Posts Tagged ‘green’

paper snowflakes

winter is upon us in a few short weeks, the winter solstice being my favorite holiday! (ahem, it is my birthday, afterall…) today N and i practiced our folding and cutting while decorating for the winter by making paper snowflakes!

we gathered up some scrap paper and both grown-up and kid scissors. if you want an idea for something to do with those watercolor paintings that come home from preschool or lovely marbled paper, this is a great transformation for that art work to have a new life.

first, i had to brush up on my origami paper folding for snowflakes. sure, you can fold it in half and in half again, but there is a more intricate way that involves a 60 degree angle. this youtube video really seemed simple and friendly enough for me (or your older children) to follow. here are some of the papers in various stages of folding…

after properly folded, we were able to cut like crazy (as he says in the video.) here is where we found that a 3 year old using her little kid scissors just might get frustrated when cutting layers upon layers of folded paper. gotta hand it to N – she tried. if you have older children, they’ll be able to do this just fine.

then she opted to cut a bunch of other things out….

…while i cut the folded snowflake paper.

blue and white preschool painting turned to snow!

N also modeled the finished snowflakes, lined them up, counted them, threw them in the air like it was snowing… lots o fun!

when we were finished, it looked like a snowstorm in our den!

we hung these paper snowflakes up on the back door. i’ll likely make more to hang from our chandelier or to string into garland — i’m such a garland addict! help!

a little golden one landed on our christmas tree

who says it doesn’t snow in the bay area?


printer friendly printer friendly

paper roll airplanes

all the credit for this one goes to N’s amazing preschool teacher! the kids made these at school, and you know i’m a fan of art made from recycled materials, with a particular penchant for toilet paper rolls. (what does this say about me? i don’t know.) check out these beauties!

to make these, all you need are toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls (cut into smaller sections, if preferred,) some wooden craft sticks, and paint. i love how they used the metallic paints at the preschool. these look so cool.

the group of them that the class made created a really cool wall display for this month’s unit on transportation. i love the cotton ball smoke puffs behind them! these would look cute in a playroom or plane-themed bedroom for a kid, too.

i just had to share… since they’re tp rolls and all. ah, it is easy to be green!


printer friendly printer friendly

paper roll pumpkin garland

you probably already know we like to make art out of toilet paper rolls around my house…. the recycling bin is a great place to find art materials! when i saw this project on the a glimpse inside blog, i knew we’d have to try it out. i mean, we have toilet paper rolls for days being saved over here.

first, we gathered about 5-6 or so toilet paper rolls (paper towel rolls work well, too.) you’ll also need scissors, orange paint (we used acrylic, but tempra is fine,) a hot glue gun, twine, and maybe a ruler. i flattened the cardboard tubes and cut them into sixths. (i just eyeballed it, but a ruler measuring them to a half inch might have been nice…?)


N had lots of fun painting them orange. (on the blog where i saw the idea, they painted some orange for pumpkins and some red for apples, but we opted for pumpkins only at our house. check out their apples though – different shape and also way cute!)

i painted the insides of the rolls for her, and she did the outsides

honestly, it was a hot orange mess, but i love how acrylic paint just peels right off of skin when it’s time to wash up.

after the ringlets were dry, we lined four rings up in a row, and i hot glued them together where they touched.

next, cut two other rings on one of the folds. spread one out across the top and the other out across the bottom of the four glued together rings, and glue those to the sides and onto each of the four points across top and bottom. put a glue dot on the top, and glue an unpainted (or green painted, if you please) little piece of cardboard there for a pumpkin stem.

we ended up making five of these pumpkins, but i almost chose to make four of these larger pumpkins and alternate them with single-ring tiny pumpkins (like the one i mocked up below) across the garland. i decided against it in the end, but i wanted to share that idea here incase you want to try it. if you do the tiny pumpkin, turn the stem sideways (like you see below) so that the twine can be strung through it.

these are the five pumpkins we made, before they were strung. cute, huh?

