Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Family Tree Calendar with Bottle Cap Accents!

If you are ready for a project with tons of room for creative variety, then today is your lucky day!
I know the new year is already here, but for those of you who didn't receive a calendar for Christmas, or for those (slightly crazy) people who want to begin a special 2012 Christmas present, then here you go.


To get started, you will need several things.
A sheet of metal. You can find this at your local Hardware store. My husband cut our metal sheet to 15"X15."
The following can be purchased online or at a craft store:

  • Bottle caps
  • Epoxy 1" bottle cap toppers like these
  • Magnets
  • Super glue & craft glue
  • Decorative craft paper (for tree) and cardstock to print numbers

After the metal sheet was cut, my husband framed it nicely with painted wood. This is optional, the metal sheet is nice by itself, but since we are trying to make this an interactive family calendar, the sharp metal edges made me nervous. If you don't have a custom framer in your home, I'm sure some decorative duct tape or something similar would work well to frame around the edges. 
Once we had our metal ready to go, I cut out my tree.  I drew a tree freehand onto a manila envelope; once I was happy with the size and shape I cut it out as a stencil. Then I traced this tree onto a large piece of black scrapbook paper with a white pencil.  I used an exacto knife and sharp scissors to carefully cut the black paper.  This is not a project that you are going to just whip out in a few hours!  It is a labor of love.
Next, I used craft glue to adhere the tree to the metal.  Not just any glue will work since it is a metallic surface.  If you have a favorite glue that will spread quickly and easily over the surface of the tree--go for it!  Carefully spread a layer of glue over the back of your paper tree and place it wherever you want it on your calendar.  Press and smooth it down as much as possible...it is slightly tricky!


While your tree is drying, you can begin thinking about how you want to decorate your family calendar.  Disclaimer: I was inspired by this neat idea in October and am just now finishing up, so don't be discouraged if you don't get around to it right away!  It will take a while to gather all the materials, etc.
First, decide how you want the Month displayed at the top. I scratched out several ideas along the way.  If you have the colorful magnetic alphabet letters on your fridge at home, then this might be an option.  You will need several uniform packets to have enough letters, but it will be bright and fun.  I also printed out and laminated the month, but I didn't like how that turned out.  I ended up using these wooden letters that I found in a packet at Hobby Lobby in the wooden crafts aisle.  They were very cheap (less than $5 for 2 packets) and I only had to super glue a magnet to the back.  Quick and done.
1st attempt using fridge magnets
2nd Attempt using wooden circle letters
Now it is time to start having fun with bottle caps.  I have been introduced to the world of bottle caps and there is no turning back.  There are now mysterious 1" holes throughout many paper products in my home thanks to this project.  If you don't have a 1" paper punch, it is definitely an investment ($10 or less) that I recommend!
For this project, I created a template to have uniform numbers on our calendar.  Like I said though, this project can be modified so much.  Feel free to let your kids track down all the numbers in magazines and punch them out so that each number is unique! If you like uniformity, then here is a printout for you:
Simply print this on cardstock and let your 1" paper punch do the rest.  If you haven't had time to collect 31 bottle caps, you can buy them at most craft stores.  I used a hot glue gun to secure all 31 numbers inside their own respective bottle cap.  When the glue was fairly set I placed a clear epoxy bottle cap cover on top.  After that I used Gorilla Glue (super glue) to attach a circular magnet to the back of each bottle cap.  This process is tedious, but each bottle cap is a mini work of art!
 
I used clothespins to hold the magnets still while the glue dried!

Now it's time to put everything together!  To finish our calendar I printed a picture of the kids and laminated it.  I used a few flat, adhesive magnets on the back, and they were ready to go! Start adding your magnetic letters and numbers and watch your calendar come to life.  To hang our calendar, I screwed an eye hook on either side of the back of the frame and tied wired ribbon through the back. 

My kids have enjoyed seeing which magnets will work on our calendar, and it will be fun to add a new magnet for each day of the month.  I plan on making (or having Kylee make...) a little bag to hold the extra numbers that are not in use until the end of the month.  I also plan on making special bottle cap magnets for days like birthdays, no school, vacation, anniversary, etc.  I want to add our family name to the top with large letters or painted directly onto the metal. I intend to decorate the tree with leaves in the Spring and snowflakes in the Winter, and the inspiration goes on and on.  


This is a fun project that the whole family will enjoy on a daily basis for many months and years to come. I'd love to hear all about your success stories and variations if you choose to tackle this calendar. Have fun!

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