“You see things and you say, Why?”
But I dream things that never were;
And I say, “Why not?”
-George Bernard Shaw
This project is dedicated to a birthday girl who loved mermaids and kittens so much that she could not choose a favorite. Her party theme dilemma inspired these MIXED MEDIA MEOW-MAIDS. The kids absolutely flipped over this project. I added the printable template and collage kitty heads to our shop so that you have everything you need to create YOUR own felines of the sea.
I can’t wait to see yours! xx
When it comes to materials for this project the sky is the limit. Just grab some of your favorite supplies and set out an art buffet. I will link to some of the things we included in our spread but you can color and decorate the MEOWs using anything you have and love. Just make sure to include some metallic and sparkle!
clear school glue + glue sticks
assorted washi tape
paint brush and water cups
*optional: thin wooden dowel if you want to make them puppets
*optional: hanging loop made out of wire or twine
The templates were designed to be used with or without the collage kitty heads. I wanted to give the kiddos an option to draw their own cat features in lieu of a photograph. It turns out that real kitty heads are the cats meow so everyone opted to use the black and white photos. Once the photos were glued on to the template they trimmed away any white paper that was peeking out around the sides.
Dust-less chalk crayons and jewels were a crowd favorite:
The Meow on the left was designed with black ink dauber, neon tempera cakes, and gold kwik-stix. Details on the tail and eyes were added with the chalk crayons. The gold paint just takes these girls to the next level! You can see some glitter glue details on the star fish wand on the left.
How amazing are the details on this Meow?! The sailor scarf, wedding ring, and the marble tail slays me. The art teacher in me would love to see the kids create an underwater sea-scape/Meow-Maid habitat. We did not have that kind of time at this party but if I was introducing this to a class or a camp I would definitely extend it!
I wish we had gotten a picture of ALL 17 of the kitties! Each one was crazy cool.
It is the artists of the world, the feelers and the thinkers who will ultimately save us; who can articulate, educate, defy, insist, sing, and shout big dreams.
A couple of years ago the girls and I made a giant stuffed paper pop art apple and ever since then we have toyed with the idea of making another piece of pop art fruit. If you like the look of this project but don’t have the time or space to devote to a big stuffed piece of fruit consider making a smaller version or check out our 2-D Pop Art Sunset project.
Large scale, multi-process, collaborative projects are not a part of our everyday but when we get the chance to do one we go all in. This round of pop art fruit-making included a color-wall scavenger hunt, photo shoot, and video trailer thanks to my talented 13 year old! Whoever said the teenage years were hard failed to mention that they are also wonderful and rewarding. Ri gets full co-creator credit for this post from design concept to final video edit (press > below)
bubble wrap (assorted sizes and shapes)
scissors for trimming shapes
acrylic or tempera paint
hot glue gun
wide tip black marker
recycled paper, newspaper, shredded paper, for stuffing
pencil with eraser for sketching and dotting
Roll out a big piece of white craft paper. This will become your collaborative canvas. We wanted to go big with our melon so our paper was about 6 feet long!
We used bubble wrap, pencil erasers, foam brushes, bingo daubers, markers, foam stamps, watermelon stamps. If it has a cool shape - go for it!
Print, Stamp, Paint, Draw!! Go crazy with dots and stripes and squiggly goodness. If you want to print on colored paper grab some colored card stock.
Roll out another big section of white craft paper. Fold the white craft paper in half (long way) so that when you cut out your melon shape you will get two (one for the front of your melon and one for the back). Sketch out your melon shape in pencil. Trace over your outline in black marker.
Your thick black marker lines will show through the printed paper allowing you to sketch and trim the designs to fit inside the melon sections:
We collaged in sections, starting with the rind. If you want to go with a patchwork layout like ours you can use a ruler to divide the main section of your watermelon.
When your design is complete you will cut out the watermelon shape and begin to glue the two halves together like a pillow. Think of the melon as a taco. Glue the bottom curve and leave the top open for stuffing. You could absolutely use school glue for this but we used a glue gun because we did not want to wait for it to dry.
We stuffed our watermelon with paper scraps and shredded paper. You can also use newspaper or poly fill. It’s basically a paper pillow. When your melon is fully stuffed, seal it with another line of glue at the top.
You don't have to take your watermelon out on the town for a colorful photo shoot but it’s a heck of a good time. Be prepared to receive A LOT of smiles and waves.
We can’t wait to see your watermelons! @artcampla #artcampla
I love the silent hour of night,
For blissful dreams may then arise,
Revealing to my charmed sight
What may not bless my waking eyes
- Anne Brontë
Hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since we shared our hand painted fish softies with you! Also hard to believe that it’s been 10 weeks since I have written a blog post. We have Trixi (aka the world’s nicest kid-friendly sewing guru) to thank for pulling me out of blogger semi-retirement.
If you are a “regular” here you already know about Sew-a-Softie. If you are new, definitely click that last link. Trixi has been spearheading this global sew-athon since 2016. We joined the party in winter of 2017 with the debut of our Fa-la-la-la Llama (also known as Llama Del Rey depending on who you ask). If you are interested in sewing with kids Trixi’s site Coloured Buttons should be your first stop. Ms. T shares tons of tips and tricks and has a wide array of free softie tutorials to meet the needs of every skill level. If you want to see this year’s line up of softies head over to the Gram. Each day a different crafty account is sharing a new softie tutorial.
Without further ado, I introduce you to our “DROP-CLOTH MOTH” softie. Yes, I love a good rhyme and YES, I love an abstract paint job and YES, splatter paint is still H’s favorite mode of art-ing.
How do you feel about moths? If you are like my girls..and my dog you are not into the “real life” version. If you are like me, you might think they are maybe just a little bit cooler than butterflies? They are nocturnal (cool) they are amazing pollinators (good peeps) there are 11,000 moth species in the united states alone. They outnumber butterflies by more than 10 to 1! Moths range in size from the tip of a pencil (micro) to the size of a bird (I am looking at you Atlas Moth). When I say moth you are probably thinking drab…hold please:
So now that we have been properly introduced and dare I say a wee bit inspired? Let’s talk process. If I was doing this project with a big group I would absolutely use a white sheet or canvas drop cloth and let the littles go BIG and wild collaborative painting style. For the sake of softie and fuzzy moth we used white felt and we kept our dribbles and drops contained. If you are working with a smaller group (like the 3 of us) or if you have never painted on felt..I say give it a go. Fuzzy is fun!
moth template(s) * see opt-in below
diluted acrylic paint
full bodied floppy paint brush
sparkly opalescent pipe cleaner
fluffy yarn (we used white and mint)
print and cut out your moth templates 2. Trace your template onto your fabric (each moth shape needs to be traced twice to create a front and a back for your softie). The wings on our templates are not symmetrical so you want to make sure you flip your shape over when you trace “the back” to create a mirror image. This will ensure you paint the right side and that your front and back line up. 3. Time for some splatter and spot “drop-cloth-style” painting!
