A Labor of Love and a Keepsake is Made!


Our Christmas surprise for our family.

Our home-made Christmas surprise for our family.

I believe everyone in our family will agree that the most fun Christmases we have had  were when we exchanged names, then made a gift for the person whose name we had Christmas gift making 6jpgdrawn. This was not easy for some of us who were not very crafty, but a great time for someone like my husband who is always full of ideas for hand making things. This lasted for quite a few years, then some of us began to think it might be better to go back to giving gifts already made.

The change may have come the year one of our sons, who, at the time, was interested in old, farm windmills, brought a re-stored windmill into the living room, piece by piece and presented it as a gift to his brother. We were all in hysterics, laughing as each piece

How's that for an unusual gift.

How’s that for an unusual gift?

was unwrapped, but there was one problem, the receiver didn’t think it was funny. He wondered what he would do with it.

During these times some fabulous gifts were hand-made by our very talented family. There was an antique piano stool, refinished and reupholstered and a set of pine candle holders, which still hang above our fireplace. One of our sons, sandblasted a sign reading, “Windridge,” the name of our property. It is on the wall in the family room. I received a fabric covered jewel box, looking as if it was made professionally. There were carved figures, a carved clock face representing the hobby of the person it was made for, a latch-hooked piano bench cover, a hand-decorated box, and a paint-by-number picture. The handcrafted gifts became much loved treasures.

All this is leading up to this Christmas and the fact that my husband suggested we make a gift for each of our grown kids and their spouses. This past summer he had purchased

Here you see the 3D printer with a choir of angels ready to go to the paint room.

Here you see the 3D printer with a choir of angels, formed and ready to go to the paint room.

a 3D printer, which represents one of today’s newest technologies. A 3D printer is a machine that can be computer programmed to make all sorts of things. Spools of plastic string is drawn through it and forms figures right before your eyes. I mentioned this once before in Shirl and You, telling you how he studied the procedures of the machine and the techniques needed to make it work. Well, he’s quite good at using it now.

He suggested that we make each family a Christmas Pyramid and began designing it.

This is a photo of the Christmas pyramids we made for the family

This is a  close-up photo of one of the Christmas pyramids we made for the family

A Pyramid has thirty-four parts. He designed each one of them, some of them many times before meeting our approval. He then programmed the 3D printer to make all of them. We needed to make five pyramids, for our five children.  Actually we made seven of them, one a prototype and one for ourselves. That is a total of  238 pieces. Glued to the pyramid’s two platforms, are nine figures depicting the birth of Christ

The Christmas Pyramid is a unique holiday decoration that originated in the workshops of the people in the Erzgebirge region of old-world Germany. They have been hand-crafted since the 16th century and range from eight inches to seventy-eight inches tall. A propeller tops each pyramid and is turned by the heat of candles, which in turn rotates the platforms holding nativity figures. We have always been intrigued by these beautiful works of art. Now we were

Our kitchen table looks like this for a few weeks.

As the painting of the figures was accomplished, our kitchen table looked like this for a few weeks.

designing and constructing our own. My part in all this was hand painting the figures.There are sixty-three of them. For weeks, our home was like a factory, but all were finished in time for Christmas.

Our pyramids may be candle powered but my husband put his electronic expertise to work and invented a small electric station, designed to look like a cathedral, which sits next to the platform and silently creates a flow of air that rotates the propeller. It stands only three inches tall and does not distract from the beauty of the pyramid, but is safer and requires no changing of candles, etc. To still have the affect of candles however, four tiny, realistic LED tea lights fit perfectly into the base of the pyramid.

Our hand-crafted gift far exceeds our expectations, and everyone who sees it, loves it!

These choir boys stand in formation, waiting to be removed from the 3D printer.

These choir boys stand in formation, waiting to be removed from the 3D printer.

We already sent it to one of our families and got this reaction: “ It’s amazing. We love it. Thank you so much for such a beautiful and special gift. (and mom, please write about it in your blog.)” So here I am writing about it and sharing our delight with our hand-crafted gift, something we know our family will treasure. It was a labor of love.

