Category Archives: Arts and Crafts

Glitter Putty On the Light Box

Glitter PuttyI’m not sure why making putty seems to be a summer activity for us, but last week once again found us playing with putty on our light box. This time we made a slight modification to the putty recipe by using glitter glue instead of clear glue. We found this putty to be a bit more firm than the clear glue putty. Dora was even able to mold the putty into a short-lived snowman!Glitter Putty SnowmanWe also blew putty bubbles with straws, which Dora just had to pop, of course!Glitter Putty BubbleGlitter Putty Bubble Being PoppedPopped Glitter Putty Bubble

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Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Our Fairy Garden

Fairy GardenAs a Waldorf-inspired homeschooling mama, who loves to garden, it’s kind of amazing that I haven’t got around to creating a fairy garden any earlier than I did. We finally got around to it last month though.Fairy Garden WellTo house our garden, I used a large metal tub that I bought a long time ago. I drilled holes into the bottom of the tub, put a layer of rocks on the bottom of it, followed by a large layer of coconut coir, which is very light and bulky, followed by a layer of potting soil. I planted a couple of moneywort plants, a couple of thrift plants, some British soldiers (lichen), and lots of moss. We then decorated the garden with gems and fairy garden miniatures. Two items that I particularly love, are the adorable fairy house, which came from an Etsy store, called Gnome Sweet Gnome, and the wooden well, which came from another Etsy store, called Dragonfly Studio Arts.Fairy Garden HouseWe really enjoyed building the garden and a couple of days after building it, I left a small bottle of “fairy dust” for Dora to find. She was so excited that the “fairies” would leave something for her. She was disappointed that it didn’t make her fly though. She even warned me that if she suddenly started floating in the air that evening, it would mean that the fairy dust had finally started working.

Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Fariies, Gardening
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Window Transparencies

Window Transparencies 26Last week, we decided to play with kite paper some more and made window transparencies. We used large sheets of kite paper, which are harder to find, though Palumba carries them (I’m not sure where I bought mine, but I only purchased one sheet of each color, so it was much cheaper). I’ve also read on other blogs that people have used tissue paper to do these. Dora found this activity to be extremely frustrating. Were I to do it again, I would cut out a variety of shapes ahead of time for her to use. She really had trouble grasping the idea of how shapes would go across the frame, so she’d cut giant pieces of paper and then not understand that she needed to trim the paper or she’d cut tiny pieces of paper and not be able to understand how to attach them to the frame, leaving gaps. So we ended up cutting the project short, with a much simpler design than I had hoped to do. To make the one that we did finish, I cut out a frame from black cardstock (I just made a random design).Window Transparencies 3We then glued a piece of blue kite paper on the back of the frame for the background. I later read that it is best to start with a clear or light colored piece of paper. I will admit, that we had some trouble with trying to blend yellow and blue kite paper to yield green, so I would probably use a light colored paper for the background next time.Window Transparencies 15We then glued on shapes to the back of the blue kite paper to make our design. This is where things fell apart, so we rushed the process. I would have liked to experiment with layering a bit more, but maybe next time….Window Transparencies 20To attach the window transparency to our window, we used double-sided tape. I really like window transparencies and am looking forward to being able to create more elaborate designs.

If you’d like to see some other designs, which I have pinned on Pinterest, be sure to check out my Pinterest board.

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Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Making Window Stars

Window Star 18Last week, I was going to tell a story to Dora that involved star flowers. So I thought it would be fun to make some window stars. I’d never made window stars before. The only thing that challenged me was my own mentality that paper folding crafts should stay together by themselves, as with origami. It really bugged my OCD-ish senses to use glue and tape! Otherwise, the process was pretty straightforward. I used this video from Sarah from Bella Luna Toys to get us going.

