Wednesday, December 5, 2012

DIY- Advent Calendar

It's finally finished!! (Well 99% finished, there is one more finishing touch to do but that can wait). Boy was it an effort.. I think it's the biggest crafty project I have undertaken in a very long time. I think it has been worth it though!

You will need:

  • A plain frame with no glass or backing. A window frame could work quite well if you have an old one lying around somewhere (don't we all?...) but I just made one. I got a piece of wood from Bunnings and got the people there to cut it into 4 equal pieces (Bunnings is a fantastic hardware store here in Australia). I'm writing this post away from home now so I can't go and measure the wood so I'll comment later as to the exact measurement. My length of wood cost $8.96.
  • Chicken wire. This comes relatively cheap from Bunnings/hardware stores; I got a roll (much more than what I need) for $10.90.
  • Hammer and nails. I was quite lucky that Dad had all the tools and gadgets for the frame-making and chicken-wire attaching part of this project (Dad's are awesome like that).
  • Pegs. Wooden ones are always the nicest looking and I got a pack of 150 for very cheap, again at Bunnings.
  • Christmas ribbon. I got three rolls of Victoria Spencer ribbon from Riot Art and Craft. They aren't too long but I managed to just have enough to attach everything to the pegs as I wanted to.
  • Boxes. For putting the goodies in. I got some awesome little boxes that look like the chinese take-away noodle boxes on American sitcoms, again from Riot. They were $1.49 each and I got a pack of 12. 
  • Squares of paper 25x25. Because I only got 12 noodle boxes I decided to make some origami boxes that would make up the rest of the advent calendar. I Christmas-cheered up the plain white paper with a snowflake stamp stamped in silver. Turns out I only had 10 sheets of paper left so:
  • 3 baby socks. For the last three days on the advent calendar (seeing as I had run out of boxes). You could use bigger socks for the sake of putting more goodies in but the only all-white socks that I could find in the supermarket were baby ones (probably better for my belly anyway). The problem with the socks is that you can't paint them with acrylic paint. This is the part of the DIY that is not yet complete; I plan to either sew on ribbon in the shape of numbers or use fabric paint.
  • Paint and brush. I used regular old acrylic paint to paint on the numbers.
What to do:

1. Firstly, you should cut your wood into equal pieces, if you weren't able to get it done at the hardware store. Now my Dad got super DIY with it decided to cut the ends of the pieces of wood on a 45 degree angle so that we could make a cool frame. My plan was just to nail the wood together (I wasn't intending this to be a super sturdy construction..) Usually when a Dad decides to do something, that is what gets done. So he used the saw machine with adjustable angle things for cutting. I even had a go myself!

2. Next we fitted the wood bits together to make the frame shape and used this special holder thing to keep it in place. It's super handy and I think the only reason my parents have all this stuff is because they used to make picture frames for my Mum's art stuff. 

3. There are special L-shaped nails that make this kind of work easy and luckily my Dad had some one hand. As mentioned before, you could avoid all this and just knock the wood together in a basic way with regular nails.
Here are the cool nails.
The positioning.
The hammering.

This one is so neat it's clearly my Dad's work.

 And a video of me nailing ^

4. Now the frame is complete we laid the chicken wire across it (be careful because the wire often springs back into a coil). We roughly cut the wire with some pliers and then used a staple gun to attach it to the frame. 

See yellow pliers in the top left corner of the pic.
Using a staple gun takes quite a lot of hand muscle! So I did one and Dad did the rest =) Dad's are awesome.
5. The frame is totally complete now! Except that there are rough edges of the chicken wire sticking out. Let me tell you that it is a *huge* pain cutting it with pliers and it was a long and tedious job. I suggest using some really sharp pliers. After that I tucked the rough edges away and made it smooth so that no-one would cut their hand when lifting the frame.

6. Make some origami boxes. This video uses 15x15 sheets of paper but I wanted bigger boxes so I just made it 25x25. The secret to a really nice box (and this I only worked out when I was making my second last one..) is when you're at the folding diagonally step of the process, make sure the diagonal fold goes right through the corner fold. 

The origami box YouTube video.
My version, with the silver snowflakes.
7. Now I attached some Christmas ribbon to these boxes. For the ready made noodle-boxes I just tied a bow to it. Then attach this ribbon to the peg (bows look nice but if you're running out of ribbon you could do without).

Stick the ribbon to the flap that folds in as the last step of the box making (see video above).

Lookie: almost invisible! (sorry for fuzzy quality of this photo)
Ribbon ready to be tied to the peg.

8. I actually painted the boxes after I had pegged them to the chicken wire because I found it easier to arrange them first, then paint the numbers. But here is a picture of box number 21 attached to it's peg and then pegged to the wire.

So my painting is a bit pre-school looking. I need to refine my right hand motor skills obviously!

9. With some left-over paper and green card that I had lying around, I used some cut-out things (snowflake, star, and Santa) that my Mum gave me to create an interesting paper bedding for the goodies inside the boxes. I also had some green tissue paper which came in handy.

Nifty little cut-out crafty things! I love the snowflake one though it's really difficult to use on anything thicker than paper.

Goodies provided by my flatmate: Ferrero Rocher and Crabtree and Evelyn Christmas-spiced fudge

10. Attach the socks as the last few days.

Finished!! Just a few little notes: because the origami boxes I made were stamped with silver snowflakes I decided to liven up the noodle boxes with some grey paint. I immediately regretted this decision.. but I had to commit and do it to all of them. I don't think it looks so bad, but could be better. I also painted some green dots around the frame and it's not really for hanging so I just leant it against the wall on top of our waist-height bookshelf. If you want to avoid the crazy DIY that was the frame making, you can get magnets which you could super glue to the backs of the pegs and then just put it on your fridge. Even though December has started it isn't too late to get a move on with some Christmas craft; although this project took quite a lot of time, there are simpler ways to do it.

None of these photos have been edited but I think they look ok. It's nice to see the real thing sometimes no? (And also now I think about it I haven't proof-read this post so hopefully there are no embarrassing mistakes! I'm sure you'd all tell me if there were). Happy Christmas crafting!!!

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