Making a Homemade Advent Calendar ~ Part 1

A couple of years ago I wrote about creating this advent calendar.

In my recent move I unearthed the original sketches so I thought I’d update with a process post.

sketchoffront

The full size sketch of the front, done in colored pencil.

My first Advent Calendars were completely handmade: cover image printed and hand-colored, window openings cut with a knife, window images printed and colored–all somehow fastened together to make a functioning calendar.

handmadeoriginal copy

the original 1983 calendar, given to Charlene Smith, and kept framed and displayed all year round. This one is less colorful a bit more austere.

I made fewer than 10 to give to friends, and I sent one to my editor at E P Dutton Children’s Books. She loved it, and suggested producing it to sell.

She asked me to show her sketches for the window images that had a more holiday feel than the original. Some of her suggestions were “Knitting Christmas Stocking?” and “kitten playing with ornament or pine spring?”
adventsketch

Following her suggestions, I revised the sketches.

sketches

Finally I carved each tiny scene, colored it and glued it into place

finishedwindows

Once the 2 layers are aligned, the scenes show up in the doors and windows.

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The finished calendar.

adventcalendar_1

Although this is out of print and no longer sold in stores. I have a stash to sell.

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Making my own Advent Calendar~Part 2

I grew up with “Sweet” paper Advent Calendars like this one

Advent Calendars 1The numbered openings are scattered all over, and the pictures outside bore no relation to what was underneath the perforated squares.

You got a lot of glitter outside, and dopey illustrations of stars, bells and candles inside the windows.

This annoyed me as a child. I already craved storytelling and wanted the outside and the inside to add up to something greater.

Nowadays, cool DIY Advent Calendars are all the rage. Many have candy and/or REAL gifts in them.

AdventKraftPaperParcels

But that is now. Back in 1986 I was thinking strictly 2-D, so I decided to make my own paper calendar. It was going to be fun to look at AND tell a story.

icicles_webI grew up in a cozy neighborhood in town, in a modern-looking, chalet style house designed by my parents. But my child alter-ego lived in a pale yellow farm house somewhere out in the country.

I needed at least 24 windows and doors on my imaginary house and barn in order to create the world within the calendar.

adventcalendar_1

I included characters from my three, published picture books:

orangecat

Nutkin, the marmalade cat from Only The Cat Saw

snowmanEllie, the little girl from A Year of Birds and A Year of Beasts, and her Border Collie Pumpkin

And later, I copied parts of my old calendar into books created far into the future like When Lucy Goes Out Walking!

JanuarytreeI wanted the picture you saw when you opened the door or window to make sense and tell a little bit more about this home and family.

adventcalendar_2

So when you open doors 1, 10 and 18, you see into the front hall, the kitchen and the back hall.

adventcalendar_5

The only window that did not fall within a real opening is in the woodpile.

adventcalendar_4but when you open it, the scene inside is still real to the location, even if the mice are enormous next to the cat!

Happy Advent!adventcalendar_6

Though this calendar is out of print, I still have a stash and am selling them here.

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