Posts Tagged ‘suncatcher’

biocolor suncatchers

more fun with biocolor courtesy of N’s preschool teacher! (okay, now i need to get some of this stuff!) this week N and her friends made awesomely colorful window decals in her summer camp.

first, the kids squirted the biocolor onto nonstick aluminum foil. N stuck with the concentric circle pattern (like the comet painting) but some kids applied it in other designs.

the kids ran forks and toothpicks through it to make radial burst patterns and swirls like these you see below.

then they allowed the biocolor paint to dry on the foil. her teacher told me it dried very quickly when out in the sun.

(front shown here)

after they was completely dry, they peeled the dried paint off the foil carefully to reveal these very cool plasticky forms.

(backs shown here)

they can be stuck repeatedly to glass windows, but if they are heavy, the window may require a little misting of water before application to keep them on. the lighter colors (and parts with thin application) are translucent, allowing the sun to shine through the color. here are ours from the inside…

from the outside you can see the original circles N drew.

dear biocolor paint company: wanna send me some samples to review? i’ve got lots more ideas for this stuff, and discount school supply offers lots of biocolor ideas here too!


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creating a kaleidoscope

my daughter received a build your own kaleidoscope kit for her birthday a few months ago, and we just broke it out this week to create our own. oh glorious light shining through color, you get me every time!

as my regular readers know by now, i’m not a fan of pre-fab art kits, so my hope was to figure out from this kit how one could make this from materials in your recycling bin. hmm…

at first glance, it seemed like the materials provided were adaptable enough: cardboard tubes, plastic film for lenses, plastic rings, 3 reflective strips, glittery paper and beads, and decorative stickers. once we unwrapped the kit, i realized there are four different diameters of cardboard tubes that fit together precisely, and the plastic rings that allow for things to be held together fit them perfectly.

so perhaps this particular model is not as adaptable as i’d hoped — you could use a paper towel roll and then raid your gift wrapping tubes for various diameters of tubes that fit tightly inside of one another, use wax paper and clear wrap for lenses, and get plastic mirrored sheets and cut three strips of those. there are some ideas for simpler models to make with household items at the end of this entry. regardless, N had a lot of fun with this.

filling the end with sparkly treasures

we assembled the kaleidoscope according to the very easy (6 step) instructions.

there’s a part where we had to wait for glue to dry, and i have to say that’s when we had the bulk of our fun. first we taped together the three mirrored pieces they provided.

then we folded them into a triangle shape and enjoyed looking at each other, things in our home, and our cat at through them and cracking up!

(putting my iphone camera lens up to the mirror worked well for photos!) click image to view larger

N cut up the adhesive colorful sticker sheets and decorated the tubes with funky patterns.

you know you want that shirt - ;)


when we put the kaleidoscope together, it was so satisfying to see it working!

we spent a lot of the afternoon twisting and shaking (the kaleidoscope, that is) to find new and beautiful patterns.

i found a few online tutorials for making your own kaleidoscope:

we’re going to try one of these homegrown versions soon… ah, if only pringles were gluten free, i could snack while creating! (if nothing else, after writing this blog i will forever know how to spell kaleidoscope!)

i’m curious – have any of you made your own kaleidoscope from household items?



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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?


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gratitude garland

i’ve seen sooo many cute ideas this season for ways of expressing thanks in a natural and artsy way! who else but the artful parent would present such a cute and clever idea as thanksgiving leaf garland? we had to try it!

first, N and i wandered around the neighborhood trying to find colorful leaves — somewhat of a tall order in these parts of the bay area. (one of the things i miss about the east coast!) we did manage to find some beauties. we got out the big books (art books, of course) and got read to press them.

we placed them in between the books for 24 hours to flatten.

the next day, we had so much fun writing on the leaves with metallic markers all of the things we are thankful for. tip: if you want to preserve the suppleness and color of the leaves, apply 1-2 coats of mod podge to each side after they’ve been pressed, and in this case, after you write on them. i’ll likely post a demo of this process soon.


N came up with lots of things she is thankful for, and we also made some leaves that were just cute designs and patterns.

she loved the leaves when they were finished!


i found a brown satin ribbon in my stash, and hot-glued the leaf stems to the back of the ribbon.

i realize it might be more legible against a plain wall, but i cannot resist hanging the garland in a sunny window in our home.

thankfulness for our two cats

i’m a sucker for the way light filters through beautiful colored leaves (and colorful artwork, for that matter!)

i also would love to try this awesome gratitude tree that i saw on playful learning – maybe next year!  count your blessings this thanksgiving!



