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Friday, February 7, 2014

Handmade Gift Wrap

This post is inspired by my recent obsession with paper crafts. I may have mentioned this once before but once I get started on a paper related craft I end up doing it until, well, I have a LOT of it.

It was a fun little side project and I definitely recommend making some of your own gift wrap as a rainy day craft. I was really happy in that I put together all of the gift wrap I need for the coming months and if you start now you just might have plenty for all of your gifts as well. Sure you might have to wait for things to dry but if you have some supplies and time you can put together enough gift wrap for an entire wedding within a few days. Ok, realistically it will probably take you at least a week but you get the idea ;)

Displayed on the table are a number of different paper projects so I will go through and give you a bit of details. You might like some but have no need for others so this will be an easy way for you to pick which will suit your crafting purposes the most. I have a few purchased items such as a roll of wrapping paper, some mini bows, and a large gift bag among the mix but the majority of the items are handmade. Included in my gift wrap collection are tall round bags made from hand painted paper and I use those for gifting wine bottles and woven rugs. I covered a medium sized box with hand painted wrapping paper and the bags (all but the Paris bag in the upper right corner) were made using hand painted paper. I added hole punches to tie the handles to the bags and I also made a few small things such as cards and envelopes, cones with treats inside, and even some paper flowers to bring a bit of Spring into the mix.

I will share with you how the recent gift wrap/ paper crafting all started. My sister was exploring ideas for gift packaging for treats for her wedding and she liked the idea of sending people with little macaron packages. I found the cutest boxes but at $4 a box I decided perhaps an alternative might be found (http://goo.gl/n3lUpS).

I then stumbled up on these bags http://goo.gl/uS0bDK and as fabulous as they are, these were too large and not a large enough count for what she needed. So it was then that I set about trying my hand and making a few small bags of my own in this vintage french grocer bag style. In the end they might look anything like the originals but I didn't mind, I liked the various colors blended together throughout.

These bags were not too terribly difficult to make and once you get the hang of it you just might find you have a hard time stopping. To start out you are going to want paint, a paint brush (or a few) and depending on how many of these you are hoping to make, lots of paper!

I intended to hunt down a paper in style and weight similar to the bags shown in the ebay link above (I liked the blue/ purple ones the most)  but I figured I would paint myself some purple paper and use that as a test. In the end I used the paper I painted for all of the bags I made mostly because painting the paper into decent wrapping paper was so very easy. I also needed a vibrant blue paper to go with the lotus origami flowers I made to go on the box and some of the gift bags. For instruction on how to make those here is a link that should prove useful-> http://goo.gl/FKY2H1

So I took a large sheet of basic printing paper (basic medium weight) and laid it out on a board flat. I grabbed a jar with water in it, some paint and various paint brushes. As with all painting, the brush you use will determine the type of brush stroke you get when painting. When I used the sponge brush it worked well at really wetting the paper down and soaking up the color nicely. The 1.5" width brush like this one left long strokes that reminded me of a birch design. If you would like the paper to have lines of color you may find it useful to take the roll of paper you have selected to paint and before you lay it out flat, dunk the ends in a watered down paint mixture in a shallow jar or bucket.

You can do this a few times in different colors at different levels and then lay it out flat and wet it down either with a light color wash or even with water. You want to build up on that flat surface so different strokes in different directions will offer a nice color pallet and these can be more heavily painted such as the wine bottle wrapping, or a light pastel such as the blue splash, or even a golden cream such as the small gift bags shown below.

For these little purple bags which were my original paper tested, I dunked the ends in different levels of color, opened the pieces up and painted them with strokes in one direction, then the other direction in some cases, added splashes of water in other colors and then I grabbed a box of stamps and stamp pads and smeared ink color all over the paper. For this paper I wanted the dragged blotches of color but I didn't want actual stamps added except the front where I added a boxed area in the front. I intended to add a stamp as in the original and write in what the food inside was but as they were not used for the wedding, I have left them blank for now.

Painting the paper was easy though you should expect that the paper needs to sit where it is for at least 12 hours. If you are in a warm or dry climate/ time of year less time might be needed but it is currently winter here so it is taking longer to dry. Once dried then you can hang it, roll it, wrap it..whatever ;) Here are a few other images of various hand painted paper pieces. These are still in the painting and or drying mod and not all of the papers were soaked wet as shown above. It was an experiment on my part however wetting the paper pieces a lot or a little didn't really matter, they all dried out nicely in the end. The wetter the paper however the more water spots you will have.

