Monday, April 30, 2012

flower petal butterflies, part one

 I've had this idea kicking around the noggin for a few years now. Inspired by a day playing with kiddos and their love of tearing a part flowers. It reminded me of how much I too used to love doing that. I used to love unraveling all the petal pretty of a camelia on my walk to first grade. I would step outside to our front porch and walk to the side of the house where the camelia bush sat. Plucking the fattest, roundest bloom I could find, I would gently un-peel the whole thing as I walked up the road, around the corner, across the avenue, onto the park and over the bridge that led to Mrs. Foster's first grade class. If I picked the right kind of bloom, it would unravel the entire distance, leaving behind a much better suited trail than breadcrumbs.

This project is for four years and up. You know your kiddo best and if they are not one for sitting still for awhile with focus then this project is not for them. I have created three ways for you and your kiddo to create your own flower petal butterflies. You can always of course do this project with younger children, just turn the goal into the process not the specific symmetry of a butterfly. The idea for this is less about the finished pretty and more about the adventure of picking and selecting the flowers, looking at pictures of butterflies and searching for similarities in the prettiness of the petals. When you do this with your kiddos, concentrate on small moments and quiet making. Dialogue about the process, whether you are commenting on the texture of the petals as you release them from their stems, the back and forth motion of brushing the glue onto the cardstock, or the precise placement of petals in symmetrical form. There is all kinds of science that can be culled from this project. Take a cue from your kiddo and go for it!

*variety of flowers in a basket or bowl
*wax paper
*cardstock or precut atc sized cards
*mod podge or white glue
*small dish of water
*photo corners (optional)
*glue stick
*contrasting cardstock cut slightly larger than your base piece
*books and pictures of butterflies

Head to the library for a handful of awesome butterfly books. Try to find a few non-fiction titles if you can and give them a run through with your kiddo as you examine the anatomy of a butterfly. Take some time to notice the placement of the wings and the symmetry in their pattern. Ask questions to help your child take notice of a butterflies unique beauty. If you can't get to a library, hit the internet for some useful sites.

When you are ready, go for a garden walk in your own garden and collect flowers that have small petals that resemble the shape of a butterfly's wings. We used violas, geranium, ranunculus, tea rose, and lavender to name a few. You can also pick up a day old bouquet from a flower shop or market. Just don't start picking flowers from someone else's garden!
Once you have your flowers, set up a work space. Spread out a large sheet of wax paper, parchment or splat mat. Put your flowers in a shallow bowl or dish that has water in it to keep them fresh as you work. You can use a vase or jar but those are prone to tipping as little hands grab at the flowers. Working with your kiddo, disassemble a handful of flowers and let the petals and leaves scatter across your work surface for easier picking.
Set up you paintbrush and cardstock and mod podge. If you are using white glue, give it a little bit of water to make it easier for painting with. you can use any size card stock you like. We prefer the smaller atc sized pieces as they really contain the butterfly and look really pretty mounted onto a larger card. Have your kiddo brush their card with the mod podge or glue. Now it is time for making butterflies.
Beginning with the top parts of the wings, ask your kiddo to select two flower petals that are as similar as possible. We're going for symmetry here. Next, have them select the smaller bottom wings. Continue selecting smaller and smaller bits to decorate the wings. Dip the petals into the glue mix to adhere to the already placed petals, It may seem like they won't stick, but they will. Just don't fuss too much.
Once the wings are finished it is time for the body and antennae. We used the thin green leaves from some of the flowers and the thin petals of a flowering lavender. Set aside to dry. When they dry, you can add details to the cards with markers and/or colored pencils. Once yo uhave done that, it is time to press them flatty-flat. Enter your wax paper. Lay each card between two sheets of wax paper or one sheet that has been folded over and lay something super heavy on top. We used a cutting board and suitcase. Let them sit overnight.
Remove the temporary weights from your butterflies and admire how flat they got. Now it is time to mount them to another base. We used A6 sized cardstock cut in half and photo corners. To use photo corners, have your kiddo place a corner on each corner of their butterfly paper and then dampen the backs before centering onto a new sheet of base card stock. The smaller the base, the easier it will be for your kiddo to center. If you do not have photo corners, use a gluestick, it will do nicely.
Ta-da! These would make lovely Mother's Day cards for Grandma or Mom. They don't hold up as long as some other art work but if you keep them pressed for a few days they might. You can also spray with a fixative if you like. I haven't tried that yet, it might help as well.

Stay tuned for part two! More of the same but different.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

snakes and snails...

At school last week,  much to her delight, one of the toddler girls found a worm as she was planting her own batch of flowers in the garden. We then spent the next fifteen minutes oohing and aahing over the wriggly little thing. I watched as she passed it along to one girl after the other as each one wanted to hold it. And each time a new lucky child got to hold the worm in her hands she would look up all smiles and announce, "I have a worm!" It's not just a boy thing.

