My favorite gifts to give and receive are usually the handmade kind.  The only problem is, my project ideas always seem to exceed the number of hours I have to make these same objects.  I still try, and occasionally I get my gifts made on time to present to their intended, on the day that is to be celebrated.  Sometimes!

So for my 5 year old, I made a gift and got it done just in time for his birthday, thanks to Grandpa Joseph.  Having Grandpa in town meant I could sneak off into the garage to work on the present with my power tools (actually it was a palm sander), and some hand tools too.   My #2 son has become quite the collector, and for all of you who know me well, this declaration will make you chuckle.  No surprise there, right?  The apple didn’t fall far from the tree, etc, etc.  And like his mother, my son loves rocks, leaves, sticks, feathers, shells, and shiny things, just like a Magpie.  It tickles me, every time I have to clean out the handles in the car doors where he stashes his finds, or when one of the doors gets opened and little treasures fall out, or when I find rocks at the bottom of the washing machine.

if you could see what is in this backpack...

His interest in rocks has gotten more serious lately, and so his dad and I agreed that the present for him would be a rock collection box.  I just happened to have the perfect box sitting in pieces right in my garage.  Years ago, I’d gotten a three shelf box kit from Ikea, and had intended to use it myself for art supplies, or for my own collected items.  I got as far as staining all of the wood for the kit, but never got around to putting the thing together.  Then we moved, twice, and the box was packed away and forgotten, until now.  Moments like this might be chalked up to serendipity, or a good consequence of procrastination, or just the fruits of being a hoarder, but whatever you call it, I needed a box and a box appeared.

Here’s how the parts of the box looked after sanding each board, slotting the drawers together, and attaching it all with wood glue and nails.

We gave out hints as to the kinds of things our little collector might want for his birthday, and he was delighted with the new rocks and stones that he was given.

open drawers

Immediately the collection box was put to good use, and I imagine will be for years to come.

Now I may need to get another one of these boxes and put it together for myself–but I’d probably never get around to it!

finished box

Another recent handmade present was one I gave my mom for her birthday, much after the fact.  I taught a book making workshop in November at Marchën Studios where we made maze books, which are a version of accordion books.  To personalize the base paper for the books we printed with rubber rollers, or brayers, from leaves and pieces of lace.   My mom has an autumn birthday, and I thought she’d appreciate the book and fill it creatively.

leaf print

and the group of books from the workshop…

open books

more handmade keepsakes, to be used and treasured.