I am not a particularly arts and crafty person. But I have kids who love art. Ruth, in particular, loves crafts. She makes things all the time: scarves out of T-shirts, bracelets for her stuffed bunny, a monogrammed sign for her door out of cardboard and patterned duct tape, etc. Her favorite part of the week is any kind of art project that we do. So, I’m always happy to find a project that is a new technique for us to try.
Last week we tried this very cool marbled paper project from The Artful Parent. Like the best projects it was fairly simple and turned out beautiful results. Full instructions are at the link above but basically you put shaving foam in a pie plate or small baking dish and then drip liquid watercolor on it. You then swirl the drops together (we used a chopstick). Then you dip a piece of paper on the top and scrape the shaving cream off the paper. The result is really cool marbled paper.
We used posterboard for the paper cut into smaller squares. The edges curled quite a bit but then flattened out nicely after a few days under some books. If we did it again I might go with stiffer paper (like cardstock). We found that we could get one or two dips before it worked better to add a new color. I thought the process worked best to start with one or two colors and then add more as we went. My kids liked just to add a bunch to begin so there paper got more and more solid as they went. We then just got fresh shaving cream when it got too muddy looking. We also found it hard to scrape off the shaving cream with cardboard as in the original link. Instead I used a chopstick and then wiped off the excess with paper towels. It was a somewhat messy project for us, but since the materials were easily washable it cleaned up easily.
Afterwards, we used the paper to make Valentines for Ruth’s class at co-op. We just cut hearts out of the paper and she wrote a message on each. Then we tied the heart to a lollipop with some ribbon. It looked really cute and she was so excited to give them to her friends.
We typically make an ornament every year. Usually we give one to each relative as a present from the kids. Some of our ornaments turn out better than others, but it’s really more about teaching the kids to give. I thought this year’s project turned out particularly well. I’m not especially crafty so I’m always excited to find fairly easy projects that end up looking halfway decent. I got this idea from this multiple sites on the Internet, but I ended up mostly using the instructions given at this Instructable.
It’s fairly easy. You remove the paper from old crayons and break them up into small pieces. You place some pieces into a glass (NOT clear plastic) ornament and then use a hair dryer to melt the crayon pieces. As they melt you swirl the ornament creating patterns on the inside of the glass.
We ended up breaking our crayons into much smaller pieces than what is shown at the linked site. The bigger pieces just took way too long to melt. Interestingly, the more high quality crayons like Crayola melted much better. We had a few cheap ones in the mix that just would not melt. The only downside to this project was that it’s tricky to hold the glass ornament while heating it as it gets very hot. The kids really weren’t able to do that part and I wished I had come up with some kind of better handle so that they could have helped with the holding. They had fun though creating various color combinations of crayon pieces.
Of course, they each got to make an ornament for themselves.
Ruth’s pink and purple creation
David created the color combination for this one, naming it “Disco Party” ball.
John’s “Camouflaged” ornament.
One of our Christmas traditions is to go to the Seasons Greenings exhibit at the National Botanic Gardens. The exhibit features model trains winding their way around structures created from plant materials. Every year there is a different theme. We’ve seen round the world (very cool because it was lots of places we’d studied including Petra and the Pyramids) and a fairytale world. This year the theme was World’s Fair. Every year they also have on display iconic Washington DC buildings and monuments.
The cactus photo doesn’t really fit with the others, I know, but I just thought it was a wild and crazy plant.
And for those who are crafty and green-thumbed, a link to a cool DIY Christmas ornament idea that we got from a Botanic Gardens visit.
This didn’t really start out as an Advent craft. It started out as a project to go along with John’s history readings this week which were about the ancient Phoenicians. Apparently the Phoenicians were known for making colored glass and this project was in the Story of the World Activity Guide as a suggested go-along project for the week. One thing I have been feeling is lacking in our homeschool is art. It’s easy to let it slide since there is so much else to do. John doesn’t really enjoy art projects that much so it’s not something he misses. But I’ve been meaning to do more of them, partially because it’s not something he’ll do on his own and partially because David does really enjoy them. Still, I’m not especially crafty and sometimes John is just not that interested so I’m never sure how they will turn out. I was very pleased with these.
First you have the child choose a picture. I actually meant for him to cut a picture out of a magazine or from a Christmas card but due to a serendipitous misunderstanding he chose to copy a card we’d received in the mail. Which is what ended up in this being sort of an Advent craft. Here is his drawing.
Then cut out two pieces of waxed paper that are bigger than the picture you are using. You could make them in an interesting shape but my very concrete boys both chose “square”. Put some newspaper onto a table and lay one piece of waxed paper on the newspaper with the child’s picture centered on top of the waxed paper.
Then you will need some crayon shavings (actually have these ready first) and pieces of colored thread. The thread is because the Phoenicians used it in their glass. If you aren’t studying them, feel free to leave it out. I used a vegetable peeler and some old crayons to make these. There might be a better way but it worked.
Now let your kids have fun sprinkling the crayon shavings and colored threads over the picture and waxed paper. This is where they can be creative. I didn’t give much direction, other than to mention that the might not want to completely cover the picture with the crayons. After they are done, place the second piece of waxed paper over the picture and cover with two more pieces of waxed paper. Use an iron on low heat and iron over the newspaper. It doesn’t take long to get the crayons melted. Pick up the newspaper and you’re done. I did trim around the edges to make them look a little neater.
John’s finished glass.
And David’s. He drew on a piece of paper and I asked him what shape he wanted me to cut out. He chose a heart.
All in all a pretty easy project. It was short enough and different enough for John to stay interested. I think they turned out well. And hanging in one of our windows they make a nice Advent decoration.
Those Phoenicians were pretty smart guys.