I know many of you hand-craft your gifts. I’d like to hear about them. It’s easy to leave your comment on Shirl and You. Click on the headline of this post, scroll down to the bottom and type your comment in the box provided for it.

10 thoughts on “A Labor of Love and a Keepsake is Made!

  1. Hand made gifts are poignant. Memories of them pluck my heartstrings. Two examples come to mind.
    In Cub Scouts in 1948 I made an ash tray which consisted of gluing my picture on the bottom of a glass ash tray and then covering the picture with green felt. I gave that to my Dad for Christmas and felt good. When he retired in 1963 he brought the ash tray home from his office and I felt good all over again.
    Giving was the love language of Bruce, the youngest of my three older brothers. Bruce was always a thoughtful and generous giver of presents, especially Christmas presents. When he was in his sixties, he had been unemployed for several years. Since money was short, he made Egyptian cartouches for my wife, me, and our daughter that was still at home. Since Bruce had been interested in Eqyptology he fashioned our names in Egyptian characters out of flour and salt. He baked them hard and glued them to wooden plaques he had made by routing the edges of 1x 4×18-inch boards which he had nicely stained and varnished. Bruce has been dead three years now but I cherish the love that he demonstated by his thoughtful gifts.


    • Hi Wade: You have such wonderful memories of homemade gifts. Would like to have met your brother who was so innovative and caring. He must have a lot like you. Thanks for writing. I happen to know that both you and your wife have talents worthy to be used for gift giving.


  2. Shirley, I just love the gifts you made for your children and their families!! Throughout the years my children would make me ornaments for the tree. I always hung them until several years back when I gave each child all their own ornaments back so they could enjoy them with their families. I also made them each a special ornament – one for each year since they were born. They each have their own. They couldn’t believe I saved them all! I just love the memories and fun held in a homemade gift!


    • Nice to hear from you, Cheryl. I also have ornaments made by our children and grandchildren. They bring back wonderful memories as I hang them on the tree every year. I loved hearing about your memories from handmade gifts. You must be at work, right about now, making ornaments. Thanks for writing, Cheryl


  3. You and Burl are so talented. A gift of time…love and talent are always the best. You must have felt like an elf in Santa’s workshop while working on your gifts. Truly a labor of love. My husband Allan likes to do woodworking. He has taken a simple 2 by 4 piece of wood in many different sizes and made a bottle holder that can balance itself. Bird houses for the children that he leaves unpainted so they can make it their own. He made me a beautiful piece of furniture that has drawer storage at the bottom…a place for the microwave…and three shelves on top.


  4. Giving and receiving handcrafted gifts is always a pleasure. Some of the most treasured items that I have are handmade items that have been given to me by family members and friends. My sister has made me numerous wood carvings, which she has given to me at Christmastime and for my birthday. I have a painting and some ceramic pieces that were made by my Grandmother, and she passed away quite a while ago. These treasured handmade items always remind me of her. My grandmother was a gifted artist who had many talents, and I think that my sister and I both get our artistic abilities from our Grandmother. In the past I have made stained glass items, baked goods, paintings, drawings, hand sewn items and other handcrafted items as gifts. This past year I took many birding photographs. I added my own poem to one of the photographs and I graphically enhanced it. I had some of my photographs enlarged and stretched onto canvas, and they look so professional when they are enlarged and hung on the wall.My mother has one of these photographs on the wall of her bedroom and my sister is getting another one for Christmas. I want to make a calendar, using some of my birding photos, but I haven’t found the time for that yet. (That might be a project for next year.) Handmade items are gifts that show that you really care about the recipient. I’m sure your family will enjoy the gifts that you’ve made for them.


    • There is no question that you are very talented, Colleen. You have certainly taken to photography and the results are amazing. The enhancing you mentioned allows you to be quite artistic with photographs. God bless and have a Merry Christmas.


  5. Pingback: 3D Printer Christmas Pyramids | Joyful Wonder

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