Weekend Plans

This weekend is my youngest niece's birthday party.  She is now five years old!

I have been working on something in the studio, refurbishing an object I've had in my possession for a long time with the intent to make it a gift.  And it is really coming along!  But earlier this week, I realized I needed more time than I had left before the party, this weekend, to resolve some creative decisions about this project.  No need to rush, in my opinion.  He who hesitates may be lost, but rushing to meet a deadline is hardly any better.  Especially when it comes to potential gifts for loved ones.  (There's always Christmas!)

So, anyway, this decision put me in a bit of a bind.  I was forcing myself to come up with an alternative gift idea mere days ahead of the party.  Something I could easily execute by-hand in a very short amount of time.  Something I also think my niece would appreciate, just because it's fun or it's related to her interests.  Something unlikely to be found on a store shelf anywhere locally, but also something that my sister and my brother-in-law aren't likely to pitch the moment I leave the party, or hide away in some dark corner until I next come to visit...

...And this was my solution:

 Six lacing cards, featuring colorful handpainted imagery relevant to my 5-year-old niece.

Six lacing cards, featuring colorful handpainted imagery relevant to my 5-year-old niece.

Now I just need to add some shoelaces, and my handmade gift is ready for gifting!

ninapower.info

If you're asking yourself "but... what is it?", that's understandable.  These are lacing cards.  I had a few, myself, when I was around 4 or 5 years old.  Mine had My Little Ponies printed on them.  I chose to use masonite, a kind of pressed board you can commonly find in any home-improvement store or lumber retailer.  Look in the plywood section.  Sometimes, they'll even have masonite boards with a chalkboard or dry-erase surface on one side.  Some have pre-cut holes for pegs (also called peg board), but for my purposes I really needed to drill these holes, myself.

I cut each card to size on the table saw, so that they were uniform.  Then I painted them with ordinary house paint.  I also painted each of six images, using paint markers and other materials.  Then I drilled the holes.  Every card has holes around the perimeter, and all but one have holes placed in or around the image.

These holes are for lacing, using a shoelace.  A child can tie a knot at one end of the shoelace, and pretend the other end is a sewing needle or an embroidery needle.  Then the child practices "sewing" the "needle" through the holes on the card, by lacing the shoelace through the card in a typical stitch pattern.  The holes I drilled along the perimeter allow for instruction in even more advanced stitches, like the blanket stitch.  I also thought it might be nice to practice piecing cards together like quilting blocks, and for this reason I made sure to drill the same number of holes around the perimeter of each and every card.

I also made a zippered carrying case, as you can see.  A quick sewing project using remnant materials.  The case makes it easy to keep the cards and shoelaces organized together, whether at home or on-the-go!