This paper was stamped while wet with blue rose stamps in a teal acrylic paint. The paper is shown upside down. Once dried the roses were still visibly roses though the paint did bled a little into the paper. I didn't mind but I wanted to mention it. If you want a clear stamped image I would recommend doing so after the paper as dried completely.

This is the lower half of the page above, painted with a watered down crafting paint and then hung to drip dry.

The important thing to remember is that it is ok for your paper to be soaked, and also it is best if you do all of the painting on your paper at once, for the majority of the paint at least. A few splashes here and there in the end won't hurt it. You can add a layer of paint and give it a few minutes (while you search for more paints for the project ;) but don't expect to add more layers of color to your paper once your paper has dried.

Once I had the paper dried and ready to be used to make gift bags, I had to figure out a pattern for my paper pieces so I created this handy little paper pattern so I had an idea of the paper size for my small bags and where the front facing box area will be. This is very helpful when you are working with large rolls of painted paper with the intent of smaller pages in the end.

 For this you are going to want a glue stick (go with a glue stick for the smaller bags, for larger ones a heavier glue like an elmers or specific paper glue), and an extra piece of spare paper. Take your piece of paper you are using to make the bag and fold the sides in back so that they overlap about .5"  and slip the spare piece of fabric inside the folded paper so it keeps the glue added to the back seam from sticking to the inside of the bag, and glue down the seam lengthwise. Press and flatten the sides with the seam running down the center back. Give it a few seconds to a minute for your glue to set and make sure the spare piece of paper inside is able to move and not sticking to the inside of your new bag.

Once dry, take the flattened bag and place aside, repeating this step with all of your additional sheets. Allow time for them to dry. If you are making flat bags you will fold over the bottom, glue the inside fold with glue and the top inside of the fold and then press the piece together to seal the bottom up. If you are making the little french grocery bags you will wait for the glued back seam to dry fully and then get yourself a small block of wood. I used a 1.5" x 3" block of wood for my little bags. They are perfect as treat bags or little jewelry bags but larger wood blocks will yield slightly larger bags of course.

Take the block of wood and slip the bag over the wood, leaving about 2" of paper at the top. Make sure you have a tiny bit of wiggle room so that you are able to slide the paper up off the wood block. Fold the sides down and glue. Then fold the other sides down so they overlap slightly and glue the bottom closed once more. Give it about 30 second to a minute to set and slip it off the wood block and put it aside to dry. Do not worry that it will get crushed or anything, it will be fine, it just needs about 20 minutes or so for the glue to dry and set. Continue to glue the bags up the sides and bottoms and put aside to dry. Once finished then take the bags and fold flat with the seam in the center back. With the front of the bag facing you fold the bottom of the back and down and you will find you have the shape just like the little vintage french grocer bags. Here are a few more images of the bags once finished and tied up and such.

I added mini Pineapple Upside Down Cakes inside. 

For the gold bags shown, I started out with a light murky tan color, very watered down, and I covered the paper, went over those with a slightly different shade and in an opposite direction. I then splattered some paint and then blended that in, and then I found some various bottles of gold and golden rose spray paint and (yes, while still wet) I treated the entire paper to a light and sporadic spray of golden hued spray paints.

When I began the project I expected that I would be adding the paint layers in sections but once a piece had almost fully dried I realized adding more paint was really not going to work well because once the paper is heavily soaked with paints it needs to dry naturally and soaking it again with paint, or even spraying it with spray paint later on once mostly or fully dry, just ripples the paper weird. Once your paper is painted it will be a lot heavier and it might seem rather rippled and like it will never dry flat. Give it time, it needs to dry out fully and as it dries it will rise from the board and flatten out a bit. You can move the paper from the board and onto a flat surface once painted, but you have to be fast with moving it so it does not tear. This will only work for those sheets you have only moderately painted. The soaked paper cannot be moved or it will tear.

Sometimes I like to move the paper off the board as it dries more quickly and I can also add another sheet of paper and keep on painting but keep in mind that those sheets need to dry out for about 12 hrs on a flat surface.

This little gift pouch was made with a regular medium gift wrap paper selected from Blick locally. I liked the paper print however for this style where you pop the sides out for stability, a heavier weight material such as a light weight poster board is going to be your best bet. Below is a little pattern guide to help you out in making your own.

