Category Archives: Arts and Crafts

Our Winter Monthly Gnomes

Winter GnomesI’m finishing up the monthly gnomes that Dora asked me to make. As I mentioned previously, I opted to design different head attire for the gnomes, based on each season. Here are our winter gnomes for December, January, and February. I made knitted hats for these little guys, using this pattern from Anna Branford. It was fairly easy, especially given that I am a novice knitter that hadn’t done any knitting in almost a decade. It did take a couple of tries to get the hats the right size, since our peg dolls are a different size than the ones she used. I also learned that it is possible to invent knitting stitches that will actually create something, just with a completely different texture. I always thought that if I knit or purled incorrectly, my knitting wouldn’t stay together, but with me having to switch back and forth between knitting and purling, I somehow started doing both stitches completely incorrectly. So I ended up with a hat that fit right and was shaped right, but had a completely different texture from the other two hats. I was very confused for a while!

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Maureen

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

Felt Candy Bar Envelope Valentines (With a Tutorial, of Sorts)

Felt Envelope Valentines 6I’m sad to report that, though I did finish many of the valentines that I was working on, I had a “flare” (I’m thinking that I did too much at the zoo last week) this weekend and slept away most of my sewing time. So, at the last minute, I took Dora to Target, where she picked out cheesy Tinker Bell and Sponge Bob valentines, which were at least on sale, which is a perk of waiting until the last minute to buy them. They come complete with lollipops, made from who knows what. Secunda put it best, when she said, “Without the cards to give a context, the Tinker Bell lollipops look a bit scary.” Anyway, Dora is just happy to be going to a Valentine’s Day party. She doesn’t quite understand why she doesn’t just get to keep all of the felt envelopes that I made (I’m going to finish them in time for Valentine’s Day 2014!). I finally compromised with her and let her fill them with Hershey bars to give to the family, though I still had to pry the envelopes from her hands afterwards!

Felt Envelope Valentines 2Anyhoo, on the off chance that there is anybody out there who cannot sew as well as I can (hey all you preschoolers, I’m talking to you, so pay attention!), I thought I’d offer my version of a tutorial. I first want to mention that my sewing skills are minimal, my tutorial-writing skills even less, so I offer no guarantees, whatsoever, that following my directions will result in anything, other that utter rubbish. If you have chosen to continue with my “tutorial”,  first, you need to measure the size of the candy bar you will be using. Then you want to cut a piece of felt that is as wide as your candy bar, plus 2 cm’s (or so) for stitching (I believe the proper phrase here is “seam allowance”). The rectangular part of your felt should be as tall as your candy bar times two, plus 2 cm’s (or so) for stitching. You will then want to include a triangular piece on top for the flap. I used a protractor to get the angles even on each side. In the long run, you have a piece of felt that looks like a tall house. You will also need to cut out a felt heart that is smaller than your candy bar (in all directions). Attach the heart to the “front” half of the envelope, using a fell stitch (or your closest approximation to a fell stitch that you can do, which is always good enough when making valentines). Felt Envelope Valentines 3Fold the rectangular portion of our felt piece in half and blanket stitch up one side, around the envelope flap (triangular portion of the felt) and down the other side.Turn the envelope over and sew on a button to the rectangular portion of your fabric. Cut a button hole in the flap. It is my understanding, that since this is felt, you do not need to reinforce the buttonhole, not to mention that this you’re making something to hold a candy bar, not the holy grail, but you might want to reinforce the buttonhole, if you expect your valentine to be subjected to extreme forces beyond your control. Felt Envelope Valentines 5Otherwise, put your candy bar in the envelope and button it closed and viola, your valentine is complete!Felt Envelope Valentines 4

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Valentine's Day
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Making Rolled Beeswax Candles

Making Rolled Beeswax Candles 3

We continued to explore beeswax this week, by making rolled beeswax candles. To do this, simply wrap a sheet of honeycomb beeswax around a piece of wick that is long as the wax candle will be, plus 1/2” – 1”, which will be the beginning wick. As this was Dora’s first time working with this material, we did not try anything to complicated, like trying to make tapered candles. Just rolling the candles challenged her fine-motor skills and I had to reroll them some, as she rolled them so loosely, they would just shoot up in flames when lit. We did a bit of decorating, but it is harder to cut out the honeycomb sheets that the decorating wax. The honeycomb pieces tend to crack very easily and also don’t stick to each other as well as the decorating wax.

