Monday, August 19

Gift-wraps from the backyard!

After a long gap on Imprints Handmade, my dear friend Lalitha Menon is back with her original gift-wrap ideas!

Nothing says it like a sustainable gift wrap. Before you reach out to those expensive sheets at the gift store, try this. You're super lucky if you have a treasure trove named - garden! Lalitha has the knack of picking up little somethings from behind her home to use on her gifts.

Here's a quick look at what she did to pep up her recent gifts.

Surprise Soiree: that's what I'd call this first gift-wrapping project of hers (not sure how much wrapping goes on into it). Read on.

If you're wondering how a bunch of flat coloured marbles embellished with mint sprigs could make up for a gift as in the picture below, dig in. Beneath those aquarium marbles lies the real wow.

gift wrap with plants and leaves
 The gift started off somewhat like this:
Gift wrap eco-friendly
- an empty wooden box, the kind that holds jewelry
- actually, it is an old square handmade soap box she had, that she decorated in such a way  that it resembled table decor
Jewellery for gifts
Lalitha filled it with the cute jewellery set, a chain with locket and earrings, and placed the marbles over these, in a transparent plastic tray that fit into the box perfect.

marbles and sprigs gift wrap
 All this needed, was some dressing up.
eco-friendly gift wrapping
And a satin ribbon to embellish!
how to gift wrap with garden stuff

wrap your gift with leaves and sprigs
Her second gift project, was with a tiny mud-pot, or kulhad.
Clay pot gift wrap
 Instead of opting for garish sequins and paints, she simply glued mint leaves for the decor element. And taped satin over the gift wrapped in a banana leaf piece.
Clay pots and banana leaves

Please bear with the fuzzy pictures here. Inside the earthen pot, are Dilmah brand tea-bags as the gift.

Next, she shared with Imprints Handmade, something similar to what she had done many months back. Read here.
Coconut shell gift
Instead of the mud pot, it was a coconut shell that came in handy, with the banana leaf from her backyard.
Ayurveda soap
This moisturizer tempts me enough to grab one! Lalitha wrapped the piece with the banana leaf. Not available here, is the picture of satin tape tied up to finish the gift wrap. Any guesses about how she revved up this natural soap?

Goat milk soap natural
Banana leaves of course!
Goat milk natural soap wrapped in banana leaf

Paperless gift wrap
These gifts were for friends who visited Lalitha Menon. Those who've seen her previous work would remember how she wrapped a shirt in a teak leaf before! Here is a link.
As for the shirt below that she gifted to her son for his birthday, Lalitha did not worry much.

Men's gifts
Stole recycle - gift wrap for shirts
An old dupatta or stole in bright red did the work, besides some silvery satin. Also seen in this picture above, are mugs that Lalitha's students gifted to her.

Thank you Lalitha Menon, for sharing pictures of these thoughtfully wrapped gifts!

And the rest of us! Time to get inspired and look in our own backyards for some wrapping ideas!

Try them at home, and share with Imprints Handmade.

Pictures courtesy: Lalitha Menon

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Sunday, August 4

Graduation party: DIY archway

Ti's party season at peak, in New Jersey, just like in other States. And so party shops have been in brisk business all through.

With practically every part of party decor being thrust at you on party shop shelves, is it possible at all to add a DIY element to decor?

A quickie image search on Google throws up plenty of DIY theme decor ideas. They range from colour-coded cup-cake holders, to wall decor festoons and cutlery holders. But when family friends needed to host a graduation party for their twin sons who are headed to college recently, Shirley Gandhi took it on herself to make it super special for the boys.

She spent endless hours on making a massive party arch-way. The project took her three-four hours every night over two weeks, after dinner time when kids were asleep.

And the results of her sleepless nights and meticulous work show.

graduation party DIY archway
To most of us, these two black columns may look like identical-size cardboard cartons stacked over one another. In reality, they are about 40 sheets of thermocol, popularly called styrofoam in US, cut to the same size and glued and piled over each other.

Shirley stuck to the theme of silver and black colours for the party.