A word to the wise: painted felt takes a LONG TIME to dry. If you want a fabric that dries quickly choose canvas or duck. If you are like us and you want your moths to be fuzzy and soft plan to paint in the morning and sew in the afternoon.
Once your moths have dried it is time to cut!
Line up your front and back and start to stitch. Ri started with a running stitch and then opted to switch to a whip stitch (much faster). I forgot to get a stuffing shot but basically we stuffed in sections. The back of a paint brush, chop stick, or knitting needle works really well to push the fluff into hard to reach spots.
H was not willing to sew for this round of sew a softie (something about extreme exhaustion and summer break being a time to “hang out and chill”) but she was willing to yarn wrap. So I decided to create a separate stuffed thorax and abdomen for her to wrap.
We used a tack stitch to create an un-stuffed nook for our yarn body placement:
H is a big fan of ALL that glitters and shines so we added an opalescent pipe cleaner as antenna to our closed wing moth.
Ri wanted to skip the pipe cleaner antenna on our open wing moth so the yarn wrapped thorax+abdomen was placed just below the felt head on this one. Two different looks..we can’t decide if we have a favorite.
extreme close up because that paint job…
Nothing should stand in the way of strong girls with bold dreams
This project was created and inspired by the amazing work of Brooklyn-based artist, Erin Robinson. I reached out to Erin to ask if I could create an up-cycled doll inspired by her work to feature in my International Women’s Day SHEro/artist tribute series. Erin graciously said, “yes!”. Then the flu hit our house (not once, not twice but three times), the delayed projects and obligations started to pile up, and I have been in a state of catch-up ever since. I am so excited that TODAY IS THE DAY that I finally get to share our up-cycled dolly with you AND most importantly, the artist who inspired her. YAY!
I was first introduced to Erin’s artwork when Obama was getting ready to leave the white house. Erin created a series of illustrations for a Washington Post article (Obama’s Legacy -A special commemorative section on the 44th president of the United States). One of the illustrations was a family portrait in silhouette depicting The Obamas standing hand in hand walking forward and away from a faded out White House. The portrait captured the end of an era in such a profound and moving way that it quickly began popping up all over social media paired with heavy hearted and personal good bye posts. The image is iconic and beautiful, the lack of artist credit..was not as pretty. I did a quick google search, found the artist behind the work and then began tagging Erin (@brooklyndolly) on every post I could find. This portrait was my introduction to Erin’s work and it was definitely love at first sight.
How dreamy are her illustrations? The color, the texture, the overlays. Erin is a Fashion Designer by trade but received a foundation in fine art from Parsons School of Design and the Corcoran School of Art. Her work is inspired by “travel, color, texture, the feminine shape and the many shades and coifs of Brooklyn. She works in a variety of mediums; watercolor, ink, markers, charcoal, stencil, collage as well as digital artistry.”
I wanted to create a tribute project that was up-cycled and sculptural, with a generous nod to Erin’s roots in fashion and design. I also wanted the DIY to be open ended enough that little artists could really make them their own. I hope that I have inspired you to go do a deep dive into Erin’s work. Follow her on IG here. Peruse her Etsy shop here. Find her website here (full site coming soon).
plastic Bottle. We drink a lot of almond milk in our house so that is what we used.
acrylic craft paint
cardboard or tag board for face
lace ribbon and fabric for details
low temp hot glue gun
bright pom poms
Find a bottle with good curves. If your bottle has a wrapper or label you want to to remove that before you start to wrap the surface with string.
Paint a liberal coat of mod podge on your clean recycled bottle and begin to wrap your string. Add the mod podge in 3” sections as you wind your way down the bottle.
Keep going until your whole bottle is wrapped
You can use colored string from the get go or you can use a light color and paint designs on your string like we did. We created a striped bib inspired by some design details we found in Erin’s work but you might want to create a print or design of your own.
To create the stacked bun we rolled tin foil in 3 balls (S, M and L) and wrapped each tin-ball with yarn. This cuts down on the amount of yarn you need to use to achieve a full bun shape.
We stacked and attached each section of the bun with hot glue. Including the first bun that is glued directly to the lip of the bottle.
We traced and cut a circle shape out of kraft colored tag board. Sketched our hair and facial features and then started adding color to the face with white, pink, and black paint pen. We rubbed a little oil pastel on the face and cheek to create texture and visual interest. Erin’s work is beautifully layered and textured. The last step was gluing on a few pieces of yarn on top of the hair part that framed our doll’s face.
We drew inspiration from Erin’s Manushka Dolls and decided to add pom poms to our doll’s buns and a layer of lace applique to the top and bottom of our dolls “dress”.
The man who never alters his opinion is like standing water and breeds reptiles of the mind.
- William Blake
My love affair with up-cycled art projects continues with these little lizards. Sometimes when I go to execute an idea it feels close but not quite right. Other times it feels like a flop. Every once in awhile I have an idea and the end result is better than I imagined. I thought these little lizards would be fun to make. I did not expect them to be so life-like or that they would inspire so much imaginative play for my girls…that was a delightful surprise. The art teacher in me is imagining using these lizards in a lot of different projects. Here are some ideas I have been thinking about:
Build a small world habitat and home for the 3-d lizards
Decorate them with aboriginal dotty designs and mount them to a piece of tree bark
Add fantastical details (spikes, collars, scales) and turn them into alibrijes style creatures
Mount them to a grassy Warhol inspired background and create and turn them into POP ART lizards!
Add the lizards to a wild mixed media jungle painting for a 3-D pop
Are you ready to make some of your own? The process is simple, the supply list short, the possibilities = endless!
empty cereal box, thick card stock or tag board
acrylic (what we used) or liquid tempera or tempera sticks
good scissors to cut your cereal box or thick paper
paint pens or fine point brush for details
Print out your ART CAMP lizard template. If you are using card stock and not a cereal box you can print directly on your card stock and simply cut out the lizard shape. If you are using a cereal box (like we did) you will have to print, cut, and trace the lizard shape onto the inside of your cereal box. If you have a good pair of scissors the cereal box should be pretty easy to cut.
We painted our lizards with acrylic craft paint but you could certainly use tempera paint or even tempera paint sticks. Once your paint has dried you are going to bend your flat cut-out lizard into a more realistic standing body. See how the red and peach lizards are bent at the “joints”? Also kind of round out your lizard head and body. Use your thumbs to create a spoon like bend of the head. Press the under belly of your lizard and pull down the sides so he is a little more “puffed up”.
