For those looking to get creative this holiday season, Diane Davis, owner of the Steamboat Arts & Crafts Gym, suggests making a holiday wreath. Holiday flowers, plastic berries and a hot glue gun can be used to transform a plain wreath into a centerpiece. The project takes about an hour and gives a personal touch to the holiday season.

Photo by John F. Russell

For those looking to get creative this holiday season, Diane Davis, owner of the Steamboat Arts & Crafts Gym, suggests making a holiday wreath. Holiday flowers, plastic berries and a hot glue gun can be used to transform a plain wreath into a centerpiece. The project takes about an hour and gives a personal touch to the holiday season.

Crafts for the holidays in Steamboat

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— A few years ago, Diane Davis sat down in her kitchen with a hot glue gun, a pile of holiday evergreen wreathes, a collection of decorations and her long forgotten creative side.

Her plan was to make one holiday wreath to give to a friend.

“Before you know it, I had made 20 of them,” Davis said. “It was just like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is so fun.’”

That craft-a-palooza left most of Davis’ family and friends with holiday wreathes, and it left Davis with the creative inspiration that would become the Steamboat Arts & Crafts Gym.

Since opening the doors to its 13th Street warehouse in early 2007, the Arts & Crafts Gym has built a list of offerings that includes classes in disciplines such as pottery, oil painting and scrapbook making; after school and preschool craft programs; studio space for local artists; and a variety of do-it-yourself craft ideas.

Davis and her staff have expanded the gym’s original create-a-craft offerings to provide 40 do-it-yourself “gifts from the heart” on its holiday menu, with prices starting at $8. Each project cost includes materials, workspace and time spent creating, and is available any time the Arts & Crafts Gym is open, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

“You don’t have to be a huge artist or anything to come in and just have fun with your creative side. Everybody has one,” Davis said.

Davis demonstrated a couple of her craft gift ideas for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, offering tips for creating your own mosaic picture frame and giving hints on how to make a wreath like the one that reawakened her artistic side.

Mosaic picture frame

Materials: Wooden picture frame, mastic ceramic adhesive or glue, broken pieces of tile, other ceramic material or stained glass, grout mixture, water, a picture you’d like to frame, towel

Project time: 1.5 hours or more

Decide what size picture frame you’d like to decorate. A smaller, 5-by-7-inch frame might take 1.5 to 2 hours from start to finish. Larger projects can take up to half a day.

Gather small pieces of broken tiles, plates, other ceramic items or stained glass you’d like to use for decoration. Smaller pieces generally hold glue and grout better on the finished product. The Arts & Crafts Gym has a room filled with donated tile and ceramic bits.

Sort through the ceramic pieces and decide on a pattern for your picture frame. Break larger pieces with a tile nipper or glasscutter, if desired (wrap a towel around the nipper and the tile to hold in shards; hold on the edge of the tile and snip). The resulting tiles should be roughly uniform in size.

Lay out all the tile pieces where you want them to be on the frame. Adhere each piece with mastic or glue, placing just enough glue on the bottom to hold without oozing out at the edges. Leave a little bit of space between each piece, but not too much (1/8 inch is probably about right).

Allow adhesive to dry for about 24 hours before laying down grout. Grout, a cement-like filler, can be bought pre-mixed or as a sandy powder and can be made at home with sand and white glue. The Arts & Crafts Gym keeps pre-mixed and powder grout stocked in several colors. Grout mixture should be the consistency of thick peanut butter.

Apply grout with your fingers, scooping about a teaspoon at a time and pushing it between the mosaic pieces on the picture frame. Work quickly; the grout tends to dry out.

The mixture will cover many of the mosaic pieces. Use a wet paper towel or rag to gently remove excess grout from each ceramic piece, feeling with your fingers for pieces that are completely covered. Go back over each piece with a dry towel. Repeat until each tile is clean.

Let the frame dry until grout is completely firm. Add a favorite picture, and give the frame away.

Holiday wreath

Materials: Evergreen wreath of any size (real or synthetic), craft decorations (tinsel, plastic berries, glittery wire embellishments, flowers, small tree ornaments, ribbons, etc.), hot glue gun

Project time: About an hour

Ruffle the edges of the wreath to give it some volume.

Heat up a hot glue gun.

Choose a color scheme and decoration pattern (example: red and gold). Pick out decoration pieces that fit that pattern and begin placing them around the wreath to see what they’ll look like. Holiday decorations are easy to find at craft stores, party suppliers and bargain shops. The Arts & Crafts Gym keeps an attic’s worth of boxed decorations on hand.

Build up the decorations in layers, starting with colors and moving to larger embellishments such as large berry clusters or ribbons. Three or four large pieces are usually enough. Decide which part of the wreath will be the top, and leave space there for a large bow.

Once the wreath looks the way you like it, pick a section to start gluing. Remove larger pieces from that section, remembering where they go. Use a hot glue gun to individually attach smaller decorations, applying a generous amount of glue to the wire at the end of each decoration and pushing it firmly into the wreath (being careful not to push it all the way through). Wait a few minutes for the glue to dry, and use the same method to attach larger pieces. Work in sections around the wreath.

Craft a decorative bow with wire-edged craft ribbon. Hold the ribbon and make a three-inch long loop; turn and repeat so there are two loops opposite each other. Keep doing that until it looks like a bow.

Use hot glue to attach the bow to the decorated wreath. Wait for everything to dry, and be careful not to smash the wreath in the gift-wrapping process.

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