Make it a crafty holiday with create-your-own gifts
Virtually every Christmas tree has one. It’s the one ornament sort of shaped like Santa Claus made from red, now-faded construction paper and white shredded cotton. Every year since it was made 40 years ago, it comes out of the box and gets hung on the tree with extreme care. After all, Dad made it when he was 5 years old and presented it to his own parents for the holidays.Handcrafted gifts have value far beyond their monetary worth. Don’t believe it? Whatever happened to the toys, games, and sports equipment you received as a kid? Don’t know? But we all know where Dad’s tattered ornament is. However, making handcrafted presents takes planning. So even though it may seem a touch premature to focus on the holidays, it’s not too soon for those creating their own gifts. New Castle graphic artist Elyse Hutchinson knows all about making one-of-a-kind handcrafted gift items. Hutchinson was singled out on NBC’s Today show this week as a finalist for a national competition for the program’s Do It Yourself Style Week Challenge, highlighting what the show calls a current trend for creating make-your-own products. Hutchinson was selected for her colorful, original jewelry and small notebooks. The New Castle designer’s line, The Re-Giftables, is made from upcycled materials, or previously used items. In Hutchinson’s case, she refinishes previously used gift cards, and incorporates them into necklaces, earrings and other items.
Up and down the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys, artisans and craftspeople abound, and many are ready to teach us what they know. Also in New Castle, Jennifer Dudley DeBose’s Out of the Woods Art Studio offers holiday crafts workshops for both children and adults. The studio hosts classes for making animal sculptures, paper mach, mixed media, and watercolor luminrias. Kids can follow in Dad’s ornament-making footsteps by attending the New Castle Branch Library’s holiday ornament workshop on Dec. 15 with an added bonus: Santa is planning to stop by, too.In Glenwood Springs, the Center for the Arts (GSCA) has three Santa’s workshops, focusing on art, pottery or fashion. Every Thursday for an hour, from now through Dec. 15, gift makers can come to the arts center and work on art and pottery holiday presents. All ages are invited to participate, from age 6 to adults at every level, and the center is offering a five-week for $50 special, or $10 per class for Post Independent readers. “A lot of fabulous work comes out of these workshops,” said Christina Brusig, GSCA’s program assistant. “I’ve seen mixed media jewelry boxes, small canvas Christmas paintings, stocking stuffers such as sock puppets, mugs, bowls, and Christmas tree ornaments.”The center is also offering a teen fashion workshop on Saturdays, running Nov. 12 through Dec. 17. “Participants can make beautiful Christmas gifts by making old clothes brand new with fun embellishments,” said Brusig.
At Colorado Mountain College (CMC), several noncredit classes are catering to the make-it-yourself holiday crowd, according to Beth Zukowski, marketing specialist at CMC. Although the West Garfield campus in Rifle doesn’t currently have any gift-making offerings, Zukowski said at CMC’s Lappala Center in Carbondale, registrations are still being accepted for a jewelry beading class on Mondays running from Nov. 7-21.Just in time to edit your photos to create calendars, cards and other digital photo holiday gifts, a one-day class featuring the software program Picasa is being held on Friday, Dec. 9, at the Lappala Center. And if you’re gearing up for a holiday bake-a-thon and wanting to incorporate gluten-free principles in your desserts, muffins, scones and pastries, a workshop on Nov. 12 should provide valuable tips. The class is being held at CMC’s Glenwood Center, and will address gluten-free cooking as well. The Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities’ (CCAH) two holiday gift-making classes -felt purses and mixed media – are already full. Bringing 21st century technology to the traditional Christmas card, in Basalt, the Wyly Community Art Center is holding an animated holiday card workshop for kids ages 7-14 on Saturday, Dec. 10. Participants can incorporate stop-motion animation into their cards, which will be uploaded to YouTube for worldwide viewing. Glenwood Center for the Arts’ Brusig said besides being economical, handcrafted holiday gifts have other benefits. “It saves people a lot of money,” she said. “Plus, people love to receive one-of-a-kind gifts. And it feels good to make something special for someone special.”
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