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warming tray + wax = wonderful

there is a day in my graduate training that sticks out for me – it’s the day i went to the studio of one of my most inspiring mentors, mimi farrelly-hansen. she showed me and a few of my colleagues a really relaxing art activity – using a warming tray to draw with crayons.

this process is great for relaxation and stress relief, as the crayons just move so freely and softly across the warming tray as they are melting… it is soooo addictive – (really, i’m warning you!) i recently bought a warming tray just for this purpose, but i got the cheapest one i could find and it does not have a setting for low or high heat. it’s always running on a pretty hot temperature, thus N can’t do this activity with me just yet. i wanted to post it for those of you with children who would be able to understand safety around using a warming tray – use your judgement about your own child, and always supervise children around a warming tray.

there are a couple of ways to engage in this activity. over the years, i’ve found that finger painting paper is my favorite paper to use because of its glossy quality, though other papers work just fine. metallic crayons are fabulous for this exercise, but any old crayons will do. here i used non-metallics primarily, with some silver and gold in there.

you can lay the paper directly onto a warming tray on low heat, and draw on it right there with peeled crayons. it’s luscious.

another thing you can do is line the tray with foil (when cool, before you turn it on) and draw on the foil. then do some print-making my pressing papers onto the design you’ve created.

i dragged this paper through the image on the foil for a smeared effect

the process is highly satisfying and results are always stunning with either method.

if you use the finger painting paper, the light shines through these so beautifully…

hopefully this sparks some ideas for you suncatcher and lantern makers out there

i made a few cards from some of the prints.

these really do make great sun-catchers… i made this butterfly as a gift for N, since she’s quite obsessed with chasing butterflies around our backyard (and has seriously almost gone through our screen door a few times in pursuit of the elusive yellow-swallowtail.)

simple butterfly made by filling a black construction paper cut-out with the pretty paper



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nature’s stained glass

happy earth week! N and i are no strangers to picking some leaves and flowers and melting some crayons between wax paper… so we combined the two!

once again, we spent the afternoon in the yard and N gathered all sorts of leaves, petals, and flowers… even if that meant picking them from our flowerbed.

we collected them in the bottom tray from a flower pot. (it was handy.)

we gathered up some supplies, which include old crayons, a veggie peeler (to shave the crayons with,) some wax paper, an iron, and a towel.

after i shaved some of the crayons, N arranged the flowers and other findings on the wax paper and sprinkled on the crayon shavings.

when we were finished arranging, it looked like this:

we put another piece of wax paper on top, then a dishtowel. i ironed it on the maximum setting, but nothing seemed to be happening. i’d recommend using a very thin towel or cloth napkin — or you can do what i did and risk ironing directly onto the top sheet of wax paper. (somehow this worked out okay…??!?) then voila — our spring collection preserved in a sun catching way!


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beaded suncatcher

there’s a window in N’s playhouse outside that gets amazing afternoon light… it was begging for some prismatic suncatchers!

i found these cool crystal pieces from an old chandelier ages ago at an antique flea market for maybe a buck each, if that. they seemed like perfect little rainbow-making charms to drop from the bottom of each of our three light-catching strands. because we used nylon bead cord, i just tied a knot to the little loops at the end of the chandelier pieces, and added beads from there. (if you use bead wire, you can rig it like you would the end of a necklace.)

being a formerly avid beader, i have a stash of bead string and wire around the art room, as well as plenty of random cheesy plastic and glass sparkly beads that little girls like to play with. if you head to michael’s or check on, you are likely to find a large pack of plastic sparkly beads for a few dollars. mirrored pieces are nice, too, but i didn’t have any for this.

one night, after dinner, N and i made a bowl of the most colorful and reflective beads we could find. (because we did this in the evening, the photos look darker. sorry. i’m not a fan of using flash.) N had plenty of fun just putting her hands in the bowl to feel the beads – like a tiny sensory table.

she searched for treasures to thread onto our bead cord.

we made three strands of totally random color order and all different lengths.

we tied loops in the top of them so that the next day we could hang them from nails in the wall of the shed-turned-playhouse above the window.

they’re already making rainbows all over the walls in the afternoon sunshine… love it!



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big butterfly

just a petite post about a big butterfly. last year we made these little coffee filter butterflies, that i blogged about recently.

then an art therapist friend gave me a few of these huuuuge coffee filters. so one rainy day, we colored all over one of them with markers, like we’ve done before to make coffee filter flowers.

then we set it outside in the rain. (we kept ours out there too long -while we went to ballet class- and most of the color washed away. usually you can just remove it from the rain after about 5 minutes of getting soaked.)

once it was dry, N wanted to wear it.

then we gathered it in the center, paperclipped it, and attached some twisted pipe cleaners to the center for the butterfly’s body. now N’s playhouse (<– stay tuned) has a large lepidoptera friend in the window, catching the light.

you don’t have to go big to do this — regular, human-sized coffee filters will do.


