If you’re friends with a bookworm, the chances are they are a massive penguin fan and will have a collection of vintage penguin books (guilty) or some kind of penguin lifestyle item hanging around their house.
What better way to jazz up a book that you’ve bought them for Christmas than this handmade bookish penguin gift tag which doubles up as a unique bookmark that can be enjoyed long after the rest of the wrapping has gone?
To make a bookish penguin gift tag you will need:
Old book page
Cardboard (I used white watercolour paper and gold card)
Decorative twine or ribbon
How to make a bookish penguin gift tag:
Sketch out your penguin onto a piece of plain paper. When you’re happy with the design, turn your paper over and shade heavily with a graphite pencil. Hold this over your book page and pressing heavily on the paper, draw over the penguin so that the image transfers like the one below.
2. Using black paint and a fine brush, carefully go over your pencil lines then fill in the black parts of the penguin on the book page.
3. When your penguin has dried, cut out an oval of paper which fits around the penguin and trace the shape around your penguin to give it a good border. Cut this shape out and stick it onto a white card background.
4. Cut around the oval to create a white border and then stick the bordered oval onto another shade of card of your choice. I chose gold to make it feel Christmassy. Once these have dried, make a small hole in the top of the card and thread with decorative twine or ribbon to allow you to use it as a tag or as a bookmark.
Happy Friday! Today is day seven of my Twelve Days of Bookish Crafts Blogmas and I wanted to share some 3D snowflakes which were inspired by these medallion snowflakes that I saw on One Dog Woof after reading a post on Apartment Therapy (an ironic guilty pleasure since my home is a chaotic mess more than half the time). ChiWei’s blog is so full of creative ideas you need to read it all, but I loved the snowflakes and thought they’d look great with book pages instead of plain paper.
The basic steps for this are very similar to creating a pinwheel (like I did for my snowflake pinwheels) but I added washi tape to a larger piece of paper to make a bigger snowflake and give what my partner likes to call “a pop of colour”* It’s very easy to do, you just need to position the washi tape either at the edge of your pages to give the snowflake a coloured edge, or in the centre to give it a coloured centre.
If you’re creating a coloured centre, you should fold the page first to ensure that it doesn’t look too wonky, if you’re putting colour on the edges then it’s much simpler and you just line it up with the straight edges of the paper as I show below.
Once you have it in the correct position, it’s a simple matter of fold and cut though I would avoid cutting through too much of the washi tape as this is extra thick and it makes any kind of precision difficult to achieve.
I’m half way into my Twelve Days of Bookish Crafts Blogmas and I have to say I’m really enjoying it. The crafts that I’ve been making are really simple, but as I put them around the house they instantly make the place feel a little more festive and it’s quite calming sitting and making some little decorations, either by myself or even better with Phoebe as we chat about our projects and life.
Today’s craft couldn’t be much simpler, a book page pinwheel with a snowflake button sewn into the centre. But it looks really good, or I think it does, and you can imagine how it will look when it’s hung on a tree with fairy lights shining off the snowflake button.
To make the pin wheel you will need:
Needle and thread
Decorative button (I bought my snowflakes from ebay)
String for hanging
How to make a snowflake pinwheel decoration:
Cut your book page in half so you have a long, thin strip of paper. A maths whizz could probably tell you the minimum width to length ratio needed to get the pinwheel to fold into a circle. I’m reasonable at maths but my head isn’t in that place right now, but if your paper strip is too wide then your pin wheel won’t fold.
Fold your paper into a concertina, then fold this in half to find the middle point.
If you’re only planning to make a pin wheel you can staple the mid point or wrap string tightly around it to secure it. To sew the snowflake button in place, I’d recommend sewing thread through the centre point of the concertina and then sewing through this on both sides and through the button to secure this to the exterior of your concertina.
When the button is in place, glue the edges of your paper together on one side to form an arc.
Then repeat this on the other side.
Carefully make a hole in the paper and thread through to hang.
The collage below has come out quite low res, but it gives you the basic idea for making the pinwheel.
When I, a witch, offer you, a muggle, a Christmas present from the Harry Potter universe, the chances are that you, like me, want Hermione’s timeturner.
