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.

Recycled Crayons {2014 Valentine’s Day Cards}

Greta and I recently raided my crayon stash for all the small nubs that are just too difficult to use for big and small hands alike.  These turned out so well – my next move is to raid the crayons in my classroom and make new crayons for my students to use.  No sense in throwing out useful crayons when re-purposed crayons are this easily attained.

I started with a fairly large bag of crayon nubs.  Make sure they are peeled and cut down to small chunks, especially if you are working with a funky mold.  I used a silicone mold that was originally intended to be used for ice cubes or candies.

 I grouped my crayons by warm, cool, and neutral colors.  Greta was especially helpful with the sorting – we had great conversations about the colors and where they belonged.  I used everyday craft scissors to cut some of the longer crayons down.

Once the mold is loaded up with crayons, bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes at 325º.  I put my mold on a baking sheet to make the transfer of hot wax easier.  Allow the crayons to cool until completely hardened and set.  I put my hot crayons outside in this frigid Iowa weather and they were ready to be removed from the mold in no time.

Greta tested the finished crayons for me and was delighted – they were easy to hold, the O had a place for her finger, and best of all – she helped to make them.  

My last step was to create a simple Valentine for Greta to use at school.  I’ve been taking a class in the evenings on Adobe Illustrator – this was something I whipped up in the few minutes before class started last week.  I figured I would attach the crayons to the Valentine in a little bag.  If you want the PDF, check it out my Google Docs here.  The document is called valentine.PDF.

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 Origami Paper Garland

A friend of mine gave me a package of lovely origami paper this summer and it’s taken me this long to do something with it.  We finally managed to get Christmas out of the boxes and up around the house this week.  Now that we are in a new house, I have to reconfigure all my decor for the holidays.  It’s nice to have a little more room to spread out the cheer.  The cheer moved into the dining room this year in the form of glass ornaments and a simple DIY paper garland made from origami paper.  

 I started with the square origami paper and then cut them in half, using my paper cutter.  One could also fold them if you wanted your garland to be two-sided.  I stacked them up according to the in order in which I wanted them to appear on the garland.

Then, I ran them through the sewing machine using a simple straight stitch through the middle of the triangle.  I used festive gold thread to complement the gold theme throughout the origami paper.  Be sure to leave a little space between each piece of paper to allow for movement and hanging abilities of the garland.

The finished design looks festive, though I am thinking that this garland plus the ornaments may be a bit much.  Like I said, I am still figuring out how things work in this new place – perhaps the garland will find a new home today.  Sometime in the next few months that chandelier will get a makeover.  I have bright plans for it.

Easy DIY Holiday Card Display

For years I have been using this ribbon to display my holiday cards – I always keep it in the dining room of our home so that the cards can be enjoyed throughout the season.  It is fun to watch the photos and images of the holidays fill up the ribbon.  This is the year I will have to expand to a couple more ribbons, they were overflowing last year!  

This was an easy project to make.  I simply took a large white satin ribbon (it happens to be the sash from my wedding dress) and attached a red and white snowflake bow to the top.  I created the bow with wire-lined ribbon that I hot glued together out of two loops.  Then, I simply tape the cards onto the ribbon to display.  Each year I roll up the ribbon and store it away, hence the lovely wrinkles seen in the first photo.  
To attach them to the wall, I use these handy 3M sticky tabs.  They make it easier to remove the ribbons at the end of the season and prevent paint removal.  Happy decorating! 

Alternative Wrapping Paper

 This holiday season I have been making a point to create and use alternatives to wrapping paper.  When we moved to Iowa, I gave away much of the wrapping paper, deciding it was one thing that did not need to make the 1,000 mile journey.  I bought a roll for the kids’ paper, but for adults I have opted to make my own unique paper.

 This first paper was made by attaching a small section of bubble wrap to a small cardboard box.  The bubble wrap stamp was then dipped in green paint and stamped on a large section of newspaper.  My paint was a little on the thin side, so the stamped designs could have been clearer had I opted for a thicker paint.

The next alternative to wrapping paper uses everyday tissue paper.  I laid it out on glossy newspaper ads for protection of the surface underneath and then splattered with drawing ink.  You could also use water color paints, which is also less permanent if you miss.

 The finished wrapped present has a few splashes of color – I like the deep blue for a cool wintry look.

 I got out the brown paper bags and cut them up for the stamped wrapping paper.  The snowflake designs are a rubber stamp from a craft store and the squares are the actual silver stamp pad itself.  I added red ends to the package to cover my sloppy tape job and to add a pop of festive red color.

 The blue-gray printed fabric ribbon adds even more class to a simple brown paper package.

 For this package, I used a watercolor painting of Greta’s.  She makes such lovely abstract paintings with minimal lines and colors.  This wrapping method works better with thinner paper, so you can bend, fold, tape it together.

Lastly, my favorite alternative to wrapping gifts – the simple Sunday comics page.  If you don’t subscribe to the newspaper, look for other every papers – catalogs, mailings, lined paper, etc. 

Marbled Picture Frames

Talk about a fun, easy, and cheap project!  This occupied my evening last night until far too late.  It was one of those evenings – out with friends and home with every intention on going to bed, but alas, art got in my head instead.  Once I am set on a project, I have to complete it, or it just completely takes over my brain’s functioning ability.

Supplies needed for this project:

  • old/cheap frames that can be dismantled
  • disposable bucket/container for water that is big enough for your frame to fit inside
  • assorted nail polishes 
  • newspaper for drying frames on
  • toothpick for swirling designs
  • fan or well-ventilated room, if doing this project indoors
  • gloves (optional, for keeping hands cleaner)

I started with 3 cheap frames from a dollar bin at a big box store.  The yellow was a nice color, but since they were from the dollar bin, the paint job was cheap and chipping off.  Nothing some paint wouldn’t fix!

Next, I rummaged around and found some of my cheaper and dying nail polishes.  Then I filled a bucket, big enough to fit the surface of my frames, with water.  Then, carefully poured a mixture of nail polish colors onto the surface of the water.  If you pour too fast, some of the nail polish will pop back up to the surface of the water.

Once the design was complete, I dipped my disassembled frame carefully just onto the surface of the water.  Then, I quickly lifted the frame straight up, so as not to ruin the design on the surface.

Here is the marbled design of the first frame.  Allow the frame to dry on newspaper for an hour, at least.  Keep using the same water, just use a piece of folded newspaper to skim the nail polish off the surface and then add new colors.

 For my second two frames, I decided to create a new base color with red and dark silver nail polish.  After the base coats were dry, they too were marbled.

The water bucket will have droplets of remaining nail polish leftover at the bottom and edges.  This is why it is important to use a disposable container.  When I was completely finished, I poured the water into a trash bag that was already full of trash that would soak up the water.  Do not pour down drains or flush this water!

I created some marbled sticky labels after the frames were done.  I plan on using these to label boxes and bins to keep my art room organized.

The frames look great alongside Greta’s abstract painted frame that she painted for me.

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.