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 drawn. 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
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
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.
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
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!
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.