See how the black lizards head has a pretty nice shape? That just takes a little finger tip manipulation. We weren’t sure if we wanted to add designs on top of our paint or not so we waited until they were fully formed before adding spots and stripes. The dots were created with paint pens. Please note: If you know you want to add details it is probably a bit easier to decorate a flat lizard.
The scaly, dusty, stripes on this guy were created with chalk crayons
You might want to look at some lizard photographs to get ideas for designs. We took a peek at some spotted lizard examples and tried to emulate the varying types of spots and streaks.
Don’t forget to give your lizard a branch to sun bathe on!
The earth laughs in flowers.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
This Pressed Flower rabbit Ear Project was inspired by my friend Gina Vide of Willow Day. Gina has a new picture book out called ABC Flower Safari that features her gorgeous botanical-animal illustrations. Each letter of the alphabet introduces us to a different animal and flower. In flower Safari land, R is for Rununculus Rabbit. So today, 🐰 RR was our muse.
If you aren’t following Gina on Instagram I highly recommend giving her a follow. She shares wonderful snapshots of her day to day “between the city and the sea” in Sweden. ABC Flower Safari is available for purchase through her Etsy shop.
On the hunt for more spring time/Easter art projects? Check out our Hop Into Spring Bundle, our Hunt Slonem inspired framed Bunny portraits and stacked bunny sculpture, our egg carton bunny ears, and our flowers in clay project!
The first thing you will need for this project is pressed flowers! The simplest, “use what you already have”, tried and true, method for pressing flowers is with a book!
Gather your flowers and leaves; forage in your own back yard or take a trip to your local florist or the flower section at the grocery store.
Place your flowers face down on a piece of parchment paper. Slide the parchment sheet with flowers into a book with a lot of pages (the heavier the better).
Close the book, weigh it down by adding something on top (we usually use book ends or paper weights), and leave the flowers undisturbed for seven to 10 days. When you go to check on your flowers you just want to make sure all the moisture is gone. Your flowers should feel papery.
Or you could use a flower press. The concept is the same as the book - stripping moisture from the flowers by “pressing”. We have used the press pictured below with great results!
I have not used the 3rd “microwave method” but I know lots of friends who have, and they swear by it. Here is a video that shows you how to use a microwave to press your flowers. You can also try this microwave flower press that is sold on Amazon (shown below and linked in our materials list).
Trace and cut two rabbit ear shapes and one strip for a headband out of poster board. We decided to paint our ears a golden-peachy color. If you want to do this just flip your poster board over so that you are painting on the matte side not the shiny side.
Once the watercolor was dry we started adding our pressed flowers to the ears with mod podge and a brush. We decoupaged some digital flower images on to our ears in addition to the real pressed flowers to give them a bit of variety and vibrancy.
When the flowers + Mod Podge are sealed and completely dry. Attach your ears to your band with a dab of hot glue at the base of each bunny ear. Now it’s time to punch a hole on each side of your band (we used a small 1/8 punch for this step). Then slip your elastic or twine through the holes and knot them to keep them in place.
These bunny ears pair oh so perfectly with Gina’s beautiful book!
It’s not like I decide I will now paint a rabbit with a smile or a scowl, or ears pointed this way or that, they just flow. It’s like a snowstorm, where each snowflake is different; this is a blizzard of bunny-flakes.
- Hunt Slonem
I first discovered Hunt Slonem a few years ago while taking a long walk through the interwebs. I fell head over heels in love with his colorful, neo-expressionist-style bunny paintings and his bold, mod, stacked bunny sculptures. I have been dreaming of creating a Slonem tribute project for a long time. I am thrilled that this long-standing day dream has finally come to fruition. Just in time for Spring, Easter and HOP FEST! When I was developing this project I could not decide if I should go or bunny portraits or bunny sculpture..so I decided to do both. You can read all about Hunt and check out his stunning work here. Hunt also has a super fun Instagram account.
bunny portrait printable (scroll down to sign-up for our newsletter + receive your free bunny printable)
gold paint. we used this one. It is beautiful but definitely not kid friendly. I reccomend this one or this one for use with kids age 3+ (acrylic paint stains and you must supervise young kids so that they do not get it in eyes, nose or mouth)
repurposed microwave mac and cheese containers
**This post contains affiliate links. This means we earn a tiny % of your purchase at no additional cost to you. We only link to materials that we use and love. Thank you for your support!
Hunt’s loose, expressionist, portrait style lends itself beautifully to a variety of art mediums to explore. You could try sumi-e painting (japanese brush painting). You could use oil pastels, or charcoal or chalk pastel.
We used ink daubers and paint pens for our bunnies. I will show you a little behind the scenes of our process but these portraits could be achieved with a variety of art materials.
One of the tables in our home studio is partially covered in a big 7 foot piece of glass. This glass surface sees a ton of art action. It is so nice to have a non-porous surface to work on. It doubles as a paint palette and a printing station. It is also where we use the hot glue gun. When we are done we spray a little cleaning solution and wipe it down with a rag and it’s ready for the next art experience!
Here is a bunny drawn with a dauber filled with india ink on the glass surface. Next we will lift the print with a piece of paper. Could we just ink the bunny portrait directly on the paper? Yes! But the girls had so much fun pulling these prints.
This is another bunny created directly on the glass surface with diluted periwinkle acrylic in a paint dauber. You can also ink your surface with a q-tip or even a paint brush! If you don’t have a 6 foot piece of glass laying around you could use a mirror, or a glass baking dish, an enamel tray, or even tinfoil.
We wanted our bunnies to fit nicely inside our up-cycled mac and cheese cartons (soon to be gilded frames). So we coated the back rim of the container and created a print. This allowed us to see (roughly) how big our artwork needed to be to fit snugly inside.
Here is an example of a bunny drawn with paint pen. Our “bunny portrait printable” is on the right. The outlined and drawn bunny is on the left. The trace was done by my 7th grader with a black Posca pen on hot pink card stock.
Liquid gold leaf is A M A Z I N G. I have never seen a more vibrant gold at this price point but it is not kid friendly at all. The fumes were a bit much (like kick the girls out of the room stinky) and it was hard to get off my brush and hands. This is an adults only material, to be used in a well-ventilated space, with a mask…and honestly the back label had a pretty serious health warning so I think I would only pull this little bottle out for very special occasions.
I think the black and white prints are my favorite. They just jump off the frame next to that gold!
So in love with this monoprint that H made!