next, N helped to string the pumpkins onto some twine we had laying around. (i love that i bought nothing new for this project. my favorite kind!) when you’re ready to string yours, you just have to choose which part of the pumpkin is the front, and make sure the bulk of the string shows across the back when you thread it through. she just put it down through the top tiny triangle hole on the left side of each pumpkin, and then back up through the top tiny triangle hole on the right. easier done than said.

photo credit: my husband was home

that’s it! then you’ll have a rustic pumpkin garland that will be so cute for halloween and the duration of the autumn harvest season! we strung ours across the mantel. if you try this, let us know  — share your photos on our facebook page’s wall, as we’d love to see yours and where you’ve hung it!


printer friendly printer friendly

drawing book

as of late, N’s days and evenings are filled with line drawings. she has found her “favorite pencil” (just a regular old yellow #2 pencil) and it’s pretty much her go-to art material these days.

in september, she began to crank out an impressive volume of line drawing, usually totaling 5-15 per day. she draws them at her “art desk” in the kitchen, usually while i am preparing meals. as she draws, she narrates what is happening in the picture, she does voices for the characters in the picture, and she describes each image to me in detail afterwards. this has almost replaced her magna-doodle habit.

the papers were stacking up on her desk, my desk, the dining room table, the kitchen counter… i put the date on the back bottom right corner of each one because each is just such a gem — way too precious not to keep and cherish forever. but how?!

"this cat is an artist all day & all night"

many of you have written to me asking how to store your child’s art. we display N’s art around our house in a gallery format in her bedroom and in frames around our house. we also create cards, giftwrap, and gifts out of N’s art. the rest we do store. i keep much of it in a large portfolio (read: two pieces of posterboard taped together on 3 sides) in the playroom closet. but these drawings were just coming too fast and too brilliantly to do that. so i got a cute binder at target and a 3-hole punch and created a drawing book in which to store these masterpieces chronologically.

my intention was that all of N’s drawings for the remainder of 2010 would go in here. you can see that by the title i put on the spine.

however, this book — the stack you see here in the photo below — is the product of just 22 days of drawing! (and my own sketchbook project‘s book has 3 little pages done. i think i should commission my little artist-in-residence to help me with that!)

a serious body of work for 3 weeks time!

most of them are with her trusty pencil, but a few get colored in.

cinderella & the prince

N makes all sorts of other art during the day, but no matter what, she cranks out the line drawings. she says she’s “writing a movie.” i think she’s well on her way to illustrating a cartoon, a flip book, or a children’s novel at the very least. i think i’m going to get her a spiral sketchbook next. have any of you tried that with your 3-year-olds?

how do you archive your child’s art? do you keep it all? aaaand, how do you get your kid to draw on the backs of the pages? (as green as we try to be and as much as N respects trees, loves using cloth napkins, etc., she cannot bring herself to draw on the back of her pages. suggestions?)


printer friendly printer friendly

bottle cap art magnets

i recently realized that we recycle so many plastic juice (and otherwise) bottle caps, so i figured i should start saving some to see what art comes from them. the first (of likely more projects to come) are bottle cap magnets.

yep, this has traditionally been done wit metal bottle caps from glass bottles, but we honestly don’t buy anything like this in our house, so i’m using the plastic and large metal ones we’ve got.  first i used some elmer’s household cement to glue little round magnets to the backs of the caps.

i let them dry overnight.

the next day, i used 1.5″ and 1″ hole punches to crop selected pieces out of some of N’s art work to “frame” in the caps.

i mod podged both sides of the art so that it wouldn’t get soaked when it was coated in the next step. from this i learned that next time i’ll “laminate” the art with contact paper or clear packaging tape on both sides.

