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Take an interestingly shaped vase or bottle and make sure it is cleaned out really well inside and out with soap and water. Dry it thoroughly. Then take a roll of regular masking tape start tearing it into small little pieces all the same size - not necessarily the same shape, but close to the same size. They must be torn, NOT cut.
Then start placing these pieces on the bottle or vase. Start covering an area by only layering the edges of the pieces a very little bit. These edges are going to bump up a little bit and provide a texture for a treatment that comes later on. After you have completely covered the bottle or vase and this takes quite a bit of time and patience, it is now time for the leathering process.
Depending on the color you desire, choose the color of shoe polish you want your finished project to look like, either a light color or dark color. Rub the shoe polish with a soft cloth all over the taped project GENTLY! You don't want to rub the tape off, but you have to get it into the cracks and crevices of the taped pieces. You might have to go over some places several times. Just do it carefully. Be sure to rub off any excess.
I remember as a child making something similar. We tore small pieces of brown paper bags,glued them onto a jar or bottle.Then with either shoe polish OR brown crayon..lightly colour over the whole thing. Quite pretty really!
I made these with kids many years ago. I searched the web to see if anyone had a photo and directions. And yes they did. This leather-faux like vase for example, is a challenging activity for your older child, as well as a great gift idea. Your child can feel the satisfaction of creating a gift from the heart, for a teacher, Mother's Day, or grandmother gift! A younger child can use larger pieces and scissors.
Tips: Younger children should not participate in the shoe polish stage. Sometimes a second rubbing or glossing adds to the beauty.
By Carol from Torrance, CA
Editor's Note: Here is a similar craft project that is posted on ThriftyFun:
I have made these with my grade 2 class many times -- usually as a father's day gift. It works very well. My extra hint is to pick a nice golden brown color of brown shoe polish (paste). We polished them with a soft cloth (old cotton sock) after applying the shoe polish. If you buff them up well, you don't have to seal them with anything. We found that tearing the masking tape made a more effective looking product. And one can also use a cardboard juice can and make a pencil holder.