Repetition is like saying rosary or a prayer. I used to stay in an ashram in India and we used to take walks and look at nature and recite mantras. If you think about a tree, it is made up of millions of leaves that are all very slightly different, just like flowers or grass. So I put two and two together in my head and realized that repetition is a divine message.
- Hunt Slonem
This project is inspired by the amazing stacked bunny sculptures of artist, Hunt Slonem. I first discovered Hunt’s work a few years ago while scrolling the interwebs. I fell head over heels in love with his colorful, neo-expressionist-style bunny paintings and his bold, mod, stacked bunny sculptures. I have been dreaming of creating a Slonem tribute project for a long time. I am thrilled that this long-standing day dream has finally come to fruition. Just in time for Spring, Easter, and HOP FEST! When I was developing this project I could not decide if I should go bunny sculpture or bunny portraits..so I decided to do both. You can read all about Hunt and check out his stunning work here. Hunt also has a super fun Instagram account.
kraft colored tag board
our modern bunny template
acrylic or Tempera Paint. We used diluted acrylic in ink daubers
daubers (optional but my kids love using them)
hot glue gun
**This post contains affiliate links. This means we earn a tiny % of your purchase at no additional cost to you. We only link to materials that we use and love. Thank you for your support!
Print out our bunny template or create your own. Cut out the bunny shape and trace it onto your tag board. Don’t have tag board? You can use cardboard or card stock. You just want the surface to be thick enough to handle the paint and stiff enough to stack. Once all of your shapes are traced it’s time to cut them out. You need at least 4 bunnies per sculpture.
You don’t have to use daubers to paint your bunnies. We used them because we had them out in the studio and my girls LOVE using them. A paint brush will work just as well to color your bunnies.
When your painted bunnies have dried you will start to build your sculpture. The base is created by drilling a small hole into the top of the wooden block and inserting the dowel into the hole. You want to make sure that the hole you drill matches the circumference of your dowel. When the dowel is standing upright you can start to stack and attach your bunnies with a hot glue gun. If you are working with little ones you could skip the hot glue and substitute with glue dots, double sided sticky tape or a stick of craft bond.
Nothing is worth more than laughter. It is strength to laugh and to abandon oneself, to be light.
Next Friday (3/8) is International Women’s Day. In honor of this glorious occasion I am going to be sharing some projects that are inspired by some kick-ass creative woman. This year I would like to celebrate a few legends we all know and a few of my own personal SHEroes. When I was playing with concepts for a Frida project I kept thinking of my friend Shannon and her paper plate dancers.
Shannon is that rare breed of human that beams sunshine—like a cool, well-read, insightful, fuchsia loving’, pattern wearing, heart on her sleeve, real talk, funny as ____ sun beam. She is a passionate educator, a literacy warrior, a wickedly-talented writer and maker, as well as a mom to three littles under the age of 5. In addition to being an all-around gem, she can whip up a themed birthday cake like nobody’s business, she's the queen of painted tissue paper collage, and beautiful, accessible, crafts. If you are not following her, RUN to catch up. Your eyes will radiate hearts, your brain will be nourished with teacher tips and book recommendations, your mama cup will be filled with camaraderie, and you will get your daily dose of vitamin D. On a personal aside, this warrior friend has slid into my DM over the past 6 months and created a never ending virtual ‘mixed tape’ for my grieving heart. I share this because it really speaks to the core of who she is. Oh! Saving the best for last: If you are in Sydney, you are a golden ticket holder because Shannon is taking her love of little people, storybooks, and creativity offline at in-person workshops! You can find out more about her READ + CREATE pop-ups and register for classes on her site.
Frida Kahlo was born July 6th, just south of Mexico City, in Coyoacán, Mexico. She grew up in big blue house called La Casa Azul with her parents and 6 sisters. Frida was born three years before the beginning of the Mexican revolution. In her writing, Frida described being ushered into the house by her mother as gunfire rang through the streets of her hometown. As a young girl Frida preferred spending time drawing by herself versus playing with her sisters. At age 6, Frida contracted polio, which damaged her right leg making it smaller than the left. Frida hid this deformity under long skirts. When she was 18 she was in a terrible bus accident that broke her spinal cord, collarbone, ribs, pelvic bone, leg, foot, and shoulder. The injuries from this accident were so severe and pervasive that they impacted her for the rest of her life and left her unable to bear children. Suffering, isolation, longing, and loss are re-occuring themes in her portraits but they are accompanied by an unshakable strength. When you look at the intimacy and detail in these portraits you don’t feel pity you are left in awe of the survivor. Frida created her own style of painting blending the mystical qualities of surrealism with the rooted strength of Mexican folk art. Despite being a prolific and talented artist, Frida spent most of her life known as “Diego Rivera’s wife”. It wasn’t really until the late 70s that Frida’s work was recognized by art historians and political activists. In the 90s Frida reached Icon status as an artist, feminist, and indigenous rights activist.
You can find the full tutorial for Shannon’s paper plate dancers including a video here. We followed her step by step but made it our own Frida doll with a couple swaps and some added details that I have shown you in the pictures below:
Layer on some detailed pattern work with a paint pen, chalk pen or gel pen!
Add some pretty eyelets to one of your skirt layers with a hole punch!
How about some fringe?!
We included some of the paper plate scalloping because it added a fancy trim
Paint or color your Frida Doll Printable and then cut it out and glue it onto the front of your pipe cleaner.
Click the video below (sound on) to watch Frida dance!
Fear less, hope more; eat less, chew more; whine less, breathe more; talk less, say more; hate less, love more; and all good things are yours.
- Swedish Proverb
We are delighted to be joining the lovely Gina of willowday + 24 spectacular creatives for the 5th annual Swedish Christmas Countdown Calendar. You might remember the pinecone angel ornament we made last year for the ‘Kids MAKE’ portion of the countdown. If you are on Instagram pop over to Gina’s account and give her a follow so that you don’t miss any of the shares! If you aren’t on Instagram you can catch up on all of the posts here. While you are on Gina’s site, definitely take a peek at her new children’s book, ABC Flower Safari! It is a GORGEOUS romp through the alphabet via the most exquisite animal-botanical illustrations.
When I was brainstorming ideas for my calendar contribution my mind kept wandering back to nature and our foraged wreaths of holidays past. I really wanted to make another one…but I also wanted to turn it up a notch. What if we could keep the same minimal, undone, organic feel BUT hang it from the ceiling like a chandelier?!
