Little Lady's Christmas Gifts

I have been busy finishing up Christmas gifts for the wee ones. I thought I might spend some time this week sharing their gifts, plus a tutorial on the drawstring bags I made for the Little Lady and Pixie.

First off... every year I buy the grandbabies a piece to their 5" Fontanini Nativity Scene. For their first Christmas I get them the holy family. For their 10th Christmas (not there yet), I will get them the 3 Wisemen. In between, they get angels, barnyard animals, and various villagers. By the time they are 18, they will have beautiful Nativities to share with their own children some day. This year I bought Lady the Little Drummer Boy. It was her daddy's favorite piece in our set. Thought Drew would enjoy it :)

In the top photo is the rest of the Little Lady's gift. I started by making her a colorful drawstring bag. (I'll include the tutorial later this week.) I bought unfinished wooden eggs and cups. I watered down some soy paint, because I wanted a translucent look. When the paint dried, I worked in some of my beeswax and olive oil finish. It gave the wood a wonderful luster.

Little Lady just turned 1 in October. The size of these cups and eggs are perfect for pudgy little hands and pose no chock hazard! It is also a great first sorting and matching activity. Matching the egg to the cup is just right for a toddler.

Just think of all of the other uses she'll find for all these eggs. They will be perfect in her little wooden kitchen.

Then, I made a Flower Wand. I plan to make her several more styles for her over the year. I will be sharing this pattern with everyone in January.

Finally, I added the lovely book, Around the Year, by Tasha Tudor. Tasha has long been one of my favorite authors/illustrators of children's book. Her illustrations and stories are soft, gentle and kind. She also has a wonderful ability to share the wonders of nature with young and old alike.

Lady's gift is now ready to be wrapped and mailed. (Have I mentioned that Drew, Meghan and Little Lady will not be home this Christmas? It will be my first Christmas without one of my children. If you happen to hear muffled sobbing, you'll know where it's coming from!) Hope she'll love her gifts :)

Old World Wooden Gnomes Tutorial

The other day I shared our latest gnomes... the Old World Wooden Gnomes. In the past we've made Peg Gnomes, Knit Gnomes, Sewn Baby Gnome Dolls, and Michelle even designed Gnome Pillow Panels that you can buy from Spoonflower to sew and stuff. So, it only seems natural that we would eventually have gotten around to making wooden gnomes :)

NOTE: For general instructions on how to cut out wood, prepare it for finishing, then painting, and finishing, including the beeswax and olive oil finish recipe, check out the post HERE.

I made these from 1" ash, but you can use any medium or hardwood. Click here to download the Old World Wooden Gnome pattern. Begin by cutting the gnomes out of wood. As you will notice, they aren't perfect. The saw blade had a mind of its own, but that's okay. Even the wonky ones turned out cute :)

Although I've been working with wood for the past couple of years, and not nearly as often as I should to advance my skills significantly, I tried something new this project. I finally used the wood burner Michelle gave me for Christmas.

Trust me when I tell you I'm new to wood burning. So new I couldn't even figure how to get the tips off so I just used the one it came with! (BTW... I figured it out AFTER I was done with the project :) 

I transferred the pattern for wood burning to the wood using a pencil.

I then practiced on scrap wood. Yikes! Not as easy as I thought it was going to be!

I moved on to the "real thing" and wood burned the pieces. I did not do a perfect job, but I was reasonably certain... or at least hopeful, that it wouldn't matter when they were all done :)

When I was done wood burning the pieces, I erased the marks, then proceeded to painting.

As usual, I mixed up milk paints, and painted each a bit different. It was amazing how the burned lines made it easier to paint... the secret to "staying in the lines".

When they were dried, I finished them with my beeswax/olive oil.

They have such an Old World look to them. The wee ones pounced on them when they came over. I know I will be making a whole village!

REMEMBER: For general instructions on how to cut out wood, prepare it for finishing, then painting, and finishing, including the beeswax and olive oil finish recipe, check out the post HERE.

The actual pattern can be found HERE.

Hope you have fun and populate your house with a bunch of gnomie friends :)

Copyright © Wee Folk Art 2008 - 2011. All rights reserved.

All photos, text and patterns are copyright protected. You may not copy, reproduce or redistribute any material found on WeeFolkArt.com without written permission. Wee Folk Art retains all rights.


Old World Wooden Gnomes

There are two things I came to realize today. First, I'm not nearly as good as Tim at woodworking (okay, so I've known that all along!), and second, it really doesn't matter! I pulled out the jigsaw for the first time this season. I only woodwork when I can work outside. As I started cutting my first piece, I realized I was certainly NOT the master of my saw blade. It had a mind of its own, and only momentarily did it pay any mind to the neat lines I had sketched on the wood. Yikes!

