DIY Holiday

Gifts Made with Your Heart and Hands
By Rachel Werner | Photographed by Sunny Frantz

Sentiment complements style in local maker spaces and workshops where you can find your muse and the tools to accent holiday giving with a personalized flair. So seize the moment to craft the items on this year’s wish lists!


Bring Pinterest dreams to life at Board and Brush. Envision a ‘Builda-Bear’ for grown-ups where the treasured keepsake you bring home is a hand-made rustic wood sign, planter box, bulb box, monogram tray, etched wine glasses, organization board or a holiday canvas pillow. “For most people, even if they have the ambition to attempt something like this at home, life gets in the way. There’s quite a bit of planning that would need to go into it—plus, supplies to buy, a space to do it in and a mess to clean up,” says owner Lindsay Bauer. “All you have to do is pick your sign and show up. We do the prep work, provide the tools and provide step-by-step instruction.”

No slacking, though, once open workshops begin! Participants completely assemble their own projects, doing all the sanding, drilling and painting themselves. “The added bonus to the experience is having an object that are you excited to display in your house or a gift that you made,” Bauer says. The pride is palpable.”

Mt. Horeb,


Create the accessory with just enough glitz to make a wardrobe sing at bead boutique Meant to Bead. “A lot of times it is the time spent with friends and the techniques they learn that brings people to our doors,” says owner Shannon Jambard. In Basic Jewelry Making 101, novices become familiar with strung patterns and modifying to suit their needs by learning proper use of jewelry hand tools and how to correctly size creations for a comfortable fit. More experienced crafters can expand their repertoire in the stitch-focused course Beading Insomnia or in the more challenging Chain Maile and metal smith classes.

Jambard says, “I think the draw to making jewelry is the ability to be creative with one’s hands and challenge the mind. We are working with time-honored traditions with modern twists and modern tools. You are able to create your loved one a gift that will last a lifetime and they can carry with them daily.”

Sun Prairie.


Incorporate the elements of earth, wind and fire into holiday packages by whipping up natural balms and goodies in an Herbal Gift Making workshop. Surrounded by lush flora and fauna at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, instructor Linda Conroy leads attendees through 10 stations of arranging, mixing and heating herbs to make an assortment of body care and edible goods like lip balm, body spray, felted soap, herbal condiments, lotion bar, dream pillow and herbal tea blends.

“Initially many women tend to love the craft part, but can be intimidated by unfamiliar plant identification. So I teach how to isolate and utilize whole plant material—not just the essential oil—to maximize the strengthening and nourishing properties of each,” says Conroy.

Conroy says her methods are rooted in simplicity, as were many of the traditional arts once second nature to our mothers and grandmothers. “You can make a salve in minutes by melting beeswax as a base, adding a few drops of olive oil and the desired—most accessible—plant material.”



Got mad craft skills, but just need a space? Truck over to the Bodgery and DIY to the jingle of Santa’s sleigh bells. For makers of every kind, this hack hub is tricked out in a wide array of equipment including welders, sandblast cabinet, vinyl cutter, sewing machines and table saws.

“Whether it be guests or our members, we just want more people making stuff in Madison,” says co-founder John Eich. “So if you have an idea, but just need a bit of guidance using specialized tools or technology, pay us a visit.” Weekly open craft and shop nights are held on Monday and Friday evenings providing ample opportunity to get assistance on more unique wares such as headphone stands, armor and lasercut/engraved products.

If an old-school artifact is the preferred outcome, create a homemade stocking stuffer in the monthly beginner carving and bookbinding workshops. And, let the spirit of giving inspire creativity ’til year’s end!



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