Friday, March 16, 2012

St Patrick's Day Crafts

Ah, it makes my Irish blood proud to see the wearin' o' the blue. Yes, that's right. Saint Patrick Blue was the traditional color for St. Patrick's feast day, first celebrated on March 17 in the early 17th century. Saint Patrick (died cir. 460 AD) is one of Ireland's patron saints, famous for banishing snakes from the island, and for using the three-leafed shamrock to symbolize the Holy Trinity. In fact, it was the Irish Catholic custom of wearing shamrocks on the lapel - "the wearin' o' the green" - that turned the whole country Kelly Green by the 19th century.

St Patrick's Day is observed (through bleary eyes) in Ireland, Great Britain, Canada, Australia and America, and much of the English-speaking world. Parades and festivals celebrate Irish culture, people wear green to avoid being pinched, beer and stout sales go through the roof - and we make decorations and send greeting cards festooned with Irish national symbols. Interestingly, the vintage images we have come to associate with St Patrick's Day cards of the late 19th century are American inventions, and never got much traction in Ireland.
Although St Patrick's Day was declared an official Irish holiday in 1903, it was widely celebrated through the 19th century, and brought to America by Irish immigrants. 

The three-leafed shamrock is the most predominant symbol, because of its direct association with Saint Patrick. Often depicted in vintage images is the Irish harp, a stringed folk instrument legendarily played for Irish kings on the Hill of Tara. Scenes of Ireland's landscapes, lakes, bridges and castles adorned early greeting cards. White clay pipes and walking sticks called Shillelaghs are also traditional. Snakes have a cameo role, as do pigs, potatoes and horseshoes, symbolizing prosperity and luck. "Erin Go Bragh" proudly declares, "Ireland Forever." Leprechauns and their pots of gold, oddly enough, didn't become associated with St Patrick's Day until late in the 20th century. St Patrick's Day is a celebration of cultural pride, not just for the Irish, but for everyone who values their heritage.

Enough about history; let’s celebrate!
Craft Ideas
Pull that corned beef and cabbage out of the oven! It's time to bake some shamrock charms. 

Shrink plastic has a wee bit o' magic in it. Originally marketed in 1968 ("Shrinkies!") as a child's toy, artists and crafters soon discovered it could be much more. Technically, it is polystyrene plastic (code 6/PS) stretched into a thin sheet or film. When heated, its surface shrinks about 60% and its thickness increases about nine times. Images drawn, stamped or printed on it become very dark and vivid after shrinking. 

There are many brands, types and colors of shrink plastic. The kind you need for these shamrock charms is 8.5" x 11" sheets, white, ink jet compatible. One side is treated so you can print on it with your ink jet printer. The manufacturer's packaging should provide complete instructions. 

Just remember these basics:
  1. When printing full-color images on shrink plastic, adjust your printer's ink settings to lighten the image by about 50%.
  2. Set the print medium for transparency.
  3. Don't forget to punch a 1/8" hole for a jump ring in each shamrock charm before baking.
In the FREE Vintage Image Download, we give you two complete sets of the seven shamrock charms. The first set is in full color, so you will need to adjust your printer to 50% inking. The second set is already lightened by 50%, so you can print it with your printer's normal settings.

Puzzle Blocks
Print the vintage images on matte presentation paper. Spray the images lightly with photo fixative and let them dry. The images are slightly smaller than 4" x 6". With a paper cutter or scissors, cut each image into 6 equal squares, just under 2" x 2". Arrange the cut pieces to form the six complete pictures - so you don't get them mixed up.
Lightly sand the wood blocks to smooth the rough spots and edges, and wipe clean. Arrange the blocks in a 4" x 6" rectangle and place the pieces of the first image on top to form a complete picture.

Now, block by block, apply decoupage medium to the face of the block and the back of the image piece. Position the image on the block and gently smooth out air bubbles with your fingers.

Immediately brush a coat of medium over the image and brush away the excess around the edges of the block. Let the blocks fully dry.
Assemble the blocks so the image is complete and carefully turn all six blocks over as a unit. Arrange the cut pieces of the next image on the blocks, and apply them to the blocks with decoupage medium as before. Let them dry and repeat this process for all six sides of the blocks.
When the decoupage medium has completely dried, use a razor blade to carefully remove any overhanging paper edges. You may also gently sand the edges of the blocks. Wipe clean, and apply one or two more coats of decoupage medium to the blocks, a side at a time.
At this point, you could use a little distress ink, walnut ink, or light wood stain on the edges of the blocks, just to enhance that worn, vintage look.

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Bring good luck to accessories, cards, and cookies this Saint Patrick's Day with our Irish-inspired clip art and templates. Spruce up your outfit with a three-leaf clover boutonniere using cotton, waxed paper, floral wire, and our template to add a special touch this Saint Patrick's Day.
Dress up sugar cookies with a touch of green pride this Saint Patrick's Day.

Card Templates
For festive pin-on clovers, twist pipe cleaners into the shape of shamrocks and adorn with paper medallions.


Author Bio: This post was written by Clickinks, an online distributor of toner and cheap ink cartridges. carries a wide range of products for the top printer brands on the market, such as Brother ink cartridges, Brother toner, like Brother TN360, Epson printer ink, or any other brand!

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