Thursday, December 1, 2016

Countdown to Christmas! A 3D Advent Calendar

 I've been away for too long!  And need to visit your blogs - soon!!  For now, here is my latest.

I have always loved advent calendars, as my mom made sure we had one every Christmas when I was growing up.  There is just something about that little surprise when you open the window each day that delights me.

 A few years back I saw and bought on a post-holiday sale a cute wooden stacked-book advent calendar.  Each little box was numbered, and had a small door that opened to find a piece of candy.  My neighbors had just adopted an infant boy, and I thought how fun it would be to make him something similar, but with toys.  And good thing I thought about it when he was so young, as it took me three years to actually get around to making it!

To the right is a picture of my original inspiration:
It stands about 10 inches tall.... and the boxes are all sequentially numbered (no fun IMO, as I love hunting for the right date on an advent calendar!)

Here is a picture of my version, which stands about 17 inches tall, not including the little star I put on the top after this picture was taken.  As it has rained very heavily the past few days, and I wanted to make sure my little friend got his calendar before December 1, I took it over yesterday afternoon when the rain lessened a bit, and finished at their house last evening.  The finish involved the star, and also making little washi tape tabs for the doors....  I will explain later.  This photo shows the calendar on top of the china cabinet, to keep someone's little fingers from temptation (he is three years old).

To make each box, I used Eileen Hull's square box die (Sizzix Bigz XL #658058) and adhered a variety of holiday scrapbook papers to my substrate on one side before cutting.  I used Stick-It and when I ran out of that, some double-sided tape in 6 inch and 2 inch rolls .

For the substrate, I initially used some 8 x 11 medium chipboard that came with white paint on one side, which I used for the inside.  However, after about 6 boxes, I switched to the much improved idea of Little Sizzles mat board in white, which is double sided and thinner - much better for the die, and easier all round! (The blades kept popping out on the die using the thicker chipboard, with the paper adhered with sticky stuff!)   I really hope Sizzix keeps making these mat boards as they work perfectly with Eileen's and other structural steel rule dies!

Eileen's die comes with a lovely little finish piece, as the box is supposed to close on the outside.  Here is a picture of her intention:

You can see those lovely brackets which go on the outside, and then she secures it with a ribbon.  I intended to do this with magnets, but realized I had packed them all up; they are 2700 miles away in my other craft room in Idaho at the moment in some moving box or other, lol!  After making a prototype, I realized I could probably get away with just tucking the lid into the box itself a bit, without the bracket pieces.  For the most part, this worked - but as an added "securing feature" I added little washi tape tabs, since my recipient will have his box moved daily from the top of the china cabinet to the table for his daily opening.  I was worried that all of this movement, and the toys inside (which are not secured down) would fling doors open willy-nilly and give away too much at once!

I also used double sided tape in 1/4 inch size to make the box - but if doing again in this size, I would take the time to hot glue.  I ended up reinforcing several areas with the hot glue due to the weight of the boxes themselves, the surprising humidity this time of year, and the toys - all of which were plastic, but which do contribute overall to the weight.  You can see the boxes warping slightly here, below..

My bottom "rung" has 9 boxes, followed by 7, then 5, 3 and 1....  which were built on an unfinished  wooden disk/platter I purchased from a big box store.  I infilled the slight plate depression with corrugated cardboard, and then applied to all of it a good coat of gesso followed by craft white paint.

The little "handles are actually some type of cupcake eraser I discovered at a chain bookstore while waiting in line (they are the weirdest "erasers" I have seen ever, as each little piece comes out to function as such).

They seemed perfect otherwise for my purpose, but I deconstructed them and glued them back together with matt medium so the little nose, berry, hat or whatever would not come off when my little friend pulled on them.

The numbers are commercial stickers.  I also added some texture paste with Tim Holtz's Clear Rock Candy glitter as a snow accent.... not sure I would do this again either, as I had to be very careful about not blocking a door opening, and I don't think it adds much to the overall effect without being more consistent.

So I definitely will try this again, but perhaps in a smaller size, such as the smallest of Eileen's Block die cuts.  I own this die but have not used it, so will have to figure out the door bit, as I believe these are truly blocks and not boxes!

Thanks so much for stoping by, and if you've time, please do leave a comment as I love hearing from you!  And I hope to get back into blogland for real by the end of this month!!  I miss you guys!  xxx Lynn


  1. A super clever idea, what wonderful use of the die!! Each one finished to perfection and together they just look amazing!

  2. What a fun use of that die Lynn, and I just love your advent Christmas tower!! lol. A very creative take on the calendar idea and all your patterns and colours are wonderfully festive! sending hugs :)

  3. Hi Lynn! I love your Advent Calendar and that is such a sweet and thoughtful thing for you to do for that little guy - I'm sure he'll have so much fun! I always had Advent Calendars for my kids growing up and they loved them. I love how you decorated all of your boxes - a labor of love, I'm sure, but also fun and well worth it. So glad to see your blog post because I miss seeing your awesome creations! Thank you so much for your visits to my blog recently, and especially yesterday's with my comments about Brody. He's home and doing better now - fingers crossed. Thanks so much, my friend! Hugs!! If we don't "talk" again soon, I hope your holidays are wonderful, Lynn :-)

  4. Hi Lynn, Of course I remember you, and in fact was thinking of you yesterday! I still treasure the moment I read that my blog was one of your inspirations last year (was that last year???) So good to see you blogging; I see I missed one or two posts in Oct. when I was elbows deep in Halloween prep. I adore this advent calendar, and what a sweet friend you are to make it for your little guy! Sending big Christmas greetings and hugs!

  5. Oh my goodness, the entire design of the stacked "tree shaped" boxes just tickles me! I love love the beautiful paper choices and gorgeous little "knobs." What fun and what a great neighbor you are! I'm sure he will treasure this for many years. We had a church lady give us porcelain Easter bunnies each year and when I got older and asked my mom about them and found out that she had given them away I was so upset! What a special memory for me and I'm sure this lad. I know things are crazy for you these days, but I wish you all of the peace and joy there can be this Christmas. Big hugs, Autumn

  6. What a fabulous project, I love it! I love your choice of papers and decoration, and I have to agree with you, I would not have the numbers sequentially, I love the idea of hunting around for the correct box, just like we did as kids with the advent doors. I am so tempted to make one but as it's the 2nd already it's going to be another 'one day I'll make it' project! I am now off to Google Sizzles mat board - there is always something interesting that I have never heard of on your blog!!
    Diana xx

  7. You have been missed too! I love this wonderful project, a real labour of love, so very thoughtful of you and I can just imagine that little boy's eyes when he saw this - wow! Well done for getting it all made in time for Dec 1 too. Your paper choices are fantastic and I love all the little adornments you added too. A brilliant project, beautifully executed! As you know, I love Eileen's dies and I too, hope that Sizzix keep doing the Little Sizzles! Have a lovely weekend... Hugs, Anne xx

  8. Oh my Lynn you went to town with the box die and created the most fabulous advent calendar of your own, it's truly magnificent in design and Christmas appeal. I'm sure it will be loved in the run up to Christmas xxx

  9. Lynn, apologies for not having been able to visit for the longest time.
    This is stunning, an incredible creation!

  10. Oh dear, I'm very late with my visit... so glad I finally made it over here. Your pile of advent gifts is just wonderful - I love the combination of papers, and great to hear how you improvised your way around your divided craft stash (I shouldn't complain about not being able to find anything in my room - at least it's all in one place, though of course I'm the one who's been thousands of miles away for most of the year!). Fabulous festive decor.
    Alison x

  11. So glad you are back and totally in action! I can see why this wonderful display took a bit to create. Hit diggity dang little lady! These boxes are priceless and so very fun! I too enjoy opening the doors to see what's inside and also looking for the correct number. This would be a totally blast to see in real life and to make. Fantabulously amazeballs and so very creative! I bet the little guy is enjoying his advent adventure. Hugz to you muffin! ~Niki