 If you notice the column, you see that black colour gift wrapping paper, and silver lace or ribbon have been used extensively.

As for the letters, she bought a few shiny silver paper gift totes, used one larger side of the bags each to cut out a letter, and glued them over.

``Each sheet had to be cut about 12 by 12 inches each. I did not really measure before cutting them because I used same sized sheets for the whole project and cut them in halves and quarters,'' says Shirley.

To work on it easier, Shirley divided the two columns into three parts each, rather three blocks each, carried them over to her friend's place, and assembled them. She then used the silver lace or ribbon to glue them for the finishing look.

If you look in the picture, the part where the blocks have been glued has thicker silver lace.

Such an archway would have cost several times over if they had ordered it from elsewhere.  A lot of material went on in making it nevertheless.

``For the top arch alone, the silver lace cost me $ 5 a yard, and I used about five yards of that lace. Other ribbons cost about $ 3 per yard. Besides, there was picture printing, gift wrap paper, glue, and cardboards too,'' says Shirley.

Using thermocol made the columns easy to carry, and the archway's height at 7 feet, gave them the right weight. As a result, they did not wobble too. There was plenty of taping, gluing, and cutting involved, so you can guess the materials.

The top part of this welcome banner was made of black cardboard.

Shirley also made the Thank You cards for display on behalf of Wayne and Warren using off-white card paper, and some silver paper. She embellished the card with a ready-made flower.

The black theme has been in use here. Shirley bought photo frames and used the graduation profile pictures of Wayne and Warren in them. The pictures have been mounted however, on carefully black-wrapped cardboard cartons that seamlessly blend into the decor.

She used coloured mesh-cloth to fix the cards that she made, for the respective universities they are to join. Taping the cloth to the roof must have been a daunting task.

Naturally, these elements blended into the overall decor and colour scheme for the party.

 It's amazing how easily such party supplies are available at party stores too - custom made to hilt.  Please bear with the fuzzy picture below.

The festoons above are bought from a store, but my hunch is, they can be made at home too. Shirley's massive archway project overshadowed these decor elements.

And the compliments were plenty.

``The boys walked in and said, `Wow! We've a party at our house!' looking at the archway. That was the biggest compliment,'' says Shirley.

And the `Wow! 'bit did not stop there at the party. Shirley ended up pitching for the graduation party of another friend. This time, she did it differently though.

She used red mesh, black cardboard and shiny red paper to make the welcome decor. She twisted and turned the same mesh to make a flower on either sides, and knotted the part below them to give it the look of a festive curtain.

The colour theme of this party was red and black, and so she made the wall-decor card using the colours. The young lad Andre is headed to Colgate University, and that formed the basis for thie card alongside his pictures - profile and family.

``It took lesser time than the thermocol archway. I had only a few days' time for the red decor project,'' Shirley notes.

She is all geared for more such projects after the positive response with these. Shirley used DIY extensively for her own daughter's first birthday party, which is what puts her at ease with other such party decor projects for friends.

If you look close, the pink profusion in the picture has `butterflies' theme running through it. She made the `happy birthday' banner using pink sheets and cutting them into a butterfly festoon. On either sides of the wall, she used pink gauze bags, filled them with pink M&Ms, and made the pink badges for her daughter's name - Ria. The pink paper badges were stuck on to satin tape and fixed to the wall.

She used the pink mesh-cloth for a casual decor feel, besides cardboard boxes wrapped with shining pink gift paper to mount the candy buckets. She filled the tiny pinkish cartons with other goodies.

If you have a party coming up at home, you could try your own bit too. With some planning and minimal purchases, you could turn the decor into a satisfying project. All it takes is some decision on colour scheme and some goodies to match! And what a feeling when you get to bask in compliments from near and dear!

Imprints Handmade looks forward to more such projects from Shirley. And more such projects from the rest of us reading in too. As August gallops by, am hoping for more DIY crafting - Dasara, Diwali, Halloween, Raksha Bandhan and Ganesha festival besides Id! Don't we have plenty of excuse to create some crafting mess?

Picture Courtesy: Shirley Gandhi

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