(who knew that cats like to lick mod podge?!? place up high to dry!)

next i glued the art down to the bottom of a few of the caps. i coated the top of it with this great stuff called dimensional magic, which is like a thick resin or clear casting medium. you can find it on amazon, though i couldn’t find it in my local craft or hardware stores. i found some helpful tips for using dimensional magic on this web site.

after each was coated, N helped me drop some seed beads and sequins onto the wet medium to give the bottle caps some bling.

looking foggy through the wet dimensional magic

we let it dry overnight… and then some, as the thicker ones were still tacky after 12 hours. i learned that the art that she had painted with acrylics and watercolors got smeared by the dimensional magic, despite the mod podge coating, which is why next time i’ll laminate.

unfortunate blurry painted dragon & bunny

the pencil and crayon drawings came out really great.

now we have art holding up the art on our fridge!



printer friendly printer friendly

cardboard house

what kid hasn’t transformed a cardboard box into a house or car? well, mine hadn’t until today. we recently got a new water cooler that came in a big box with some extra cardboard padding. just had to recycle some and upcycle the rest into an artsy plaything, of course!

first, N saw the cardboard and asked if she could draw on it with markers. once the markers were in hand, she said she wanted to draw a house on it. a lightbulb appeared above my head (in cartoon world,) and i suggested the cardboard BE the house and she draw all of the things on it that she’d want on the outside of her house. then she went to work on windows and doors, grass and flowers, trees and nests…

when she was finished drawing, i used an x-acto knife to cut out the door. i might have cut out the windows, too, if N hadn’t drawn such cute curtains onto them.

then i taped the two pieces of cardboard together with packaging tape to make them into a square.

N immediately began to bring in the (animal) inhabitants and furnishings.

she set a bunch of animals all around a fireplace, on chairs and benches, and said they were “telling stories and roasting marshmallows.” cozy. she even draped a yellow playsilk over the top of the box to make it seem bright inside, “and to keep out the rain.”

sure, these cardboard creations can get so much more elaborate. i’ve seen beautiful, intricate cardboard houses and birdhouses and furnishings made by others. but for us, this was an impromptu sunday morning thing that just happened simply and organically, just the way i like it. and there’s always room for N’s little house to grow!

this was good for HOURS of play today after it was made… wonder who will move in tomorrow…


printer friendly printer friendly

botanical paint

even though we always use certified non-toxic art materials in our home, i realize that the art market is far behind other industries in terms of environmental regulations. many art pigments (that i love so dearly) are made from hazardous chemicals that have not been tested for toxicity (even when labeled non-toxic.) while some paints may not be toxic to the consumer, they may be toxic to fish and wildlife when they get washed into our water supply. this has made me really think about the art materials i offer to my child. i recently fell in love with clementine art and their amazing line of products when i sampled a few when in my beloved boulder. then last weekend i was in an eco-chic shop here in the bay area called live greene, and found a new product line called glob, out of berkeley.

in lieu of buying their full paint kit that contains brushes and cups to mix paint in, i bought a kit of just the paint blending packets (because i have plenty-o-paintbrush and bowl around here.) it was a steep $12, but curiosity and greeniness got the best of me.

natural, gluten-free, soy-free, vegan paints = priceless?

these paints are way cool – the red is made from pomegranates, orange from tangerines, yellow from lemons, green from basil, blue from berries, and purple from plums! on their packaging, they claim to have scents, but we found that some colors had a faint aroma and others had none. N and i had so much fun mixing them and sampling the colors they made.

the consistency of the paint can be altered depending on the amount of water added. you can dilute them to almost a watercolor stain type of pigment, or with less water, they are somewhat gelatinous and translucent, kind of like fingerpaint. N loved painting with them!

N was inspired to paint fruits after talking about what the paint was made from

the warm colors in the set are vibrant, but i found the cool colors to be a bit shaded and earthy. a nice effect. keep in mind that staining (fingers, clothes, etc) is a natural effect of using botanical pigments.

a giraffe eating leaves from a tall tree

we were using a cheap pad of kid’s paper marked for watercolors and markers (though it is NOT as thick as watercolor paper.)  sometimes the wetness of the paint really seeped through the paper, but in some spots, it didn’t seem to have that effect. (dude, it’s time to buy more watercolor paper over here!)

light shining through a watery water-spitting blue elephant

N made many masterpieces with these awesome paints… and i felt so good about using an art materials that i knew was totally kid-friendly and earth-friendly!

