Category Archives: children’s art

Cloth napkins

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napkins

napkins2I made printed napkins this year as holiday hostess gifts and gifts for friends. I bought several dozen cloth napkins from an eBay seller because I could not have made such nice napkins so affordably myself. I carved several simple Christmas tree and star shapes out of carving rubber, used a brayer to apply fabric paint to the stamps, and then transferred the stamps to the napkins. Stamping the napkins took a little longer than I’d envisioned, in part because I had to find space all over my house for several dozen painted napkins to dry and in part because the paint was messy business and I frequently had to stop to wash the stamps and the brayer, but I was pleased with the results. They are uneven and blotchy and very homemade looking, but I kind of like that about them. I kept a set for myself too! 
reindeer

I also helped the kids make reindeer napkins for their grandparents. The reindeer face is made by the side of my son’s fist, the eyes are Dorothy’s fingerprints, and red nose is Daphne’s thumbprint. I carved the date and the antlers out of carving rubber. Actually, because I’m an idiot, I first carved the date exactly as I wanted it to appear on the napkin, which of course makes it appear backwards when printed. Oops! But the second time I got it right. These napkins were a big hit and I will enjoy using them at my in-laws’ home during Christmas celebrations of the future.

Mother’s Day gifts and goodbye to the Yellowstone

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I’m going to start this post with a confession: I sold my Yellowstone. I’m still having some mixed feelings about it, but I think it was the right decision. It needed maintenance that I wasn’t giving it, and it seemed we never had time to use it. It was sitting there in my driveway making me feel guilty, so one morning I decided to “declutter” it. It was gone within twenty-four hours to new owners who are going to be a better match for it. They have big, exciting plans for it involving plumbing and roofing solutions that were beyond me. I may take a little break and then decide I’m ready for the Scotty Serro I’ve been hankering after ever since I sold the red Fleetwing, but in the meantime I turned the spot in my driveway that used to be trailer parking into an outdoor seating area. It’s already gotten more use in a week than we’d spent in the trailer in the last year, so it was probably the right thing to do. I think.

sachetMeanwhile indoors, I made lavender sachets for my mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother for Mother’s Day. I printed the kids’ photos onto printable fabric, then made little cotton bags to hold bulk dried lavender I bought online.

sachetsEach grandmother got a full set of all three kids to freshen their drawers.

card

We made cards to round out the gift, using the kids’ thumbprints to put petals on the flowers. How did people get Mother’s Day ideas before Pinterest?

This, that, and snow

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towel

It still feels like spring is a long way off here in Kentucky. We’re under a foot of snow now, and my cuted-up basement playroom is (big sigh) leaking again. But aside from the basement issue, I might be the only person in Kentucky not complaining about the weather. I like emphatic weather. It feels weird when a winter is just sort of damp and mild. Winter with actual snow and freezing temperatures feels like a very decisive, black check in the “winter” box, so that when spring actually comes it’ll feel more right too. I also just don’t mind the cold and snow. After a decade of living north I’m not afraid of driving in it, and it’s pretty and fun for the kids to play in. I don’t mean I won’t be glad to be skipping outside in flip-flops as soon as that can happen, but I’m willing to be totally present in this snow right now. Warm, beautiful knitted things, a fire in the fireplace, hot tea, and snug wool socks–it’s all good.

I’ve completed a handful of small life-improvement projects while we’ve been holed up inside. One of them is that I took my cheap IKEA dishtowels, which are soft and absorbent and generally a good buy, and put our name on them. It only took a few minutes and was totally unnecessary, but it just makes them feel more nice now. Like I’m a hotel chef instead of dishing up cheese enchiladas to picky kids.
snowflakes

This is a picture of a snow project my kids did. (The little one did not participate in the craft but insisted on being included in the picture.) They cut snowflakes out of freezer paper, then I ironed their favorite snowflakes onto canvas boards, then they covered the boards and snowflakes with a blend of blue paints. When the paint was dry we peeled off the snowflakes. This was a nice project because it turned out equally well for both eight-year-old and five-year-old.yeti3

 

And this is just a cute photo of Daphne experiencing her first snow play. She’s all bundled up and wearing mama-made hat and mittens. She could barely walk with her too-big snow bibs on, but she enjoyed bumbling through the snow and, of course, tasting it!

