Christmas with Cthulhu

Every Yule, I have visions of distributing thoughtful handmade gifts and edibles to my loved ones. On time.

Each holiday I fall short of that goal. This past December, like always, my intentions were good. The  Kitchenaid made an appearance and I concocted crumpets, caramel marshmallows and baklava. They were beautiful. After a quick sample, they were unceremoniously covered in saran wrap, thrown into ziplocs and shipped around the country. January is really close to Christmas. Receiving your presents after the fact is like a post-holiday bonus. Right?

I had three non-edibles that took longer than I expected; a stocking, an ornament and a pinata. I was determined to make a Cthulhu stocking for a tentacle-loving friend. I borrowed a pattern from a fellow sewer and adapted it. I used purple silk velvet and green upholstery velvet for the exterior and hot pink silk for the lining. I was able to present the stocking on the agreed upon exchange day, but I snatched it back to finish twenty minutes of hand sewing (that took another week).

Cthulhu stocking

Cthulhu stocking

The second gift was an ornament meant for my friend and her husband. In the past few years they have married, moved and had a baby. They are in the process of creating traditions unique to their family. When they moved in together, they took Janus as their house god after an apropos parking incident. He is the Roman god of transition and change. I wanted to honor that and I began a doorway ornament. Each side was different, representing the two heads of Janus. I used fishing line through the piece, so that it could spin. It was made from bookboard, paper and a little bit of mylar. Why did it take so long!

Janus green

Door from side

Janus moon

Door from side

The final project wasn’t a holiday present. I just wanted to do something kind for someone who was experiencing some tragedy. She was angry and grieving. I thought the best way to address both was to make a pinata- she could hit it and get goodies. I collected objects for months- candy, alcohol, candles, magnets… I bet you’re picking up on the time issue. My mother had recently retired and offered to start the paper mache body. Halfway through she lost interest, but forgot to tell me. There went another two months. Time continued to pass and the guilt of not completing this project weighed on me. I had to get this thing done! I finally took a week, finished the paper mache, filled that sucker with booty and got out my trusty glue gun. I’m convinced a pinata might be the gift for any occasion.

pinata front

pinata back

This year, I’ll start early. All projects will be completed by mid October. I’ll have a whole month to wrap and ribbon. Items will be sent and received the week of Solstice to open, or put under the tree. Baked goods will be Pinterest worthy. Maybe, I’ll even decorate. Or maybe, I’ll be hiding in my studio, working late into the morning in order to finish my sister’s book trio by July. Time will tell.

Christmas Quandry

This past Christmas a good friend subtly hinted at what she might like for the holidays by emailing me a template for a handmade Kitchenaid cover. The step-by-step instructions made an already easy project a breeze. Thank you, Debbie!

But let’s back up a minute. Although I received this hint well before December, it wasn’t completed and sent until February. Wait a moment, you say, didn’t you just claim this project was a breeze? Weeelllll, the sewing part was. The picking out the perfect fabric part took me over a month. In the end, I decided to create my own textile design. I cut a small rose stencil from quilter’s template plastic and chose medium weight unbleached cotton to print on. Using a mixture of acrylic and screen printing ink, I sponged paint through my stencil in a somewhat random (yet intentional) pattern. Once it was dry I applied the leaves in the same manner. Then I heat set it with the iron.

Hand stenciled roses

I liked the result, but it still looked too unfinished and country-kitchen for my taste. I decided to outline the flowers in black to make it feel more contemporary. Since the initial goal was quick and easy, I picked up a few fine tipped fabric pens and just to be on the safe side, some Sharpies. I proceeded to outline the stenciled flowers. And do you know what? It looked horrible! As if someone had taken the time to hand stamp a pattern and then just markered the edges. Sigh. That meant I had to outline them using a paintbrush. It took hours. Hours. I had hand, neck and shoulder cramps for days afterward. The results, however, were spectacular.

 Hand stenciled roses with outlines

Once the fabric was painted, the rest came together quickly. I quilted the pieces to encourage structure and stability. Then, a little sewing magic, some piping for purty and bias tape to finish it off. And suddenly, one completed Christmas present.

Kitchenaid cover, front view

Kitchenaid cover, side view

My friend loved it. She couldn’t believe that I found a fabric that fit her tastes so perfectly.