To make a basic window star, start with a piece of Kite Paper. Fold the paper in half length-wise and width-wise. Then open the paper back up.Window Star 1Bring the corners in to the center lines, like this.Window Star 2Fold two of the sides towards the middle like I did in the photo below (I only show one side folded, so that you can see the difference, but you would fold both sides).Window Star 3You will end up with a kite-like shape. Fold eight of these shapes and then join them with a little bit of glue (that dries clear), applied to the center line, as seen below.  When you come to the last “kite” you will need to tuck it under the first “kite” so that it layers properly.Window Star 4You will end up with an eight-pointed star that looks something like the star in the picture at the top of this post. You can attach your stars to your window using small pieces of double-sided taper. I then decided to experiment and made an extra fold for each star point. I ended up with some rhombas-like shapes.Window Star 5This small adjustment meant that I needed 16 star points for my star! Window stars are a great way to learn about geometry by the way. I messed up a little on this star, in that my folds don’t all go the same way. This did not become apparent until I hung the star on our window and I could see the gaps in the inner shadowy circle. With window stars, the inner shapes that are made by overlapping pieces of paper are almost as important as the outer shape, so I will need to pay more attention to that the next time we try this.Window Star 7

If you are interested in trying to make window stars and want to take things a bit farther, there are two good books that can provide ideas and inspiration. They are both available through Amazon. If you know of any other good sources for window star designs, please mention them in the comments below. I am totally in love with making these and though Dora can’t fold the paper quite right yet, she loves helping to pick out the color schemes.

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Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Paper Crafts
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Naturally-Dyed Easter Eggs

Naturally Dyed Easter Eggs 1As we’ve been trying to do things more “au natural” around here, I thought that we’d try making natural Easter egg dye this year. I read several posts about it and kind of winged things in regards to making my dyes. I filled large mason jars about 3/4 full with my dyes, added a tablespoon of vinegar to each dye, added our eggs to the jars, and left the eggs sitting in the dyes for about 24 hours.Naturally Dyed Easter EggsWe did run into a couple of obstacles. We did two batches of eggs. For the first batch, we used eggs that I had blown out. These tended to float at the top of the liquid and thereby, only get dyed on one side. I tried holding the eggs under the liquid, so that liquid would fill the empty eggs, but I found that the egg membranes would create a seal over the hole I used to blow out the eggs. I then used a toothpick to try to hold back the membrane so that the egg would fill with the liquid and sink. This worked, but was time-consuming and then the next day, I had to repeat the process in reverse to drain the eggs.

For our second batch of eggs, we used hard boiled eggs. The big challenge with these was that I had to make sure that all of the dyes had cooled to room temperature or else the eggs would often crack. These eggs sunk just fine, obviously, but wherever they pressed against the glass of the jar, the dye color did not take. So, in general, I’d say that whether you use blown eggs or hard boiled eggs, you need to check on them several times and move them around to make sure that they get colored all over.

Overall, I liked the look of the natural dyes. They definitely aren’t as intense as store-bought dyes. They also produce a less consistent look, but I personally liked that. I did have problems with some of the dyes not producing the color that I had read that they would produce. For example, I read that boiling carrots would produce an orange dye, but after several attempts, I never was able to produce more than a pale orange liquid. I also was never able to get a dark green. Next year, I might just make the orange and green by blending the other colors. I did achieve several good colors using these items:

  • Yellow – turmeric (add turmeric to boiling hot water until desired color achieved)
  • Blue – boiled red cabbage (the liquid looked pink, but turned the eggs a light blue)
  • Indigo – grape juice
  • Pink – boiled red beets
  • Brown – tea, boiled chamomile flowers, and red onion skins all produced different shades of brown

No matter what coloring agent you use, be sure to add a tablespoon of vinegar to the finished dye to help the egg shell absorb the color.

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Easter
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Edible Flower Lollipops

Edible Lollipops 4

This project was not one that I had planned for us to do this year, since it entails cooking candy at extremely high temperatures, but Dora started arguing with me that people could not eat flowers and I felt that I just had to show her that some flowers were not only edible, but yummy. We bought our flowers from our local food co-op. They were labeled as edible and were 100% organic. Obviously, one shouldn’t go picking flowers from any old garden and eating them and one should be 100% sure about which flowers are edible before eating them. Ironically, Tertia (age 18) came in while we were making these and started arguing with me about the edibility of flowers also, so clearly this is a gap in my kids’ education that I have failed to address.

