The Gift of Hand-Crafting

christmas gift(Note: Julie Gribble and Lori Hanson will return with their Making a Picture Book series in the New Year.)

There are so many ways to be creative in this world, and at this time of year, hand-crafted creativity abounds. Some people knit (and I have endless admiration for those who do), others do fine needlework, or paint.


Some, like my friend Pat, create pottery. (Click on any of these photos to see them enlarged.)

Pat makes it look so easy!
Pat makes it look so easy!


Some combine swatches of beautiful fabric to create quilts.

Quilt squares created by my maternal grandmother in the 1940s.
Quilt squares created by my maternal grandmother in the 1940s.


Some make lace or other intricate thread creations by tatting.

Tatting by my Aunt Myra (Bev Brenna's mother)
Tatting by my Aunt Myra (Bev Brenna’s mother)


I do things a little differently.

When I had an apartment with a large window facing the street, I made “window people” to give my holiday greeting to the neighborhood. They had a poster paper base, covered with fabric or construction paper to make their clothes.

A 1950s family readies their home for Christmas
A 1950s family readies their home for Christmas


Here’s a closeup of the boys — I changed the scene slightly after Christmas.

Putting the stockings away after Christmas.
Putting the stockings away after Christmas.


I used to make my own Christmas cards, by creating and photographing a scene for the front of the card, and writing a poem for the inside of the card. The first few years, before I had a computer, that was a very labor-intensive offering to my friends and family, as I would stick copies of the photo on the cards, and hand-print the poem. Computers made my life simpler!

One year I made a stable out of homemade playdough. You would not believe how long it took for that thing to dry, nor how heavy it was!

My "singing sheep" seemed to like his stable.
My “singing sheep” seemed to like his stable.


Another year, I planned to do a quilted scene, but my wrists objected even to the thought of doing so much hand-quilting, so I created the scene from paper (my wrists weren’t sure, after I cut out all the little houses, that they’d done much better in the alternate version of the scene.)

On display after the card had been made. The "singing sheep" got into this photo, too.
On display after the card had been made. The “singing sheep” got into this photo, too.


Of course, I did non-religious cards, as well. One year, I did a “getting ready for Christmas” scene. I had such fun making the cardboard boxes, shaping the oranges and chocolates from Play-Doh (the chocolates were in different shapes as if they were different flavors), writing the tiny letters, making the tiny paper-chain that Mum’s little china cat is interested in. For perspective, the oranges were about 1/4 inch in diameter, and the candle centerpiece is the top of a birthday candle.

So much yet to do!
So much yet to do!


I think my favorite of all the cards was this one, with a simple, yet heartfelt message. The “world” was crafted of plasticine (modeling clay) on half a large plastic ball (a clear ball that would normally be filled and used for a Christmas ornament). The night sky is black velvet. The letters were created freehand and cut from gold paper.


Here is a slightly edited version of the poem that went with that illustration. It is my wish for you and for our world at this season, and always.

From space

no boundaries mar the pristine beauty

of our planet home.

The timeless message of this season

brings us hope

that boundaries may be no longer barriers,

that peace may indeed

fill our hearts, our lives, our world.

May peace, love, and joy

be with you, and with our world,

now and always.

♦ ♦ ♦

Do you enjoy making things by hand? What do you like to create?

Remember that everyone who comments on a post on By Word of Beth in December is entered into the giveaway for a copy of Julie Andrews’ Treasury for All Seasons (or an alternate book if you already own that one).

4 thoughts on “The Gift of Hand-Crafting”

  1. I love your artistic creations. Apart from making my usual Christmas cakes, I have for my brothers as part of their gifts, decided to spray-paint a doormat each with their names on. (something a little different for the front of their houses) Also, I am making sweet balls as gifts for each of my staff, this year.

  2. Those are such creative and lovely handmade cards! I always do a holiday newsletter, but I don’t often make the front picture because I know most people want to see a photo of the kids. 🙂

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