When I was a little girl you could equally find me getting all dolled up in twirly skirts and tutus or elbow deep in mud as I raced my hot wheels around with the rest of the kids on my street. I would loose myself in games of Princess and climb down, down, down the large drain pipe behind our house along with the other kids in the neighborhood. I baked cookies and had tea parties and built houses for roly-poly bugs. My jeans had more patches on them than a king-sized quilt and the amount of pink in my closet would make anyone crave another color...any other color.

I was never called a tomboy, thank goodness for that. I'm not a fan of that term. I'm not a big fan of any term really. Girlie-girl? Blech. Boy boy? Ick. Children are children and as individual as each of us adults. To pigeon-hole a boy who likes to turn everything into a weapon is silly. Girls do it too, I was one of them. Those black laquered hinged plate stands? Those made excellent guns when we played space monster in our third floor condo. They could even be clapped for a shooting noise. It was all my idea.

When your child hears you exclaim "You're such a boy" they might brush it all off being that yes, they are indeed a boy but at some point that term just might define them. Same for boys who like to play dress up and get into the pink and sparkles. There is absolutely nothing girly about it save for you labeling it as such. Switch it up a notch in relation to girls and I'll say the same thing. Simply stop it. The same goes for "She's just shy" or "He's our artist". Take some time to omit labels from describing your child, work on specifics. If your daughter is quiet but really loves cats, then she may know a lot about cats, focus on that. If your son is the artist of the family, focus on the tools he uses, "Sam has been drawing a lot with his water color pencils". Let's work on the individuality of your kiddos be they yours, your sibling's or your friends'.

Girls who like sports and bugs and messy things are NOT tomboys. They are athletic and strong. They are scientists and they are curious. Boys who like to bake cookies, put on the tutus in preschool and dance rather than pass a football are not sissies. They are chefs, they are imaginative, intuitive and they are also athletes.

And for those of you who disagree and think that all boys are most certainly only about super heroes and that all girls are into princesses, I know more than a handful, more than two even that might just sway you to think otherwise. Boys will be boys and girls will be girls if that's the only way you view them.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

revisiting art through a straw

 I got to hang out with the nephew a-go-go this week and when we hang out, we get to painting. We pulled out the watercolors and got to it. I made pages of color while he worked carefully on robots from the Real Steel. After a while he asked me if I knew how to paint by blowing and I said sure thing, so out came the straws and little pieces of scrap watercolor and we got to it.
With our hot pink straws we blew paint this way and that way. The nephew worked on making painty "blood" splotches (he is nine after all) while I experimented with color.
As we worked on the best techniques the nephew showed me a new one. Dip straw into liquid watercolor (or watered down tempera) and place finger over the top to create a vacuum of sorts. With finger over top of straw, bring over to paper and release. Paint will blob onto paper and you can blow away!
After we finished, I sprinkled regular old table salt all over my painting and set aside to dry. With a whisk of the hand, the salt was liberated and a happy new picture was displayed!

Monday, April 9, 2012

art up a paper plate or two

 I did this project for my April Bed but with a little planning, you can totally have your kiddos whip up a pretty installation as well!

*sturdy paper plates in two sizes
*acrylic paint in three colors plus white
*paintbrushes and water
*metallic marker 
*double-sided foam tape

Have your kiddo pick out two colors of paint plus one additional shade that matches one of the colors. I used two shades of pink and one of yellow. Set out three plates and have your kiddo paint the center of each one in each color.

Next, grab another plate and add a squirt of color and a squirt of white and have your kiddo mix the paint up. Do one up for each color. If yer up for another round of painting, repeat the second step but add a bit more white. Take a moment to teach you kiddo about tints. Set aside to dry.
Once dry, have your kiddo paint a picture or pattern to each plate using the white paint. Give them a skinny brush and limit the amount of paint they use. Set aside to dry.
Now it is time to have your kiddo doodle a bit on top of the white paint. Once they are finished, it is time for the installation.
Depending on how long you want your installation to hang, you have a few choices for implementation. You can glue paper clips to the back of some of the plates and hang them using small nails, or you can use a mounting putty or double-stick foam tape (it takes a while to press all the plates into place. You can see one of my plates falling in the photo below). I went the route of putty for the base layer and double-stick tape for the second layer. Arrange the larger plates in a scatter across your wall surface making sure to keep a few close to each other so that you may later the smaller plates on top.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

melt some crayons

I know, I know. There are all sorts of cool posts all over the place about awesome melty crayon canvases. This project is one that came about after I was working on making some new crayons. It is simple, fairly open ended and looks pretty awesome if I do say so myself.

