your first bow point.

Flip it over and tape the petal you’ve folded at the back.

Repeat until you’ve taped all the bow points.

It should look like this when you’re done with this part (as you can see, my cuts weren’t perfect, but it still totally looks fine in the end!):

Next, decide if you want your next bow section to be larger or smaller than the first section you made. I went with larger, so I needed to make a larger square for my second bow section. To do this, just fold a piece of wrapper paper corner over, but put it more to make it larger!

Repeat the above steps to this section. Now you have your section bow part!

They looked like this together. You can now decide if you want to add another section, and what size you want it to be.

I decided I wanted one bow section in between these two, so I sized the square appropriately and repeated the steps again for my third section (steps not pictured – I added a pink section!).

Now it’s time to assemble them! Make a tape loop.

And put it in the center of your bottom bow section.

Press your next section down on top of the loop, securing it in place.

Repeat with your remaining sections.

Once you’ve taped the sections together, flip the bow over and put a tape loop on the bottom.

Press it on to your wrapped present.

Now cut a small strip of paper for the finishing loop! You can decide which paper you want to use – I went with the same green as the top bow section.

Tape it so it makes a paper ring. Then add a tape loop to the bottom of it (haha, is that enough loops?!), and press it in place in the middle of the bow.

And you’re done! This is sure to impress all your friends and loved ones! I know it did mine! Happy gifting! <3 – Aryn

Fall 2021 Inspire(d)!

The Fall 2021 Inspire(d) – our 14th anniversary issue! – is all about the idea that change (even hard change!) is GOOD! Inside, you’ll find community builders, fun fall activities, and tips for embracing (or creating) change in our lives. 

Change is Good! Decorah Community Prairie • Community Builders: Craig & Sara Neuzil • Melissa Wray • Josh Hertel • Nancy Martinson • Mental Health + Change is a Good Thing • On the Virtues of Dead Wood • Artist Steven Maeck • Cider Round-Up • Gratitude Garland • Sum of Your Biz: Agora Arts • Cool New Driftless Spots & More!

Read the whole thing online here!

A note from Aryn:

Another year of Inspire(d) has somehow whooshed by (kind of like deadlines, haha). And that means we’ve been making Inspire(d) for 14 years now, you guys!!!!

I kind of can’t believe it.

We’ve changed some over the years (see the cover pics on pg 5!). I believe those changes have made us a better publication for our readers and region.

Of course, not all changes feel good. (Hello, on-going pandemic.) But even changes for the worse teach us about ourselves, and where we want to be. It’s the spirit of this – of growth, of embracing change – that leads us through this anniversary issue of Inspire(d).

We’re not the only ones celebrating anniversaries. The idea for the Decorah Community Prairie was seeded 20 years ago – read about it in Renee Brincks’ story on page 16 – and this coming spring Agora Arts in Decorah will be celebrating 30 years in business! See what inspires and motivates owner Gail Bolson-Magnuson in our fall Sum of Your Business (pg. 57), and make sure to check out the many awesome local artists she represents at her store. Also mark your calendars for upcoming Art Tours around the region.

Some things that haven’t changed about Inspire(d). Community Builders are still a cornerstone of our mission. We believe building community is the most important thing we can do on this planet. You can build community in a neighborhood, city, region, state, nation… world, at any level. It doesn’t have to be big to have a big impact. Connecting with others helps us connect with our humanity, and realize we’re all in this together.

The Community Builders in this issue are Craig and Sara Neuzil of PIVO Brewery & Blepta Studios in Calmar, Iowa; Melissa Wray of Mainspring in Caledonia, Minnesota; Josh Hertel of Coulee Con in La Crosse, Wisconsin; and Nancy Martinson of Lanesboro, Minnesota. We say a hearty thanks to these – and all – community builders across the region and world, working to bring us together. You are a vital part of positive change!

Change can also be tough. Mental health writer Olivia Lynn Schnur shares ideas for dealing with and embracing change, with an infographic introduction by me (pg. 33).

Oh, and have you been to Burr Oak, Iowa, recently? Artist Steven Maeck’s work is hard to miss, if you have (pg. 42). Sara Friedl-Putnam’s story highlights how his sculptures are all about changing one thing into another.

And make sure to read our fabulous conservationist writer Craig Thompson’s piece about…dead trees! Yep, he shares his wealth of information about the invaluable resources of decaying trees (pg. 54 – we loved it)! Accompanying his words is the lovely work of Mary Thompson, who makes and teaches art in Wisconsin.

Speaking of art, our awesome remote summer intern, Claire Sanderman, created the cool design for our Change is Good cover (learn more about her on pg. 5), and we used her leaf and acorn design to create the Gratitude Garland Paper Project on page 47). No matter what we’re going through, it’s always a good idea to make a tally of what we’re grateful for, and this project helps you decorate for the season, to boot!

One of the biggest things we’re grateful for is YOU! Thank you for being with us these last 14 years, and allowing us to create this publication in your hands. We appreciate you more than you could ever know!

As always, looking forward,

Aryn Henning Nichols

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