Friday, April 11, 2014

Birthday gifts

It has been a birthday-filled week in my extended family, and here is what has had me busy:

My sister-in-law loves alpacas and llamas. After making a giraffe fence sitter for her daughter last year (see that here) and then a giraffe and a lion for our grandson (here), my sis-in-law teasingly asked for an alpaca for her fence. As far as I know, there aren't any patterns for an alpaca fence sitter, so hubby and I made our own.

Unless you have a strong fondness for alpacas and llamas, you probably only have a vague image in your mind when someone mentions these animals. To make a caricature of an animal, you need a feature to focus on such as the giraffe's neck or the lion's mane. Figuring out how to create an alpaca on flat pieces of wood was a challenge.
Llamas and alpacas have teeth that grow continuously and need to be filed. I wasn't about to include them. They have shaggy or woolly coats that I could only hope to indicate by dabbing paint onto a white background with scrunched up plastic wrap. 
There wasn't much color in this project so I decided Al (he was known as Al Paca while here) needed to chew on a flower. I bought this stem of artificial whatever (gardening isn't my strong suit) and hubby dug out (routered?) a channel on the back side of the snout before it was glued and nailed in place. The hooves aren't anatomically correct but we'll claim artistic license on this. Hubby wanted to be certain they would hold on the wooden fence so we used the pattern  piece from the previous animals.

My sis-in-law and I are members of a knitting group that meet at a yarn store. We sit at a table, but beyond the table and behind a row of shelves is a seating area with leather furniture. I placed Al and a birthday card on one of the chairs for her to discover as we wandered around, looking at new yarn. Here is her reaction:
She is happy. Al is now in a loving home. Hubby and I are happy for both of them.

Tonight our clan will be together for a birthday dinner for one of my great-nephew's, a grandson of the llama lover.  The birthday boy will be getting cash from us, but I didn't want to just stick money in a card. Why not stick it in a bottle instead?

Based on something I saw on Pinterest, this is how I created his gift:

Remove the label from a bottle. Save it for a template or just take a quick measure for the new label you will make. There is likely to be some label and glue that won't come off easily. Don't worry about it. Wash a plastic bottle and set it upside down to dry. I did mine after cutting the flap in it but that shouldn't matter.  Crumple money that will go inside.
Here is the flap that I cut in the side of the bottle. I used a craft knife. I started with a kitchen knife but a craft knife is much easier. Whatever you use, be careful!
I knew I was only going to put money in this, but if you plan to put something larger inside, cut the flap to accommodate the largest thing you plan to put in the bottle but keep the cut within the label area so that you can cover it up. In other words, I would have made the U shape cut with taller uprights on the U going around the bottle if I was going to put a model car inside.

Here is the bottle with 5 one-dollar bills crumpled inside.
Sometimes thinking artsy-fartsy-let's-use-up supplies-on-hand gets me in a bit of trouble. A 12x12 sheet of scrapbook paper does not fit around a 2 liter bottle. I cut the strip 5" wide and taped an extension on. The pattern didn't line up. Oh well. Once I glued the letters on, I decided they didn't stand out enough so I outlined them with a pen. The paper is textured so that didn't go as smoothly as planned.
Here are views of the finished bottle with 25 singles inside
I taped the birthday label on using a tape that is new to me, called Sookwang. It is double sided, super sticky and permanent. I mean PERMANENT! There is no chance of repositioning it. Of course the label ends didn't match up perfectly. It was less noticeable at the top for some reason, probably due to the pattern. I stuck a green tag on the bottom with our names on it.

If you like this but worry that you aren't crafty, make it easy on yourself and use wrapping paper for the bottle label. Regular tape should be fine for holding the label in place. I taped the flap before adding the label cut it probably wasn't necessary.

If you don't have enough items to fill the bottle, use some shredded paper as filler. I am pretty sure the birthday boy is going to be amazed and wonder how I got the money inside the bottle. It would be more amazing if I had an item in there that couldn't possibly collapse to fit through the neck of the bottle. I'm thinking that the next adult birthday that requires a fun or amusing gift might get a bottle full of bottles: airplane size liquor bottles, Tums, aspirin, etc.

I hope you have fun with this idea!

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