Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Gifts to Make with the Kids

By Christina VanGinkel

If you are looking for an inexpensive gift for a loved one that you can make with your kids or grandchildren, consider making them a traditional hand or footprint gift that never goes out of fashion. Picture frames, scrapbook covers, t-shirts, aprons, tote bags, even beach towels, can all be decorated with babies or children's handprints and footprints. Supplies required are basic and most can be found in a household that crafts even occasionally, or purchased for a minimal amount of cost. Gather up the items to be stamped with prints, acrylic paints in your choice of colors, paper or Styrofoam plates for pouring paints, sponge brush, and iron for heat setting paint on fabrics, along with baby, or children to help create the print. You may also need a piece of cardboard and some masking tape if painting on fabric, along with a paintbrush for lettering, or stencils and a small sponge brush.

After gathering all the supplies, decide what you are going to make. If it is fabric, such as a t-shirt or towel, wash and dry the item first. Next, find a spot to work that a bit of splattered paint will not make a difference. If possible head outside, otherwise lay down craft paper (I use a roll of butcher paper) to keep the paint off your workspace.

For two sided items, such as tote bags or t-shirts, tuck a piece of cardboard between the layers to keep the paint from staining through. I take a bit of masking tape and tape my fabric down to the cardboard, more or less giving the kids an easel, or defined area, to paint. For t-shirts, I pull all the excess fabric to the backside and tape it all down, just leaving the area to be painted on the front. This will also create a 'framed' area of the print when you open it all back up, so consider this when cutting your cardboard. Be creative and cut a circle, diamond, or rectangle shape!

With little ones, just take the sponge brush, apply a coat of paint directly to their hands and feet, one at a time, and press down on the item to be decorated. Try not to apply the paint to thick; otherwise, you will end up with more of a mess than a clearly defined print. For older kids, demonstrate what you want them to do, and then let them be as creative as they want. The gift will mean that much more to the recipient if the kids can tell them they did it all by themselves.

If desired, after the initial paint of the footprints and handprints has dried, go back with stencils and sponge brush, or small paintbrush and add lettering if desired. For example, you could add the children's names and ages, or a short saying, even the name of the gift recipient, such as 'To the World's Greatest Mom' (Don't tell, but that is what I am putting on the picture frame I am making for my daughter with my grandson's help!). Whatever you decide to make, remember to have fun and give the gift to someone who will truly appreciate the love and thought that went into its making.

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