An activity bag for the car

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activity-bag-outsideI’ve had this project in my head for years but finally took the time to make it up this weekend. This is a sturdy canvas bag to keep in the back of my car. It’s filled with items to keep my kids occupied in waiting rooms, at a sibling’s soccer practice, during a long restaurant wait, or similar. It contains a set of high-quality wax crayons, a full set of colored pens, pretty coloring books (we like many of the Dover ones, including this one), learn-to-draw books, and blank book, and a book of games and puzzles. We don’t actually call our homeschool “DeWees Academy,” but it seemed like a cute thing to put on the outside of the bag.

activity-bag-inside

I put in a zipper closure so all the crayons don’t fall out.

pencil-case

This little pencil case goes inside and holds the writing tools.

diaper-bag

This is another bag I made at the same sitting. I don’t carry a diaper bag for Daphne, but have a large zippered pouch in my purse that holds all her necessary items. My previous pouch was unlined to keep the bulk in my purse to a minimum, but unfortunately that also made it flimsy, and it was falling apart. This new one is made from home dec scraps from another project and lined with a thrift-store sheet. Ever since I bought an assortment of colorful zippers from Amazon.com I make a lot more pouches! But new, handy little bags are always helpful. This one already has been.

 

Christmas goodies

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mittens

It’s looking like full-time crafty Christmas around here! Baby Daphne has started removing tags from gifts and either eating the tags or sticking them to the hardwood floor. Not helpful. Let’s just hope that if any of the gifts end up with the wrong recipients, they aren’t awkward and can be easily switched back! For example, anyone over two would surely be disappointed to receive these tiny mittens I knitted.snowflakes

My kids made snowflake ornaments out of craft sticks to give as teacher/leader/coach gifts. Using glitter with children is something I try to avoid on principle, but it went pretty well and I self-medicated with cookies after it was over.
soapThis is the annual batch of homemade unscented soap for my brother, and another scented batch I made for myself and to share. I used cold process recipes from the book The Everything Soapmaking Book. I like to try different recipes every year, which is really completely useless unless I make a batch for myself because I’m sure my brother has no notion or opinion about the benefits of tropical oils versus olive oil, lard, or soybean shortening, though I think he appreciates the soap. This year’s batch is a blend of four different oils with some castor oil stirred in at the end for extra moisture, and mostly lavender scent in mine. Now it is curing in the basement playroom and makes the whole space smell nice!

 

Two Elsas and an alligator

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alligator elsa1 elsa2 elsas-togetherHappy Halloween! As is my usual custom, I did not make my kids’ costumes. I like to take advantage of good pre-made costume deals and then spend my crafty time on things I’ll get to enjoy seeing the kids in on a more regular basis. I’d been pretty pleased with an eight-year run of costumes that did not ever include Disney Princesses, but this year Dorothy has been particulary enchanted by the movie Frozen and she jumped on the bandwagon with her choice to be Elsa this Halloween. We happened upon these costumes at a Cracker Barrel at the end of summer, and Dorothy was thrilled to see that we could get an Elsa dress for her and a matching one for her sister. So of course I bought the dresses, and Dorothy finished them off to her taste with blue capes she sewed herself and some Photoshopped snowflake magic, art directed by her but executed by me. The girls are cute in their dresses. Worth was inspired by the alligators we saw on our Hilton Head trip this summer and chose to impersonate this carnivorous swamp creature. He’s been pretend chomping everything, just as you’d expect from a 4-year-old boy/alligator. Hope your Halloween is magical!

