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DO IT YOURSELF: Christmas gift on a budget

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accent Grand Forks, 58203

Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

I've always loved Christmas. Everything seems to smell like cinnamon in late December and there are lots of opportunities to shop for others, one of my favorite pastimes.

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Last winter, I was in graduate school, and my husband was working at an entry-level job. Needless to say we were doing Christmas on a budget.

To me, that means it's time put the debit card away and get crafty, one of my other favorite pastimes.

I made several homemade gifts last year including a jar of candy and snacks for my father-in-law that was decorated with mustaches, and wall decorations for all of our grandparents with clothespins to hold their favorite snapshots or greeting cards.

But my favorite Christmas project was the multimedia canvas I made for my parents.

My mom has gradually been redoing sections of my childhood home for years, and last year, she talked about wanting to take down some of the wall decorations they've had since before I was born. But, she didnot have anything to replace them with, and art can be expensive.

I decided Christmas would be a good opportunity to help her phase out some of the 1980s wedding gifts she had wanted to retire, even if it was only a temporary solution.

Pinterest.com is a great resource for inspiration, in fact all of my DIY projects last year were somehow Pinterest-inspired. After pinning dozens of multimedia canvases, I finally decided I was ready to take on my own project.

I'll add a disclaimer here: My enthusiasm for art has always outstripped my skill. I am not a perfectionist, so my projects generally have flaws, but let's call it "character." When I explain how I do things, it may not be the best or most professional way. I'll let you be the judge of that.

With that said, let's get to it.

My materials

Blank canvas -- any size will do.

Old book pages -- Sheet music would also be great.

Glue -- I used Mod Podge glue in matte.

Paint -- I used relatively cheap, acrylic paint I had on hand in red, white, black and brown.

Letter stickers -- I found mine in the scrapbook section.

Scissors

Paint brushes

A stencil -- I drew the windmill and cut it out to make a stencil, but you could print or buy a stencil, as well.

Black sharpie or paint pen

Most of this stuff was already in my house, so after a quick trip to the craft store for the rest I was ready to get started.

The process

First, I took the pages out of the book, just enough to cover the canvas. Then I glued each piece to the canvas. I used a paint brush and painted a page-sized section with glue, put the page down and painted over the top of it with more glue going from the center to the outside to keep it from bubbling. I repeated this process for each page, turning each one a different direction until the whole canvas was covered.

The next day, I placed the letter stickers. This was tricky because the adhesive wasn't as strong as I had hoped.

Then it was time for the fun part, painting. I put a little of each color on one paper plate and mixed as I went, blending on the plate and on the canvas. If I were to do this again, I might dilute the paints with water a little here and there so the text would show through a little. I painted right over the stickers, doing my best not to move them.

I let that dry for a little while then peeled off the stickers. Voila, the book pages show through spelling out the text I chose.

Finally, I used my homemade stencil to make the windmill in black, outlined the letters with a black sharpie and painted the edges of the canvas with a black-brown paint mixture, so it could be hung without a frame. I faded this paint onto the front of the canvas with a dry brush.

And that was it. Overall, it was a simple process, completely customizable and fun.

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