"you are not a drop in the ocean
you are the entire ocean in a drop."
1. Dissect your egg carton making individual cups. You want to trim the egg sections into a soft curved "fish scale" shape. The center line of the egg cup should be running down the center of the cup.
When you attach your egg cups you want the center seam to line up (see below).
2. Choose your color palette. We liked the idea of choosing different shades of the same color (pinks, greens, greys, purples). 3. Start painting your cups. Alternate between light, middle, and darker tones. Once your cartons have dried you will stack them and glue them together with hot glue. 4. Slice a horizontal line in the center of your top egg carton with a utility knife blade or a pair of sharp scissors. Your mermaid's torso will fit inside this opening. You might need to trim the waist slightly to get a perfect fit.
5. Print out your mermaid template (see below) on thick card stock. Cut out one of the mermaid shapes. If you do not have card stock simply trim your mermaid shape and trace it onto an empty paper tube. You want the mermaid body to be sturdy so that it can handle rough and tumble play time.
6. Cut out and paint your torso shape and don't forget to cut out and paint a tail fin! You can cut a tail fin out of your egg carton lid (you can see an example of this if you scroll up to the unpainted tail picture) or recycle an old painting (like we did with this red haired siren). 7. Cut a simple bikini top out of printed paper or gift wrap and attach it with glue.
8. Once your mermaid is fully painted, dressed, and dried you will slide her into the opening that you cut earlier. Fully secure her in place with a dab of hot glue on the front and back, closing your egg carton around the waist like a clam shell. 9. Glue your tail inside of the base of your bottom egg carton.
10. String your little jingle bells to thread and fasten the jingle string into the inside of your tail with duct tape or hot glue.
The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts.
- C.S. Lewis
paper tube (paper towel size)
acrylic or tempera paint
Cut two cactus "arms" out of the back of your paper tube. Attach one to each side of your cactus with glue.
Mix a bright desert palette and begin to paint your cactus. When your first layer dries you can add your stripes in a contrasting color or a darker shade of green. Cut simple spiky flower shapes out of recycled paintings or brightly colored paper and add them to the top of each of your cactus arms with glue.
What's better than 1 cactus? 2!
Why stop at 2? The more the merrier! After you make some cacti maybe you want to add a few paper tube desert blooms to the party?
Some things have to be believed
to be seen.
- Madeleine L'engle
The girls and I have been so happy to see the endless stream of egg carton mermaid dolls that are being created and shared on the interwebs. Never in our wildest dreams did we expect that the result of our sleepy Saturday morning craft session would become a viral sensation. Wavy, Splash, and Breeze aren't letting the fame go to their tails, though. They are still the humble, playful gals they've always been. They have been such loyal companions to H and R we thought we would surprise them with an island getaway. Breeze has been dreaming of a Maui vacation since she was a tiny little mer-pole so it was not even a question of where they would be heading. We threw them an intimate little bon voyage party and they promised to send postcards. They will be back before the end of summer so they can send the girls off on their first day of school.
We have to admit that it has been a little lonely since the Mers left town. So it probably won't come as a surprise that this morning's family craft session was all about the egg carton doll. Without further adieu, meet our fairy friends: Mags, Blossom, Trudie, and Blue. They are spunky little sprites with BIG SWEET TOOTHS. I found Mags face down in the honey pot sawing Zzzzzzs this afternoon. H pointed out that it is now Mag's personal honey pot because germs are germs... magical fairy or not.
egg carton - you will need two pointed sections for each fairy
paper roll -you will need 1 roll per fairy
acrylic or tempera paint + palette for color mixing
hot glue gun (you can use school glue too but you will have to account for drying time)
small brush and water cup
fine point pen or pencil
1. Deconstruct your egg carton. You want a single row of pointy peeks . 2. Separate the peeks into individual pieces. 3. Trim your sections into a fairy dress shape. 4. Once you have trimmed and shaped your dresses you will begin to paint. We mixed white paint with various shades of purple, blue, greens, pinks, and yellows to achieve our fairy palette (see first photo for a picture of our paint colors).
Print or draw your fairy template. If you are using our fairy, you want to resize her to fit on the paper roll.
Cut your fairy shape out into two parts: torso/head/wings and legs. Your egg carton dresses will connect the two halves of your fairy. Once you have cut your sections out you will trace them onto your paper roll. The paper roll is more durable than paper and it will stand up to small hands and fairy play. Once your shapes are traced onto your cardboard roll you will cut them out. If you are making more than one fairy, repeat these steps until you have all the parts that you will need.
Start to paint your fairy sections. Have fun with your colors!
