Tuesday, April 15, 2014

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Do-It-Yourself Projects Can Make For Great Economical Holiday Presents

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The do-it-yourself scene is exploding across the country, and especially in New York, so for a belated Hanukkah, last-minute Christmas or even a great Kwanzaa gift, it's the perfect time to try making your own presents. NY1's Stephanie Simon filed the following report.

Whether you're short on time, short on cash or both, do-it-yourself gifts are a great way to give something special without overspending.

At Brooklyn Craft Company, founder Brett Bara showed us some of her favorite gift ideas, starting with etched glass.

"So look for a glass that's got straight edges like this," she says. "Wipe it down with alcohol, and then basically, you're just going to use tape and stickers. So you stick your stickers on there, and basically, anything that has a sticker or tape on it will not be etched."

Glob on etching cream from a craft store and let it sit 15 minutes. Do two or four glasses, and add a bottle of wine. It's one of many easy options under $20.

Q: I keep hearing a lot about arm knitting. Is this arm knitting?
Bara: This is not arm knitting. This is finger crocheting, which I think is going to be the next arm knitting. And this whole thing takes about an hour to make.

All it takes is two skanes of chunky yarn and doing the chain stitch on your fingers.

Bara has been in a professional crafter for more than 10 years. With DIY and crafting really exploding, she decided to start Brooklyn Craft Company earlier this year in Greenpoint as a place for grownups to take modern craft and DIY classes.

"DIY gifts are just the best," she says. "It means so much to make something yourself."

Edible is always appreciated.

"Just get a pretty bottle," Bara says. "Just put some stuff in the bottle. This is sundried tomatoes and thyme, and that's garlic and rosemary. And then just fill it up olive oil, and that's it."

Something that's super trendy are terrariums. Start with pebbles, then add soil and live moss.

Brett says that crafting is a great way to get away from the computer and have a creative tactile experience.

RECIPES AND DIRECTIONS

TERRARIUMS

Materials:
Glass container with a lid
Small pebbles or river rocks
Potting soil
Live moss (can be purchased at some florists, in the flower district of Manhattan, or on etsy.com)
Tiny figurines (can be purchased at model train stores, or look for tsotchkes in thrift stores or flea markets)

• Place a shallow layer of pebbles (about 1") in the bottom of your glass container. Cover that with about 1" of potting soil.
• Place the moss over the potting soil, combining different textures of moss to create landscapes if desired.
• Place your figurines inside, and that's it!
• Lightly water the terrarium either with a spray bottle or a gentle stream of water, adding just enough so that you can see a bit of water collecting in the base of the glass container. That should be all the water needed for the terrarium, as it will become its own ecosystem and generate its own moisture.
• Place the terrarium in VERY low light and keep an eye on it at first; it it starts to look brown, it is probably getting too much light. Move it to a darker area and give it a bit of water.

(To take a terrarium class with Brooklyn Craft Company, visit www.brooklyncraftcompany.com.)

GLASS ETCHING

Materials:
Any glass (straight edged glasses are best, and avoid any patterns or texture in the glass)
Masking tape and stickers
Etching Cream, available at art supply stores
Rubber gloves
Alcohol
Paint brush or sponge brush

• Wipe down glasses with alcohol to remove any oils or residue.
• Place stickers and tape on the glass in any design you'd like. Any areas that are NOT covered with stickers or tape will be etched.
• Use the brush to spread etching cream over any areas you'd like to etch, applying it in a thick coat. (Check the label on your etching cream for manufacturer's instructions for usage.)
• Allow the etching cream to set for as long as described on the label, then rinse to remove.
• Remove tape and stickers to reveal your etched design!

(To take a glass etching class with Brooklyn Craft Company, visit www.brooklyncraftcompany.com.)

HOT COCOA
Makes 5 jars.

Ingredients:
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons corn starch

1 bag mini marshmallows
5 mason jars

• Combine all ingredients except marshmallows in a large bowl. Mix very well and sift to remove any lumps.
• Divide the mixture between 5 jars, and top with enough marshmallows to fill the jar.
• Close the lid and add a label or tag with these instructions: "Fill a mug halfway with cocoa mixture, then top with boiling water. Stir till dissolved, add marshmallows, and enjoy!"

FINGER-CROCHET COWL
Basic crochet skills required.

Materials:
One skein of super bulky yarn, such as Cascade Magnum (local source: Purl SoHo)
Strip of leather, ribbon or extra yarn for wrapping

• Wind the yarn into two separate balls, and work with both strands of yarn held together as one.
• Make a slip knot, then work a chain stitch using your finger instead of a crochet hook (this will make a bulky stitch).
• Continue working the chain stitch until the yarn is gone; you'll have a chain that is several feet long.
• Wrap the chain loosely around your neck and tie the two ends of the chain together with a knot.
• Wrap a strip of leather, a ribbon, or even a yarn remnant around all layers of the crochet chain, covering the knot and securing the layers so they don't shift. That's it!

Classes at Brooklyn Craft Company start at around $45 with all materials included. Gift certificates for classes are also available.

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