art drying in the play house

she was so proud! you can refrigerate the rest for later use – as it is made from food, it will perish when not in the fridge. the colors will keep for a couple of days in there.

mmm, leftovers


printer friendly printer friendly

growing sunflowers

woah, it’s been a while, eh? sorry for the lapse in blogging. last week was busy with tying up loose ends of the summer, cleaning out for autumn, and getting my art therapy practice up and running (woot!) and while i was doing these things, i went through the art cabinet and found something i bought back in the spring, and we never used this summer – oops.

if it says "crayola" on it, does it count as an art project? ;)

well, sure it’s the day after labor day, but it stays good and warm here through the end of october, and the kit said that it’s only for planting in summer 2010, so i figured we’d better get germinating! i mean, it is still technically summer for a couple more weeks after all.

watering the soil pellets to watch them expand

this crayola flower kit is so step-by-step easy that it’s not all that exciting for a 3 year old to do, honestly. i think N would have preferred to get more messy like when we planted seeds in pots in the loose soil. regardless, who can turn away a sunflower garden?

planting seeds

we created a little greenhouse in our kitchen plant window, and in 1-2 weeks we should have some sprouts! just in time for… uh, fall? oh well.

and check out that adorable fairy there on the left by one of my favorite etsy artists, mamakopp! it’s perfect for the flowers N brings in for me from her adventures in the yard. stay tuned or some seriously colorful fun to come this week…

we'll keep you posted on the sunflower harvest!



printer friendly printer friendly

herbal dream pillow

my daughter is a girl who dreams vividly. she has told me her dreams upon waking ever since her second birthday, always so colorful, odd, and fascinating! usually pleasant or funny, sometimes scary and dark. because dreams have been a big part of her life and our talks, we decided to make a dream pillow.

especially being a therapist, i am a person who feels that it is important to confront dream content — dreams are paths that lead to our unconscious world. dreams are a safe place to explore that which is potentially scary or dangerous. for this reason, i don’t find scary dreams to be unhealthy for a child to have, rather they are often essential for the child’s psyche to process information. however, all of us parents know that being afraid of the dark and/or having nightmares can be really horrible for a child. we do wish N “sweet dreams” when she goes to sleep, and we always hope that she has a peaceful night. it is in that spirit that we decided to make the dream pillow — for a peaceful slumber and to usher N into her own fanciful dreamworld each night.

we had a lot of rectangles of fabric leftover from the food flags we made. N has been asking to paint on them, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity. we set up our fabric paints, and i taped two rectangles of fabric to her art board.

then i wrote a list while N dictated the things she would like to see in her dreams: “mommy and daddy, owls, birds, flowers, trees, ladybugs…” after the list, we made a plan to put the images of the three of us on one side of the pillow, and a nature scene on the other side that would incorporate the other items.

N did a great job painting all of the things from her list onto the fabric. she had so much fun with it. we even painted on stamps to stamp her name onto one side of the pillow, and used a bird stamp for the bird image on the nature side of the pillow. N noted that the nature side of the pillow reminded her of our backyard, where we always have birds, we have a tall tree with an owl statue under it, and colorful porchulaca flowers.

that magenta guy on the branch is an owl, and there is a ladybug climbing the tree.

i hung the fabric to dry outside in the play house.

after it was dry, i ironed it on the backside, against a rag, to set the paint. then i hand-washed it in the sink with our natural detergent. (you could probably throw it in your washing machine, but i didn’t because these rectangles of linen had frayed ends so i didn’t want them to unravel.)

next we picked some lavender from our backyard to stuff into the pillow, as lavender is known to be an herb that helps with relaxation and peaceful sleeping. we used a few of the stems which were already dry for the pillow, and we hung the rest of the lavender harvest to dry to make sachets and such in the future. (you could also include chamomile, mugwort, valerian, or catnip, if you wanted other sleep-inducing herbs, but not all of those smell pleasant and you should research all herbs before using on or near your child.)