Wait 30 minutes for your paint to dry and then you can start to assemble. You will cut a slit in the top of the pointy egg carton section (the dress). Add a dab of hot glue to your fairy's chest and pull up her dress, pressing into the hot glue to form a bond. If you are adding a second layer to your fairy's dress (like we did) you will place a dab of hot glue on the top front of your second dress layer and slide it into the first layer, pressing the two together to create a tight glue seal. Add a dab of hot glue to the tops of your fairy legs and attach them to the inside of the dress's bottom hem. You only want a little bit of leg, ankle, and shoe showing (see below).
Once your fairies are fully assembled, take them outside for a garden party!
The soul becomes dyed
with the color of it's thoughts.
- Marcus Aurelius
- assorted acrylic craft paint in squeeze bottles (or you will need a dropper to dispense the paint drops)
- paint palette for mixing
- paint brush + water cup
- craft sticks - 1 small and 2 medium
- 1 clothespin
- hot glue gun
- plastic putty knife
Building your plane.
1. Remove the spring from your clothespin and glue the two pieces together. 2. Take your medium size craft stick and glue 1 on top of your clothespin and 1 below. These will become your airplane's wings. 3. Add a small craft stick at the base of your plane for the tale wing. 4. Cut a small piece of craft stick at an angle for your tale fin and attach.
Paint your plane and add duct tape or washi tape stripes to the wings.
The key to a good scrape painting is a plastic putty knife. You can find these at the hardware store on the cheap.
For this rainbow scrape painting we veered away from the typical primary colors you find in most rainbows and opted for some tropical tones... neon pink, bright orange, light blue, turquoise, pale pink, violet, red, and pale yellow.
Place a small dot of color and pull it toward you with your putty knife. You can arch your mark, drag it an angle, add short pull strokes or long. One hand is holding your paper down while your writing hand drags with steady, even pressure. Continue this "drop of color and pull" until you have a layered, full rainbow print.
You probably won't be able to stop at one!
Time to fly the painted sky! You can attach your plane with a drop of hot glue or glue dots.
some memories never leave your bones.
like salt in the sea; they become
part of you.
- and you carry them.
April Green, Paper Wings
This post has been 75% complete for the past 12 days. I was talking to a friend this morning about how many projects I have that are 75% complete. We were talking about that last 25% push that it takes to finish and all the obstacles that stand in the way. Sometimes the spark that was there at the beginning just wanes. Sometimes it's perfectionism. Sometimes we get tired. Sometimes the work just needs to breathe a little. Sometimes it's just life.
This time it was the life that is the final week of school before summer break. You know the one, chock full of school celebrations, party invitations, appointments, volunteer opportunities, AND 5th grade culmination. My first born is officially off to middle school. I'm not sure how it happened. It feels like her first day of kinder was a month ago but it happened and she is so clearly ready. I think I am too even though there is a lump in my throat, a tiny ache in my heart, and my eyes have been replaced by two hyperactive spritzing geysers. These milestones are markers of time and I don't always want to be reminded that time is moving faster than the speed of light.
It's not that I want to stop the passing of time, I am just looking for the pause button. My spidey senses have been telling me that it's buried somewhere in the California Desert. So I decided to pack up the husband, the girls, and 2 of the big girl's dearest friends and head to the desert in search of the pause. Time moves slower in the dry heat, drenched in pool water and bon fire smoke. It just does.
Speaking of the PA'S... Father's Day is 4 days away and we are sharing a simple, kid-made DIY that is sure to become one of dad's favorite keepsake treasures. You gotta make one... or 5!
- black and white photo(s) on printer paper
- large craft sticks (aka oversized popsicle sticks)
- washi tape
- gel sticks
- chalk paint or acrylic or tempera paint
- paint brushes
- hot glue gun
- assorted collage papers
- Elmer's school glue or Mod Podge
- pom pom hem
- twine for hanging
- square sheets of watercolor paper (We used 8x8 and still had to trim them slightly to fit inside our frame.)
1. Cut a square 8" x 8" sheet of thick white paper and grab some paint, oil pastels, crayons, and other favorite materials. Stand back and watch the magic happen!
Here we have a little rainbow action taking place.
2. Once the mini masterpieces are dry you will add black and white memories on top. Pick some of dad's favorite photos and resize them in your print settings. Select the black and white option. Print. Cut. Paste. Elmer's school glue or Mod Podge is the perfect adhesive for adding the images on top of the paintings.
3. Time to make a frame. Grab 4 large craft sticks and glue the corners together. We used our hot glue gun for this step.
4. Decorate your frame! You could add some washi...
Or add a distressed paint job...
Or a little bright paint stick action!
Oh the possibilities:
What about some finishing touches? Who can resist the lure of the pom pom? Mini or...