Making rolled Beeswax Candles 1

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Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Beeswax
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Working With Modeling Wax

Beeswax Carrot

Modeling wax is a popular material in Waldorf schools. I have tried several times over the years to work with the material and have never been successful before. I’ve tried following a variety of helps and hints, such as floating the wax in warm water, to soften the wax, all to no avail. So, it was with a slight sense of dread, that I ordered a set of modeling wax for Dora. This time around, however, we actually got the hang of it! What I determined is that I had needed to work with smaller pieces. When I had read that one should work with small pieces of wax, I was still thinking in play dough terms. I have found that when Dora or I work with a piece that is no larger than a pea, we can easily warm up the wax and shape it as we wish. If we want to work with a larger piece of wax, we simply warm up several small pieces and then work them together.

Beeswax Berries 2

Even when properly softened, working with modeling wax requires more manual dexterity than working with clay or play dough does. So, though Dora really enjoys working with the wax, I have not tried introducing her to anything too complicated. What she enjoys making the most, is little pieces of food for her various wooden animals and doll house dolls. She’s made “berries” of every color and even made some “dragon berries’, which it ends up are multi-colored and quite large. She has also made “corn” for her chickens. I have just begun helping her to make some slightly more complicated shapes, such as “bananas” for her fairies and “carrots” for her rabbits.

Beeswax Chicken Feed

What about you? Have you done any work with modeling wax? If so, do you have any posts that you would be willing to share a link to in the comments section? Or if you know of any other good sites or resources for working with  modeling wax, could you please leave a comment about it? Thus far, the Waldorf books about modeling that I have found are a bit too heavy on the esoteric side and a bit too light on the practical-application side for my taste. Modeling wax can be purchased from most Waldorf craft retailers, but in the event that you want to know what set we are using, it is Stockmar Modeling Beeswax. There is at least one other major brand and one Etsy retailer that I know of, who also make colored modeling beeswax. It is expensive, but it never dries out and lasts a very long time. Please note, this is not the same wax that we used to decorate our pillar candles with, which is decorating wax and has a different texture.

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, Beeswax, Waldorf
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

What We’ve Been Reading Wednesday–Some Pre-order Goodies

I’ve let this weekly column slide while I was trying to find my way around the world of Waldorf. I now feel like I’m pretty centered with Waldorf-inspired education and am ready to get back to my regularly-scheduled business. This week, both Dora and I received a book that we had been eagerly anticipating the release of. Dora’s book was Emeraldalicious, the latest book from the Pinkalicious series, by Victoria Kann. Ironically, Dora had just last week started wanting to read this series over and over again and then this book arrived today. Before we even opened the book, Dora spent a good deal of time “oohing” and “aahing” over the pretty glittery cover. This book features a lot of hearts, so at first I thought it might have been released with Valentine’s Day in mind, but after reading it, I decided that the publishers were probably shooting more for Earth Day, though it also conveys some St. Patrick’s Day ambiance. The basic storyline is that Pinkalicious and her brother, Peter, are walking through the park and stumble upon a part of the park that has been turned into a dump. They use magic to clean up the dump, while having a wonderfully-imaginative fun at the same time. I still stand by my belief that, though Pinkalicious seems like she espouses all of the stereotypes that I try to shield Dora from, Pinkalicious actually is a strong female role model, who allows girls AND boys to enjoy the “traditionally feminine” side of things.

Meanwhile, I happily received my pre-order of Making Peg Dolls, by Margaret Bloom, earlier than the original release date. The book is hard-covered and much heftier than I was expecting, based on the image and other similar books that I have purchased (it’s 189 pages long!). As I have continued to struggle to come up with appropriate head coverings for our “month gnomes”, I was excited to see that this book offers a plethora of inspirational ideas. If you’re at all interested in making peg dolls for the children in your life, this book will answer any questions you have, while providing lots of good ideas for dolls for every season and many festivals of the year (plus a couple of examples of using peg dolls for storytelling).

What about you? Have you been reading any good books lately?

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, Literature
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Rose Play Dough

Rose Play Dough 1

My efforts to go natural are spilling over to Dora’s toys and art materials, as I spend a lot of time handling them. Also, since I have no idea why I developed an auto-immune disorder, I want to be careful in what I expose Dora to in an effort to protect her from the same fate (it is too late for my oldest three children, who are adults with their own ways, and though I am trying with Gohan, it is hard for him, at the age of 14, to break certain habits). Given Dora’s love of flowers, I thought that making play dough with flowers in it would be a great idea. Dora was very excited about the whole process, including picking out which flower we should use for our first batch of “flower play dough”. I used a basic homemade play dough recipe, but added a handful of dried roses to it. The play dough came out a lovely shade of pink and smelled wonderful. Dora couldn’t wait to use it. Then she touched the play dough… then she touched it a second time…then she actually pulled off a piece of the play dough… then she declared that she hated the play dough! It ends up that she hates play dough that has anything textural in it. She has obviously inherited my sensory issues. I’ll admit that it did feel a bit weird to use play dough with stuff in it, but for me, the wonderful aroma outweighed the tactile weirdness. Not so for Dora…