as a family, N, her dad, and i wrote our dreamtime wishes for N onto soft, handmade paper with sparkly and colorful pens. for example, i included “sparkly sunshine magic” and “hugs and kisses” on a couple of mine. two of N’s said “owls” and “mom & dad.” craig wrote “magical powers” and “exploring new places” as part of his wishes for her. we included these inside of the dream pillow, to infuse it with good intentions.

we also put a small amethyst stone inside of the pillow, as amethyst is said to have a calming and protective energy that makes is good for any type of dream work. it helps overcome insomnia and/or nightmares, and may help one to awaken refreshed and energized.


i sewed up three sides of the pillow on my sewing machine, and then N stuffed the goodies inside. i chose to keep the frayed edges visible on the outside to give it a natural feel, rather than sewing the painted sides facing each other and inverting the fabric. you could do it either way.

once it was all sewn up, we brought it into N’s room before naptime. she was sooo excited about it and loves the smell of the dried lavender!

as N knows this isn’t the sort of pillow she will lay on or even cuddle with, she chose to keep it on her headboard, right beside a little guy i made for her out of some of her old baby clothes. that way she can smell the pillow before going to sleep, as well as sleep knowing it’s right above her head. and speaking of old baby clothes, this project can be done with any fabric or any old clothes you may have. think about upcycling some of those old onesies with cute patterns. you can even skip the fabric painting step and focus on the idea of making this into a great sleep talisman or medicine bag.

while we’re on the topic of sending your children off to sleep in a peaceful way, and infusing their dreams with a little magic, i would like to recommend a wonderful bedtime book that a friend recently told me about, called starbright–meditations for children. it has amazing ideas for talking your child through soothing visualizations before they drift off to sleep.  this is just one of many dream-related art projects to come – stay tuned! sweet lavender dreams to you and yours!



printer friendly printer friendly


after N’s nap (yes, we’re still napping over here at 3.5 and i’m milking it!) she asked if we could paint… but with a sly look in her eye. i said, “sure! whatcha wanna paint?” she said, “i want YOU to paint…” so i was like, “um, what do you have in mind?” she offered, “my fingernails and toenails!”

sometimes we do pedicures, where her toes have to match mommy’s…

"cute as a button"

"full of life"


she loves the silly names of the polishes we use. i only use the brands zoya, essie, and sparitual on her nails because those are safe for pregnant women, and if it’s not safe during pregnancy, it shouldn’t be safe for kids or adults any other time, no? green beauty is beautiful, so we stick to these brands. (zoya makes a great nail polish remover, too!) plus, the names are fun!

we’ve only painted N’s fingernails once. i mean, i can barely keep my fingernails painted with all the art we do around here. but i indulged her today. she chose “shorty pants” for her hands.

"shorty pants"

then she chose both “lilacism” and “mint candy apple” for her toes.

can you tell they're alternating?

now i think we’ll actually go make a painting! 🙂



printer friendly printer friendly

bubble wrap ocean print & giveaway!

you know i adore my brilliant and inspirational bloggy friend, pink & green mama. this weekend, she will begin selling an awesome art lesson plan booklet (in pdf form) called “ocean fun art camp lesson plans” on her blog. we got our hands on an advance copy – how special is that? you can get a copy, too! read on – there’s a juicy giveaway* at the end of this blog entry… (*closed as of 7/23/10 midnight)

we have already done pink & green mama’s wooden mermaid clothespin dolls that are featured in the booklet, and they were a huge hit over here! these little sea maidens continue to provide hours of playtime enjoyment.

remember these? they're in the book!

N and i looked through the great instructional photos illustrating each super-inventive exercise in pink & green mama’s booklet. N picked one that she wanted to try out today (and she graciously said we can save the other 11 art activities in the book for tomorrow. we’re gonna be busy over here!) this afternoon we experimented with bubble wrap ocean printing!

we followed pink & green mama’s very clear instructions to paint the bubble wrap on the bumpy side with washable acrylic paint. N chose many shades of blues, greens, and purple and decided to apply it in a stripey pattern.

after N painted the bubble wrap, she pressed it onto cardstock. (you can use any paper thick enough to hold up to acrylic paint.) it made the greatest bubbly ocean!

pink & green mama gives detailed instructions for making your own very clever ocean-themed stamps (while recycling!) to press onto the scene; however, this time N preferred to paint the sea creatures herself instead of printmaking. she was inspired by a trip we took to the monterey bay aquarium over the weekend – such beautiful exhibits! i have to share at least one photo with you!

gorgeous sea nettles!

