First day of school after the week-long semestral break, I was browsing my child’s school diary when I saw this entry:
The blabbering fault-finder of a mom I am, I can’t help but notice he wrote 4 after 2, skipping 3. Anyway, that’s beside the point, it suddenly dawned on me, Christmas is already around the corner while I’ve busied myself reading and reviewing webmaster and publisher concerns (in the process learning from their mistakes) in some sinister forum that I frequent for quite a time now. I’ve been so engulfed with their issues for a week that I’ve forgotten to think ahead this time. In this country, after Halloween celebration comes a whole month of Christmas preparation. “Bring a Christmas décor.” I thought silently to myself. “What will Makus bring..? Hmmm…”
I think at this point, I’ve already established that I like creating something out of nothing with my hands. I’ve created a dirty clown costume out of worn and tattered shirt and PJs, jigsaw puzzle out of very old magazines and a bread costume out of oats. When I was a young girl, I’ve experimented with egg shells, water-color dipped toothbrush brushed against a wire mesh to create colorful dusty sprays, for Christmas, I remember collecting bunches and bunches of bamboo twigs from our yard, tie them to make a tree, then decorate them with all the Chinese oranges, and jalapeno red peppers I can pick from our garden. My projects turned out to be lovely though. My mom patronized all my work, what are moms for anyway?
Going back to Makus’ Christmas décor, I want Makus to bring something that is made, and not bought. Something his teacher will really appreciate and like. So I checked our storeroom for possible useable materials. And in that dark, wonderful room where all abandoned but needful things are found, I saw an old wicker basket, with yellow plastic sunflowers, probably been sitting there for 15 years. There’s also a utility box filled with scrap fabric of all colors, and big boxes of used polystyrene foam.
A wicker basket and scraps of fabric, okay, what if I make a Christmas basket? That can be done. In my mind, the Christmas basket will be filled with candies, hopefully candy cane and spiral mints and golden chocolate nuggets together with flowers. I took the scrap fabrics and the basket out of the storeroom, got excited and prepared the materials for my project.
I’ve always adored Yoyo flowers. I made a purse, hairclip, headbands, and shirt 3D designs out of these dainty florets as a kid. I would make them every day with whatever fabric I can get hold of, keep them in my little red box of girly stuff and use them for whatever purpose they may serve me. I even use them to decorate my letter envelopes and bookmarks.
Yoyo flowers are very easy to make. The only painful part of this project is the cutting of the fabric, especially if you don’t have the proper pair of scissors. Well I don’t. For someone who likes tinkering with fabric, I don’t have proper tools. A nice and sharp textile scissor will make the job easier. What I have is a pair of scissors for cutting paper. After making 5 circles, the meaty area of my palm got sore that I decided to give up and instead I used my old but ever dependable Zwilling J.A. Henckels needlework scissors. I hated using these pair of scissors to cut fabric. Marvin gifted me this scissor in 1994 and I used it only for cutting thread, fearing the blades may go blunt if I cut it through other materials such as paper, fabric or plastic. Although these magnificent scissors did the job of shaping like 4 dozens of rounded fabric, I still feel guilty about it. It’s time to save up for a nice textile scissors of the same brand. I hope Santa miraculously gifts me with one this Christmas.
(Note to Santa Claus just in case he reads my blog: This year, I am dropping the shiny, sterling silver whale ring request for a pair of shiny, sharp, swell pair of Zwilling J.A. Henckels textile scissors. I’ll be leaving a basketful of beef jerky under the tree for you and the elves.
Going back to my project, let’s start making the Yoyo flowers
Making the Yoyo Flowers
Here are the easy steps to making these lovely blooms:
1. Lay your scrap fabric on the table. Position the cd on top of it. Trace the rounded c shape with a pen. Draw your circles on the rest of the textile.
2. Cut the trace; make sure to use a pair of sharp scissors because cutting dozens of fabric with the blunt pair can be quite tiring and frustrating.
3. With the thread and needle ready and knotted, get a rounded fabric, position it in the way that the right side faces you. Fold a good ¼ inch towards you and do a running stitch around the edge of the fabric. A running stitch should look like this on your fabric: - – - – - – - - Note: smaller stitches will create bigger center holes while big stitches will create smaller center holes.
4. Do not tie a knot yet. After stitching the whole rounded edge, pull the thread gently, making sure not to snag it, pull it until all edges are folded and a center hole is formed. Turn the flower inside-out to show the right side of the flower.
5. I attached them in with pins so sewing them together will be easier. After I stitched the flowers together to make bigger flowers, I attached the button on the center of each. I did this because I ran out of buttons to use. I had to attach them later when I got my button materials.
6. Since I will make these flowers stand up on foam, I attached a dowel at the back of the flowers using hot glue. Then I inserted the ‘stemmed’ flowers inside the red plastic straws.
Flowers are now ready, the time has come to prettify the wicker basket.