Tough break I’m afraid, because for day five of my Blogmas of Bookish crafts, I’m not giving you what you want, but what you need with this Harry Potter inspired, easy to make golden snitch and felix felicis DIY. Yes, I’m giving you recreation and good luck, because no one needs to be running around like a headless turkey trying to avoid their past selves during the festive period.
To make an easy golden snitch and felix felicis ornament you need:
How to make a golden snitch and potion step by step
Here I’ll guide you through making the snitch and the felix felicis potion bottle which I join together at the end. Though in this step by step guide I’m starting with the snitch, you can do it in any order. This just allowed me to work on the potion while the snitch wings dried.
Make your snitch wings- this is the most difficult part of the whole project, mostly because the cutting is fiddly. I drew around a real feather so that I would have a natural feather shape to cut because I wanted my wings to look organic, there are lots of guides on how to make papercut feathers online but I found that the key was to decide on a central spine in the feather and to cut from the narrow base of the feather to the wider tip in precise, narrow cuts as I’ve indicated with arrows below. This helps avoid your cuts overlapping and taking a section out of your wing.
2. When you’ve cut your feather shapes out, fold them gently along the pencil mark you’ve made for the central spine of the feather to give them a natural wing shape and colour or paint them in silver. I used a silver sharpie (affiliate link) which I liked because didn’t affect the texture of my paper or weigh down my design.
3. Wrap a ball of cotton wool in gold foil and pierce this through with a cocktail stick to create a frame to attach your paper wings. I dipped the cocktail stick in PVA glue to keep it in position.
4. Spread a small amount of PVA glue on the inner curve of your feathered snitch wing then gently position these on the cocktail sticks. Allow to dry.
5. Fill your small glass bottle with gold glitter and seal in place with a cork. I found the corks that came with my bottles were slightly too large so I trimmed it gently with a craft knife to prevent it breaking when the bottle was sealed. I then threaded gold craft wire through the hanging fixture and wrapped it around the bottle’s neck both to secure the cork and to embellish the decoration.
7. When your snitch has dried, add a small hanging fixture to the top of the snitch, secure (mine had a screw fixture and came from a broken cork lid from my tiny bottles) and string on a wire along with the potion bottle.
There you go, really simple and I think it would make a nice project for a Harry Potter fan, or a handmade gift for a Harry Potter fan to hang on the tree.
It’s day three of my blogmas and I’m really excited to share today’s bookish craft with you – an easy DIY tiny paper house. I’m going to show you how to make a tiny paper house step by step so you can have your own (free!) lantern.
This was great fun to make and it’s made my mantlepiece look really Christmassy. I’ve got a feeling that I’ll be making a lot more of these before December is out, so my currently minimalist Christmas display will turn into a bustling paper village.
An important point to make, but one that bears saying, is if you do make a paper lantern, don’t put a real tealight in it as a candle is obviously a massive fire hazard. I’ve used an LED tealight in mine and these are widely available to buy. They are pretty much all I use with small children in the house. Speaking of small children, an adult will need to help them with this because the detail work requires a sharp craft knife.
To make a paper house lantern you will need:
Cardboard (I used watercolour paper for the main building for the texture and gold cardboard for the roof)
Sharp craft knife and a protective mat
Any embellishhments that you’d like to add- I used a strip of printed paper on the eaves of the roof to give the appearance of bookish snow
How to make a paper house lantern
Draw out your paper house template carefully on a piece of card making sure that all of the supporting walls have right angle corners (unless you’re making a model of The Burrow for a family of tiny Weasleys to live in). Each of my walls is 6cm wide and 8cm tall, so the base of my house is 6cm square with space left for gluing flaps. The apex (if that’s the word?) of the roof is 3cm up from the central point of each wall, as you can see in the picture of my template, so it was just a matter of joining the corners of the walls to this upper point on the reverse of my building while sketching out the design. As long as you know how to make a cube, this is pretty easy.
Step one, plan your build- my template for my tiny paper house lantern
2. When you’re happy with the shape of your template, add in the features that you will cut out for the light to shine through. As you can see in my template above, I’ve roughly sketched out windows and a door at the front, and two large windows on either side. I left the rear wall solid since this side won’t display to the room and it makes the paper house a little more robust. It doesn’t matter if the pencil sketching is a little messy as this will be the inside of your paper house so isn’t visible when you’ve folded the cardboard template together.