The continuing evolution of our playroom and studio

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playroom-w-curtains

This room has appeared on my blog a few times in the almost four years since we moved here. There was the time I made the futon and pillow covers, and the time I painted the sun on the floor (now painted over, due to water damage). We don’t use this basement space as our primary homeschool spot anymore. It has evolved and changed, and I work on it periodically–sometimes because I want to and sometimes because it floods (or did? Supposedly that’s fixed now). This summer I made some more changes to it to continue to meet our studio and play space needs. It’s just a basement room with a low ceiling and a concrete floor; it’s never destined for Better Homes and Gardens or to be the room we spend the most time in, but it is good space. It’s a place to put the bulky things that aren’t in the kids’ rooms or our shared living space. It’s the kids’ art spot, the dress-up spot, the home for games and toys. It’s the only spot in our home with a television. It’s the room where my fabric is stored, and is a cool place in summer and made cozy in winter with a fire in the fireplace. Some day it’s going to get a chair that doesn’t have an arm that falls off occasionally, a bigger and better rug, and I’m sure it will continue to evolve in other ways, but here are some scenes from this creative space right now. This summer I bought new storage furniture so the kids can easily access all the treasures.

craft-area

I set up a desk area dedicated to their crafty needs. Colored paper, art books, clay, melt beads, yarn and assorted other supplies are organized and at the ready. The labels are serving the dual purpose of reminding my little artists to clean up after themselves and helping Worth learn to read.

paint-bottles

I saved coffee syrup bottles, washed them out, and filled them with tempera paints. A color-mixing chart hung over the supply table helps the small artists mix their choice of hues. There is a bin under the table with clean, empty yogurt and applesauce containers we save. The older kids know how to wash the brushes out themselves so they are able to paint independently, without me dragging out supplies or cleaning up their messes. I hope to fill two more bottles with black and white paint, but first I have to drink more vanilla lattes.

easel

This is the easel, a half-turn from the paint-mixing spot. Bright oilcloth protects the floor, the canvas aprons protect the kids, and just out of the scope of the photo is a cord with clips for the kids to hang their masterpieces when they are done.

ribbons

My crafty storage area got a few upgrades too. I’m not very handy with tools but I knew just enough to drill holes in an old scrap board, insert some dowels, apply some paint, and enjoy my much-needed new ribbon organizer. For several years I’ve been buying ribbon every time I see it on sale because I can never find it when I need it. Now I see clearly that the problem was my storage method–not my lack of ribbon!

jars

And I used a Pinterest idea to transform some recycled glass jars into cute, quirky storage with the addition of one tube of little plastic animals and some spray paint. The work table beneath this supply counter is covered with the same apple oilcloth that is under the easel for an easy-clean, cheerful work surface. I sew upstairs in our living room, but this table houses all projects involving glue, paper, glitter, or general happy mess. (It is also housing me at my laptop right now, while my kids play in the room behind me!)

My kids’ recent projects

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cape

Dorothy sews a lot these days. And by a lot, I mean I sometimes wish I’d never taught her and had not ceded a part of our family room and my fabric storage area to her needs. (Honesty!) But in the bigger picture, I’m very glad she enjoys it, is creative with it, and can envision and execute a project in ways that will serve her even better than the basics of hemming and button sewing. She likes to get ideas from two books I got her, Sewing School and Sewing School 2, both of which I heartily recommend. The instructions and patterns in the book are clear enough that she can trace, cut out, and follow them without my help. My favorites among her projects, however, are the ones she dreams up on her own. Like a cape for her baby sister!

snowmanOr an Olaf (snowman) costume for her brother. Seeing this project spread out on her sewing table before she put the carrot nose on DID give me pause, but then I recalled that she was sewing costumes for a theatrical production of the movie Frozen she, her brother, and their cousins had in the works. She’s very results-oriented in that she prefers to complete a project in one sitting than to bother with niceties of hemming or facings, but who can blame her?

painting

Both big kids recently rediscovered the swirl-and-spin art kit. I loved seeing the line of brightly-colored squares waiting to dry, so I…

posterswirlart

made them into a poster using Publisher and had it printed at Costco. We gave copies to both the grandfathers for Father’s Day and they were big hits.

on-the-mantle

I never got a great picture of the printed posters, but you can see it on the mantle behind my father-in-law in this snapshot. Both grandfathers were told the prints were for the garage (how much wall space does one have to spare, anyway?) but both chose to frame and hang them inside, making my little artists beam with pride.

