Welcome to the another installment of Make A Thing, where we make handmade gifts for people. Or ourselves. Who doesn’t need something special in their life? Join in on the DIY fun and avoid the unnecessary consumerism of the world (and I promise you’ll save a few dollars while you’re at it).
Header by Rory Midhani
Valentine’s Day is terrifying. There is so much pressure to buy your significant other something to show how much you love them. Chocolates, roses, and singing stuffed animals, oh my! But you know what? Fuck it. Don’t buy into Hallmark’s notions of romance. Valentine’s Day is the ideal time to make someone you love (yourself, especially) a nice, thoughtful gift. There’s no need to stress about it, because the most personal gifts to make are usually the easiest.
First off, jewelry. Jewelry is always a solid go-to for Valentine’s Day (or any gift ever). I’m not talking about the diamonds sappy commercials on television are trying to convince you to buy. Personalized jewelry is one of the most adorable things you can give or receive. I recently made necklaces for two special humans in my life. I made my girlfriend matching puzzle piece necklaces for our anniversary. I’m wearing mine now! Because they are made out of shrinky dinks, they’re surprisingly sturdy. They’re also super cute and easy to make. I also made my best friend a tiny book necklace for her birthday, a gift that she seemed to really appreciate. It was surprisingly quick to make. I made all of three necklaces at the same time, and all in all, I’d say I spent less than $10 and they took me about an hour combined, including drying time.
Puzzle Piece Necklaces
Supplies Needed: Shrinky Dinks (I used frosted ruff n ready, because I wanted one I could see through for tracing), permanent marker, scissors, oven, metallic paint, paintbrush, super glue, glue-on necklace bails (small ones!), jump rings, necklace chain
Level of difficulty: Large, wooden puzzle ages 2+
1. Print out puzzle piece picture (I used this one and resized it to be just a tiny bit larger) and trace the image onto your shrinky dinks.
2. Cut ’em out. I found smaller scissors worked better for the inside. My exacto knife barely worked and my larger scissors were a little bulky, but some hair cutting scissors I found in my girlfriend’s clippers kit (shhhhhh, don’t tell her) worked perfectly.
3. Bake them according to the packaging instructions, which in this case was on top of a brown paper bag I found. Now, fair warning: they are going to curl up. If your edges touch and stick together, it is best to reach in there with an object (butter knives work well) and try to get them apart so they’ll flatten out again. This sounds ridiculous, but trust me. Also, don’t freak out if they just appear to be curling up and any edges aren’t touching one another because they’ll flatten out.
4. Let them cool completely, then start painting. You’re going to need a lot of coats, so try to be tedious about making your brush strokes flat and even to give the pieces the appearance of being metal. You can also use a silver sharpie or silver nail polish if you’d like, but it will take a lot more coats of the stuff.
5. Once everything is dry and to your liking, super glue the bails onto the less pretty side (trust me, there will be a less pretty side).
6. Add a jump ring and hook them onto your necklace chain. That’s it! You’re done!
This is how I packaged it on up, because I’m a total sap. Also, I secretly really like gifts that you give another person and there’s also a part for you, like matching necklaces.
Supplies Needed: Tiny dollhouse books (you can find them online or at most craft stores), printer, scissors/exacto knife, mod podge, glue-on necklace bail, superglue, jump ring, necklace chain
Level of Difficulty: Are You My Mother? (the Dr. Seuss book, not the Bechdel one.)
1. Locate some dollhouse books. Mine were a little too square for my liking, but I used them anyway. I’d recommend buying some online because then you don’t have to choose from these and a fake tiny Holy Bible, which just seemed strange to use.
2. Print out the cover of the book you’d like to use. I used The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera because my best friend and I read it together and shared a copy with margin notes when we were eighteen, so it held personal significance. It was also instantly recognizable as a tiny book. That is key. I also recommend printing out several different sizes of the book cover because you never know what will actually fit once you print it.
3. Cut out the cover, using your tiny book as a guide. Mod podge it on to the cover of the tiny book. Give the book a good coat front and back to seal everything in. You can’t really overdo mod podge, you know? There is no limit to something that dries clear (or maybe there is but I have yet to hit it).
4. Superglue a bail on the back.
5. Add a jump ring and hook it onto the necklace and that’s it! Wear your tiny book with pride or give it to the book lover in your life. They’ll never have to know how easy it actually was to make.