3 wooden embroidery hoops in varying size
2 different types of pine tree branches
dead tree branch
white coffee beans
hot glue gun
thin copper wire
I gathered some dead skinny branches from our yard and some foraged pinecones from our collection, and then I made my way to the floral section of our local market in search of some holiday green. I wound up with two different types of pine branches, some eucalyptus and some white coffee beans. I really love how all of the textures and tones work together in this spread:
We used 3 embroidery hoops as the base for our wreath tiers. In the past we have used floral wire to assemble our foraged wreaths. This time I wanted to forgo the pliers and gardening gloves and just head for the glue gun. It was an experiment but it really worked well with the wood hoops.
The reason this style of wreath is so fun to create is that it is free-form. You are not looking for perfection or uniformity. The more a-symetrical and imperfect the better (in my opinion). It really is an intuitive dance between your eyes and your fingertips. When something feels right..add a dab of glue and secure it to the hoop!
we worked on all 3 hoops at the same time. I would add a little to each one, give them a spin, step back and move on to the next hoop. Ri helped me build (and shoot). I gotta say, it is really nice having another set of eyes and hands when building these!
When you feel like your 3 wreath hoops are done it is time to assemble. We used a very fine gauge copper wire. We cut two long strips of copper wire, criss crossed them and created a hanging loop for the top of our “chandelier”
The two pieces of wire become 4 strands after you loop:
We measured out a 4” space between tiers. We marked it by adding a line of black permanent marker to our wire so we would know exactly where to attach our hoops.
1 tier - 2 tier - 3! Once we were done attaching our hoops we trimmed the access wire from the bottom of our smallest hoop.
It is so pretty and whimsical! Imagine it hanging above the holiday table, or a little bar cart, or a tall entryway in lieu of mistletoe.
We made you a little video clip, because you have to see her spin!
We are so honored to be a part of this year’s Christmas Countdown Collective. All of these creatives are must follows:
There is nothing in the world more beautiful than the forest clothed to its very hollows in snow. It is the still ecstasy of nature, wherein every spray, every blade of grass, every spire of reed, every intricacy of twig, is clad with radiance.
When Cara popped into my DM a few weeks ago to ask me if I was up for joining CRAFTMAS this year I was equal parts really grateful that she reached out to ask and really scared to say yes. It has been 3 months since we lost Paul and the heartbreak and grief has not gotten easier. Grieving and healing are not linear experiences. One minute I find myself standing an inch outside of the devastation and I can breathe again, maybe write a grocery list, return a few emails, make a phone call. The next minute I am down for the count. I call these minutes “the smackdown”. When Cara reached out I was standing just one little micro-inch outside of the grief and there was a little voice that snuck in through the crack and whispered, you should say yes. Even if you have to pretend, this could be good for you. So I listened to that voice because I have not heard anything that kind or gentle inside of my head or heart in months. Can you guys guess where this is going? Cut to: all the days after that minute. Me in the studio, staring off into space. Feeling not a shred of inspiration. Then picture me attempting to maybe cut some paper or move some paint around, or pet some felt.. waiting for the spark.. only to find that there is no spark. Then picture me feeling really angry that the thing that has always been my salvation..drawing, painting, making, creating feels so far away. A few days after Paul died I could not remember how to tie a hanging loop. I was at my mother’s dining table in tears because this thing that I had done a million times before was suddenly complex code. Grief Brain. That is what I call it. A fog, a numb, a barrier.. probably some amazing biologic function that is designed to keep the grieving steady and upright that happens to also make it impossible to read a book, remember a pin number, stick with a decision, or even think about starting a holiday art project. So I sat in the discomfort for days and then I shared my dilemma with Riley who is the world's oldest, wisest, kindest, brainiest 7th grader, and she said, we can do this, I will help you. The idea for this project was born from love. Love in the form of two helping hands and love for my December birthday girl and her love of washy watercolor and magic, and miniatures, and snow and foxes and reindeer (check out her watercolor galaxy reindeer) and our mutual love of scarves (we have A LOT of scarves). I will confess that there were flickering moments of lightness that occurred in the making of these magical little shadowboxes. They gave me hope.
Have you read this far only to think: what the heck is CRAFTMAS? Craftmas is the brainchild of my friend Laura from Little Button Diaries. It’s a bunch of creative ladies from all over the globe who band together in the first two weeks of December to share some fun holiday makes. You might remember Laura’s guest post from last year. Or our NO-SEW garland? Well it’s back this year and bigger and better than ever. You should definitely go follow the #CRAFTMAS hashtag so that you don’t miss anything.
Now for our Craftmas project! This is one of those projects that looks a lot more fancy and complex than it actually is. It can also be modified many different ways to meet the age and interest of the maker. You can draw your own animal silhouettes. You can collage magazine pictures of animals. You can cut out photographs of your favorite little people and place them in the snowy scene to create a little keepsake. You can skip the animals all together and draw an igloo or a snowy village. You get the idea…follow our recipe or swap out some ingredients and make it your own!
woodland animal template (scroll down to subscribe)
white card stock
watercolor paint brush + water
watercolor or mixed media paper
hot glue gun
school glue or glue stick
** this post contains affiliate links. We receive a small % of any purchase you make using our links at no additional cost to you. We only link to products we use and love. Thank you for your support!
Gather your supplies and print and cut out your animal templates
We used a wet on wet watercolor technique to achieve an inky winter sky. To do this, start by wetting your paper with water and then add your watercolor onto the wet surface of your paper. The color will start to bleed and spread. Add different colors and watch them swirl together. We used grey, blue and black.
When most of your surface is covered in water and paint you can start to pick up your paper and let the paint drip. Keep turning your paper until you are satisfied with your blend. If it is too light add more pigment.
When you are satisfied with your night sky paintings set them to the side to dry. Ours took about 20 minutes to dry fully. You can speed up the process by using a hair dryer.
Once your paper is dry you will trace a circle to fit inside of your box lid. It took us a couple tries to get the dimensions right and each of our box lids was slightly different in size. Use your white gel pen to create stars in the sky. Make dots of various size and don’t forget to include a few shooting stars!
Now it is time to cut some “snow” out of your white foam sheet. Press the bottom of your box into the foam to create a nice indentation. You can use this to imprint as a guide. One circle of foam will yield the snow bank for two shadowboxes. Glue your sky in your box lid and then glue your snow bank on top. Next glue and place your animal paying close attention to placement. They should look like they are walking on top of the snow not floating across the midnight sky.
Cut a 3” strip of velvet and create a scarf. We used two pieces to achieve “the look”. Take another 3” strip of the same color to create a hanging loop. Glue the loop to the back of your box with hot glue.
We cut the velvet ribbon in half (lengthwise) to achieve a skinnier scarf for our wolf, hare and deer. We used the ribbon as/is for the moose and polar bear.
