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.

Baby Handprint Watercolor

I started this painting quite some time ago.  I won’t tell you how long I have been procrastinating finishing this, other than my daughter’s hands and feet are much bigger than they would have been had I finished it when I started it. 

I started by painting simple abstract design using patterns of shapes and lines – nothing too fancy about this watercolor.  I used watercolor paints for the background on a 140 lb cold press watercolor paper.

I added in some etching by scratching into the wet paper and then painting over it.  This creates areas of color much darker and more precisely defined because the pigment pools and dries in the etched lines.  This photo above shows the orange lines and yellow dots are etched. 
When the paint dried completely (over a much longer time than I had planned), we stamped her little hand and foot.  
I needed Eric’s help holding her still while I applied the paint.  I rolled black acrylic paint onto an old magazine (for a smooth surface) with a brayer, pressed her hand into the paint, and then pressed it onto the painting.  If you don’t have a brayer, you could also use a paint brush to smooth the paint surface out.  
She was so intrigued by the black stuff on her hand, she did not put up a struggle at all.  Make sure you have a wet rag or paper towels handy if you are going to paint your baby’s hands or feet!  
Now we just need to frame it and hang it somewhere where it will make me smile for years to come.