Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bookmarks XXI: Luminarias for Christmas

On my father's side of the family, luminarias are a Christmas Eve tradition. We get a bunch of brown paper sandwich bags and put some sand and a tea-light style candle inside. The sand keeps the bags from blowing over and steadies the candle. Then we line the driveway and the edge of the street with them, two to three feet apart, and light them. As dusk turns to dark, they transform from paper bags into magical glowing lights.

Most of my grandparents' neighborhood also light luminarias on Christmas Eve. Some of them use white bags instead of brown, but in the dark all you can see is the lines of lights... it's beautiful and peaceful and feels so right for Christmas Eve.

I'm told the more correct name for these little bags is "farolitos", and that they were originally lit either to replace more traditional luminaria mini-bonfires or to guide the spirit of the Christ Child. My family calls them luminarias, and we light them because... well, because that's what we do, and because they're beautiful, and because, now that my grandfather is dead, it is a way of remembering him. He was always the impetus behind getting the luminarias out, even when he became so stiff he couldn't really put them out or light them himself.

This week's Timeless Tuesday challenge at the Flourishes blog was "A Pinterest Christmas" -- find an inspiration on Pinterest and make a Christmas creation inspired by it. I chose these beautiful luminaria pictures:

Source: via Brooke on Pinterest

I made a luminaria bookmark with these inspiring photos. I don't know that most people would think this was a Christmas project, but for me it definitely is.

I actually made a two-sided bookmark this time: one side inspired by the beautiful swirly luminaria display, and the other by a single glowing luminaria. I didn't quite succeed in capturing the same beauty that the photographs captured, but I am still satisfied with it:

It looks acceptably glow-y here, I admit, but that's a happy accident of messing about in Photoshop to try to get the black to look black. It's rather less stunning in person.

Next time I will read some tutorials about how to produce glowing effect first. Also, I'm pretty sure pigment inks are the wrong kind to be playing with for this effect, but I don't have any dye inks -- I do a lot of heat embossing (as you can see on the swirly side of the bookmark), so pigment inks are more useful.

I'm entering this bookmark in the following challenges:

Supplies: (brown paper ripped from a brown paper bag)


  1. What beautiful projects! How creative!!

  2. lovely. Paper bags are a good source of paper for crafting. Thanks for joining Top Tip Tuesday. Elaine

  3. What a great little post, I love your story of the luminarias - I've never heard of them before but they sound like a fab tradition.
    Great bookmark you have made with this theme too - you could now keep part of your Christmas tradition to use the rest of the year too!
    Thanks for joining in with us over at Top Tip Tuesday for our 'Recycle it' challenge :)

    Carol x