It’s Not All Mary Poppins

We call them Tulips

1. Paint a child’s palm with tempera paint.
2. Press palm into glass several times, until all paint is gone.
3. Wash hand.
4. I you feel particularly creative, you can add grass.

Voila! Instant spring flower garden!

(These pictures are a few weeks old. The snow you see there is entirely gone now.)

(These pictures are a few weeks old. The snow you see there is entirely gone now.)

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May 1, 2013 Posted by | crafts | , , , , | 6 Comments

Craft: Autumn Tree

Traditions. Traditions are a good thing. They root you, give you a sense of history and place. They mark events, times, places in a particular way. Toddlers understand tradition, in fact, they can be positively compulsive about them. Things have to be done in THE RIGHT WAY EVERY TIME, or… the world as we know it will fall apart, or some damn thing. I don’t know.

Still, I like traditions. I like creating them with the kids. One tradition we have — which none of them know about because either A) they were just about not born a year ago or B) they do not remember a year ago — is the Giant Tree on the Wall.

Every fall I make a tree. We make a tree. Until this year, the trunk and branches of the tree have simply been brown construction paper. Serviceable, unremarkable, effective. But this year I was INSPIRED!!!

The inspiration came, oddly, from that giant stash of toilet paper tubes in the craft room. What possibly connection could there be between toilet rolls and mural trees, you wonder?

First, you take a large sheet of fingerpaint paper. Blurp on a generous few dollops of brown and white tempera paint. And then — this is where Mary gets SERIOUSLY INVENTIVE — then you sprinkle on black tempera powder. Over the paint, over the bare paper. Doesn’t have to be even. Can be a bit blotchy. (Wish I’d thought to take a picture of this, but my hands were seriously gunked up at this point. Perhaps I will insert one later today.)

Then, with the help of your handy-dandy two-year-olds, you smear the paint and powder all over the page. You’ll get a very realistic bark tone, browner in some spots, greyer in others. Because you’ll have used lots of liquid paint, and because you’ve thickened it further with powder, you get DEPTH and TEXTURE.

But it still won’t look like bark. It will just be bark-coloured, slightly lumpy paint gooped on the paper. What you need to make it look bark-like is a toilet roll!!

Really.

A toilet roll around which you have very cleverly wrapped a bit of thickish string or yarn. (In my case, yarn, because that’s what I had.) Lightly roll the tube up and down the paper, until you get something that looks quite satisfactorily barkish.

Pre-rolled paint with tube, Ready for Action:

And, ta-dah! Post-rolled paint. This is, obviously, still wet.

Here it is, dried. (I don’t think this is the same page as the previous picture, but you get the idea.) The colour and texture will change somewhat as it dries, but if you’ve started with a thick, gloppy layer of paint, the texture will hold as it dries.

Trunk with branch attached. You can see the different colour variations. It works!

Entire tree — with son. Oops. How’d he get in there?

Entire tree, sans son. Isn’t it cool??? I cut that lowest sheet of paper on a curved slant only so that I could remove some paper that didn’t get paint on it. Now that I’ve assembled the tree, I think the curved edge makes the joint of the paper look much more natural. I may change the other, straight and very artificial-looking edges later.

This entire tree took five sheets of fingerpaint paper. Today we’ll be adding finger-painted pages of green, cut into puffy cloud-shapes to give the impression of leaves, because right now, the trees are still mostly green! And as the weeks progress, we’ll add more and more coloured leaves.

Fall officially arrives in a couple of weeks. Thanks to our Tree Tradition, we are READY!

September 8, 2011 Posted by | crafts, my kids | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rainy Day Craft, with Potatoes

Yesterday was a very rainy day. Had everyone come equipped for it, we might have gone outside, but instead we indulged in a little rainy crafting. Some turquoise paint splooshed into a foam tray, some umbrella-shaped pieces of scrap paper, and a few potato stamps…

a few toddlers…

and ta-dah! A wall full of umbrellas!

The potato stamps were a bit fiddly to cut out. Normally I use a cookie cutter to get the shape on the potato, but lacking raindrop-shaped cutters, I had to do it with a paring knife. The results were a tad primitive, but given that none of the children has the coordination to make a nice, clean print anyway, the results are always a bit primitive…

April 7, 2011 Posted by | crafts | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Fishy craft

I’m a sucker for those foamy stickers. We have tubs of them littering my craft cupboard. Red, white and green Christmas foamies in stockings, trees, snowflakes; pink, lilac, and yellow ones in Easter bunnies, tulips, and eggs; primary-coloured party-themed foamies — cakes, hats, and sunbursts. Fun!

Most recently I picked up a bucket of Sea Creatures foamy stickers.

Which, of course, obliges me to find a craft for them. Something a wee bit more creative than slamming them onto a piece of construction paper, not, of course, that the kids object in the slightest to this as a craft. They would be thrilled to take home page after page after page of stuck stickers. Most of them piled up in the same three square inches of the page. Woo!

It’s me who craves … something more. I have no idea what, though.

If you’ve ever wondered how I come up with the crafts I do — the majority of which I make up on the fly — come with me on an annotated tour of Mary’s creative process. It starts with gazing…

I consider the tub of brightly coloured fish, whales, dolphins, frogs and turtles. Hmmm… They all swim. They need water. Water! Let’s make water. We can make something waterish and then stick them to it. They can be ‘swimming’ in the waterish.

And we can make something watery with… plastic? That’s nice. Light shines through plastic. I could use paper sheet protectors, I have a couple of boxes of 50 of those. Light shines through the plastic, but it won’t through the foam. That’ll be a nice effect. Sort of silhouette-y.

And for the colour… how about blue tissue paper torn into bits and glued to one side of the plastic? Or maybe shoved somehow into the sleeve? Nah. Too hard to get the tissue distributed evenly inside the sleeve, and they’d probably only crumple the plastic all to heck trying. Gluing is better, and if I water the white glue down a bit, I’d get a lovely shiny translucent effect…

Except the only tissue I have on hand is orange. Boo. Not that, then.

Paint, maybe? Hmmm… the tempera beads up on the plastic. Acrylic paint works like a charm, but it also stains like a bugge rather badly. So, not acrylic. Back to the tempera…

Which means I can’t use the plastic. What can I use? It needs to be transparent, to give that watery feel. Transparent, or translucent. Translucent, translucent… (I am opening doors and drawers in my kitchen as I mull this over)… Waxed paper! Ha!

And, yes! Tempera sticks just fine to wax paper. Paintbrushes apply it too liberally, though. The light won’t shine through, and the kids will just saturate the paper. We’ll produce nothing but sodden blue wax paper shreds. Fingerpainting? No, same problems. How about sponge painting? Ooo. That might work. Because you dab with sponges, see, instead of scrubbing (as toddlers do with paint brushes). Dabbing is less damaging to the paper. Ha! Sponge painting, then!

I have no sponges. I threw the last bunch out when I forgot to wash them and they went moldy. I remember now.

Darn.

Well, then… paper towels! Half a piece, wadded up a little, dipped in a small dollop of paint, and dabbed on the paper.

All toddlers can wad and dab! (Why does that sound vaguely disgusting?)

And it works like a charm! Tape the wax paper to the table so it doesn’t slide. Dab one side of the paper with blue and green tempera. Flip the paper and stick on your sea creatures foamy stickers.

(Total time elapsed in “creative process” getting to this idea? About 4 minutes.)

craft1

And…

craft2

ta-dah!

Pretty cool, huh?

November 20, 2008 Posted by | crafts | , , , , , , , | 9 Comments