3. Cut out your house template, scoring the lines between walls gently with a craft knife so that they fold together smoothly but you don’t cut all the way through the card. Check that you’re happy with how your building folds together.
Check that your happy that your paper house folds together well
4. Using a very sharp craft knife cut out the detail on a protective mat. I used our plastic chopping board because I have no idea where my cutting board with measurements has gone during our house move. If your glue tab is going to obstruct a feature when your building folds together (as mine does above) trim this out of the way now.
This is the slow part
5. Use your glue stick to apply glue to your tabs and then stick your paper house together! Use the paper clips to secure the building in place while it dries.
Paper clip holding the paper house together, I also used them either side of the doorway to hold the small tabs in place while the glue dried.
6. Measure and cut your roof to have a little overlap. I made mine 7 x 11cm long and scored a line at the centre so it would fold smoothly. It holds itself very well but if you want a tight join you could probably weight it or use some washi tape inside.
7. Add any embellishments that you like, pop an LED tea light inside and put the lid back on. Voila, a wintry house in paper lantern miniature.
I’m looking forward to making some more of these. I’m even tempted to go wild and make some houses and buildings from literature. Hogwarts sprang to mind but that would be a lot of tiny windows and doors!
For day two of my 12 days of blogmas I wanted to make some bookish star place holders that were inspired by these lovely thanksgiving pumpkins. A larger star would make a good photo holder.
What I really like about these is that you could make tiny versions to hang from the tree. They’d be good to make with older children as a STEAM craft activity as they’d have to work out the best way to rotate the shapes and how to coordinate the cut lines to create a 3D shape. Thicker card is best for this to ensure that the final star decoration keeps its shape and stands up independently.
Younger children will probably need a lot of help with this and an adult to do the cutting. When I made them, Phoebe decorated her own 2D shapes that I’d cut out ahead of time while I sat with her and made my 3D stars.
To make a 3D star place holder or ornament you will need:
A star template if you don’t want to draw free hand (I used a biscuit cutter)
Decorative paper (book pages in this instance)
Scissors and/or craft knife
Fine wire to mount a piece of card or string to hang
How to make a 3D star:
Trace matching star shapes onto the wrong side of your gold card and cut out.
Smear the wrong side of the card shape with glue and stick on your decorative paper so that the gold side of the card is facing up. Allow to dry.
Cut around the stars on the decorative paper so you have a star that is gold on one side with decorative paper on the other.
Take two stars and sing a scissors or craft knife, carefully cut a line half way through the star- one from the top to the centre of a star, and on the other star from the bottom to the middle.
Slot the two stars together through these cuts so they stand up by themselves.
Using the needle, carefully poke holes through the top of the star, then thread with wire or string.
To make a place holder, curl the wire in a spiral and then flatten as in my picture so that the name for the placeholder can be slotted in between the wire.
As part of the twelve days of blogmas I wanted to make some book themed Christmas ornaments, and I’m hoping to post one a day for the first twelve days of December.
I wanted to start with these simple paper bird decorations, which require no origami skills whatsoever but look really cute when the are finished. They’re a perfect craft for children as they really are a five-minute craft. I’ve given my paper bird decorations literary themed by covering them with pages from a damaged book, but you could easily use coloured card and bright embellishments to make them appealing for children.
To make a paper bird ornament you will need:
A bird shaped template (I drew around biscuit cutters)
Two old book pages
Padded double-sided tape
A yarn or embroidery needle
How to make a paper bird ornament:
Trace the shape of your bird template onto a piece of card then cut this out
Smear glue all over the one side of the cardboard and stick it to your book page. Allow this to dry then cut out the shape. Repeat this using the plain side of the card.
Cut tear drop wing shapes out of the remaining paper.
Edge the bird and wing shapes with the gold pen.
Using the padded double-sided tape, stick the tear drop wing shape onto the side of the bird to give it a 3D effect.
Make two small holes with the yarn needle and thread the bird for hanging on a tree, I found that two holes gives the bird better stability when hung on the tree.
“The stories are of men who, walking on the shore, hear sweet voices far away, see a soft white back turned to them, and – heedless of looming clouds and creaking winds – forget their children’s hands and the click of their wives’ needles, all for the sake of the half-seen face behind a tumble of gale-tossed greenish hair.”
