Back to school in handcrafted style

Posted: Thursday, August 19, 2010

As a preteen prepping for the first day of school, my jumble of raw emotions could only focus on two things; will they get my name right, and will I be just as cool as and totally different than everyone else? With a name like Tanna, first days were both thrilling and dreaded. Perhaps this would be the year I would not make a fool of myself in loud declaration of the fact that, "My name is TAAAN - NA, not Tanya!" or maybe for once I would have the new cool Trapper-Keeper that no one else could find in town.

Unfortunately, there is never a cooler Trapper-Keeper, and I am still a jumble of raw emotions. But I have learned a few new tricks of the trade, like that Tanya is a fantastic default name, and that making your own stuff is always cooler than buying the last one on the shelf. So, if you have some wee ones who are preparing to make their way through the preteen jungle, here are a couple of projects to stall the onslaught and make them stand out in the all-too-familiar crowd.

Nickname Tags:

Depending on the "cool" factor (which I'm sure your child can determine for you) nametags for binders, notebooks, pencil cases and other school supplies might be hip or heinous. If nametags are on the outs, keep track of books and lunchboxes with nickname tags, because everyone is cooler with a secret identity.

Tools: Print or write sticker labels, markers, printer (optional)

Low-tech directions: After a good discussion about what the perfect nickname would be (BTW, mine is "The Knitting Ninja"), have the best handwriter in the household script out several versions on stickers in black ink. Then let imaginations and markers run wild in decoration around their name.

High-tech directions: For a slicker look, perhaps for an older crowd, print the names in a funky font. First, download a template for your stickers. For common brands like Avery, find easy-to-use templates online.

Now, have some fun searching for free fonts on trusted sites like 1001freefonts.com and dafont.com to really spruce up the look of a simple printed project. Choose from a myriad of categories like Retro, Graffiti, Curly, 3D and many more.

Print labels with nicknames in your chosen font and color, and again decorate with colored markers. To go even further, design the entire label on the computer and print it in full color. That way your professional labels will show your consistent style on all of your back-to-school gear.

Binder cover silhouettes

Nothing is as unique as your own silhouette, so let it grace the cover of your binder and never get it confused again!

Tools: Digital camera, black paper, pencil, scissors, scrapbook paper, gluestick, pocket-front binder, printer (optional)

Directions: For each school-bound youngster, take a side-view photo of his or her lovely head, making sure those with long hair have it pulled back in a pony or bun. Print the image and cut out the silhouette making sure to stay true to each bump of the nose and squint of the eye. Use this cutting as a pattern and trace it onto the black paper. Cut the silhouette out of black paper and glue onto a bright and contrasting piece of scrapbook paper. Apply a nickname label somewhere on the page and slide into the clear plastic cover of the binder. Viol, a one-of-a-kind binder that will never be mistaken for another.

Remember to embellish each of these projects with your own creative flare to keep them unique and truly you!



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