To cover a box and the lid you will want elmers glue or a modge podge type glue, a brush, gloves for your hands, paper to cover it, paper scissors. Once you have your paper you are ready to cover your box with-whether you have painted your own or purchased some, you will want to lay the top and bottom out over the paper and cut out pieces slightly larger in size for each. Paint the glue on as you wrap and trim the paper around the box and leave it to dry.

Here is an image of a paper glue sold at the craft store. I used a glue stick for my smaller bags and Elmer's for my larger bags but there are many different glues on the market.

While you are waiting for the box to dry you can make those cute little origami flowers. Add paint to color the flowers if you want or little embroidery string in various colors in the center. The paint I used for the blue flowers on top was a Martha Steward Turquoise Glitter craft paint.

For the little flower on the gift bag, I took some colored strands of embroidery thread and tied it together and attached it in the center with my hot glue gun. I also attached both the flower to the bag as well as the dried flowers on the wine bottle gift wrap with my hot glue gun. The nice thing about the glue gun is it holds dried flowers really well and it will allow that cute little origami flowers on the bag to peel off fairly easily and it can later be used as a car charm or a little something on a desk.

Use a spare piece of paper inside to keep the glued seam in back from sticking to the inside. Once the seam is glued up move the inside piece of scrap paper around a little bit to keep it from sticking.

Below are a few additional images of other boxes for packaging and gift wrap to give you an idea of the possibilities once you start crafting. 

Though I used a glue stick for the smaller flat gift bags I did use the Elmers glue for the larger paper gift bags. I really liked how these turned out, both the ones with a flat bottom and the large flat gift bags. My advice is if you find one of your bags is the perfect size that you make a pattern at that point as reference for later bags you intend to make because once you give that bag away there goes your perfect gift bag as reference. I know I found a few favorites of my own and some were just perfect for some of the general merchandise I sell in the shops. I usually go with uline for my gift bags and I of course will still go with their gift bags in most cases as they provide recycled bags. For the smaller merchandise though, in so many cases I spend a lot on packaging so taking a little time out every so often to paint some paper and leave it to dry and then a few days later break it down into some pretty cool packaging is kind of awesome in my book.

As I have shipped out a few packages this last week I can tell which of my bag tests are my favorites and which I need to make a few more of. Last night I made some new paper prints and they are being broken down today to make the flat gift bags. Those were the easiest to make and I have found that the larger bags will fit bulkier clothes and the smaller ones fit the smaller packages perfectly so in the future I am going to make those and go with the cub size for personal gifts and when I need a specific sized bag for a gift but don't want to have to purchase 5k bags for 7 different sized gifts. Know what I mean? I know you do...

There are a number of ways to wrap packages including making the prettiest of bows and scrap booking your way to the most luxurious cards the world has ever seen. For the cards and envelope I folded and cut the envelope in similar style, and then folded a piece of paper in half and there is my card. You can also have photos printed up and added, whatever your crafting heart desires really. But gluing and folding paper is not difficult and is a fun way to have your gifts took fabulous but also not cost you a fortune.

When I made the wine bottle wrap I grabbed a wine bottle and the paper and glued the side seam up the back, folded down the bottom and glued that down with a round circle to flatten the bottom, and then let it dry without the bottle in the center for a few hours. Once dried I put a bottle of wine inside, glued the dried flowers to the front and added a ribbon. Voila!

In the end I ended up with a lot of new gift bags in a variety of colors and sizes. Here are a few more images of the flat bags from my latest batch. Most of them are flat in style though a few had the flat bottom as well.

This green bag is the dried versions of the first wet paper image above.

Most of the paints used for the darker colors and shimmery pigments were the Martha Stewart craft paints in shimmer and metallics. I used acrylic paints washed them down quite a bit and I also used fabric dye watered down, that was a really nice pigment wash that ended up looking great as a light blue backdrop to that cute little white lotus flower. 

For the little french grocer bags and the gold streaked flat bags shown above I also used a few different gold spray paint bottles of slightly different hues. They were left over spray bottles from khaleesi belts and the sporadic spray paint added while the paper was still wet ended up looking pretty cool. Martha Stewart colored Gold Dorado was also added to the flat bags for a bit of extra sheen. So in short, use the paints you have on hand and see where it leads. Adding more water also helps the pigments bleed in more and that results in a bit of water marks such as this big blue bag.

Remember to wear gloves while painting the paper and while breaking down the large sheets of paper into the bags. 

Now it's your turn to try. Have a fabulous weekend!

Lindsay :)