As I continued, I got better, and came up with a few tricks that helped... tips that I'm sure any woodworker worth their grain of wood utilizes all the time. But, in the end, I like the messed up first one every bit as much as I do the others. Character:) Anyway, not only did I get to use my jigsaw again, but I finally opened my Christmas gift from Michelle... a wood burner. So, THAT was a humbling experience BUT I am so pleased with the overall results, that I'm willing to cut myself some slack.

As always, I used milk paint and my beeswax and olive oil finish. They have a real "old world" feel to them. They look like they belonged to your great-great-great grandpa! I will share the tutorial later in the week when I get a chance to write it up. In the meantime, just wanted to introduce you to our new wee friends!  

Star Advent Wreath and Candleholders Directions

Note: Although I plan to use these candle holders as our Advent Wreath, using 3 purple candles and 1 pink candle, it can be simply used as candle holders, as pictured here.

Many years ago... probably 25... we had made an Advent Wreath. I wanted something that could be used throughout the coming years and add beauty to our Christmas celebration. In one of my many Christmas books and or magazines, I found a wooden star centerpiece... I don't think it was even featured as and advent wreath, but with 4 candle holders, it worked well. Although it was beautiful, over the years it began to loosen up, and eventually it became unusable, but not before seeing my children grow up.

I decided to remake the wreath this year, excited to share it with the grandbabies. I thought I remembered which book the pattern was in, but I was unable to find it! (Trust me, an evening with a mug of hot cider, curled up on the couch in front of the fireplace with a humongous stack of old Christmas books was not a wasted evening, even if I was unsuccessful in finding the plans I was looking for!)

Anyway, Michelle and I talked about the Advent wreath and the additional star candle holders, and came up with the design as we remembered it. Later, when talking to my son Adam, he had another structural addition that I had forgotten about that helped complete the design. Tim and I worked on it together, making the base sturdier than the original. The project took a day to complete, but when you think of the years of delight it will bring, that is a small price to pay! We painted the wreath, as I did when the children were small, but it would be finished in natural wood tones.

IMPORTANT: I made my wreath and candle holders using milk paint and my beeswax and oil finish... my preferred finishing choices and what I use on children's toys because they are child safe. Directions are given as such, with suggestions for using acrylic paints or the milk paint with an polyurethane finish. Let me say this... using the beeswax and olive oil finish was a bit of a nightmare! There are so many nooks and crannies, and you cannot apply the wax to any surfaces that will need to be glued. I gave up trying to beeswax the finished piece and sprayed the whole thing with Pledge! If I were making this again, I would use a paint that does not require a separate finish. If I wanted to leave the wood natural, I would assemble the candle holders than spray with a polyurethane finish! 

1" wood - we used scraps of pine from Tim's stash (yes, woodworkers have stashes, too :) Tim is guessing if you had to go out and buy wood a piece of 1" x 8" x4' should do the job. We used pine but you can use any solid wood.
paint - I used milk paint but acrylic paints can be used, perhaps preferable 
finish - I used my olive oil and beeswax finish but if I were doing this again I would use an acrylic finish (see IMPORTANT NOTE above)
6 candle ferrules or 6 wooden candle cups (you will need screws if using the wooden candle cups)
high quality, heavy duty wood glue
6 candles (4 advent candles)

dremel and/or sander
hand drill and/or drill press

Make a copy of the pattern.

Cut out wood pieces. NOTE: Follow the directions found HERE for general tips on cutting out wood and preparing it for finishing. Cut out the following pieces to make the advent wreath and 2 star candle holders:

2 small stars
8 medium stars
2 large stars
4 base pieces*
4 angled blocks (for holding 4 stars)**

*For the base, rip a piece of your 1" wood into 4 pieces, 1 1/2" x 9". Sand the edges.

**For the angled blocks, cut a pieces of wood as diagrammed in the drawing below. Sand edges.

Paint all the pieces. NOTE: Information on how to work with milk paint can be found HERE. I painted by wreath as follows:

4 base pieces - green
4 angled blocks - green
2 small stars - green
2 large stars - red
8 medium stars - red

It using the olive oil and beeswax finish, it is easier to apply to the advent wreath stars before assembling the wreath. NOTE: Directions for how to make and use my olive oil and beeswax finish can be found HERE. IMPORTANT: to get the best glue bond, you do not want the waxy finish to get on surfaces that will be glued. Only finish the sides and tops of the stars. DO NOT finish the stars for the candle holders, the base or the angled blocks until the wreath and candle holders have been glued. NOTE: if using a polyurethane finish, you can wait until the pieces have been fully assembled. 