I think these shadowbox scenes look beautiful hung on a wall like this or they could even become ornaments to hang on your tree!
Every day our children spread their dreams
beneath our feet. We should tread softly.
- Sir Ken Robinson
A couple months ago the wonderful Trixi (commonly referred to as 'magical kids sewing guru' around these parts) of Coloured Buttons reached out to see if Ri and I would like to join her July 'Sew a Softie' brigade and the answer was, "yes, please... and make that a + 2 because H would like to join, too!" It had been many months... 7 months to be exact, since Ri and I had picked up a needle and thread to create our Fa La La LLama for Trixi's December Sew a Softie. H, on the other hand, has gone from having zero interest in sewing to regularly asking to "sew some stuff". If you follow us on the gram, you might remember this collaborative piece we worked on during the Flu Season From Hell, 2018 or the folk art sewing plate that she inspired me to create. She has been way into it and finding every excuse to join me on my art store runs so she can peruse the fabric section. Each art store run = a new fabric swatch for HER MERMAID. The mermaid stash has grown into a very fat stack of textile goodness, so imagine my surprise when I pulled out "the stack" and she said, "I'm not in the mood to sew today... I want to paint." We tried, Ri and I, to convince her, but I knew better. Creativity is a spark from within, not something that needs to be yanked and molded from the outside. The lady knew what she wanted and who was I to let my agenda stand in her way? Was I a little disappointed that the sewing day we had all been looking forward to was going to look a little different? I was... but I got over it and then we got into the making. I never played softball growing up, but catching curveballs in the art room? I am a pro. So I pulled out a box of paint daubers and some beautiful cotton duck that I was saving for another project and I let H start painting. I redirected my sewing attention to the project Ri and I were going to work on, only to discover that my heart was not in it. Now I wanted to paint and when I asked Ri, SHE wanted to paint. What about hand-painted fish? Ri's eyes got wide... "YES!" So the initial plan was shelved for another day, we seized the opportunity before us, and now I get to share this experience with you. Sometimes abandoning the plan feels a little uncomfortable but this experience reminded me of the magic that happens when we stay open to the creative process, wherever it might take us. Yesterday there was a flow that was far better than the plan. It was easy and fun and this little school of fish makes me SO happy because it is filled with spontaneity and connection. It will serve as a reminder to tread softly (as Sir Ken says), step back often, and let them lead.
** this post contains affiliate links. This means if you purchase using our links we get a tiny % of the sale at no additional cost to you. We only link to products that we use and love. Thanks for your support!
1. Print and cut the fish template (see form below). 2. Trace the fish shape onto your fabric.
3. Cut out your fish shapes (2 per softie).
4. Test your paint colors and patterns on your fabric scraps. We used paint daubers filled with diluted acrylic paint for this project.
5. When you have chosen your colors, add your design to your fish shape(s) and set them to the side to dry.
6. Start to sew the two fish shapes together with a basic running stitch. When you have completed one side you can start to stuff it with the polyfill. We used a chopstick to get it into the hard to reach spaces before we stitched up all the remaining edges. Add a small button or bead to your fish face for eyes.
space is the breath of art.
- Frank Lloyd Wright
This is one of those projects that has been curing in my mind for months and it finally saw the light of day during week 1 of summer break. I think it was waiting for the days to get longer, the stone fruit to arrive, and the last day of school to come and go. They just feel summery, don't they? What do you see in these sculptures? I see plant pods, bubblegum, river rocks, ancient ruins, lips, jungle fruit, jewelry beads, and a donut (ha!). The process is open-ended and the supply list is short. I think you are going to love this one!
oven for baking clay
push drill or electric drill
**This post contains affiliate links. This means we earn a tiny % of your purchase at no additional cost to you. We only link to materials that we use and love. Thank you for your support!
I divided a block of polymer clay in half, set out a random assortment of tools and objects with good texture, and just let the girls go to town. While they were creating their clay pieces I drilled holes into the wooden blocks. Make sure your drill bit matches the same diameter as the dowel.
As you finish your shapes, push a skinny dowel through the center to create a hole.
Next you will bake them in the oven. Follow the baking instructions on your clay package. Keep in mind that smaller/thinner pieces will bake faster than the biggies so you will want to remove the littles before the bigs.
When the clay pieces have baked and cooled it is time for paint!
When the painted pieces have dried you will start to stack them kabob-style. When you have a nice stack you will insert the end of your dowel into the wooden block base.
There's nothing wrong with enjoying looking at the surface of the ocean itself, except when you finally see what goes on underwater, you realize that you've been missing the whole point of the ocean. Staying on the surface the whole time is like going to the circus and staring at the outside of the tent.
- Dave Berry
You guys know that I live with a mermaid, right? It was a somewhat recent discovery for us but looking back we should have known. The frequent beach visits, the trails of sand, the sandcastle drawings, the strange dolphin noises, the extra long baths. I should have put two and two together long ago but she finally confessed as we were planning her 5th birthday party... "Mom, you know I am a real mermaid, right?" There was a long pause followed by a shoulder shrug and an, "ummm... yeah. I mean, it makes sense because I am 20% mermaid and your dad has Nordic Viking blood and the Vikings spent a lot of time on ships out at at sea, so I am sure they met and fell in love with mermaids... so you probably got a BUNCH of recessive mermaid genes." I thought that would be that but then she matched my story with a story of her own. "Mom, these legs aren't real. I am going to have to go back to the sea, I just HAVE to find the magic potion. Don't be sad but my feet will be fins and I will have a bedroom underwater." It was in this exchange that the mermaid switch flipped all the way on. Unauthorized mermaid potion making is basically a daily occurrence at our house and if you look up the search history on my computer "magical mermaid amulet" is a favorite. Followed by "mermaid shampoo" (weird, I know) and "what do mermaids eat?"
So when we spent Spring Break on the Sonoma coast, I was on vigilant mermaid watch. I am only half kidding when I say that I was a little nervous every time we were taking in the view on a seaside cliff that her feet might sprout into fins and I would have to muster a brave land lubber mama goodbye to my little Mer. Luckily for us, we found a lot of treasure but no magic potion.
One of the most amazing days of our trip was a trek to the tide pools at Salt Point State Beach and the Gerstle Cove Marine Reserve. We were completely blown away by all the colors and textures and the intricate habitats we found nestled into each nook and cranny of cove. We spent a couple of hours climbing the sandstone rocks. Each time we thought we had spotted the most beautiful anemone or mollusk shell, or what had to be the biggest star fish, we would go a little bit further north and our minds would be blown yet again. This experience sparked a lot of curiosity in my little mermaid and the colors, textures and shapes 100% inspired the idea for this under the sea invitation. If you have found your way here on an under the sea art project hunt, check out our mermaid dolls, recycled jellyfish, paper tube koi, and school of fish sculpture.
hot glue gun
Other ideas for materials:
You want to set out a nice spread of recycled and sparkly materials, "art buffet" style. My little Mer was over the moon when she saw that the "glue" had flecks of gold in it. She painted on a coat of Mod Podge and then started to create her sea floor with tissue paper dots, shells, and rocks.
