Vintage blocks look good in most home decor styles whether modern, traditional or country. And they’re so easy to make. Why not take an afternoon this weekend and craft these charming vintage Christmas blocks for your own home? They’ll be an instant family heirloom.
But it’s not even Halloween yet! (Or it wasn’t when they were born.)
Remember when stores waited until the day after Thanksgiving to start playing Christmas music? It wasn’t called “Black Friday,” it was just “the day after Thanksgiving.” Remember? (Yes, it really did happen that way.) Well, now they’re doing it in early October. Sure, I get it with craft stores – we have to start crafting in July. But other stores? Noooo!!! I’m not ready yet! And I’ve held off as long as possible before posting anything Christmassy, yet here we are, the day before Halloween, and I’m posting my first Christmas-related post. Because I can’t wait to share my darling vintage Christmas blocks with you!
Perhaps you’ll want to make them before the holidays start doing that rush thing. Because you know how it goes – the year kind of trips along until Halloween, and then BAM! Christmas Eve arrives like a freight train going downhill without brakes, and you’re left wondering, once again – where’d the year go?
But not this year. This year there’s still time to do some really cute handmade crafts before the push/pull of the holiday season is upon us. Starting with this block set. Which, by the way, opens the door to blocks for other holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, baby blocks, etc. But we’ll get to those as those holidays and events approach. <ahem>
These vintage blocks aren’t for babies
I’m talking about the little 2-inch wooden blanks. These are plain, pine blocks, completely unfinished with no coatings at all, waiting for you to apply your crafty goodness to them. They’re sanded, but in order to have that lovely well-worn appearance, you’ll need to sand the edges and the corners. A lot. And then some more. And then SOME MORE.
To do that properly, a Dremel is your best bet. I admit the sanding is the most, er, um… “uninspiring” (read: boring) part of this project. But once you get past the sanding part, the rest is gravy. In fact, I was so put to sleep by the boring, I mean, “uninspiring” part of this project that I forgot to take pictures. <oops>
This next step is optional and I’ve not included a step by step in case you don’t want to do it.
If you’ve read more than one or two of my posts, you’ll realize that I’m allergic to what’s known as “white space” in design. That’s the area around a focal point that’s left bare. Negative space, if you will. The portion of a page or project left unmarked. And it drives me crazy. I prefer a more Bohemian style of decorating, so I usually fill white space with something, even if it’s only faint. (Marie Kondo’s head would spin off its neck to hear me talk like this.)
In the case of these blocks, it’s the space around the decoupaged images. I tried leaving them blank, and it bothered me so much that I had to “fix” those spaces. But you might have more tolerance for white space and prefer those areas plain. I will proceed on the premise that you prefer to stamp them as I did.
You now have four lovely, smooth sanded blocks that you will paint with an off-white craft paint. Since these are vintage blocks, stick to the softer whites. No harsh hospital whites for this project. Then stamp with something that won’t call attention to itself. What’s more perfect for Christmas than music? I used a big music background stamp and archival waterproof ink, stamping off a couple of times so the image would be fairly faint. I’ll explain why I used archival ink in a moment. NOTE: If you make a mistake with archival (waterproof) ink, you can fix it – just rub with a cotton swab soaked with alcohol – problem solved!
Last step: softly, SOFTLY sponge ink on the edges and corners with the barest hint of ink. You don’t want it dirty looking, you just want the barest squeak of a hint of ink on those edges. This contributes to the vintage look. And the reason you need to use waterproof ink is because you will be decoupaging with a water-based product such as Mod Podge. If you use water-based ink on the stamp and on the edges, the Mod Podge will wipe it right off. Don’t ask me how I know this, just trust me.
Now for the really fun part – choosing the designs.
Any small vintage design will work well, but my two favorite sources for small, vintage Christmas designs are The Graphics Fairy and my good friend Heather Hudson’s Etsy shop, My Artistic Adventures. (I’ll link directly to the products I used for your convenience.) I’ve used several of Heather’s collage sheets, reducing them in size then cutting them out with my Silhouette Cameo. (All collage sheets will be displayed below.) If you don’t have a Cameo or other cutting machine, just cut them out with scissors instead.
One thing to note: when decoupaging, make sure to print on thin paper, either copy paper or even tissue paper. Do not print on card stock. Card stock is too thick. The thinner the paper the better. (Tissue paper is the best, but printer paper is fine too.)
Ink the edges of each image if desired (adds to that vintage look) and decoupage to the block. As you will see, the background music stamp is not straight up and down. And it shouldn’t be. This adds to the charm of the piece. Straight up and down is too static and looks forced. So if you forget to measure, good – DON’T. This is one time when stamping should be off the cuff.
See the crossed candy canes? Heather already had candy cane collage sheets, but none of the candy canes were crossed, so I asked and she delivered. She’s pretty cool that way. (And they’re available in her Etsy shop.)
Make it a point to distress the edges and the corners. It makes all the difference in the world.
The letters were stenciled with black acrylic ink but looked a little bland all by their lonesome, so I sponged brown archival ink around the edges to give each letter a bit of a bright halo, then I buffed gold metallic paint on top of that before giving the final two coats of Mod Podge.
And that, lovely reader, kicks off the holiday season. Halloween is upon us, I don’t do much in the way of crafting for Thanksgiving, so it’s really all about Christmas from this point on.
Have you started crafting for Christmas yet?
We’d love to see your creations on our Facebook page. Come share your holiday cheer with us and let’s kick the season off early. Even if it is still warm outside.
In the meantime, happy crafting!
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