*sturdy paperplates
*assorted crayon bits and pieces
*hot plate or cast iron skillet
*small metal containers or cans
*thin gloves (optional)
Place crayon pieces in a small metal container or can and set on a hot plate or cast iron skillet. Turn on low and allow crayons to melt. I would recommend placing a sheet of tinfoil under your container to catch drippy crayon bits. I didn't think of this until after I had already spilled wax all over my skillet. Yikes!
Once crayon bits are all melty, remove from warm surface, the container should not be too hot to handle but if it is warm, have your kiddos wear thin gloves when they handle the can/container. Our skillet retained enough heat that we could turn it off and it would still melt the crayons.
On a protected surface, have your kiddo tilt, spill and dribble their melted crayon onto their paper plate. It is important to use sturdy paper plates, think cardboard sturdy. They can dump the whole shebang onto their plate then pick up their plate tilting it however they please. If you think the container will be too hot, pour the melted crayon onto your kiddos plate yourself. You know what will work best with your child.
Continue with other crayon colors and talk to your kiddo about how the wax hardens as it cools. Do the colors mix? Will the wax remain wet? Do you see shapes in your picture?
Once finished, tape a paperclip to the back and hang in a happy place!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

painting with eggs

 plastic eggs that is...
At first they shook their eggs.
Then they cracked them open.
Some tilted their papers this way and that way while others dove right in.
I liked the painty drippy plastic eggs almost as much as their artwork.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

make a rainbow pillow

 Howdy folks! Going back to this post, I'm going to show some pics from how I made the rainbow pillow. I need to let you know that I am an awful crafter in the sense that I cut corners and don't measure. I am very imprecise. I just kinda do, so please forgive my lack of specifics and I hope you manage to whip up a happy rainbow yourself.

*large sheet of paper or newspaper
*pen or pencil
*fabric scraps
*sewing machine
*fiber fill of choice

First, draw out a blunt rainbow shape on a large sheet of white paper (I taped two smaller sheets together to create a larger size). Cut it out.
 Find a red swatch of fabric a little larger than your template. Collect the next five colors in the rainbow making each swatch smaller than the one before it.
I pinned the red fabric to the pattern and cut it out. Eyeball your next color (orange) and cut out a similar shape only smaller than the red, continue until you have cut out remaining five colors. Stack them atop each other to see how your rainbow will look. Use scissors to trim and make any adjustments.
 Pin the orange fabric to the red and machine stitch using both a running stitch and a zig-zag. Repeat until all your fabric pieces are stitched together, making a happy rainbow.

Flip the whole shebang over and pin it to the backing fabric (mine was cut into a large rectangle). Take over to the machine and stitch the two pieces together leaving a channel open for turning right-side out and stuffing.
Trim fabric and turn right side out. Settle into a comfy space with a bag of fiber-fill and get to stuffing. Handstitch the opening closed and now your pillow is ready to go!

If you need any help, feel free to ask me anything, I'm here for ya!

**Oh my, I must have been super tired when I wrote out this post. I just remembered that I actually did NOT simply eyeball the pieces as I cut them, rather I CUT the actual PATTERN with each subsequent color.  It's even easier than eyeballing. Seriously easy. I can't believe I completely blanked. Zoinks!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

they scrumdilly-did it!

photo by Q. Nardi

Remember this project? Well, the nifty gal behind the nifty blog Q-made gathered up her watercolors and her kiddos to paint up some eggs of their own.
photo by Q. Nardi

photo by Q. Nardi
Aren't they gorgeous? I love how vibrant the colors are and I love how one technique can bring so many results.
photo by Q. Nardi
Many thanks for sharing your project, blog and photos, friend. All pictures courtesy of Q. Nardi. And many thank-yous to Cassi of The Crafty Crow for sharing my egg happy project.

Monday, April 2, 2012

make a wee easter egg pillow

 This small project is for you to make for your kiddo if your kiddo is not stitch-friendly. Wip up a couple of these for your kiddo's basket and they can decorate them themselves with markers. Fill em with rice or beans instead of fiber-fill and they become cool packs for bumps and bruises.

*empty easter candy boxes
*small fabric scraps
*paper & pencil
*sewing machine 
*needle and thread
*markers or paints for your kiddo
Gather up an assortment of small Easter candy boxes. My boxes came from the dollar store and are a smidge smaller than your traditional candy hearts boxes. Create an egg shaped template that is smaller than your box. Cut out with scissors. To more involve your child, you may cut out a small rectangle that matches the front dimension of your box, hand your kiddo a pencil and have them draw their own egg shape. To turn it into a math exercise, hand your kiddo a ruler and let them measure the box to create their own rectangle.
 Pin template to two small fabric scraps making sure at least one of your scraps is blank, right sides facin in.*
Stitch around template leaving a small open space for turning out and stuffing. Remove pins and template and cut out. *If you or your child is hand-stitching the egg, cut out the shape first then use a whip stitch in a contrasting thread to anchor pieces together. Don't forget to leave a small opening for stuffing.
Turn right side out and stuff. Use dried beans or rice to create cold packs or add a little lavender for some added sweetness. Hand stitch the opening closed and tuck into candy box.
When your kiddo opens the box, they can decorate their Easter eggs with markers and or paints. Happy Easter!