Posts Tagged ‘wood’

art fair in the redwoods

for us, one of the highlights of this time of year in the bay area is the kings mountain arts fair. it is held in woodside, ca, for three days, every labor day weekend, and it is utter and complete MAGIC!

magic in the way that one feels like a tiny wood nymph walking among these giant redwood trees, checking out amazing artisan wares.

the sounds of one artist playing his handmade native american flutes and another playing his drums rings through the woods.

at 2010 fair, playing with flute maker guillermo martinez just before i bought a flute from him

i’m a girl who loves herself some etsy, but this is like a 3D etsy set in the middle of a fairy tale forest… complete with coffee, cookies, and beekeepers with their honey.

a magical land where there is inspirational art at every turn.

i love this mandala mixed media piece (2010)

a fairy tale where woodland creatures surprise you (when trying on expensive leather masks.)

she is, of course, a fox

a fairy tale where kids can literally climb inside of huge tree stumps and create their own crowns from aluminum foil, ribbons, and flowers…

or hide in the shadows of tee pees…

N and i wandered around this festival on saturday and struck up conversations with amazing woodworkers from earnest efforts who carve these gorgeous boxes and spirit shakers.

N was such a sweet shopper that the artist even gifted her with a spirit shaker made from purpleheart wood — a naturally purple wood. “how did he know this was my favorite color??” see? magic!

i would show you a photo of all of the lovely purchases we made, but we made a dent in our holiday shopping at the festival, so i don’t want to spoil the surprises. let’s just say that they are hand-crafted and heARTful gifts!

if you’re ever in the bay area around labor day, i highly recommend checking this out!


where and when are your favorite art fairs?


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branch art (post-irene)

our hearts go out to all of our east coast friends who have been dealing with hurricane irene and her aftermath. in our pre-cali stomping grounds of richmond, va, much of the beloved city’s beloved residents have been without power for days and huge trees fell and took out homes, cars, playhouses, etc. the photo below is one that my dear friend in richmond took of a fallen tree in her yard.

photo by amy howarth

this is the scene in many of my friends’ yards right now, and the work of cutting up the trunks and branches has begun. while these trees make for fine firewood for the winter, surely some little parts of these hurricane spoils could be repurposed into lovely branch art, yes?

photo by amy howarth

coincidentally i’ve been drooling over some tree-themed pins in the past few months (cannot. curb. pinterest. addiction.) and it seems that, while hurricanes are often tragic and never desirable, mother nature has left behind some art materials in my friends’ yards. so i’ve decided to share some ideas for how to make art out of this bad situation, for those of you who may have a lot of wood lying around. and a saw. (gosh, i want a saw.)

if you click on the images below, they will take you to the source of the image.

building blocks - i SO want these!

wall art (many other branchy ideas at this link, too)


love these gift tags - or stamp any image onto them & glue a magnet to the back!

i'm seriously making these in the fall (i heart mini-eco!)

weaving between the branches

how stylie are these hooks?

great table!

lovely beads

so beautiful above the bed

earthy candle holders

when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

when hurricanes give you fallen trees, make branch art!


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cork boats ahoy!

a few months ago i inherited a huge box of wine corks from a friend who was moving. because i’m not going to decorate my home with someone else’s wine choices (though there are some great wreaths, corkboards, etc out there,) i’ve been trying to think of kid craft ideas to do with cork. when i saw this gem on jonah lisa land, via the crafty crow, i knew we had to give it a whirl.

N and i selected 15 corks from the stash to make 5 cork boats. my fox-lover was smitten with one that said “foxhollow” on it and claimed it immediately. we selected some colorful paper to use for sails, and got out my glue gun, craft sticks (toothpicks work too,) twine, eye-hooks, and driftwood/sticks. ready to create!

N got busy folding paper in half and cutting doubled triangles out for sails…

…while i hot glued corks together. (i suppose you could use other waterproof glues that are more kid-friendly, but this is what we had on hand.)

using a dollop of hot glue, i erected the craft sticks in between corks and let them dry.

then we folded the sails around the craft stick and glued them in place. (note: if you use paper like we did, it will get soggy when capsized. if that matters to you, you might want to laminate it with packaging tape or contact paper, use craft foam for sails, or use something plastic like an old plastic folder perhaps.)

we screwed teeny eye-hooks into the front of each ship and tied twine to the hook on one end and to the center of a piece of driftwood on the other end. N had fun rolling up each twine around the driftwood (a natural buoy!) that way our ships wouldn’t sail away from us — we could always hang onto them.

with our boats in a basket…

we set out with some friends to a favorite park with a great creek, perfect for wading and sailing… yet, it was all dried out! so the following day, we ventured to another park with a manmade lake with, uh, turquoise dye in it [willies] to try out our ships.

it was so quaint, simple, and fun — N was psyched that they actually floated! nevermind that the mid-lake fountain kept pushing our boats back to the shore line. no bother for these mighty cap’ns.

wishing you smooth sailing through the rest of summer!

so, what should we make with the rest of our corks?