The wicker basket is in an awful sorry state. It is still sturdy and strong, but it’s dusty from the surface to the crevices. I cleaned it with water, brush and suds but no matter how much I scrape the dirt out of it, the original nice clean color of the basket won’t come out anymore. This is the reason why I decided to varnish it. I have a good 2-month old varnish in my keeping and I thought maybe it could cover the dark spots of the basket.
After soaping and brushing the basket, I hanged it all day and allowed it to dry under the sun. I was so excited to finally get to paint varnish on it.
But wait.. I can’t open the varnish bottle.
Until I realized I wasn’t careful the last time I used it, capping and storing the varnish without cleaning the rim first. The varnish left in the rim hardened and sort of glued the cap on the bottle’s lips. So there was I standing, holding the varnish bottle when that Earth-shaking moment of epiphany hit me.
“I need a solvent!”
So again, there was I, rummaging my uncle’s garage stuff for some thinner. Luckily, I found a bottle of it hiding behind many other whatever stuff. The idea is to wet the insides of the cap with solvent to dissolve the varnish that dried in the bottle rim. I positioned the varnish bottle upside-down; I dipped a small brush in the bottle of thinner, and poked the sides of the varnish cap.
After a good 20 seconds, I twisted the cover again and it opened smoothly. I included this portion in the article just to give you an idea what to do if you come across this problem. This is a reminder to myself and to my reader, to wipe the bottle rim with solvent before capping it back and storing it next time. Otherwise, varnish bottle will be impossible to open!
I immediately brushed the wicker basket with varnish because I’ve been itching to do this. I have a quirk about painting stuff that I even volunteered to varnish my dad’s bamboo home myself. So okay, using a paint brush, I applied 2 coatings of dark-oak varnish, making sure all crevices are covered. It would have been prettier if I used a mahogany-red varnish color, but oh well; a dark-oak is all that I have. Anyway, the wicker basket turned out beautifully, the ugly black spots, covered and gone.
I again allowed a whole day to sun-dry the freshly varnished basket. After a few hours, I will begin the last stage of the project, which is the actual putting together of all the materials.
In the meantime, here are my son’s little inquiries which he never fails to ask every day:
Makus: “Is my Christmas decor finished?”
Me: “No. not yet.”
Makus: “Mom, where are we in the Christmas decor? Teacher said I should be bringing it today.”
Me: “Finished with the yoyo flowers, working on the basket”
Makus: “Can you really make a Christmas decor? Maybe we should just buy?”
Me: “When did I ever fail you?”
After this, he didn’t ask anymore that I got so curious as to why isn’t he hounding me about the Christmas basket.
Me: “Why aren’t you asking about the decor?”
Makus: “I’ll just wait for you to finish it. I told teacher that my decor is not something bought and you’re still working on it.”
Me: “Oh goody, that just bought me a lot of time.”
Anyway, continuing with the Christmas basket the following morning, I gathered all my materials:
How I made the Christmas Yoyo Flower Basket
I first made a bow ribbon by rolling 5 inches of the material between my thumb and middle finger 3 times. I cut it from the rest of the ribbon length. Holding the ribbon in the center, I made a tiny v-cut on both sides of the center. This is where I tied the ribbon with a scotch tape. After which, I drew out each loop, separating them from one another until it forms a nice bow. I did the same procedure to the other end of the ribbon. I learned how to make bow ribbon from watching the ladies from National Bookstore’s Gift-Wrapping stations. Whenever I’m waiting for my item to be gift-wrapped, ribbon and all, I see to it to spend some time watching them do their craft. They’re amazing. Anyhow, I wasn’t able to take a picture of it as I need both hands to work with the bow ribbon. After the bow was done, I attached another yoyo flower in the center with hot glue. This bow will be glued to the frontal area of the basket’s body.
When the bow was done, I used up all the remaining length of the ribbon to cover the basket handle. I tied one end at the handle base of the wicker basket, continuing to cover the rest of the handle up to the other side, tying a knot at the other base of the basket handle. At this point, my basket is done and ready.
I got my foam and measured it inside the basket. On this foam will stand the yoyo flowers and the candies to so it better be well fitted and tight inside the basket. Next, following a triangular pattern, I inserted the big yoyo flowers at the back, and then continued to populate the front area with smaller flowers. Next, I added the spiral candy mints and the golden nuggets on the inside base of the basket. I placed the red icicles on the center to cover the polystyrene foam base and to provide glitter the basket some more. Maybe I should have added some green icicles too (just a thought).
Christmas Yoyo flower basket is finished and ready for submission.
I hope Teacher Alona likes it.
Disclaimer: This isn’t Makus’ school project. His class was requested to bring Christmas decors to set their classroom in the mood for Christmas. This is my personal whim. I want my little boy to present something original, unique and not bought from the mall. I hope the children and the teachers will appreciate this Christmas basket as much as I had fun making it. Merry Christmas Grade I-B!
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