Apply the wood glue to the 4 ends of the pieces and clamp together. If you do not have clamps, you can use masking tape to hold in place. If you get a good bond with the glue, you will not need to use nails or screws. HINT: Assemble on a piece of wax paper. If any of the glue happens to ooze out, it will prevent your piece from being glued to the surface you are working on.

Glue to 4 angled blocks to the back of 4 medium stars so a point is centered and pointing up.

Glue a small star to center of each large star for the candle holders.

Allow pieces to dry thoroughly.

Position 4 medium pieces on the corners of the base. Place them so a point is pointing to the middle of the wreath and so the bottom of the star overhangs the base by 1/8". Make sure the stars are centered on the corners. Glue in place. Glue the angled blocks to the centers of each base side.

When thoroughly dried, finish the unfinished pieces of the wreath with the beeswax and olive oil or polyurethane. 

Drill holes the width and depth of your candle ferrules using a drill press or a hand drill. NOTE: The ferrules should fit snugly. Be careful not to cut the holes too wide. IMPORTANT: Make sure you do not go all the way through the base of the candle holders.


Gently tap ferrules into holes. (This is not pictured because we are waiting for them to come in! I will update the directions when they do.)

OPTION: If you do not have a drill press or if you are uncomfortable drilling holes, you can use wooden candle cups. Paint them to match the stars, center, and screw in place.

Copyright © Wee Folk Art 2008 - 2010. All rights reserved.

All photos, text and patterns are copyright protected. You may not copy, reproduce or redistribute any material found on WeeFolkArt.com without written permission. Wee Folk Art retains all rights.

How to Cut Out Wood

Below are the general directions on how to cut out wood and prepare it for finishing. You will need to use a scroll saw, a dremel, and sandpaper. I consider myself to be a novice woodworker, and do not offer advice on how to actually use the equipment necessary to complete these projects. I highly recommend you read the machines' owner manuals to familiarize yourself with the equipment and safety. I'm learning as I go, trying to be as careful as possible, but would not even begin to try to teach someone how to do this stuff. I'm having this total tension issue with the saw blades on my jigsaw and keep breaking them. But I will get the hang of it, and I will get better :) 

So, here's the deal on the instructions. (Hmmm... think I'm giving a disclaimer!!!) Basically, I'm giving you the patterns that I have designed. I'll tell you what I did, even share some lovely photos, BUT, this is not instructions on how to use the tools. I'm thoroughly enjoying woodworking, and finding it much easier than I thought it would be, and have been quite delightful results. But I am NOT an expert. You are working with power tools so PLEASE BE CAREFUL!

Most of our wood projects are cut from 1" woods. I have used pine, popular, oak and maple. The harder the wood, the more durable the project, but harder it is to cut.

Tools and equipment:
scroll saw
fine sandpaper - I used a sponge sandpaper block
safety glasses
face mask
wide masking tape

1] Make copy of pattern. I then cover the pattern edges with wide packing tape. Cut out pattern pieces. The tape helps make the pattern pieces firm, reusable and easier to trace around.

2] Trace pattern pieces on wood. (You can either trace with or against grain. HINT: If you're making multiple pieces, do them all the same to give a unified look to your project.)

3] Cut out the pieces using a scroll saw. NOTE: Check out the pics below. THEY ARE NOT PERFECT! See how I didn't stay on line all the time! Unless doing a project that needs to fit together perfectly, like a puzzle, free standing wood work is an "ish" thing. They do not need to be exact to look great when you're done!

4] Using the dremel, soften the edges by using the dremel at a 30 - 45 degree angle. Take the edges down enough so you can see the angle but be careful not to overdo it! (Which is easy with a dremel!) This does not need to be perfectly smooth. Imperfections give a lovely hand hewed look to the project! Make sure you are wearing safety glasses and a face mask. I didn't use a face mask on my first project, and I was coughing up sawdust the rest of the day!

5] Use the dremel to lightly sand the flat edges, just enough to remove scroll saw marks.

6] Go over the whole piece with fine sandpaper by hand or with an electric sander.

7] The piece is now ready to finish.

Copyright © Wee Folk Art 2008 - 2011. All rights reserved.

All photos, text and patterns are copyright protected. You may not copy, reproduce or redistribute any material found on WeeFolkArt.com without written permission. Wee Folk Art retains all rights.

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