While the Mod Podge sets you will move on to phase 2, which is constructing the anemones, coral, and sea plants. Coffee filters get smushed and folded into sea plants, half of a paper tube becomes some sort of sea anemone, egg cartons become nubby barnacles, and pipe cleaners become exotic sea plants.
I spy: colored moss, curled paper plates, pom poms, and some painted fusilli pasta!
Love the addition of the tiny pastel beads... or are those pearls?
Love the height that the stacked egg carton sections give this piece!
We can't wait to see your Under The Sea Sculptures! Tag us in your pics on Instagram : )
To all the secret writers, late-night painters, would-be singers, lapsed and scared artists of every stripe, dig out your paintbrush, or your flute, or your dancing shoes. Pull out your camera or your computer or your pottery wheel. Today, tonight, after the kids are in bed or when your homework is done, or instead of one more video game or magazine, create something, anything. Pick up a needle and thread, and stitch together something particular and honest and beautiful, because we need it. I need it. Thank you, and keep going.
When I read this quote for the first time, I think I actually said, "YES! YES! YES!" out loud. Thank you, Shauna. Before I segue into the project, let's all take a deep breath and acknowledge the secret artist. What is the thing that you long to do? The thing you sneak in when no one is looking? That thing that feeds your soul... that when you stop doing it for too long you feel slightly off kilter. NOW, when is the last time you did it? The obvious answer to that question for me is: making. I need to make something every day. Even if some days it is cutting the crust off of a PB&J, I need to create something with my hands. My secret thing is writing and illustrating. This is the thing that I sneak in. The thing I dream about when no one is looking. The thing I tuck away sometimes for far too long. The thing I am more reluctant to put out into the world. Soul sister Shauna just said that when I deny that part of me I am denying you too. I don't want to deny you, friend. I forget this. But today I remembered. So today I write and maybe tonight when my girls go to sleep I'll draw. Not an entire illustrated series, but one of the little drawings that has been zigging and zagging in my head for weeks... okaaaay months. So you know how this works, right? I am going to do my secret thing and you are going to do yours. It is a pact. We have to now.
On the subject of secrets... sewing kind of scares me. When I was in my teens and early twenties I had dreams of being a fashion designer. I would sketch out designs into the wee hours of the morning. I was the Edwina Scissorhands of my friend group. You know the one. The friend who was ripping authentic holes into jeans and cutting the sleeves off of shirts and changing the necklines and the hemlines on dresses. At some point I decided I was ready to take my hobby to the next level so I convinced my mom to buy me a sewing machine and then I got my boyfriend's aunt to agree to give me sewing lessons in exchange for chocolate necco wafers and a two liter of Sprite. I know, It was a sweet deal. She was a fairly patient guide but a teacher she was not. Her "slow down and show me again" was ridiculously fast. I don't know if it was the threading the bobbin or a lack of pedal speed coordination, but it didn't insta-click. So my brain just decided (in the same manner that it had decided in 7th grade that it couldn't learn math) by lesson 3 that I would never really master the sewing machine so I better just back away. To be fair, my teacher also decided that she would prefer to finish the 5 side split maxi skirts for me... in like under 3 minutes. Hand stitching (again making with the hands), knotting, embroidery, weaving = I am all in, but get me near that sewing machine and there I am at that kitchen table feeling like a dunce. All of this to say that when I became a mom I was determined to not pass these silly fears onto my girls. R took sewing lessons last summer and caught on quickly and I suspect H will learn how to sew on a machine in the not so distant future, but for now she is happy stitching and practicing her over under weave. This invitation is a very fun intro to sewing for little ones and an easy breezy and fun creative project for the bigs... and it only requires a few materials! We hope you have fun with it! Oh, and if you are looking for a sage guru of sewing who happens to also come with a heart of gold, head to my friend Trixi's site. She has made it her mission to teach big people and little people how to sew. Remember the little llama that Ri and I made over the holidays? Well that was for her "Sew a Softie" campaign. Both my girls have signed up to be Sew-a-Softie Ambassadors this summer. I cannot wait to see their projects... they have already started brainstorming.
Paint your plates!
When your painted plates have dried, take your small hole punch and create holes. This makes the stitching a lot easier!
Time to stitch!
Once your stitched boarder is complete, it is time to add your design to the center. These would make great picture frames or you could add a monogrammed initial, an illustrated landscape, or a little embroidered heart in the center.
We were inspired to create a little paper cut flower scene on ours to complete the folk art look, but you can truly make this DIY your own and take it in all sorts of directions!
I bet most of you with school aged children have participated in some form of a school auction. It is a popular fundraising model. One component of the school art auction is THE CLASS ART PROJECT. Spring is the time of year that I start getting emails or DMs from readers, friends, and room parents reaching out in a wee bit o' panic. The subject line usually reads: "Help me!", "I have no ideas", or "Why? Just why?" I get it. Coming up with a collaborative art project for 25+ kids that someone will love enough to buy can be tricky for an art teacher, let alone a parent volunteer. It finally hit me as I was hashing out my 10th reply that I should probably go ahead and write a post. Let me start by saying that this post could easily be a 10 parter, and maybe someday it will be. But for now, I am keeping it at a tight 20, mainly because I think these 20 ideas will provide fertile soil for your ideas. Here are my criteria for school auction art:
1. Low cost materials
2. Process should be straight-forward, quick, + F U N!
3. Fresh and colorful aesthetic
4. Would I want to get out the checkbook and own this piece... not just because my kid's fingerprint is somewhere in there, but because it is just a great collaborative work of art?
1. Throw your hands in the air for functional art. This painted dot serving tray was created by H's first grade class and it got the top bid at the school auction this year!! You can find our full DIY here.
2. I love the idea of turning our Paint Chip Rainbow Bird into a class project. I am imagining each student creating an abstract painting or a mixed media process piece and then those paintings getting cut into feathers. Art facilitator creates the bird shape and the feathers are created by the kiddos and attached with a glue stick. Or you could skip the bird's body and just make angel or bird wings. I think a pair of colorful wings mounted shadow box style like this would be killer, don't you?