Edible Lollipops 3

I used theses directions for making spring flower lollipops. Some notes that we came away with are:

  • The flowers kind of shrivel up when you put them in the candy, so you can use a mold that is smaller than your flowers (Tertia insisted this was a case of cruelty to flowers and it kind of did seem like the flowers were crying out in pain as they were scalded to death with the candy mixture Smile )
  • SprinkleBakes mentions using a candy mold, but I couldn’t find any that were safe for using with hard candy, which gets much hotter than soft candies, so we used the powdered sugar method
  • These lollipops are extremely sweet, so I recommend making them when you know you’ll have a lot of people over. They look lovely, so would add an added extra to your table and people wouldn’t feel the need to eat more than one.
  • Use real white sugar to make these (we used a pseudo-white sugar that we get from the food co-op, because it is fair trade and slightly healthier than regular white sugar – our sugar made the lollipops kind of yellow-tinted, such that they looked a bit jaundiced).

All, in all, this taught Dora (and Tertia!) that some flowers are edible, but I wouldn’t make these again, unless I was doing it for a party. It might have been the cherry candy flavoring that we used, but I just found these to be too cloyingly sweet for our family.

Edible Lollipops 5

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Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts, In the Kitchen, Nature Study, Spring
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Decorating Beeswax Eggs

Easter Egg Candles 2Last week, Dora and I decided that we would decorate some beeswax eggs that I purchased last year. We used the Stockmar decorating wax, which I have blogged about before. I tried doing more research about this wax since we last used it, to see if there is a better way to work with it and the best that I can tell is that this wax is just too brittle to be modeled and shaped like modeling wax can be. It seems that it just meant to be cut into designs with knives, cookie cutters, toothpicks, etc. and then pressed on to a candle or other smooth object. I haven’t read anywhere that this is the only way the wax should be used and some blogs/vendors imply that the wax can be molded like modeling wax can be. I did, however, find two .pdfs from Stockmar, Experimenting with Decorating Wax 1 and Experimenting with Decorating Wax 2, and and in each of them, they demonstrate various ways of cutting the wax to use it. I believe that the people who make really elaborate candles, with 3-D designs and so forth, must actually be using modeling wax to decorate their candles (the 2nd .pdf from Stockmar even discusses using modeling wax instead of decorating wax). Please, if anyone knows otherwise, feel free to correct me! Since we went into this project thinking we would use the wax like we do modeling wax, Dora found the whole exercise to be very frustrating, so we just decorated two eggs and left two blank. I may try decorating some more candles with modeling wax in the future, so that she can model the designs she wants. If I do, I will post about it to let you all know if it works any better for us. Next time we go to use the decorating wax, I may just cut out geometric shapes ahead of time for her to adhere to her candle in any design she wants to make with shapes.Easter Egg Candles 1I honestly thought the eggs candles were pretty enough just as they were!

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in. Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Beeswax, Easter, Spring
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Homeschool Mother’s Journal–Amazing Spider Webs, Big Rocks, and Pompom Bunnies

Big Rock Park 3In my life this week… I saw my rheumatologist and she put me on a malaria drug. It will take 1-2 months to see if it works. Meanwhile, I’m really ready for spring. I’m not normally so gung-ho about spring, but this year, despite our mild winter, I am just ready to be done with it. I want to get our garden going and see how well our new non-genetically modified seeds do. Did you know that a lot of vegetable seeds are actually genetically modified? So many of us grow our own vegetables to avoid things like genetically modified vegetables, yet we end up growing our very own genetically modified vegetables! If you are interested in guaranteeing that your seeds are not genetically modified, you can check out this safe seed list from the Council for Responsible Genetics.Big Rock Park 1Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… Today Dora and I went to a new park in our area with our friends. That is where we saw the spider web that I have pictured at the top of this post. I know it looks almost fake, but I promise its real, I even have witnesses! The photo above is of the kids climbing a giant rock. You can tell that Dora is my 5th, because not only did I let her climb the rock when it was wet and slippery, but I stood back and took photos of her climbing the rock. We did not go to the park to geocache, but as we were walking I saw a spot and said to my friend, “I bet there’s a geocache there!” So I went to check and sure enough, there was a geocache there! It was really weird, because there were tons of great places to hide a geocache at this park and I never have found a cache that I wasn’t specifically looking for. Big Rock Park 2In our homeschool this week… I tired to focus more on poetry and songs that had movement in them and Dora really responded well to them. She has adapted very well to our colored gnome days-of-the-week system and knows what our order the days/colors of the week go in and what happens on each day/color. She also has shown a sudden interest in Elsa Beskow books. We attempted a few craft projects this week. One was to make a pompom bunny. I read about this craft in several of my craft books and they all used cardboard circles to make the pompoms. We found this method to be incredibly confusing and frustrating. In fact, our pompom fell apart. So instead, I tried the method that I have seen all over Pinterest, of wrapping the yarn around your hand (I used this video tutorial for directions on how to do this). Dora loved having the yarn wrapped around her and it only took about five minutes to make each pompom. I then made some little felt ears and tied them to the pompoms. I contemplated giving the bunny some eyes and a nose, but couldn’t come up with a design I liked, plus Dora was driving me crazy with wanting to play with the bunny NOW.