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar is one of those books that you see and have to buy in hardback. It’s so beautiful that waiting for the paperback (currently due to publish in January 2019) seems impossible. And I suppose this is how the book begins to help you understand the allure of the mermaid. It had 21 reservations at my local library when I tried to reserve it.
Set in the Georgian era, the story follows an array of characters who find their fortunes changing after encountering a mermaid that Jonah Hancock has acquired. The description of the mermaid makes it sound just like P.T. Barnum’s Fiji Mermaid, and it causes a similar sensation in Georgian society, making Jonah Hancock a fortune, and drawing him into the Georgian demi-monde as Mrs Chappell, a madam in a high-end brothel, hires his mermaid to provide her clientele with a new novelty. At Mrs Chappell’s house, he makes the acquaintance of Angelia Neal, a notorious courtesan who is seeking to secure her future following the death of her protector. Hancock finds himself powerfully drawn to Angelica Neal, who rejects and ridicules him. Nonetheless, he finds himself inspired by her, and drives himself to improve his fortune to catch her attention, risking his fortune and the safety of those he cares for in his quest for her approval.
This is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year. The verbosity of the novel which reflects its Georgian setting initially holds the reader at arm’s length, only to pull you in forcefully when you realise that the quiet Mr Hancock is fully living with the son he never got to know, haunted by a life that he never got to leave which lightly touches all aspects of his everyday reality. He’s a rare thing in novels, a genuinely kind character who always attempts to behave well to those around him but who is simultaneously capable of commanding a reader’s attention. Likewise, the beautiful Mrs Neal, who is somewhat reminiscent of Vanity Fair’s Becky Sharp with her taste for the highlife and scheming to find a man who will elevate her to a suitably lofty position in society, but all the while lacking Becky Sharp’s wiles and ruthlessness, risking everything for an unsuitable love affair.
Despite the vivacity of the major characters, it’s the brilliantly drawn minor characters who make the novel. Capable Sukie who could be so much more if she wasn’t a woman living in Georgian England; the neat but merciless Mrs Frost; and poor Polly, who has come from somewhere and has gone somewhere and you want to know her story but can never fully follow it.
If you’re looking for a book to read for yourself, or a Christmas present for a reader (no spoilers, but has a relatively happy ending), I would highly recommend this. It’s not often that I’ll say that something is a must read but this is a heck of a book. I could easily see The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock being adapted as a showpiece drama for the BBC at Christmas, or being picked up by Amazon or Netflix in this brave new world.
It’s one month to Christmas Eve and my mind has been turning to advent calendars. I always seem to end up panic organising these at the very end of November (or worse yet, buying small advent calendar fillers a day or two ahead throughout December, one step ahead of the sher-elf) so this year I decided that I would be organised and make sure that I had things ready in advance.
Behold, my book advent calendar.
Now I know that this might look a little excessive, but advent calendars have become big business in recent years, so I’ll sometimes buy a beer or beauty advent calendar as a gift for a relative who is very into a particular hobby, so I thought, why not a book advent calendar? While I’m sure that you can buy a book advent calendar, making your own book advent calendar allows you to tailor it to the recipient’s genre preference, for example, a crime fiction advent calendar, young adult fiction advent calendar or romantic fiction advent calendar… the ideas are endless while buying the books second-hand saves a lot of money while making it a gift for your friend and giving a nod to worthy charities at Christmas.
For my advent calendar, I scoured a local charity shops to find recent fiction paperbacks and on average these cost me 50p each, so you can easily buy the books for under £15 if you hunt around for bargains. The brown paper was inexpensive, and you could use string instead of ribbon, or do as I did and buy a large roll of cheap organza ribbon that can be used for the rest of your Christmas wrapping.
You will need:
24 books, wrapping paper, ribbon or string, coloured markers, decorations.
How to make it:
Wrap the books (tip, pre-cutting the paper makes this faster)
When the books are wrapped, try out different stacking formations until you are happy with your design.
Once you’re happy with your final design, number the books with a coloured marker so that you can remember their final position in the stack.
Once the books are numbered, take the stack apart and decorate them with any string, ribbon or embellishments that you want to add.
Restack the books.
Go wild with the Christmas decorations, have a cookie and a cup of tea.
NB. This is to make a 24 book advent calendar but you could easily customize this for a different time period, or do the twelve days of Christmas instead.