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forest fiesta: redwoods & paperweights

we are so excited to be participating in mommy lab‘s forest fiesta, along with 22 other fabulous bloggers, in celebration of world environment day! with the theme being forests this year, it seemed like a wonderful time to explore the magical woods around us in northern california — the redwoods!

our family took a little drive up to visit muir woods national state park. we told N that we were going to a place where she could hunt for fairies, so she brought along her magnifying glass… of course, when we got there, yetis seemed to dominate her mythical creature search, true to form for our daughter.

we even spent time playing our native american flutes in the forest together while in muir woods… it is such a beautiful experience to play the flute for the trees, and in that sort of earth space. forest fiesta, indeed!

to think about the interconnectedness of the redwood root mass beneath our feet while walking through the forest inspires a sense of awe and reverence for mother nature. to sit upon a redwood’s tree seat and feel your own rootedness, groundedness, and sense of belonging to the earth is a gift. i couldn’t help but think of starhawk’s teachings while we were in the forest, and vowed (again, to myself) to read the spiral dance, as its been sitting on my bookshelf forever.

N was inspired to create her own forest. since we had recently purchased some plaster of paris, i decided that it might serve as a nice forest floor for her project. we mixed up a batch, tinted it with a bit of green acrylic paint (per N’s request) and poured it into a cream carton.

after gathering all sorts of twigs, sticks, and stalks of lavender in the yard, N stuck them down into the plaster of paris.

she sprinkled some small pebbles she found at a local beach on top. we let this sit to harden for about a day and a half, and then N ripped the carton off of the plaster…

to reveal a lovely forest model!

N immediately introduced it to her toy animals, so they could rightfully inhabit the forest.

how many animals can you spy?

we hot glued some felt to the bottom of the forest model so the plaster wouldn’t damage our furniture when N brought it inside to play, and also to use it as a paperweight when the animals finish frolicking about the forest.

happy world environment day to all… and in the spirit of forests (and the wisdom of starhawk) — let’s seedbomb the earth!




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simple driftwood mobile

today i have the absolute pleasure and honor of guest blogging on one of my super-duper-favorite blogs, mamaroots! chris willow, of mamaroots, is a talented toymaker extraordinaire and such an inspiring writer, healer, and momma!

chris makes these beautiful wooden toys, which bless our home in just about every nook and cranny… so what on earth was i thinking when the art material i shared on her blog was WOOD when i know nearly nothing about woodworking!?? haha! perhaps it is the inspiration of chris and our lovely pacific coastline with its magical driftwood…

but i was called to post this simple driftwood mobile we created as a family. it’s a paired-down, less-is-more version of the beach treasure mobile we shared here last week. don’t you love how mobiles are all about moving in the wind and all about balance? please hop over to mamaroots to check out my guest post over there today.

so easy, so lovely. so perfect for father’s day.

*wink wink*


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flower fairies

have you ever been addicted to making flower fairies?

oh, i’ve had this bug for way too many years, and now i’m thinking it just might be genetic…

they’re just too fun! gather up some floral wire, wooden beads, silk petals, and get busy making new little friends! OR get the kit at the bottom of this post that has all of the materials in it, along with inspirational ideas for fairies you can create.

love these springtime friends!




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our egg ritual

yes, i’ve posted this one before… and it’s because we’ve just realized that this is becoming one of our springtime rituals in our house. sure dying easter eggs is fun, but watercoloring wooden ones leaves a lasting impression.

a package was delivered to us last week from casey’s wood products. when i opened it and N saw a bunch of wooden eggs of all sizes, she started jumping up and down… “we’re painting wooden eggs again!?!? yay!!!”

because we were having a few families over for dinner, N wanted me to woodburn the names (blurred out below) of the kids onto a few of the eggs (and one for her, of course) with my trusty woodburning tool.

then she was totally absorbed in watercoloring the eggs with colors that remind her of those people.


after polishing the eggs with our homemade wood creme, we presented them in a nest to the kids at the dinner. the artiste was very proud.

i think we’ll do this every year… as gifts, and as decor for our own nature tables and baskets. what springtime rituals do you have in your home?

sharing the joy


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our birdhouse

one of N’s friends gave her a wooden birdhouse for her birthday, along with some paints. you can get these unpainted birdhouses at michaels (or make your own if you’re handy like that!) N was psyched to paint it!

it’s been a mild and comfortable “winter” here in the bay area, so we went outside to do a little painting.