Making a Pompom Bunny 1Making a Pompom Bunny 2Making a Pompom Bunny 3Making a Pompom Bunny 4

How about you? How was your week? What have you been up to? Has spring come to your neighborhood?

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Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Nature Study, Spring, Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disorder, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Coloring With Stockmar Block Crayons

Chickadee Block Crayon DrawingBeeswax block crayons are an art medium that is fairly unique to Waldorf education, and to the best of my knowledge, Stockmar is the only company that makes beeswax block crayons. When I first looked into Waldorf education fifteen years ago, or so, I went to homeschool curriculum fair, where a lovely lady convinced me to purchase a very expensive set of Stockmar Beeswax Block Crayons. I came home and set them out for the kids to use and three years later, they had barely been touched. I decided then and there that they had to be one of the stupidest art mediums ever invented by mankind.When I decided to use a Waldorf-inspired style of homeschooling with Dora, it was with great trepidation that I contemplated using block crayons again. It seemed, however, that using block crayons and the accompanying Waldorf style of drawing were absolutely essential to a Waldorf education. Since this time around, I had the internet at my disposal, I did some more research. The first thing that convinced my heart to soften towards block crayons was when I purchased Coloring With Block Crayons, by Sieglinde De Francesca. Then I purchased a video of a lecture that Sieglinde had given and I actually began to contemplate liking block crayons. When I finally found Sieglinde’s professionally made 3 DVD set (there is also a book/DVD bundle), I suddenly found that block crayons were my favorite art medium!Stockmar Block CrayonsThe first thing I learned that we had been doing wrong all those years ago, was not breaking in our crayons. This means that you don’t want the sharp edges, but you want to rub the crayons on paper until they are more rounded, otherwise, the lines are too sharp (note in the photo above, the crayon on the left is much more rounded and smooth than the almost new crayon on the right). Another error I was making, was not cleaning my crayons. I’m still working on finding a storage solution so that our crayons don’t rub against each other, but even when just coloring with crayons, they will get bits of other colors on them and I need to clean them by either using the scraper that Stockmar includes or by rubbing them clean on paper (I gather that there are other methods of cleaning the crayons, but none that I have tried). Finally, I learned that when coloring with block crayons, one is aiming for more of an impressionistic style, without fine details and definition. At the top of this post is a drawing of a chickadee that I made today. I drew it in about 15 minutes. The colors are a bit “different” because ideally, one only wants to use the primary colors with young children. I actually allow Dora to use all the colors that we have, as that was what she was already used to, but I try to set a good example. I also outlined the bird too forcefully for a true Waldorf drawing, but given that I had never actually tried block crayons in a proper manner, until 6 weeks ago and that I have only had about 5 twenty-minute drawing sessions since watching the DVD’s and reading the book, I’d say that the drawing came out pretty good and gives a good idea of the potential of block crayons.

Please note my left sidebar for all the awesome link-ups that I am participating in.

Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Block Crayons, Waldorf
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Spring Gnomes

Spring GnomesI’ve completely finished making our monthly gnomes and am now moving on to new projects! For our spring monthly gnomes, I used a pattern from Making Peg Dolls, by Margaret Bloom.

Here is what the hat looks like from the back and above.

Spring Gnomes Back View

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Disclosure: Some item links in this post are affiliate links. I will make a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. All opinions expressed, however, are 100% my own.

Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Gnomes, Peg Dolls, Rhythm, Spring, Waldorf
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff