Saturday, 2 April 2011

My Mum’s 90th Birthday Present

I have been soooo busy recently that I’ve had very little time even to look at my blog, let alone post anything. I have a number of fairly tight deadlines to meet, with everyone seeming to have special birthdays, anniversaries etc. during the first half of this year.

Having pulled out all the stops for my mum’s card, I suddenly realised I hadn’t really thought about a special present for her – she said she didn’t want a fuss made about this birthday but I didn’t feel I could let it go without making a special effort, because even if she doesn’t think 90 is special, I think it’s a great achievement to reach such a great age, and in such good health as she enjoys, and I wanted to make it special to let her know how much we appreciate all she is to us.

We’ve got her a lovely rose bush called “Blessings” which she will enjoy in their garden, and also some Thornton’s chocolates and fudge which she is very fond of. I thought it might be fun to make a box to put the little bag of choccies in, and decided to make a cylindrical box out of acetate, and print a design of sweet peas on it, which led me to the idea of hand-painting a silk scarf for her, with the same sweet pea design, and wrapping this round the choccies in the box instead of using tissue paper.

This is the sweet pea design I created in Serif DrawPlus.

Sweet Pea Drawing

This was a real rush job because I only thought of it at the last moment, and had to order the silk scarves. I already had silk painting supplies, and set to work, beginning with the gold gutta outliner, but it was too old and had gone lumpy, with the result that it kept clogging the nozzle of the bottle, and then squirting out uncontrollably, causing endless frustration and a ruined scarf, and many wasted hours. My dear hubby made a special trip into town to pick up some more for me, this time in a tube which was actually much easier to use.

The next day I was able to start the actual painting. Not only did I struggle with drawing the outlines nicely – my hand is not as steady as it might be – but when I came to paint, I must have left gaps, or been clumsy with my brush, because in several places the paint has bled onto the silk outside the outlines – any proficient silk painter would turn their nose up at my paltry efforts (it’s been many years since I did any) and it certainly wouldn’t win any prizes, but knowing my mum, she will be thrilled with it anyway! I made her one with daffodils on it years ago, and she still loves it and wears it a lot – she is my most uncritical fan!!

Anyway, I’ve had to accept it as it is because I haven’t got time to do it again, and no guarantee that I’d do it any better the next time… Here’s the result.

06 Scarf 1 1-4-11

What I did was to take my original design, adapt it and scale it up on the computer to 36 inches wide, and then desaturate it and use various filters to emphasise the outlines and simplify the shading, so that I could print it out and use it as a pattern for my painting. Obviously I had to print it on quite a few sheets of paper, and I made the template for half the scarf, turning the frame around over the design when the time came to paint the second half. Here is the half-design.

Scarf Design Half 12 x 12 Outlines

As for the box, I created the border design and templates for the lid and base in Serif DrawPlus, converted them to svg files and cut them with Jiminy Cricut. I printed the sweet pea design on inkjet acetate which has a slightly rough coating on it to absorb the ink. When making the box I put this surface on the inside, and lined it with a plain sheet of acetate to protect the surface.

I inked the base and lid, and the border pieces randomly with Tim Holtz Distress Inks in Spun Sugar, Milled Lavender, Pine Needles, Broken China and Dried Marigold, to match the pastel shades of the sweet peas. I had a terrible job gluing the whole thing together as nothing seemed to stick to the acetate, and in the end I used Pinflair glue, running a thin line down the length where the vertical “seam” in the acetate had to be, and squirted a good amount around the inside of the base and lid, and simply jammed the tube of acetate into it and left it to dry overnight, which seemed to do the trick – I gave up trying to glue the inside surface of the pierced border design. The lid was lined with a strip of acetate to make putting it on and off the box easier – without it, the edge of the border kept catching on the box, which would have made it difficult to use.

When I’d finished the box, I thought the top looked rather flat, so I designed a cut file for a 3-D sweet pea to be cut from card and inked. This is the first “Penny Duncan-style” flower I have ever done and it was fun to do. I made up several mock-ups in plain white card so that I could tweak the design until I was satisfied with it. (Unfortunately this photo doesn’t show it in as much detail as I’d like, but you can get an idea.)

01 Sweet Pea Mock-Up 1 1-4-11

The cut file includes an open flower, a bud, some leaves and a calyx each for the flower and bud. These parts are cut out on the Cricut and assembled using the hot glue gun and wire wrapped with florist’s tape. In due course, once my mad rush is over, I intend doing a video tutorial on this, and will soon be uploading the cut file to my SkyDrive album for free download – just give me a chance to complete my ridiculously long to-do list first!!

Here is the completed box, with the scarf inside.

04 Sweet Pea Box with Scarf Inside 1-4-11

This is a detail of the lid:

05 Sweet Pea Box Lid 1-4-11

It’s her birthday tomorrow, and I can’t believe I’ve actually finished all this – I did the final bit of silk painting last night, and heat-fixed the dye with the iron, and today I’ve wrapped everything up. To decorate the parcels, I’ve made some little bunches of flowers made from florist’s ribbon, following the instructions I learnt at the last couple of craft shows – last time I bought the starter kit including a DVD of instructions.

I’m not terribly good at it yet, but I’ve no doubt I will improve with practice! These are little white daisies with yellow centres.

08 Ribbon Flowers - Daisies 1-4-11

These are tiny purple roses:

09 Ribbon Flowers - Purple Roses 1-4-11

and finally some grape hyacinths:

10 Ribbon Flowers - Grape Hyacinths 1-4-11

Here are all the flower bunches together, including another blue one which I did to put on a friend’s present.

11 Ribbon Flowers - All 1-4-11

Here is a picture of all the things I’ve made for my mum for her 90th birthday, and her Mothering Sunday card.

12 Everything for my Mum 2-4-11

Finally, all is packed up and ready to go! I’m so looking forward to seeing her on her birthday tomorrow (actually it’s today now! It’s gone 3 a.m.!)

13 All Packed Up and Ready to Go 2-4-11

We will have a cup of tea with them and spend a bit of time with them tomorrow afternoon, and then celebrate her birthday jointly with Mothering Sunday when we take them out for lunch on Sunday.


Soon I shall be posting about my next project which I’ve started – Wonderwoman’s 50th birthday present – I’ve had great fun doing a bit of crackle glazing on a small wooden mirror. I’ve got until 6th April to complete it! Watch this space.


  1. Shoshi, it is all so amazing. What a beautiful job! Happy Birthday to your Mum!

  2. Wow Wow Wow, Just love this scarf, for all my years of crafting this is one thing I have never tried.
    She will love it All, lucky Mummy to have a crafty daughter

  3. Shoshi, What amazing projects you have completed for you mom!! Oh I know she just loves them and will think of you fondly each time as well!! *Hugs*


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