Jun 7, 2013

Making the Perfect Teacher Gift

We all want to give a sweet and sentimental gift to our children's teachers, especially to the ones who hold a special place in our hearts.  But as a former teacher myself, I can tell you that there are just so many picture frames, bead necklaces and engraved plaques one person can take!

My kids' kindergarten teacher is retiring this year, and my friend Charlotte (you know her, right?) and I wanted to make her something special.  We brainstormed... a plaque, silver engraved bookmark, charm bracelet, picture frame, quilt made from school shirts?  Nothing seemed right.  

THIS is what we came up with:  

and HERE's how we did it:

Supplies: open back picture frame, cardboard or thin wood, decoupage glue, paint brush, twine, heavy duty adhesive, staple gun, brown packing paper

My first step was to gather as many old t-shirts from our school as possible, even from years before our arrival.  I took pictures of the shirts.  (I edited the photos and removed some of the bright colors, making the look a bit more neutral.  That's only for the look I was trying to achieve.  Play with it, and you'll find what works for you.)  I took my thumb drive to my local copy place and had them print several copies of each photo on archival quality paper.

I tore each paper into various sizes (be sure to tear the correct direction, down and away from your paper design - you don't want the white edges on the paper you're using)
I cut a piece of heavy duty cardboard (you could use plywood, foam board or any firm surface) to fit snugly into the frame and began to decoupage the torn paper in a random pattern.  

Once the entire board was covered, I allowed it to dry.  The cardboard will begin to bow up on the ends as the glue dries, so I recommend placing heavy objects on the ends to keep it as flat as possible.

While that dried, I measured and cut the twine to the right length. 
As you can see in the pictures, we tied knots on both ends of the twine and used a staple gun to attach it to the back of the frame.  It's important to pull the twine pretty tight.  As you hang items on the board, the twine will pull some and hang lower.  If you start looser, eventually the twine will begin to sag.  

Once the twine is pulled and attached, I placed the dry board in the frame and covered the back with brown packing paper (that's optional, of course - it just looked neater as a gift).  We then used the staple gun to attach the board to the frame itself.  Make sure the staples won't damage the frame - we learned the hard way.

Moving on to the front, we used medium sized wooden clothes pins to hang on the twine.  You can leave them plain, paint them, bling them, stain them, glitter them...the possibilities are endless.  (Learn from our experience:  it was far easier and cleaner to decorate only the front surface of the clothespin and not all sides.)

From there, we added the finishing touches... personal notes, special pictures, a large gift card (we collected money from parents in our class) ... all completed our gift.

This has to be my favorite teacher gift of ALL TIME!!

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