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Maureen

Labels: Arts and Crafts
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Decorating Pillar Candles

Using Decorative Beeswax on Pillar Candles 2

I find this time of year to be a bit depressing. Those of us in the northern hemisphere are still having some of the shortest days of the year, yet we have stored away all that remains of the various “festivals of lights”, which make dark and dreary December so joyful. So I thought that Dora and I could focus on making a bit more of our own light to help get us through the next two months of winter doldrums and cabin fever. The first project I chose for us to do was to decorate some pillar candles with Stockmar decorating wax. Having worked with Stockmar modeling wax quite a bit, I did not think to look up how to do this project. The wax was much stiffer and thinner than the modeling wax, so I got the impression that we should use punches, our nails, and knives to cut out shapes, which we pressed on to our candles. Dora and I made the candle above together, which Dora designed and I cut out the wax for. The design is of Dora and I in a boat at nighttime. Dora wants it to be known to everyone that she is actually the larger person in the boat. I’m sure Freud would have a jolly day psychoanalyzing that one, but I opted to smile and say “sounds good to me!”.

Using Decorative Beeswax on Pillar Candles 1

After we made these candles and I had a moment to do some follow up research and assess what went well and what went not-so-well with this craft project, I learned that the candle decorating wax can be manipulated more like the modeling wax than I realized. It can be cut and punched, but we probably should have warmed the wax a bit more, before trying to apply it to the pillars, so that it would have blended in a bit more. I also saw in the book, Crafts Through the Year, where people actually used knitting needles and other pointed objects to blend the wax in to the pillar, such that it ends up looking like the candle had been painted (the approach is much like needle felting). They even managed to have the wax color fade in and out, which I found to be very impressive. I definitely want to try this project again, as does Dora.

Unexpectedly, Dora has gotten the most joy from lighting these candles and roasting marshmallows over them to make s’mores (with adult supervision, of course). Our fireplace uses natural gas and has a glass screen in front of it, we have no fire pit, and never go camping, so this was actually her first experience with roasting marshmallows. Some of our older kids/young adults even got in on the marshmallow-roasting action! Really, who can resist roasted marshmallows (except for those of us who were missed out because we weren’t home when the action was going on – no I’m not bitter at all, just because I haven’t had a real s’more in years and years, why would I be bitter?!?!).

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, Beeswax, Waldorf
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Natural Christmas Crafts

Making Lemon Pomanders 6

This year, we made a couple of Christmas crafts out of natural materials that went well. The first craft we did was to make lemon pomanders. I’ve seen some where people made them much fancier than ours and ended up with beautiful decorations for their tree, but we just kept ours simple. First we poked the lemons with toothpicks to make holes. Then we stuck whole cloves into the holes. Their smell has been heavenly!

Making Lemon Pomanders 2

Making a Garland From Dried Orange and Apple Slices 5

We also made a simple garland out of dried oranges and apple slices by using an embroidery needle to string a red ribbon through the dried fruits and tying them on with a simple knot (do the knot before you move on to the next fruit or else the fruit will slide all over and you’ll have to go back and restring them all so that you can tie knots – I say this from experience).

Making a Garland From Dried Orange and Apple Slices 6

To dry the fruits, first cut them in 1/4” slices. Then lay the slices out on a cake cooling rack or cookie sheet, so that they are not touching each other (we actually put ours on a cooling rack and then put the cooling rack on to a jelly roll pan, just to catch any juice drips). Cook the fruit slices on the lowest temperature your oven will go to (mine went down to 170 degrees F). Cook the fruit slices until you reach the desired texture, flipping and rotating the slices at least once every hour. We cooked our orange slices for about 4 hours and our apple slices for about 10. You can also dry the fruit by hanging them on thread or skewers and letting them air dry for several days. I sprinkled the apple slices with cinnamon, just to give them a better smell. It also so happens that they taste good this way! I had not planned on serving them, but Gohan and Mr. Mo grabbed them before I could tell them they were meant for decorations. Also, some people like to core their apples before drying them. I wanted the apple stars to show, but that meant that some of the apple could not be used.