5. Add a hanging loop.
Guaranteed to make Dad smile:
you must allow yourself to grow
in all the places people thought you never
This business of growing is hard, important work. Today my growth looks like being (kinda) okay with going S-L-O-W. I am still not feeling 100%... like at all. When my house got hit with this bug there were a million balls in the air and this was not the kind of sick that I could work through. I could barely get myself to the bathroom let alone handle business as usual. So those balls just dropped. The balls dropped and the fear of missing out, of not producing, of being forgotten, of letting people down, of not getting the momentum back, of screwing it all up, of messing with the flow... was WAY up. Why am I sharing this with you? Because maybe this is part of the human condition and you have felt these feelings too? Also, these feelings multiply in isolation so I am going to air them out and let them breathe in this space, here among friends. I am enough. I do enough. It's okay to go slow... and doggone it, people like me! (shout out to Stuart Smalley)
This weekend's family craft session was to put together a smorgasbord of handmade stamps for printmaking. It was a really fun group exercise to think outside of the box. Lots of experimentation. Some things worked really well and others not so much. In the end, we had so much fun printing and cutting and sticking and we think you will too!
1. Gather your scrapbook paper or card stock and start to cut out circles, leaves, and simple flower shapes.
2. Begin to create your stamps. We focused on simple designs that could be printed in the center of our flower shapes and leaves.
3. Create a variety of print textures by using a combination of cut foam, hot glue designs, and textural elements (string, beads, rice, rubber bands...)
4. Ink your "printing plates". If you are using paint you can add color with a brush.
5. We alternated between ink pads and acrylic and tempera paint. This is a great opportunity to sneak in a little color theory.
6. Once you have stamped all your wild flowers you will let them dry. Once they are dry you can go in and add another layer of printing and additional colors. Our final layer was printing little dots in the center of some of our blooms with a pencil eraser.
7. Once your prints have fully dried you will attach them to your wreath. We created this simple wreath form with the outside rim of a paper plate.
8. Hang your wreath!
I only went out for a walk,
and finally concluded,
to stay out until sundown,
for going out,
was really going in.
- John Muir
If you follow this blog, you already know we are BIG fans of "hunting for nature treasure" also known as foraging (grownup version). If you say "nature walk" in close proximity to my girls they will be out of the door, baskets in hand, before you can finish the thought (you can check out our foraged wreaths, nature walk fairies, and leaf and branch wall hangings below). Well, this time we decided to combine our love of nature treasures + our love of cardboard + our love of collage to create the ultimate mixed media nature scroll. What do you think?
- natural elements: rocks, twigs, seed pods, berries, flowers, leaves, pine cones
- cardboard cut into long rectangular shape
- acrylic paint
- paint brushes, paint palette, and water cup
- hot glue gun
- coated bendy wire
- braided straw
1. Go forage for nature treasure! Take a walk in the woods, your neighborhood, or your back yard. There are beautiful bits everywhere if you look for them. Don't forget to bring your basket!
2. When you get home, start to sort your treasure. My girls also decided to forage around the studio for some textured elements like the braided straw and skinny wooden sticks shown below. Laying all of the elements against a white background really highlights the natural color and form of your materials. We do this before we decide what comes next.
3. After the girls looked at their materials they decided that adding a little paint might be fun. I asked them to pick 3 or 4 colors that would enhance their natural elements. They chose white, pale green, indigo blue, and a blush pink because they were all colors they "saw in their basket".
4. After a little discussion we decided to cut the cardboard background into long cardboard strips like a scroll shape. The girls played around with placement for a good 10-15 minutes before they made final decisions and added glue.
5. Wrapping sticks with bendy wire and/or yarn adds another layer of texture and color to your natural collage materials.
6. Create a hanging loop. You can use thin gauge wire, bendy wire, yarn, or twine. The girls picked a cream color bendy wire. They attached their loop to the back of their cardboard with a thick piece of duct tape. You could also attach with hot glue but the risk of getting glue on little fingers is pretty high with this step. If you have independent artists who want to add their own loop, I would recommend using the duct tape.
H decided that her pine cones had "wiggly teeth" that needed to come out (she's 5). Once she made the necessary extractions she noticed that the pine cone sections had peaks and valleys and natural stripes and designs that she could enhance with a little paint. She left 1 row of pine cone 'teeth', au natural, and 1 row got a Super H paint job. Those pink rocks are actually "unicorn rocks", FYI.
R's painted fern truly set the direction of her collage. She repeated the pop of white with a torn piece of white corrugated cardboard. She decided to put a wire wrapped stick on the top and a yarn wrapped stick on the bottom of her collage "for balance".
"I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do."
- Leonardo Da Vinci
Okay, so a few years ago I was driving down Wilshire Blvd at 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday. They say the city never sleeps and I want to amend that to say 'except early on Sunday mornings' because this is when I drive... while the city sleeps. It has become a ritual for me. One that I have mostly stuck to for the past 5 years. It's my quiet thinking time and on this particular Sunday morning I had a major stop light epiphany.
