Crayon Watercolor Resist Easter Eggs

I opted for something right up my art teacher alley for Easter egg decorating this year and went with the tried and true magic of crayon and watercolor resist.  Just as I suspected, they were a hit with my toddler!

We started with 18 hard boiled eggs, and only allowed them to cool slightly after cooking.  The heat from the still freshly cooked eggs caused the crayons to melt just a bit as we drew on them.  A folded up rag was a great way to hold the warms eggs in place while we drew.

After all the crayon was done, we cooled all the eggs off.  Then we broke out the non-toxic watercolor paints.  We used small dishes to hold our eggs in place while we painted.

Greta had plenty of help decorating her eggs while we cooked the Egg, Hash-brown, and Sausage Breakfast Casserole.

The eggs turned out beautifully.  I loved how the colors swirled and mixed together.  The wax crayons resist the watercolor paints to make equally interesting designs.  If you want brighter colors, allow the paint to dry and then add another layer.  We put them back in the fridge until the Easter bunny hid them the following morning.

WARNING: the egg whites beneath turn a funky color and I opted not to eat these.  In the future I am going to do this on blown eggs and perhaps try painting with natural dyes as well.  Also note that watercolor paint is not as permanent as dye and it therefore can rub off onto surfaces even when it is dry (in other words, don’t place them on white carpeting).

This is my easy as pie Easter centerpiece – fake eggs, paper carrots, my moss rock, and a pot of fresh bright green grass that I started from seed the week prior to Easter.  It just brightened my table and even my mood just seeing it.

After brunch, we headed outdoors to hunt for eggs.  Look at all the green!  I am loving the fact that spring is here.

DIY Musical Egg Shakers

Now, I know this might seem like a duh project, but it gave us cheap thrills and great giggles!  Greta and I made these DIY egg shakers before Christmas.  She goes to music class at school and comes home talking non-stop about “shaking eggs.”  So, one Saturday morning as she was trying to dance around with imaginary egg shakers, I grabbed these three supplies.

We filled the eggs with everyday rice.  By the way, one of those eggs is actually a plastic pod that toys come in from a vending machine, the other is a plastic Easter egg.  Then, out of her reach, I glued the edges of the egg and snapped them together.

The next step is important – wipe any excess glue off with a paper towel or rag to avoid gluing yourself to the egg.  Then, allow egg to dry completely before using.

Greta went bananas over them…until Santa brought her legit music egg shakers for Christmas.  They are the four black eggs in cups on the fireplace in this image.  Sigh, well, at least she has extras for family and friends.  

DIY Stamped Towels

One recent sunny Saturday morning before Christmas, Greta helped me make these stamped towels.  With minimal prep and basic supply list, they are an easy morning or afternoon project for all ages.

Supply List:
– white cotton dish towels (pre-washed and dried)
– fabric paint or acrylic paint thinned with water
– plastic tray or plate for palette
– small brushes
– water for washing brushes
– paper towels or newspaper for blotting stamps
– rubber stamps, found objects, cut celery, cut apples, cut potatoes for stamping  

I started with a set of white dish towels I ordered off of Amazon and washed and dried them.  If they are wrinkly, it is a good idea to iron them as well.

Next, I mixed up some regular acrylic paint with a bit of water.  I wanted to ensure that the paint would soak into the fabric, but not be so watery that it would not produce a clear stamp.  Always test the stamp before using.  If the stamp has too much paint on it, your image will be blobby – so blot on newspaper or a paper towel.

Takeout containers from our favorite Thai restaurant are the best palettes.  I use them in my classroom to save paint palettes and keep supplies organized.  A paper or plastic plate works well for a palette too.

Next, I prepared my stamps.  We use every day items as stamps as well as rubber stamps.  This is the bottom of a stalk of celery – it makes a lovely floral design.  It is also the perfect size for small hands to hold and stamp.  

We use several every day item stamps to create the polka dots – a cork with a handle, the base of a highlighter, and an eraser.

Of course we also broke out the rubber stamps too – there are just too many cute ideas with rubber stamps.  This project was a success – Greta was patient and enjoyed the entire process.  Her absolute favorite part was creating the hand prints on the towels – I had to watch her though, she wanted to wipe her hands clean on the towels we were stamping!  
I let the towels dry overnight and then washed them on cold and dried them – there is no need to heat set this paint.  I ironed them one last time and then wrapped them up as DIY gifts for the grandmothers. As the gifts were opened, Greta enjoyed telling both grandmothers, “My do that!” 

DIY Felted Wool Balls

I made sets of these felted balls a few years ago as presents for friends and family members.  Put them together in sets – half in one color, half in another, with a smaller different colored felted ball and you have an indoor bocce ball set. 

Start with felted wool sweaters.  To felt sweaters, take 100% wool sweaters and wash them on hot and then dry them on hot.  Cut felted sweaters into strips and rectangles. 

Begin fashioning the rectangles and strips into lumpy spheres.  Use the strips to tie knots to hold it all in place.  It’s ok if the spheres look really lumpy and messy – we will fix that soon enough.

