As the 6-year-old reminded me yesterday, with some urgency, "We only have, like, two weeks left to make valentines!"
Here are some tips if you're making valentines on deadline:
One of our favorite places to shop for materials is ArtScraps (artstart.org) on St. Clair Avenue in St. Paul, a store that sells an eclectic range of recycled and donated materials, everything from carpet samples to cardboard tubes. At this time of year, you'll find reams of red and white paper, little red-and-white gift boxes, beads, ribbons and shiny sheets of sticky-backed Mylar. I can speak from experience that the Mylar sheets are a winner. Cut out Mylar hearts and slap them on doilies. Voila!
If you want to get more creative, store manager Gina Ellsworth says they also have red fluffy batting and red-and-white plastic spirals that hold notebooks together. (Did we mention they get some strange donations from businesses?) What could you do with those?
"Off the top of my head, with the little spirally things, I think you could make some cute critters," says Ellsworth. "The batting, well, you could use it for hair on a little Valentine critter."
If you're not a crafty mom but still want to make homemade valentines, hand the project over to the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, which is holding a valentine-making class (mnbookarts.org/workshops/families.html) for parents and children ages 2 to 10 on Feb. 11. You'll make pop-up and pocket valentines to decorate with stamps, stickers, doilies, colors and valentine candies. No planning, no supply shopping, no clean up. That's love coming at you!
Finally, if you want to make cards at home and need a bit of inspiration, here are some ideas.
Valentine mouse: Using a cardboard template or by hand, cut a heart out of red or pink cardstock. Fold the heart in half. Color the point of the heart to make the mouse's nose. Draw whiskers. Glue on or draw eyes. Unfold and glue a scrap of yarn, string or thin strip of paper for a tail so it extends beyond the two top bumps of the heart. When the glue dries, write your message inside and fold the heart in half again.
Pop-up heart. Here are instructions for a pop-up design I just tried with my 9-year-old, an engineer at heart. (robertsabuda.com/popmake/celebrations/valentine_heart/popmake_heart-step1.asp)
Paper mouth: Just think of all the valentine greetings this could say. (popularkinetics.com/mouth_page.html)
Watercolor hearts: My 6-year-old is going through a watercolor obsession. Her plan is to paint swaths of pink and red onto big sheets of watercolor paper and then cut the paper into hearts. Simple and pretty. The real time-consuming part will be writing each child's name on the valentine. She's right, we better get going! We have less than two weeks.
Maja Beckstrom can be reached at 651-228-5295. Follow her at twitter.com/majabeckstrom.