There I was, paused at a 4 way intersection when it hit me (not in the literal sense, it was just me and my thoughts at this red light): a mobile art studio built inside of a vintage camper! You guys, I have been a traveling visual art teacher for most of my 20+ years of teaching. I have jokingly referred to every car that I have ever owned as my "mobile art studio". I have been running camps, and parties, and workshops, teacher trainings and art shows out of the trunk of my car for eva' but it wasn't until that moment that it occurred to me... maybe I wasn't working toward a brick and mortar location. Maybe the natural evolution of this form of teaching that I had unintentionally fallen into wasn't to graduate to the next thing but to own my thing: The mobile studio.
I am pretty sure I called P right then and I am pretty sure that he was still asleep so he might not have shared my level of enthusiasm at six something on a Sunday morning, but trust that it was only a matter of time. For the next two days I was like Leonardo Da Vinci with his notebooks, drafting plans and downloading ideas onto paper as fast as they were coming to me. I started out going in an obvious direction with the name: Art-2-Go, Art-Van-Go... and by day two the name Art Camp had solidified its place as THE name. There was no second-guessing it.
An actual drawing from Leonardo da Vinci's notebook because A) it looks cooler than my notebook and B) when you are building a business out of your home things tend to go MIA.
The next thing that came to me was a deep sense that this wasn't just going to be an art studio on wheels or simply art classes for kids. ART CAMP was going to fill a void. I kept coming back to this idea that creation and connection are fundamental human needs. That the further we get away from each other, from creating, from making with our own two hands, the more isolated and disconnected we become. The more isolated and disconnected we become, the less fulfilled. The less fulfilled we become... you know what happens next.
This is such an interesting time to be alive. On one hand, our connection to each other is coming through screens and text messages. We can buy everything we need without ever leaving the house. With the touch of a button it will arrive at our door in two days or less. On the other hand, there is this maker renaissance happening. It isn't just the hipsters, it's not just the latest trend. I truly believe that this is our essence calling us back to ourselves. So many times have I heard the grownups in my life say, "Man, I wish I could take your art class." "You should do an Art Camp for adults." "I wish I could sit down and draw." "I have always wanted to get crafty... I just wouldn't even know where to start." "Oh to be a kid again!" When and why did we stop?
How many stories have we read... you know the ones: the Wall Street banker who gives up life in the fast lane, moves into a tiny house, and starts baking bread. The corporate lawyer who is now living on an island in the Pacific NW where she hand dyes garments with vegetable dye made from the crops from her sustainable garden. As fast as we are sprinting into the future, we are also witnessing the people around us opt out at very high rates. The thing is, I don't think it has to be this black and white. You can keep all of your gadgets, you can keep your job, you don't need to go off the grid. You just need to make time to create and connect.
It sounded good in theory... but if I built it, would they come? So The Art Camp "test kitchen" was born. Our formal dining room became the studio. The largest room in our house became our living room/Art Camp room. Our first session was a Valentine's Day Camp. I had seven year olds and adults creating side by side and it totally worked. The next 18 months of experimenting would reveal to me that my creation and connection theory was spot on and I would also learn that the most valuable lessons really suck while you are going through them. The camp sessions that worked the best were the ones where I followed my intuition and stuck close to my teaching approach. The sessions that didn't work as well were the ones where I was trying to guess what would be popular. Word to the wise: follow your gut... it will not lead you astray.
The recipe was ready... but was I?
"It's a great idea. What are you waiting for?", she asked. I took a sip of my iced tea and rattled off 5 things. All totally valid things. Very logical, sensible things and yet she didn't flinch. "You HAVE to do it!", she said. THIS was the message I desperately needed to hear, carried to me by someone I had just met. She was right. What was I waiting for? You guys kind of know the rest...
...Being willing is not enough; we must do.
So I did. November of last year I popped my head up over on my sleepy little Instagram feed and I introduced myself to you. I told you I was going to start this blog in spite of what the "wait until it's just right" committee said. I asked you if you would join me on this new venture and you said "heck yes" and boy have you been with me. I want to do a roll call shout out and list every single name who has cheered me on and tagged me in photos and sent me heart felt messages. You know who you are. Know that you are the wind beneath my wings.
The urgency of doing the next thing followed by the next thing followed by the next thing is the thing that has brought me to today. It turns out that I am really good at keeping secrets, especially the really big ones that I want to scream from the rooftops. You know what else has brought me to today? The unwavering support of my family. They have been by my side every step of the way giving me everything they've got from childcare, to financial support, to manual labor. This was a team effort all of the way. I am so grateful for my tribe. I am also hoping that the friends that have barely heard a peep from me in the last seven months will forgive me for my absence because I have not been able to do all the things very well. I have been so focused on doing this new thing. I love you.
So here she is, my "Holly Gobravely", creative renegade, ART CAMP mobile!