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do-ily love me?

when i saw the rainbowy goodness emanating from these doily hearts on 4 crazy kings, i knew N would love to make some to proudly display in our window for valentine’s day!

i found some doilies in the shape of hearts at michael’s – a pack of 12 for $2.50. after i finished asking myself, “who am i??? am i seriously buying doilies!!?!” N and i headed to the register with my 40% off coupon. cheap. i got over it.

after naptime, N got right to work watercoloring the doily paper. we taped it down to her art board with one little roll of scotch tape in the center, so as not to move the doilies around too much while painting. i advise using a very soft-bristled brush for these for the same reason.

after we saw the pretty, lacy patterns the paint was making on the art board when we peeled the heart away, we thought it’d be fun to tape the doilies to paper to savor those lace prints.

and those papers turned out super-cool and will make nice valentines on their own.

once the hearts were finished, we put them in our front window. even though painted only on one side, they make pretty suncatchers. (the pic below is actually the back of them – the unpainted side – with dusk light showing through.) if we had used watered-down acrylic or tempera paints, the paint might have bled through to the other side even more for a double-sided look, and might have been more vibrant like the one i saw on the blog that inspired this art task. i feel like if we found smaller doilies at the store, they would make beautiful garland when strung together.

what a cheery way to say “happy valentine’s day!” to our neighbors passing by… (and a way to publicly admit that i bought doilies…??)

even a lovely pink flowering tree for valentine's day!


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honey, i shrunk the art

i’m not in love with plastics, but who can resist the magic of shrinky dinks? a couple of days ago, my mom, N, and i potted a little plant-window herb garden for our kitchen. then we decided that the herbs needed name tags.

hello my name is: basil

hello my name is: basil

sure, there are so many wonderful materials and ways to create waterproof plant ID tags out there, but i immediately thought of how much fun N has been having with coloring and scribbling lately, so why not color on shrinky dink sheets to make tags? today we headed to michael’s to get shrinky dinks (we opted for the “frosted: ruff n’ ready” kind,) and N got busy decorating the pages with regular colored pencils. if you get the frosted ones, directions say to color on the rough side.

then i cut her drawings into simple oval shapes (any shape will do — it’d be fun to make tiny animals, flowers, etc.) i wrote the herb names on the shiny side of the plastic sheet with a sharpie. (how i adore sharpies.)

cut and labeled

cut and labeled

we heated our toaster oven to 325 degrees and watched as they magically condensed into tiny, thick, hard plastic discs.

shrinky dink plant name tags

we attached craft picks (popsicle sticks, lollipop sticks, narrow dowel rods all work, too) to them using superglue (e6000 industrial glue is what the shrinky dink company recommends for the best adhesion.) if you wanna skip this step, cut shrinky dink paper tags into a long, rectangle with a point at the bottom or cut a post shape into the bottom of your desired shape and just push the one piece into the soil.

shrinky dink plant tag chives

and now our little garden friends are ready to have a little meet & greet in our window sill while we make a beautiful herbed quiche.

nice to meetcha! wanna eatcha!

nice to meetcha! wanna eatcha!

p.s. i punched holes into some of the extras (before baking) and made gift tags for future use.

for charmed gift packages

for charmed gift packages



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waxing aesthetic

we’ve just made a visit to a wonderful local butterfly pavilion. N has had butterflies on the brain ever since and wanted to make one. i saw this melted crayon shaving project online a while back, and i figured we could make a butterfly to hang in a window.

first, i found extra crayons we had laying around and shaved them with a potato peeler while N napped. (if you do this with your child, it requires supervision, as the peelers can be sharp!) i grouped the colors into four different bowls so that it would be pleasing for my daughter to blend them, though it would be fine for them all to be mixed together initially, too.

crayon shavings

crayon shavings

i taped wax paper down onto N’s little table, and displayed the colorful bowls for her. when she saw this project set up, she got very excited and said, “mommy, i love to make pictures! do you love to do this too?” then she got busy, sprinkling the crayon shavings onto the wax paper. she moved them around with her hands, and seemed to enjoy the tactile nature of this project for quite a while.


crayon shavings tactile

when she was finished, we made sure the crayons shavings were arranged very close together, with little or no space in between them. i taped another sheet of wax paper over top, and laid down a dishtowel on top of that. i set the iron to “cotton” and once it was hot, i ironed over the dishtowel with the purpose of melting the crayon shavings together. i learned, in my first time doing this today, that it is probably best not to move the iron back and forth because it can create a snag in the wax paper. rather, you can just press the iron down over the area. i also learned that if you plan to hang this in a window, use thin layers of crayon shavings to make it translucent rather than opaque. ours has spots of both.

after, it looked like this:

melted crayons held up to the light

melted crayons held up to the light

after the sandwiched wax cooled off, we decided to cut it into the shape of a butterfly to hang in the window. you can cut this into endless shapes, or leave the sheet as is, if you’d like. after we cut it, i ironed the edges of the cut butterfly again (under the towel) to seal it, as i noticed some rogue crayon shavings escaping the sandwich. i poked two holes into the butterfly (with a straight pin) and strung some embroidery thread through them to hang N’s creation in the window. almost like stained glass, here is N’s new playroom decoration:

butterfly suncatcher

butterfly suncatcher

admiring her work

admiring her work

this project can be done to make stained glass-like art. it would be a cute way to make small, handmade ornaments as gifts. it can also be done on white paper. (i think glossy fingerpainting paper would work well) to do a melted crayon picture. instead of scattering the crayons randomly, your kid can create a picture or pattern with them, too. many options, all colorful and beautiful!


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