Studio Musings

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent Calendars

As has happened so often of late, I'm way behind on my blogging.  My plan is to catch up this week with a blog post every day, just to see if I can do it.  Future posts will look at the additions to my Etsy store and the openning of a new, smaller store; I'll be announcing a give-away as a thank you to everyone who's helped support me this past year and this holiday season, and I'll be writing up a trip report on the Etsy Rain holiday show. 

But since today is December 1st, my thoughts are on Advent Calendars.   I love this time after Thanksgiving, leading up to Christmas and one of my favorite traditions for as long as I can remember have always been advent calendars.  A few years, I bought this fun, tree-shaped advent calendar from Starbucks.  It came with little chocolates in each of the drawers.

While it was cute enough, the next year I took it to my studio to give it a little make-over:

Each year, I keep an eye out for something new to put into the little drawers.  What has become a tradition is dividing Clement Clarke Moore's The Night Before Christmas into fourteen quatrains for inclusion in the drawers.   

This year through much roundaboutation, I came across Melissa's Etsy store, Loo de Loop.  She make gorgeous hand-sewn Advent calendars (I'm afraid it's too late to order those this year), but perfect for me, she also sells these fun activity pages for your calendar as a PDF download.  So I bought a set, but then I got to thinking that they didn't really match the color scheme of my current calendar.

I have Illustrator, I said to myself, wondering just how hard it could be to make my own pages.  A quick web search for Illustrator tutorials and found pay dirt:

*  A fantastic video tutorial by Alma Loveland on how to create decorative border frames.  (More free tutorials at nicolesclasses.com
*  A slightly less-clear, but still useful tutorial on how to make Snowflakes using Dynamic Shapes by Astute Graphics
*  Another Snowflake tutorial on Calobee Doodles that I haven't used yet, but looks much easier.  Their focus is design, the blog is beautiful and they have an Etsy site where they sell digital download Advent Calendars!  I love the circularity of all of this. 

My design based on the tutorials
At the right is my new design.  Like my pretty green borders?  I drew them myself with my pen tool.  I love all my little snowflakes - every single one is based off of a single six-pointed star.

Curious how they'd look in person, or would you like to download them for your own calendar?  The poem is long enough, that I've placed it in two files and uploaded both as PDFs to my dropbox.  Feel free to download them for your personal use:

     Page 1
     Page 2

It's kind of fun to watch them download, because the snowflakes appear first, a sprinkle at a time scattered about the page, with the frames coming last.  So it looks like it's snowing!

This morning I cut all the little slips of paper, both from my sheets and the ones I purchased from LoodeLoop, rolled them up, tied them with yarn and stuffed them into the appropriate drawers.

Since I don't have kids to open the drawers and it feels a little odd to open them myself, I make Joe open them and hover over his shoulder.  He's such a good sport!  Today he opened the first drawer, which contained the first quadrain of the poem and today's activity "Pick Out a Christmas Tree". 

His response?  "Ah, it's our to-do list!"


  1. I laughed at you hovering and his "to do" list. Enjoy the season, I am sure it will be filled with both joy and wonder.

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