Quick and pretty gift for your gal pal

As many gorgeous green things as there are to buy these days, we still love to give gifts we make. For one thing they're more personal. Secondly, it's fun to craft them (if you're inclined in that direction, that is). And lastly, if you use items you already own*, you're doing something better for the environment and saving some green too. 

Charms make a great gift, especially when you personalize them. They can be worn on a chain around the neck, hooked on to a bracelet or even used as small ornaments on a tree. 

You can make a charm from almost any object. If the item is thick enough and you own a drill, you can drill a hole, then thread a bit of wire through, form a loop, wind the remaining wire around it and voila! Choose an item that represents something your recipient likes. Try doll-house sized items, golf tees, tiny spoons, etc. One of Lynn's favorites is hardware–yes, you read that right–nails, bolts, screws, small hinges, all can be wired easily and morph into bold, amusing charms.

The charms below were made using dominos, Scrabble tiles and squares of cardboard. Rather than using wire, Lynn purchased some "bales," which are glued on to the back of the charm. (OK, so this part isn't green, but she hasn't given up trying to source eco-friendly ones).

The thee charms below were made on used Scrabble tiles. The paper on the left one comes from inside an envelope. The one on the right is a bit left from making a card. The center picture is a charming, cancelled stamp. 

This group of three charms were created on large dominos. The pictures were cut from a calendar. Lynn wanted to create charms representing the seasons. Why not a 4th one? She ran out of dominos! These could be worn together or separately. You can also use photos you've taken of the recipient or of something he/she enjoys.

We love the idea of using stamps to personalize gifts. Lynn happens to have a large collection of cancelled stamps from countries around the world, even some that no longer exist! Can't say that for Canada or New Zealand, but what fun to give a gift to someone using a stamp from their country of orgin. And since there are stamps with animals, cartoon characters, forms of transportation, famous people, sports, your choices for personalization are endless.

Here's how to make these charms:  

What you need:

  • Base: old game pieces or thick cardboard, wood or metal and cut to size
  • Strong glue
  • Bales (Lynn purchased hers on Ebay) 
  • Bits of paper, old postage stamps etc. (you also can paint the base or stain if wood)
  • Sandpaper
  • Liquid embossing (find at a craft store–and if someone has a more eco-friendly solution, please let us know). You can also use thinned white glue to protect the surface though it won't be shiny

How to:

  1. Cut a piece of paper the approximate size of the base.
  2. Glue paper on to base.
  3. When glue is dry, cut in as close as possible to the base.
  4. Sand the edge of the paper. You will probably see a thin white "band" form at the edge. This is good.
  5. Apply the liquid embossing. Follow directions to ensure a smooth, bubble free piece. In fact, it wouldn't hurt to practice. (That's the voice of experience speaking.)
  6. When dry (Lynn waits 24 hours), turn piece over and cover the back with paper as you did the front. After the paper is dry, sign the piece if you like.
  7. Glue on bale.
  8. If you prefer, you can paint the edge of the piece, but it's not necessary.

If you make some of these or have other ideas for making charms, let us know in the comment section.

Happy crafting!

*If you look carefully at the photo at the beginning of this post, you'll note that the ball chains holding the handmade charms look a little unusual. That's because a few years ago, Lynn had purchased about fifty 4" ball chains to use in crafting luggage tags. She only used a dozen or so. The rest have been patiently waiting on her studio shelf. When she abegan making the charms, instead of purchasing new chains, she attached six short chains together resulting in 24" chains. Worked perfectly and recipients can shorten the chain if preferred.

Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are a mother-daughter team and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at www.CelebrateGreen.net.

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