Monday, 23 December 2013

Merry Christmas from the Bees

We're just a few days out from Christmas, so we thought we'd share some holiday cheer with you! As we all prepare for the upcoming flurry of parties and general yuletide coziness, we found some time to get together and get festive! We've begun an annual tradition of making wreaths out of fresh greenery sourced by our favorite local flower shop, i fiori. It's always a really nice night, and it's such a treat that we all get to go home with something that will add some gorgeous festivity to our homes.

If you want to see more about how we make these wreaths, feel free to check out our post from last Christmas. This year we got bigger frames (20" instead of 18") which we found to be a bit more difficult, so our hot tip for you is to keep your wreaths on the smaller side! We think you'll find it more enjoyable and satisfying, and it will be a lot easier to make your wreath look nice and full.

Now that we've done this two years in a row maybe we'll try something different next year - perhaps we'll venture out into boughs and garlands! Or maybe we'll try incorporating some other elements into the wreaths - pine cones, dried flowers, twigs, or maybe some crafted materials like felted wool or crocheted bits and bobs. Let us know if you have any suggestions!

Here are a few of our wreaths in place:

Meg's wreath!
Jen's wreath!
Hollie's wreath!
Speaking of boughs and garland, we saw a LOT of those last night! We took the Christmas Tour at Dundurn Castle, and spent the evening learning about how the holidays were celebrated around the year of 1855 by Sir Allan MacNab and his family.

It was amazing for our collective to see how self-sufficient this family needed to be, as we explored the in-house brewery, candle-making room, pickling stations, and learned about how much intentionality was required to create the Christmas meals for the family and the servants in the home. Items like chocolate and oranges would need to be ordered 3-6 months in advance, but most food items were grown on site, to be harvested and preserved in time to be ready for the holidays. To keep things cold, ice blocks were cut out from the Hamilton bay each January, and stacked between layers of sawdust and straw, and the ice would stay frozen all year in the home's ice pit.

Holiday decor was taken to an amazing level, with natural garlands and arrangements everywhere you looked. Oranges, a sign of wealth, were incorporated into the holiday decor, and were given as gifts adorned with cloves. The tour was amazing, and we highly recommend it to anyone looking for something unique to do over the holidays with friends or family.

So from our hive to yours, as it was so aptly written on the wrapping paper by Stay Home Club at our Beehive Secret Santa:

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Block Printed Wrapping Paper

About a month ago we were asked by Etsy to contribute a DIY blog post to their 2013 International Advent Calendar. Everyday between December 1st and 25th, the Etsy Blogs will feature festive how-to as part of their DIY Advent Calendar Series, and the Beehive is honoured to be a part of it! Our blog post is featured today on Etsy's UK, France, Germany and Australia blogs.  It's fun to see the Beehive in French and German, and we send a big collective hello to our friends in Europe and the Commonwealth!

Check out our DIY blog post below, or visit the following links to see how we look in other corners of the world.

Etsy France blog:
Etsy Germany blog:
Last year we were all quite taken with the beautiful wrapping paper that our Scout Bee Jenna made by carving her own stamps and printing them with white ink onto kraft paper. We just had to try it for ourselves! This is a simple, beautiful way to spruce up your holiday gifts with a handmade touch. Using a variety of household objects to create patterns, these instructions will guide you through a few different methods - but feel free to play around, and come up with wrapping paper that really reflects all the thoughtfulness that you’ve put into the gift you’re wrapping. Warm holiday wishes from our Hamilton hive to yours!

Materials needed: 

kraft paper
ribbon or cotton twill tape
 utility knife or scalpel lino or woodblock carving tools
paring knife
good white glue or carpenter’s glue
scrap pieces of wood, foam board or polystyrene craft foam
string, twine, raffia, pipe cleaners or elastic bands
various found objects such as wine corks, bubble wrap, jar lids
acrylic paint
paint brushes
old cookie sheet/ flat bottomed plate for paint
sponge, paper towels or old towels

Prepare the amount of kraft paper and ribbon that you would like to print onto. We used three different kinds of crafted blocks to print our wrapping paper and ribbon. Scraps of wood, foam board or polystyrene can be used as the base for blocks with foam, string and string-like materials.

Method 1) For blocks with craft foam: cut shapes and motifs and glue them to the block.

Method 2) For blocks with string, you can both wrap the string around the block to create an allover texture, or draw a pattern or motif with glue on block base and lay string into the glue. Allow these blocks to dry thoroughly before using.

 Method 3) For potato printing blocks, first cut the potato in half. You can work with either positive or negative shape on the surface of the potato - cut a basic shape into the potato and cut away excess around your shape, or use the shape of the potato and carve you motif or pattern into the surface of the potato. Using a paper towel, blot off excess moisture from the cut surface and allow the potato to dry slightly before printing with it.

Another idea! Use found objects, such as corks, bubble wrap or jar lids as printing blocks in themselves! Keep your eye out for things that have interesting shapes or textures. See what you can discover...

To print with your blocks, you can either brush paint directly onto the surface of the block, or use a sponge as a homemade stamp pad - just load the sponge up with paint, press your block into the painty surface of the sponge, and print away!

After all of our printing was dry, we wrapped our gifts and tied scrap fabric and ribbon into bows for the final touches. If you don’t print your own ribbon, you can use whatever else you have on hand for this - kitchen twine, raffia, string. You really can’t go wrong - it all looks cute! Play around with different combinations until you have the prettiest patterned packages.

Happy Holidays!