N got down to business, painting away with the acrylics and chatting about all kinds of sea animals she saw at the aquarium. this art lesson booklet is so timely — such an enriching addition to our summer fun!

we were able to make three pages of prints with just one coat of paint in the bubble wrap. each one was a bit lighter than the one before, but that made for great subtle backgrounds for the paintings.

we had such a giggly, bubbly fun time! here are the three pieces N made:

(yep, one of them involves a girl and her dog snorkeling...?)

pink & green mama has done it again – crafty excellence! this activity book is chocked full of oceanic fun like this! i highly recommend it to any parent or teacher out there who makes art with kids ages 3-9. the instructions are clear and concise, the photos are fabulous, each of the 12 activities includes a supply list, and all templates are printable.


to WIN A FREE COPY of these wonderful art lesson plans, leave a COMMENT HERE by clicking “comments” to the upper left. you’ll have 3 chances to enter the drawing:

  1. for your first comment, state your most vivid art memory from your own childhood.
  2. “like” on facebook and leave a comment stating that you now “like” us (or that you have liked us all along. aw, thanks!)
  3. link to this blog entry on your blog and leave a third comment showing us the link to where you mentioned it.

leave your comments BEFORE MIDNIGHT EST FRIDAY, JULY 23RD. at that time, i will draw the winner based on a random number. please also include your email address in the body of the comments so that pink & green mama can send you a copy of this awesome book when you win! GOOD LUCK TO ALL!


patty walsh (#23) is the winner of pink & green mama’s ocean fun art camp lesson plans pdf booklet. CONGRATS, patty! it’s an awesome book – enjoy! her comment was:

My most vivid art memory as a child would have to be when I was about 4. I remember going in to my Mom’s make up and mixing water with eye shadows to make paint. I remember having such a good time, I don’t even think my Mom got mad. It really was a great experience!


printer friendly printer friendly

strawberry basket weaving

there are sooo many glorious things about strawberry season. the sun, the ladybugs, the sweet juice running down your chin, the amazing dessert recipes, the reason to make your own whipped cream… we’re going strawberry picking this upcoming weekend, which is an annual tradition of mine since my childhood (and N’s!)

left: me in the 70s; right: N in may 2009

when a friend brought some fresh organic strawberries to me yesterday that she got from a farmer’s produce stand near the beach, i was excited for a pre-picking sneak peek. the berries were delicious, but almost as good were the charming little green baskets they have come in for decades! last year i added a few to N’s play kitchen, for her fake produce, but this year i decided that instead of recycling them, i’d upcycle them!

i have bins and bins of yarn and ribbon… so i figured i’d give N her first weaving lesson using the baskets and various yarn, ribbon, fabric materials i have laying around already.

first, i just tied the end of a piece of yarn to the inside bottom corner of a basket, and began to weave while N’s big blue eyes observed and recorded my motions.

then she wanted to try it with the other basket… so i tied her choice of yarn to her basket and she began to attempt the weave.

“this isn’t easy!” she said after just a few over-under-over-unders.

so i learned that this is not the best first weaving activity to try with a 3 year old (there are other easier weavings we can do, for sure!) but i wanted to post this anyway for those of you with school-aged children who want to upcycle your strawberry baskets. N asked me to finish up the baskets myself while she happily built beside me with other items from our recycling bin.


i thought the results were rather cute! and so did N!

N calls this one "the sunset basket"

these baskets would make great gift baskets for father’s day, graduation, birthdays, or any other occasion. they’re also nice storage for small toys and such.

this strawberry picking season, remember that it’s important to pick and eat organic strawberries! happy weaving and happy summer!


printer friendly printer friendly