Saturday, November 13, 2010

What to give a guy who's hard to shop for!

We've all been there.  I have a good friend who turned fifty this year.  I wasn't able to find a gift that I new he'd love - but wanted to do something special for this milestone birthday.  So - I got crafty. 

Here's what it came out like:

Kids, friends and extended family all helped me with this project.  We collected 51 pennies from his birth year, 1960, through 2010.  Can I just say that trying to read the year on all the pennies we looked at proved incredibly challenging for me?  I was finally saved by a coin collector's magnifier.  Should have used that from the beginning!

After finding all the needed pennies, I shopped for a shadow box frame with a nice background.  I loved the size and coloring, which serendipitously coordinated really well with the many hues of copper in our collection.

I wanted to add a meaningful sentiment about age, without getting maudlin or making a joke out of it.  I found the perfect quote on the internet. 

A man's age is something impressive,
it sums up his life:  maturity reached
 slowly and against many obstacles,
 illnesses cured, griefs and despairs
overcome, and unconscious risks
taken; maturity formed through
so many desires, hopes, regrets,
forgotten things, loves.
A man's age represents a fine cargo
 of experiences and memories.

~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Wartime Writings

I printed this on good ivory bond, centered it on the background and trimmed it in thin brown grosgrain ribbon.  I glued these down with hot glue, careful to use a small amount on select areas.

Now, how to arrange and attach the pennies?  I played with the arrangement until I was happy with the overall effect.  The 1960 penny was centered above the quote, on the ivory bond.  1961 through 2010 pennies were arranged in a linear fashion, chronologically across in rows until they ended in the lower right hand corner.

Before gluing, I used a clear ruler to place them in a grid so that they'd be spaced in a pleasing design.  I continued to use the ruler as I glued, preventing me from going off on a slant like I do when I write freehand!

What I loved about this project was that it came together through the efforts of a caring group, involving kids, grandparents and everyone in between.  We had fun looking for the pennies, and used many that really show their age.  Each penny represents a years worth of experiences.  Some of these years passed with little wear, and seem as good as new.  But some of them are pretty beat up, like we can be after a tough year.

So - if you viewed your life in pennies, what would it look like?