countdown to the holidays

Tuesday 13 November 2012

The holidays are a wonderful time to celebrate the spirit of coming together and I have found that no matter what holiday you choose to honour ... every child loves a countdown calendar.

I designed this fun project so that it could be used during the holidays but as you will see, it could be left up all year round if you to post family pictures, notes, etc. 

I used our small cotton bags and iron on transfers to create 25 small treat bags. Inside each bag, you can add a candy, small toy or notes with activities to do that day ... like baking cookies, go to a movie, you get the idea. The bags are hung on a large wood canvas with clothespins. Sounds easy? It is. Follow along if you want my detailed instructions ....

1. Gather your supplies: large wood canvas (mine was 24x36" and can be purchased at any fine art supply store), black board paint, foam brush, sandpaper, 25 cotton bags (I used the 4x6" bags, 2 iron on transfer sheets, iron, transfer paper, white china pencil, 25 large wood clothespins, glitter tape, ribbon and E-6000 glue.
2. Paint the wood canvas with the chalkboard paint. I did two coats of paint on mine.
3. I wanted to give the edges of my chalkboard a worn look so I sanded the edges and sides of my board once the paint was completely dried. I also gave a random light sanding on a few areas of the front as well. 
4. I created a "doodle" frame that I added to the black board as a graphic element. I wanted 5 rows of five frames. Because I knew that I wanted them to be evenly spaced out and didn't want to make a mistake on my board, I traced my doodle frames onto a large piece of kraft paper first to work out the placement. 

If you want to use my doodle frames ... you can download the art here.

5 & 6. After sketching out the placement of my 25 doodle frames on the kraft paper, I used tracing paper to transfer my final design onto the blackboard. I used painter's tape to hold the kraft paper in place while I was tracing.
7. After you have completed the tracing step, remove the kraft paper and go over the doodle frames with the white china marker. This should give you a chalk like effect ... except you can't wipe it off so it will always look like what you draw.
8. I used regular size (large) clothespins for this project and white glitter tape. You can use any colour of glitter or decorative tape that you wish or just leave the clothespins natural.
9. Next choose a ribbon or twine to decorate each clothespin. I used a red ribbon with a white stitch like detail ... you may want to select something that suits your home decor. I tied a simple knot with the ribbon to secure it to one side of the clothespin by the spring and cut the ends of the ribbon on an angle.
10. E-6000 glue was used to attach the clothespins to the blackboard. I used the doodle frame as a guide and positioned each clothespin in the same part of the frame. 
11. I'm not going to go into detail about how to use the iron on transfers because I have blogged about using them many times before. You can download the art for numbers below .... just remember that the transfers have to be printed backwards to work properly and my downloads are already reversed for you. Once all of the bags have been numbered you are ready to add them to the blackboard. 

Download the second iron on page here
There was some blank space at the bottom of this transfer so I added two "ho ho ho" graphics that can be used on larger canvas bags for gift giving ... perfect for a hostess or teacher's gift. 

Here's another picture of the finished project. Here's an idea for the countdown ... each day as the kids remove a bag, replace the bag with a picture of family and friends from past holidays. That way when all of the bags have been opened you will have 25 pictures hanging up. 

Use this blackboard all year to display the kid's artwork, pictures, notes and appointment reminders. 

Getting married soon? The blackboard and clothespin concept would work to display seating plans too ... adjust the doodle frames to the number of tables you will have at the reception and add some cool graphics to the top ... you know this will be popping up in one of my wedding themed workshops next spring!

Note: large clothespins, glitter tape, E6000 glue and chalkboard paint are all available at the Toronto Creative Bag store only.

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