 

Giftables

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tara-bag1tara-bag2I’ve been into zippered pouches lately. It all started with the purchase of a colorful zipper assortment from an Amazon.com seller, and then kind of took off. I’ve made medium-sized bags for my mother and mother-in-law, cute little boyish belt packs for a couple of Worth’s friends, a beach coin purse for myself, and this little zippered purse for a friend’s one-year-old. Somehow I only managed to snap a photo of this one. It’s fully lined with the same fabrics as the exterior and should be just right for stashing all her toddler sundries. Babies love bags, and zippers too.

notebookI made another composition book cover like the ones I did as favors for Worth’s birthday party, this time covered in exterior decorator fabric and embellished with the recipient’s name. I like this as a gift idea because most anyone of any age could use a pretty composition book cover, whether they are headed to third grade or to a meeting.

gift-bagI also got a little crafty with the idea of reusable gift bags. I saw these hefty vinyl bags at the Dollar Tree. They are the size of small gift bags, but made out of the same stuff as the reusable shopping bags. I laminated a gift tag and tied it to the bag with ribbon, then wrote the appropriate names in dry-erase marker on the tag. I’m hoping it can be regifted many times.

paintingpotFor Mother’s Day we used this Pinterest idea and decorated pots for the grandmothers. The big kids painted the sky and clouds, then Daphne lent her wee little footprints as the butterfly wings. I thought these turned out to be quite charming gifts and I liked that they involved all three kids.

A homemade loom and some baby things

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homemade-loom-starthomemade-loomAfter all of Dorothy’s enthusiasm for her rubber band loom and her potholder loom I thought maybe we should branch out. Santa brought a wooden loom, but packaged in its box with its big book of instructions it seemed a little intimidating so we hadn’t gotten it out yet. Then an opportunity arose during one of our homeschool lessons to do a supplemental activity that involved making our own loom out of corrugated cardboard. To my surprise, the “doll rug” Dorothy made on our homemade loom actually turned out pretty well, and the experience we gained following the directions for it gave us the confidence to unbox the Christmas loom, so now Dorothy is hard at work on a whole collection of woven doll bedding.

green-sweaterAnd here’s Miss Daphne, now three months old, sporting the green sweater I made for her before she was born, and yet another pair of my ubiquitous crocheted booties. She’s growing so much! Unfortunately this particular growth spurt seems to involve waking to eat in the night during periods through which we were previously sleeping, but if there is anything that motherhood-times-three has taught me, it’s that it all goes by so quickly–if she wants to start eating more at night, I’ll feed her more at night. And cuddle her, and enjoy the way she smells, and the way she fits in my arms, and the cute little slurpy noises she makes. Because we’re both lucky to have each other.

red-hatAnd speaking of growth spurts. The little red hat, which was too big for her in the hospital because her head was so much smaller than her brother’s at birth, is now almost too tiny. She’s laying on one of several flannel blankets I’ve made recently. Daphne still wants to be swaddled but is now too large for standard receiving blankets. I bought several 1.5 yard lengths of nice-quality flannel from Fabric.com (here’s a link to the hedgehog one) and just hemmed up the edges.

rainbow-loom-beltAnd last but never least, Dorothy has requested that I share her most recent rubber band creation on my blog. She’ll have her own website before you know it. 🙂 She got a book of new rubber band loom patterns for Christmas and just completed this belt, which has adorable loops in the front and a simple chain in the back. Very cute. Nice job, Daughter. Blog accomplished.

The project currently strewn all over my craft table is embroidered t-shirts for the kids to wear while watching the Olympics next month. Team USA will have finely-attired sofa spectators in my three (I hope).