N loved coming up with different color schemes for each side of the house.

she came up with fun details, like a bird’s nest with eggs, she said “so the birds know this is a safe place to sleep.”

the front is very welcoming. N even wrote “hi” on it!

N asked me to paint a rainbow on the “sky part” she made on the back. and i helped with a cherry blossom branch on the pink and red side. (i was psyched to be able to contribute… this was a fun project for momma, too!)

the red parts at the bottom are N's ladybugs that got their spots when the paint dried

when it was dry, we coated it with a weatherproof varnish. (i always prefer to brush varnish on over spraying it on – especially with kids around.)

now to find the perfect spot for it in our yard… and maaaaybe paint a few more of these beauties as gifts! 🙂


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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!


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fairy looms

does your little one gather thousands of leaves and twigs every time s/he’s outside? mine does! from nature walks to playgrounds to the preschool sandbox, N is constantly in search of treasures. when i saw the framework for this idea on moment to moment, i thought it would make a sweet storage space for seasonal findings.

i like how on moment to moment, the kids made beaded strands and various things to add to their fairy loom (which we’ll likely do later,) but mostly i wanted to make one where we could store natural objects… a fairy loom for all seasons! first, we needed a sturdy stick in the shape of the letter Y. last week we went on a nature walk with gwee, and hunted for said stick with no luck. we did find plenty of leaves and things, so N saved the things she gathered in anticipation of making a fairy loom.

over the weekend on a hike with her daddy, N found the perfect Y shaped stick for her loom. it was a bit bigger than i’d imagined it being (i was envisioning a 1-2 foot stick) but it turned out to be perfect.


N and i chose some variegated ribbon to thread the loom. you could use any ribbon, yarn, twine, or string you like. i wound the ribbon around the forked part of the stick. in hindsight, i should have created a loop around each side of the branch on each pass to make the weaving tighter. eh, next time.

weaving ribbon in a figure 8 pattern


we wove the found objects into it… leaves, feathers, pine needles with tiny pinecones on them, lavender, flowers, etc. N said “over, under, over, under…” as she wove.

when it was finished, N was so enthralled with it. she asked with wonder, “do you think a fairy would land on this?” (i think she’s hoping for tinkerbell to visit her, like in the new tink movie that just came out.)


we brought it into the house and put it in the corner of our den, kind of near the seasonal altar (though not in this photo.) it seems like a good place to store some of the little beautiful treats that N brings inside for us, and perhaps we’ll string some beads and shells to add to it, as well. i’m excited for the leaves to turn reds and oranges and yellows so we can add them to the loom — the color change happens later (and less vibrantly than i’m used to) in the bay area.

the loom can be cleaned out and redesigned with each season. i also think smaller (and bigger!) ones would be pretty hung from trees, hung on porches, or placed around the yard…  oooo…


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autumnal art

with the autumn equinox just behind us, my thoughts are turning to colorful leaves and acorn hunts! i thought it might be a nice time to revisit the artistic endeavors that last fall brought in our home. click on the names below to see the complete tutorial for each:

windblown trees

leaf rubbings

some felted wool acorn cuties

a leaf mask

yarn pumpkins

and one of my favorites… autumn leaf garland!

we did a lot of fun halloween crafts last year, too… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. for now, enjoy the refreshing air, pinecones, bright leaves, and acorn treasures the season brings! crisp, fresh autumn art coming soon! stay tuned!

happy autumn!


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beach installations

sure, it’s not innovative, but i just had to include our day at the beach this weekend, making art and fun out of the natural surroundings…

there were sand drawings…

no one is a stranger to the magic of a sandcastle…uh, or a sand alligator. N and her daddy loved making this creature together!

N took her time creating and adding to this rock/driftwood/sand man.

i collected shells, sea glass, and flat, smooth stones for painting – ever the beachcomber, i am. best art supply store there is!

there was plenty of kite-flying in the mix, as well.

N collected driftwood on the walk back up to the car.

"mommy, i think i'm going to build a house out of this when we get home."

let’s see what else transpires from our day at the beach…


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