3. A group of abstract paintings created on small wooden blocks! The pieces could be auctioned individually or in a group. This Etsy shop is filled with beautiful works of art on wooden blocks.
4. Not up for running to the art store? I don't understand why, but hey, this is a judgment free zone... haha! What about a quick snap on your iPhone camera? Sweet and easy works for this girl. Find this class photo idea here.
5. I would totally bid on this pom pom wall hanging and you would be doing the world a great service by teaching 25 kids how to make pom poms.
6. In my next life I would like to come back as an Anthropologie window stylist. I think we can all agree that those guys are having some serious fun. When I am really stuck for ideas I just peruse Anthro window displays on the interwebs and they never cease to inspire. My oldest daughter's 5th grade class made a version of this one last year for the school art auction. We used mason jar lids instead of paint can lids because it was a little more budget friendly. If I were to do it all over again I would have kept the designs a little tighter. The kids kind of went off on a poo emoji and smiley face tangent (5th graders)... this is why I am sharing the original... haha!!
7. I am a big fan of wall hangings, especially ones that incorporate natural elements like driftwood. It would be so easy and fun to turn this DIY into a class art project! Kids love painting sticks!
8. I have a feeling string art would be a massive hit with the kids. This tutorial walks you through the steps. The piece below was created with 100 kids and sold for 10k!!
9. Here is another option for my friends who want to raise money without getting their hands painty! Turn student drawings into one sleek framed poster! There are a few services that do the conversion for you like this Australian company. Or if you are up for a DIY:
photograph the student work
resize the photos on your computer with the software of your choice (iPhoto, Canva, Lightroom, Photoshop..)
create a grid pattern layout
Get the photo collage printed poster size at your local print shop. If you are in the US FedEx/ Kinkos is really affordable.
Stick the poster in one of these white Ikea frames.
10. Making a large scale collaborative painting might be for the more adventurous volunteer art facilitator, but I promise the process and the finished piece will be worth the effort. Keep the colors fresh and modern and the paint strokes loose and you will have a stunning abstract that will fly at auction. Read more about Bar’s approach to collaborative painting with kids here.
11. I don’t have a DIY link to share for this one but the visuals are so inspiring. You could achieve a similar look with acrylic paint on a piece of clear acrylic. Or you could layer tissue paper strips with Mod Podge.
12. This wall hanging idea from Mum in the Mad House is easy on the wallet (hello, popsicle sticks!) but big on fun. I can imagine this one sitting pretty on a kid’s bedroom wall.
13. These folded paper relief sculptures are so mod and cool. I love when low cost materials deliver a big WOW!
14. Turn mini cut paper collages into a collaborative quilt! Love this idea from Art. Paper. Scissors. Glue!
15. These sculptures made from magazine pages are seriously cool. I think this would be a great project to try with 4th and 5th graders. Find the project here - scroll down to the comment section to read about the process.
16. I love the idea of turning a recycled pulp egg tray into a Kandinsky inspired piece. This would be a fun collaborative project for artists grades K-3. Check out the full gallery of student work here.
17. Swooning over these Jim Dine inspired shrinky dink hearts! How gorgeous do those shiny little pieces look hung as a group?! This is another great one to do with grades K-3. Find the DIY here
18. Lovin' these watercolor spray prints! I think the simplicity and the nature theme would appeal to the masses and that is always something to strive for when creating auction art.
19. Here is another idea for a functional work of art. Making a pillow is pretty genius. Find all the project details here.
20. Last but certainly not least is this sweet little weave! Find the full DIY here
Art is a line around your thoughts.
- Gustav Klimt
When I started brainstorming art auction ideas for H's first grade class, I knew I wanted the kids to create a functional piece of art. I had a hunch that making something beautiful that people could actually use might "sell well" and selling well is pretty key in the land of school fundraiser art. I toyed with the idea of a throw pillow or a vase, but I ultimately landed on a serving tray. A white serving tray is a lot like a blank canvas so I knew that whatever process we ended up exploring for the art making would look great on top of the tray.
Liquid watercolor and diluted acrylic paint
This post contains affiliate links, which means that we earn a small commission on the products that you buy using our links. Thank you for your support!
The art making for this project had to be: quick, fun, and colorful! Liquid watercolor and color diffusing paper definitely fit the criteria. Color diffusing paper is a lot like a thick, slightly rough coffee filter. In fact, I think you could probably achieve very similar results for your inky dots using coffee filters.
I broke the class into 5 groups of 5. Each group had about 8 minutes to work on their dots. I gave each student two dots to color.
I asked the artists to lightly mist their dots with a spray bottle before dropping color with their pipettes so that their colors would spread and blend in interesting ways. If you don't have pipettes you could totally use watercolor brushes but pipettes are really fun... the kiddos love using them.
I mixed up some diluted acrylic paint in addition to the liquid watercolor so that they could add some opaque splashes of color in addition to the watercolor. I think the variety definitely added interest. You can see the acrylic in action - it's the pink and peach splotches below.
The kids had SOOOOOO much fun with this process. They honestly did not want to stop. I think I will have to come back with liquid watercolor and pipettes so they can spend some more time with these materials.
Some things to consider: liquid watercolor stains hands... not permanently, but it is very pigmented so it takes a lot of scrubbing to get it off of hands. Consider using gloves for this activity. If gloves are not an option, have some vinegar, dish soap, and some scrubby pads (the kind that you would use on non-stick pans) for the kids to use at the hand washing station. If you are transporting these dots home wet, cover pieces of cardboard with wax paper so that the wet dots don't stick to the cardboard. Fluffy, absorbent paper towels are also a good item to have on hand. The kids got so color happy that puddles of paint started to soak through the craft paper I had used to cover the table, so we slipped some paper towels underneath the dots to absorb the excess paint.
After the dots are dry, it's time to start playing with layout. At this point you might have to resize your dots. You can do this easily by creating a template out of card stock or poster board. Grab a stack of about 6 dots at a time, place the template on top and then carefully guide your scissors around the outer edge of the template. When all of your dots have been sized correctly you will make rows on your tray. Figure out your placement before you commit with the Mod Podge.
Use a small foam brush to apply Mod Podge to the backs of your dots. You can then coat the top layer of your dots with a thin coating of Mod Podge. Mod Podge acts as a sealer and glue. You could use Mod Podge to seal your tray and call it a day. I decided to get fancy with it and use a clear coat epoxy on top of mine. Using epoxy is not necessary, but I had "a look" in mind. I am not going to even attempt to walk you through it, but I will share a video link that demonstrates the process. Skip ahead to 1:32.
Remember how the students each made two dots? I used the leftover dots to make a tray for their teacher! We will give it to her at the end of the year. : )
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.