The season of mass wastage is almost upon us, and we're hoping to counter the tidal wave of consumerism wrapped in shiny virgin paper with a little DIY culture. Over the next few weeks, we'll be pumping out all sorts of crafty and easy make-your-own- gift ideas, starting with greeting cards.
Whether you're one of those hyper-organized people who mail out holiday messages to everyone you know or just want to tack a little gift tag onto your prezzies, have we got ideas for you. Design paper from scratch by throwing yesterday's news in the blender, or put those lame holiday flyers to good use in a collage.
Yes, if Martha were a radical tree-hugging activist she'd be jumpin' with glee.
Speaking of trees, in honour of all the majestic hardwoods and softwoods killed for Christmas cards (not ours, of course!), why not adopt one in someone else's name as a gift (see www.earthroots.org, www.cpar.ca, www.natureconservancy.ca for details).
Spicy season's greetings
Can't cook? That's okay, you can still make good use of all those spices growing stale in your cupboard. Lay a little (non-toxic) glue down, sprinkle and go. Make a wreath with some dried tarragon and red peppercorn accents. Toss some green and yellow split peas onto a page with brown lentils as the trunk and you've got yourself a very edible conifer - sort of. I tried spelling out Happy Holidays with Cajun spices, but my cursive isn't so pretty in glue so I gave up.
One hundred per cent post-consumer recycled cards from Grassroots on Danforth were used as a base.
Craft collage cards
Fed up with those glossy Hallmark cards that your aunt sends you each year? Vent your hostility by cutting 'em up into little bits and mailing them back to her.Works well with flyers and holiday mags, too. Send an LCBO Food & Drink mag collage to those friends who need a little lubrication to get through this time of year.
You can make mini ones to use as gift tags, too. By the way, all of our collages were built on the backs of cereal boxes.
Homemade paper was never this cheap
Yep, we made our own earth-friendly paper from scratch for these babies (see below for instructions). I glued a few red peppercorns next to parsley sprigs already blended into the paper to make it a little more mistletoe-ish (it's like handing out a portable make-out excuse). For a little Hanukkah flair, just cut up some old menorah cards and go to town with a mini collage. If your homemade paper's a little rough on the inside, glue some recycled office paper in there for the perfect writing surface.
Etch in ÒHomemade by meÓ on the back to make 'em think you worked really hard.
Picture perfect family
Mailing out cards with photos of your cranky kids on the cover is just plain annoying to everyone but your mother. But photos of other people's kids? Now that's funny. Especially if you don't have kids. Just paste your face over a parent's head and you have instant holiday magic. If you've got a pet, you can glue him on there, too.
Homemade recycled paper cards
Grab a few pages of junk flyers, old mags, newspaper or recycled office paper, tear it up into 2-inch bits and soak 'em in warm water for an hour. To add a little colour I ransacked my closet for old tissue paper salvaged from gifts. A little goes a long way.
Throw the mushy soaked paper into the blender a couple handfuls at a time. Add water to help it along. Blend in short burts. The longer you blend, the smoother your paper - 15 seconds is plenty. If you like, once pulp is blended, manually stir in some herbs or spices (we added flat parsley), dried flowers, bits of yarn or whatever else you have kickin' around.
Put pulp into a bin. Add a few inches of water. It's time to sift for Hallmark gold. For this you need to either buy a deckle (a hollow wooden frame) and mould (a wooden frame with a screen stapled to it) from a craft store, or make your own (www.wipapercouncil. org/makepaper.htm). Hold the two together tightly, but the mould has to be on the bottom (screen side up). Now dip it in and sift out a thin, relatively even layer of pulp.
Pull the mould and deckle out. Let any excess water drip off. Remove the deckle (which gives the paper its shape). And voila, you get a sneak preview of your paper. (Okay, so it's still wet and mushy, but you get the point.)
Lay the pulp-covered screen face down on a J-cloth. Gently rub the back of the screen with your fingers to loosen the paper. Now slowly lift the mould off, starting at one corner. Once separated, move the J-cloth (with the paper still on it) to a flat surface to dry. Go back to Step 1 and start on another page, thinking, damn, that was surprisingly easy.
Let your paper dry flat overnight. Next morning, hang up J-cloths (with paper stuck to them) with clothespins. Leave them for another day. If you want the pages extra smooth just iron them on a low temp (avoiding any herbs if used) before they're totally dry. Now fold it in half and you've got yourself a homemade 100 per cent post-consumer recycled greeting card!
Got a question?
Send your green consumer queries to firstname.lastname@example.org