Making a Garland From Dried Orange and Apple Slices 2

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Labels: Arts and Crafts, Christmas, Winter
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

Using Stabilo Woody Crayons for Nature Journals

Nature Journal - Water Color Crayons

I have posted in the past about how much I love Stabilo Woody crayons, but even I was impressed by how well they worked when I used them to draw a tree for our nature study a couple of weeks ago. Dora and I were drawing together in our our kitchen and I was looking at some trees that line the road behind our house. It only took me about five minutes to sketch the tree above. I then went over the drawing with a watercolor brush – the crayons also function as watercolor crayons. I was really happy with the way the colors blended. It was a little hard for me, personally, to draw with them as they are so chunky, since they are designed for children, but they are easy for Dora to work with. I also like that Dora can use them to do rough sketches when we are in the field and then use water to achieve the water color look once we get home, as opposed to trying to carry a set of water color paints into the field.

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.

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Nature Study
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff

The Homeschool Mother’s Journal–We Finally Make Some Melted Crayon Art

Melted Crayons Bird

In my life this week… it looks like Mr. Mo has a new job. It is at the same large company that he has worked for the last 15 years, but it is a better position on a project that he is passionate about. He hasn’t officially been given the job as his prospective boss has been out of town, but the group has already given him loads of work to do, so we’re taking that as a positive sign that he has the job. Unfortunately, he has to finish up his current project at the same time, so he is being pulled in two directions at once. Were it me in the same situation, I’d probably implode or something, but Mr. Mo handles stress fairly well.

Bird Template

In our homeschool this week… Dora and I did the final vertebrate craft project that I forgot to do last week. This one was about birds. It was one of those melty-crayon projects that was all the rage on Pinterest last spring. I finally just got around to doing one. I cut out a bird template on black cardstock. Then I needed to temporarily affix it to our background paper somehow. I admit that this part of the project temporarily flummoxed me. How does one temporarily attach paper to paper and have a good seal, but not have the adhesive stick out beyond the template? I’m sure there are some wonderful temporary adhesives that I could have gone out and bought, but I did not feel like dealing with that, so I rolled up loops of painter’s tape to make “double-sided” painter’s tape and used that. Were I to do this again, I would get a better temporary sealant.

Bird Template With Painter's Tape for Temporary Adhesion

We then used glue tape to attach unwrapped crayons all around the bird in a rainbow pattern, of course. We opted to use any and all crayons that we don’t use anymore, including broken, soy, and beeswax crayons (beeswax crayons are really hard to melt, so I don’t recommend them). At this point I would like to point out the real reason this is not a good preschooler project, Dora unwrapped one, yes count them, one, crayon and I unwrapped the rest. Unwrapping that many crayons takes forever and leaves tons of crayon wax under your nails!

Bird Template With Crayons Before Melting

We then blow-dried the crayons with our hair dryer on the hottest setting. I know that the people on Pinterest use heat guns, but I don’t have one of those either. The hair dryer worked fine, though it may have taken longer than a heat gun would have (I wouldn’t know, having never used a heat gun and not being really sure what a heat gun is for). Unfortunately, some of the crayon seeped under our bird stencil, which is why I would use a better temporary adhesive, were I to do this again.

Bird Template With Crayons While Melting the Crayons

I am inspired by… Charlotte Mason. Not to sound like a broken record, and no, I am not abandoning Montessori, but after reading Charlotte Mason’s books this week, I took Dora on a nature walk. Dora was not really interested in much and was being a bit whinny. I followed some of Charlotte Mason’s advice and said, “What was that I just heard?” Dora looked at me like I was crazy. So I said, “I think I just heard an interesting bird sound.” Suddenly Dora started really listening to what was going on around us, for the first time in her life! She spent about 15 minutes listening to the various bird calls, none of which I could identify BTW, because I have never made any attempts to learn about nature, until just recently.

Rainy Day Leaves

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… We did the usual drama, music and co-op classes. We also went on two nature walks. Then today Dora and I went to Remlinger Farms with some great friends (we even got to meet their Grandma, who Dora started calling “Grandma” also). We had a blast at the park and a blast seeing our friends and to top it all off, we got to take home two new pumpkins! Tomorrow, we’re supposed to go on a tour of our local fire station. Plus Secunda is home from college this weekend.

Remlinger Farms 2

Remlinger Farms 1Remlinger Farms 3I’m reading… The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling (wait a minute, did you just do a double take!?!? You should have!). Yes, the book is by the J.K. Rowling of the Harry Potter fame! I’m only on chapter 6, as I just started it, but so far, it is excellent. It is a murder mystery that takes place in an English village. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the book a cozy, as there is a bit too much sex and profanity for that, but it is heading in a cozy-ish direction. It’s definitely a book for adults, not children or tweens (perhaps teens???).

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.

Labels: Arts and Crafts, Nature Study, Things To Do Around Seattle, Wrapping Up Our Week
Posted by Maureen Sklaroff