December 22, 2013 in Features

Project solves puzzle of what to do with cards

Shari Hiller And Matt Fox Mcclatchy-Tribune
 

A nine-square puzzle box gives holiday cards new life.
(Full-size photo)

We all enjoy getting Christmas cards, but what’s the best way to display them? And what do you do with all those beautiful cards at the end of the season?

Graphics from Christmas cards can be cut and used as gift tags, or made into magnets to decorate your refrigerator for many Christmases to come.

But another way to recycle those cards and honor those who sent them is to make a nine-square puzzle box. Not only will you be putting your old cards to a good use, you’ll have a great coffee table accessory and a way to keep the kids entertained.

Interested? Here’s what you’ll need:

• Nine 1-inch wooden blocks (available at craft stores)

• One square papier-mâché box measuring 6 inches

• Six greeting cards with a graphic which measures approximately 4 inches

• Red and green acrylic paint

• Foam paint brush

• Decoupage glue

• Scissors

To begin, paint the inside of the papier-mâché box red. Don’t forget the lid. Set aside and let the box dry thoroughly before painting a second coat. Our box actually required a third coat before we had even coverage.

While the inside of the box is drying, begin to paint the blocks. If you hold a block on the top and bottom, you can paint four sides at a time.

Paint all the blocks in this manner. By the time you finish with the last block, the first should be dry enough to paint the two unpainted sides. Don’t worry about giving the blocks a second coat of paint. Most of the block will be covered with graphics from the Christmas card.

If the inside of your box is dry, you can begin to paint the outside of the box. We painted our box a deep green, which contrasted nicely with the red interior. Again, we had to use three coats of paint on the outside of the box.

Finally it’s time for the Christmas cards. Cut a 4 1/2-inch square image from six different Christmas cards. We used a paper cutter to make this job a little easier, but you can also use a ruler and scissors.

Once you have your square, measure and make a mark at 1 inches and 3 inches on both the top and bottom edges. Line up your ruler and draw a straight line connecting your marks. Your square will now be divided into three segments.

Measure in the same way on the sides of the square. When you draw these lines, your square will be in nine segments. Cut along the lines and stack the pieces. It doesn’t matter what order they are in.

Repeat this process for the other five Christmas cards you’ve selected. Be sure to stack all the pieces from one card before moving to the next card.

When you finish you should have six stacks of card segments lined up in front of you.

Be sure that your wooden blocks are completely dry before you apply the card pieces. Apply the decoupage glue to the back of a card piece. Press the piece to one face of a wooden block. Continue applying a card segment from each stack until all six faces of the block are covered.

Repeat this process for all the blocks. The only real trick is to be sure that each block has a segment from each of the six Christmas cards.

Now it’s time to decoupage the box and the blocks. We decided to decorate the top of our box with a cute snowman card, but you might decide to paint a design instead.

We applied three coats of decoupage glue, following the manufacturer’s directions. The hardest part of this process was waiting for the glue to dry so we could try out the puzzle!

Now set the puzzle on the coffee table and watch what happens. Your family won’t be able to resist, nor will your friends. And think how excited they’ll be to see their Christmas card put to such a good use!


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