Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Art of Giving a Gift

When I pick out a gift or a card for that matter, I search, think, search, think some more, and finally decide I found the best this world has to offer me based on the idea I have in my head. Seriously, standing with me in a card aisle hoping for a quick selection is like hoping the Chicago Cubs will win a World Series in my lifetime. Notgonnahappen. Gift giving can cause me anxiety because I don't want to just pick any ol' gift out. I want it to be thoughtful, and sure most people do, but I stress about it. So much that Christmas gets me nervous. I want the person to love my gift and cherish it, who doesn't though, right??? Anyway, my latest gift giving adventure was for a wonderful little boy turning 1 in September. His dad happens to be serving in the military and flies helicopters, very cool, very respectable. I knew the parents liked having helicopter themed items, but I didn't want just any item. I mean, they could probably find all the Carter's onesies with helicopters...or Gymboree...or Fisher Price. So, when I began looking for unique helicopther themed, baby safe gifts, I wound up having to be creative and slightly crafty because everything I found was not the right gift I wanted to give.

I knew the birthday boy liked wooden blocks. My search for helicopter wood blocks directed me to a shop on Etsy. This shop made a transportation themed wood block set, so I thought, maybe the shop will make a customized wood block set with different helicopter designs. To my disappointment, the shop said "No." Well fine, I don't want your stupid blocks.

I pouted, surely those blocks would be a great, unique gift. Then I remembered the dremel tool we keep in our garage, and I knew it had an engraving set with it. My plan was to create my own custom wood blocks for the birthday boy. Well, I needed wood blocks, so I bought those stupid wood blocks from the Etsy shop, which fortunately does sell blank wood blocks. These blocks are organic with no preservatives, so it meant baby mouth safe. Yay!

The blocks I needed to get to work. First step, I needed to design what I would engrave. I knew I needed to plan for the joints because the harder engraving needed to be on the solid block and not where it transitions to another block. 

After measuring the blocks and drawing them on Engineering paper, I was ready to begin the helicopter design.

When I finished the basic design, I realized I needed to transfer the design to the blocks. It's easier to erase on paper than on wood blocks...I had sticker printer paper leftover from last Christmas's crafty adventure, that I made a copy of the helicopter onto this paper, cut it out, and laid it on the blocks.

The next step was using the dremel tool to cut the outline and intial engraving.  Fine tuning the engraving would come next.  Part of the process was learning what speed to set the dremel on and whether to use the larger engraving piece or the smaller one.  I also experimented with using a sander to help even out the larger areas, such as the helicopter blades, but the sander left marks on the blocks that I didn't like.

I also learned that different wood types reacted to the dremel engraver differently, sometimes a real pain.  The pine (right hand blocks) were not cool with changes in direction, so curves were difficult, and the engraver jumped outside of the lines.  The darker woods were more difficult to break the surface, but easier to make more intricate designs.  Curves were no problem, and you can hold the engraver in place to create a dark spot, so it allows more creativity. 
Finally to accent the engraving, I used a wood block conditioning oil and a Q-tip to "stain" the outline.  Wood block conditioner is food grade safe, so it's also baby mouth safe, and it adds a nice touch to the finish product.
Here's a view of the other sides, well, except one.  No idea how I forgot to photograph the final side.

The receiver loved the gift, which warmed my heart immensely.  I am so glad the Etsy shop refused to create a custom block set because it allowed me to create a more personal block set.

1 comment:

  1. You are so thoughtful and generous! I love it!