Monday, October 29, 2012

At the Table

The MailMeSomeArt blog opened a swap for painted papers.  The call was intriguing, but I could not decide what to do until I saw a demo of applying gesso over writing.  I wanted to try a version of that!  On the very same day, one of my students mentioned her interest in Thoreau's and Emerson's ideas regarding charity.  Hmm...big ideas are great; focused ideas are even better.  She ended up writing about Charles Loring Brace's orphan trains program which she found astounding.  And we both could still think about Thoreau.    

Here, a few handwritten lines from Walden became the background for the painted pages, topped with layers and layers of gesso and water soluble painting crayons (that's what the tin says; I inherited them).

Tofu Girl joined me at the dining room table which is more often set with things other than plates.  She always has a project in mind and is more familiar with our canisters of markers and pencils than anyone else. She thinks about colors and made herself a color swatch book of sorts.  It's actually a jar of the names and samples of colors on scraps of paper.  I wondered why one couldn't simply open a box or jar to see the names, but silly me, she carries the plastic jar around.  Much easier to hold one jar full of colors than many containers of pens and pastels, right?  Plus, when I open a tin, I am already searching for a specific color, but Tofu seems to be inspired by the colors themselves, thinking about them in relation to others and in various shades.  She watched as I mixed the paint crayons with gesso and gave me tips: "This yellow, not that one. You're covering up the words with too much red!'re wiping it off.  That's better."   

Then her brother came in to see the pages drying.  "That one has too much white still," he said, pointing; he liked the pages with stronger splashes of color.  "Nooooo," protested his sister vehemently.  They were about to argue about which ones were "better" when I said that pages were finished and that was that.  ...It sounded just like dinnertime around here.  At least we usually agree on dessert.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012

BumbleDogs and the Halloween Pet Parade

What would get me out of bed bright and early on a Saturday morning?  Usually, we arrive near the closing of a nearby farmers' market...and head for the baked goods stand before visiting the other tables. (The bakery lady is actually a farmer.  Lucky for us, she has left the selling of local vegetables and meats to the other farmers and instead, concentrates on making a wide range of delicious, old-fashioned breads and cookies.)

We were on time (can you believe it?) for a pet parade on this particular morning.  The most popular costume for dogs this year was the bumblebee.  All dogs this time too; last year, we saw alpacas and even a baby goat.

This little t-rex won a prize.  Cute.  From this angle though, it looks like the dinosaur has wrapped its tiny arms around the dog and is nibbling on his head.  ...Did dinosaurs ever nibble?

I think the parrot was crowd favorite too.  The dogs were so sweet, keeping on the costumes and gamely participating in the parade. 

Princess Jasmine.  She had on a whole harem outfit.  Who knew such costumes existed?  The purple color suits this happy dog.

This guy next to us barked and cheered.  He was very excited (too excited to parade, his mum said).

Fresh cookies, hot coffee, and party dogs = a good morning.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Look High, Look Low

more photos from the Wee Faerie Village 

Look Close

Look around

Tiptoe on a bench to look high

Peek into the windows below

See inside

Fairy Magic

On this lovely, mild, and sunny autumn afternoon, we explored the Wee Faerie Village at the Florence Griswold Museum. Is there anything more magical than seeing a fairy house?  (...And besides seeing actual fairies?)  Visiting more than thirty fairy places!

We started with a Japanese-styled community. Each little home included tiny tatami mats, and this building featured itty bitty traditional storage chests.  Enchanting!

As we approached this glittery home, a little girl grabbed my arm excitedly. "Fairy dust! A fairy dust factory!" she squealed.  (She pounced on me at another house as well, squealing: "You have to see this!")  Could she tell that I found all of these places magical too?

Tofu Girl and I peeked around the other side and found...fairy dust!  So sparkly and in so many different colors. Love those jars with the acorn lids on the left. I think we will be making some of those soon.