Once you have the approximate shape and size for your sphere, wrap the felted core in roving wool or 100% wool yarn.  Wrap until the felted core is completely covered, making sure to wrap in several different directions around the sphere.

Here are my 5 wrapped orbs. A few pockets of felted core showing are ok, however they will most likely show up in the finished product, so if you want to avoid that, wrap completely.

Carefully slip the wrapped orbs into OLD socks, push down to the toe gently.  Twist the sock closed and secure tightly with a twist tie.

Wash in hot water and a small amount of detergent.  You can also boil them in a large stockpot for 10 – 15 minutes for a quicker felt.  However, only boil like colors with like colors as the dyes tend to run and bleed in boiling water. 

Greta immediately loved these felted balls – grabbing for them while I tried to photograph them.

Greta discovered that her felted wool balls fit into her plastic cone set that is supposed to go in the sandbox.  However, it is way too much fun and so has never made it out to the sandbox and just stays in the house.  Now she likes to pair up felted balls with cones – we just have to work on avoiding the pairing of mustard & ketchup.  : )

This is a fun and easy day project that requires minimal planning, prep, time, or skill.  The nice thing about these felted balls is that if they should happen to get funky just throw them in the wash and dry them.  They are already felted, so no need to worry about shrinking any more.  Some people even add scented oil to these and turn them into natural dryer balls/sheets.

Coffee Filter Flower Card

One of my art teacher roles is often to teach my students that the hand made gifts are truly the best. This is an easy project that is fun for all ages.  You should have seen my seventh grade students working on this yesterday – the enthusiasm made my day. 
If your peonies don’t like mine do right now, then make your own for Mother’s Day!

Start with plain white paper coffee filters.  Draw on them with water-based markers.  Try multiple colors, different designs, and even coloring the entire coffee filter with color.

Spray with water in a spray bottle. I recommend doing this over newspaper to catch any colored water that will inevitably soak your work surface. 

 Your designs will turn into watery, tie-dye like motifs. Allow the filters to dry completely. 

 Once they are dry, you can now begin to cut them up, layer them, and create your flowers.

 Fold the filter in half, then in half again, and then into a pie slice shape. 

Cut designs along the top curved edge – like a paper snowflake.  These cuts will form the petals of your flowers, so experiment with different cuts.  Once the petal designs are cut, open the flower up, pinch in the middle, and twist.  This will create the base of the flower.  Now you can add a stem out of pipe cleaner, or glue them onto a piece of paper for a card. 
Add some leaves, a garden or vase, a background, and a nice note and you have a card.  Wasn’t that better and more fun than buying a card in the store?
This flower was made with two different filters layered within one another.  Go ahead and make a bunch of these filters so you have extras for mistakes or multiple layered flowers.  Just remember that your colors will run into one another so choose your colors based on how they look after they mix! 

Recycled Paper Making: The Basics

My seventh grade art classes recently made recycled paper in class.  This is a great project that allows students to make some interesting choices, learn how to reuse simple items, and let out some energy at the same time.  Read on for a fun project that takes only a few supplies and provides loads of fun. 
A large bag of shredded paper has so many possibilities.  I have asked the main office and counseling office to save shredded paper for me – they always have the fun colors of paper.  

Large mouth juice bottles are the best way to start your recycled paper project.  Add shredded paper until the bottle is ¾ of the way full of paper.

Fill the bottle just over half way with warm water.

Place cap on bottle, tightly.  Find a partner and shake vigorously.  

Meanwhile, make sure that a workspace and supplies are ready.  I spread out thick layers of denim fabric to help soak up water.

Screens made from simple wooden frames screwed together with screen stapled on the side are all I use.  Eric and I put a whole class set together in a matter of a few hours.  These are placed over buckets that just fit the screen.  In a class of about 15, I used three screens and it seemed to work out that there was always a screen available.

I keep plenty of bottles and extra caps available.  That way, if a student needs more time the next class period, he/she can simply use masking tape and a marker to label his or her bottle.

This is the bottle and its contents after about 10 minutes of shaking.  The paper starts to break down into paper pulp quite quickly.  The partners work well because the triceps may start to get a little tired – especially if the bottle is fuller.

If you like, you can speed up the process with a blender.  I have a few donated old blenders, but I have found that the cheap brand new ones actually work the best.

To blend, you can pour the contents of the bottle into the blender to smooth out the paper pulp or you can start from scratch.  Add paper and warm water.  

Cover tightly.  I keep plenty of rags and a few Sham Wows around to mop up spills.  I used this time to teach a little science to the kiddos about water and electricity not mixing.  Blend until smooth.

To change the color of the paper, you can use a variety of methods – dye, colored paper, or plants.  Here, I used black construction paper.  This is a great time to revisit the color wheel and the mixing of colors.  We revisit the color wheel and I always remind my students that if you mix all the colors of shredded paper together you will get mud.  Still, there are always a few who complain about their ‘vomit’ paper.

Embellishments are another fun way to make recycled paper more interesting.  A few things to add but maybe not all at once: glitter, foil, candy wrappers, bits of flowers or herbs, small beads, or cut up ribbon or string.  Here, I added strips of aluminum foil with the paper pulp.

