Happy New Year! I hope the first 20 days of 2014 have gone well for everyone 🙂 Like most people, we had a crazy-busy holiday season, and blogging was last on my priority list. But I hope to post more frequently this year, because I have lots of projects to share and other topics I’d like to write about!
I’m co-room-mom in both girls’ classes this year, and teacher gifts are one of my responsibilities. The norm at their school is to collect money from whoever would like to donate, and then get the teacher a gift card along with some kind of “handmade” project from the kids. Last year, the room mom in my (then) kindergartener’s class had each kid fill out a page titled “my favorite thing about Mrs. H.” and then compiled them into a book for the teacher. It turned out really cute, but I didn’t want to do the same thing again this year. You wouldn’t think it would be so hard to come up with an idea, especially for someone like me who likes that crafty kind of stuff, but I literally spent hours searching Pinterest (and the Internet in general) for ideas. I was under certain limitations, mainly that I had to come up with something that the kids could do (for the most part) at home – it’s not like I could go in and command control of the class for an hour to do a project.
I came across a vase that was découpaged with magazine pictures, one chosen by each kid in the class. I liked that idea, but instead of using magazine pictures, I decided to have each kid decorate a small square of paper. I sent home a letter explaining this to parents, along with a pre-cut square of white paper, and an envelope to send it back in (along with any money they’d like to donate). I wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to return their square, in hopes that I would get the majority of the completed squares back by my deadline. (Believe me, I know how much of a pain it is to manage the mountain of paperwork, etc., that comes home from school!)
Most of the kids did return their squares within the next few days, and they were all so unique and cute. There were 5 or 6 kids in each class that didn’t return their square though, so I stopped into class one afternoon (with teacher permission) and pulled aside these kids for 5 minutes to have them decorate one.
Of course, procrastinator me waited until the night before the class parties to start découpaging. My original idea was to use a planter (and put a houseplant in it), but when I went out shopping, I couldn’t find a square or rectangle planter that was the right size (It’s much easier to découpage on flat sides, and I knew it would turn out better this way.) I ended up buying tall ceramic vases instead.
The découpaging itself was a bit puzzle-like. I knew how many square-inches of artwork I had, and had measured the vases in the store before buying them, so I knew that they were roughly the correct size. But it took some trimming white space to get them all to fit, and that resulted in some small gaps at certain spots around the vase. I ended up using small pieces of colored paper to fill in these gaps – going for a random, kids-artwork kind of look. I also découpaged colored tissue paper around the top edge of the vase, and wrote the class year (in paint marker) on the bottom of the vase. I used several coats of Mod Podge applied with a sponge brush, and sanded lightly in between coats. I finished it off with a layer of waterproof glossy polyurethane sealant. The vases were left to dry overnight, and the next morning I picked up some brightly-colored flowers to put in them.
One thing I wish I had done differently is asked the kids to use colored pencils or crayons, because the squares done in marker smeared slightly when I applied the découpage . (It may have also worked to use a layer of hairspray over these prior to applying the Mod Podge, but I didn’t have any on hand.) Other than that, I was pretty happy with how the découpage vases turned out, and got lots of compliments from the parents who attended the parties where we gave the vases to the teachers (along with a generous Target gift card). Although I came up with the idea, I really can’t take credit though- the kids’ awesome artwork is what really made them great! The teachers seemed to really like them too – one asked me “how did you do this?” and the other one sent home a note saying how much she would always treasure this as a reminder of her 2013-2014 class.
Now I have a few months to come up with something for their end-of-year gifts 🙂
For this project, I used:
(similar) 9in Matte Black Square Ceramic Vase