Such a sweet home surrounded by flowers and vegetables. Mischief Maker pointed: "Look! See the watermelon?"  (It is the green oval in the middle of the photo next to a cluster of gray rocks and some light green moss.)  The brochure guide offered a story and an "I spy" challenge for each home.

Could this afternoon get any better?  Yes, yes!  The barn-like education center offered two crafts, as well as cider, donuts, and a big bowl of candy.  Okay, back to the crafts: each child could make either a mask or a wand.  Guess which one was more popular.  Moreover, children could choose a short, stubby wooden wand or a long, pointy wooden wand.  Guess which one was most popular.  Decorated with bells, stars, pipe cleaners, and beads, all the completed wands were bright and fun.  I did, however, wrap a foam sticker around the end of Tofu Girl's wand after she inadvertently stuck me in the chin with the sharp tip.  We learned to keep away from the dozens of other kids' wands too.  One mother told her child: "Keep it low!"  As the girl obediently swung her wand down, she nearly clipped one of the guys on staff in the nether region.  He then walked around the craft room cupping himself in protection.  Watch out for those fairy wands.

We spent all afternoon marveling at all the incredible fairy places.  The museum gave every visitor a bracelet made of silver elastic, beads, and bells, and we were supposed to jingle to alert the fairies of our approach.  That meant the many, many visitors created a gentle music as the bracelets tinkled every time we moved our arms, which was often.

Here, Tofu Girl explains that the fairies who live in this home likely climb out and then slide all the way down.  More photos to come in another post.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Hello! Mischief Maker here. For one of our vacation before school, we went to the White Mountains in New Hampshire. The best hike we went on was the Flume Gorge. There we saw the Glacial Boulder, which weights about 300 tons....

We almost got crushed. (Just kidding.) Anyway, there were a lot  more waterfalls to see along the trial and we were only at the start of the hike. We walked for a while to see anything else interesting, so then we got to the Flume Gorge waterfall. It was so awesome! Everyone was really excited and we had to talk at the tops of our lungs to hear each other.

Friday, October 5, 2012


Karen Isaacson at Mail Me Some Art has a warm and encouraging blog which nurtures the creativity of people who like to paint, snip, glue, stamp, and sew on paper. She coordinates fun, themed postcard swaps, and as sweet as she is on her blog, I was nervous about sending in something.  Are my cards too messy? What if the recipients do not like them? Are they any good?

I do know that the cards were fun to make; I joined the black and white card swap.  The card backgrounds were printed with a (new) microfiber dishcloth, and then I swished on arcs of paint which were inspired by the striking wingspans of migrating geese.  The collaged feathers came from black and white photos of a wyandotte chicken, which is pictured in color on the bottom left, that we saw at a 4-H fair; these chickens are absolutely stunning.  The textured surfaces were made with clear dimensional paint and topped off with a spritz of acrylic to prevent any stickiness.

After clinging to the cards for weeks, I finally sent them off.  I emailed Karen because I hesitated so long that I was late.  She was very kind, telling me to "throw that nervousness out the window."  My kids ultimately provided the much needed affirmation.  Do these look okay?  Should I send them in?  Yes, they answered.  They are clear and honest with their opinions (sometimes too much so) and they know what they like.  Both kids also see themselves as artists.  What happens between childhood and adulthood that we lose that confidence in our creativity?  Or maybe that is just my take on it.  In any case, the cards were incredibly fun and relaxing to make, and I think I might even be up for another swap...maybe (I was going to say something about chickens but nope, not this time).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pretty Organized

I saw this on Pinterest and thought: "Genius!"  What a pretty way to store ribbons and possibly washi or deco tapes too, though their ends would remain taped down.  Any inexpensive basket with openings would work, or even a box with holes punched on two sides.  Hmm...I wonder if this would work for Tofu Girl's piles of ponytail holders.  The original post came from ohcraftsnet.

Ribbon organizer