I requested my colleagues save foil chocolate wrappers for me – a great time to ask is before Christmas, Halloween or Valentine’s Day.  I was always delighted to find baggies of foil wrappers in my box – I am sure some colleagues think I am quite the pack rat!  When we start making paper the kids inevitable want to know if I like chocolate.  🙂

After your paper is blended into a smooth pulp, pour it into a screen set up in one of the bins.  Gently press some of the water out into the bucket below.  Be careful not to press too hard, or your screen could come detached from the frame.

Press out as much remaining water as possible on a flat surface, such as the denim fabric, felt, or newspaper.

Transfer the screen to the denim.  Actually, I have found that sections of felt or newspaper work even better because you can then transfer them to drying racks to finish drying.  Or you can move them around to create more space for those still blending. 
Quickly, flip the screen over, so that the screen faces up.  Then, gently tap the paper off the screen and onto the fabric, felt, or newspaper.  

Press even more water out.

This would be a good time to say that making your stamp before you start your paper making is smart planning.  Create embossing stamps out of Styrofoam.  I like to rescue clean trays from the cafeteria to repurpose into stamping materials.  These two stamps were simply drawn with ballpoint pen and then cut with scissors.  I pressed them into the top of the wet paper.

 A simple, yet interesting, relief stamp can be made from multiple layers of Styrofoam, such as this smiling face.  Cut out the shapes, glue, and allow to dry before pressing into the wet paper.

I have found that the stamps work best if the stamps are placed on the fabric and then the paper is turned on top of the stamps.  This way, you can press the paper onto the stamps and create a better impression.

One of my more favorite embellishments can be found in your kitchen.  Onion peels – yellow or red can be added to paper pulp for an interesting dye technique.

 When initially blended, the color appear quite faint.

 Once the paper is fully dry, the onion color shows up much more vibrantly.  These are two examples of the the embossing stamps once dry.

The possibilities for recycled paper projects are endless.  Here are a few ideas:

  • Paint them for more depth.
  • Use recycled paper in place of plaster or clay for hand prints.
  • Turn them into greeting cards.
  • Make recycled jewelry. 
  • Make recycled paper bowls.
  • Turn two sheets into the front and back of a book.
  • Use the paper pulp as a sculpting material, make a 3D object, and then brush with watered down glue to hold it together.  

Check back soon for more projects involving recycled paper.

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DIY Glitter Wand

I had a glitter wand when I was a kid and I remembering playing with it all the time.  It was tubular and filled with pink, purple and glow-in-the-dark glitter.  I fondly remember holding it up to my eyes to make the room appear pink.  I used to flip it end over end to watch the glitter slowly slide around inside.  One time a friend was over, and I remember us charging it in the light and then taking it inside my closet to watch it glow, only  to find we were locked inside the closet with no way out!  We lived in an older house, and the closets did not have doorknobs on the inside.  My friend and I, terrified, began to cry.  Our cries caught the attention of my younger sister, and we convinced her to go and find my dad who was outside, except she forgot her task along the way and was distracted by watering plants.  Finally, after what seemed an eternity, my dad asked what the other two kids were up to.  He discovered sobbing, snotty little girls inside a closet.  
I wanted to make Greta a version of my wand, sans glow-in-the-dark matter to avoid a repeat closet episode.   With all her sick time this past week, we needed a reason to get out of the house on this rainy and gloomy morning.  
So, we headed over to A.C. Moore.  Sadly, they lost their lease and are in the process of selling everything at at discount.  This is both good and bad.  Good for the cheap prices and bad because I will miss A.C. Moore.   I have always preferred them to Michael’s.  
Greta was a big help in the store – clearly she figured out how to bargain shop – $.25 wooden spoon and $1 foam construction hat.  Big spender!  
I found some glitter, silver pom poms, and giraffe confetti for her glitter wand.  I really and truly do hate glitter unless it is contained, so, this project took me out of my art & craft comfort zone.  Notice I chose large glitter, none of that horrid tiny, dust-like glitter.  It is fairy puke – pretty but not fun to clean up.  The things one will do for her child…
I put the glitter, poms, and confetti into a clean soda pop bottle and then filled it almost to the top with water.  I made sure to leave some space at the top so that there would be a couple air bubbles.  Then I glued the lid shut with Gorilla Glue, let it dry, and handed it over to Greta.  Her initial reaction was of intense staring.  

 She then turned it over a few times, watching carefully as the glitter slid around inside.

 Then she shook it violently, stopping every now and then to watch how the glitter settled.

Finally, growing tired, she handed it over to me, where she proceeded to drum on the side of the bottle. This was a huge hit for Greta and continues to be throughout this week.  Just remember, as with any toy with smaller parts, always use with caution and supervise play.  
I could see this being a neat paper weight on a desk or even a calming object for older children.  I am certain it would be a hit with my middle school students as well – I may have to test it out on them tomorrow.  
Check out Discount School Supply for great deals on glitter, pom poms, confetti, and more!
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