Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter Art

Yesterday we made the bead and clay crosses I mentioned we might make. Then we combined that idea with that artist woman's guest post project over at alpha+mom (wow! that's a lotta links in one sentence!). Here are the results:

Making the dough and colouring it with paint.

Our lovely balls of clay:

Easy-peasy salt dough:
4c. flour
1 c. salt
2 c. warm water
kneaded together with acrylic paints (and extra flour)
* At the end, bake everything @ 250 degrees for 2-3 hours.

We don't have a cross cookie cutter, so we shaped them ourselves with a knife. I kinda made my 3 year-old's cross too small! But he meticulously covered it in beads :)

The completed crosses (before ribbons). I ended up spraying them with an acrylic clear coat rather than having the children cover them in ModPodge, as I think the original instructions advised. I decided it was easier and less disruptive of loose beads.

These are the jars we decorated with the clay. Everyone liked the beads so much that we mostly beaded these instead of shaping clay to make designs. I did a bit of shaping on mine -- which is the one with the butterfly and flower. I like how the salt in the clay makes it shimmer!

Now I remember why we don't do art every week -- it's a lot of work! Every time we do something like this I have a renewed respect for classroom art teachers!

Just for fun, I linked this post at:

Monday, March 29, 2010

Inspired by "Myth Busters"

After watching an episode of Myth Busters, my 12 year-old daughter created this cool duct tape hat! No, she didn't tape over an existing hat -- she created the hat using only duct tape. While I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to wear a duct tape hat, she is -- and I think it's kinda cute!

Have you ever used an unusual material to make a common item? Please leave a comment about it!

Valentine's Day

I know -- I'm a little "behind the eight ball," as my mother would say, in posting these pix. Alas, I actually had more pictures of our family Valentine's dinner, complete with a beautifully set table and heart-shaped personal pizzas, but all the pictures on my memory card mysteriously vanished. I had been remiss in uploading them to my computer for quite some time, so we lost some significant evidence of memories made. Oh well. Amen (in the "so be it" sense;).

Anyway, we're not big on BUYING stuff to celebrate things like Valentine's Day, or other such excuses for Hallmark to make big bucks, but my dh and I have gotten into the habit of making something for each other. After all, what says "love" more than time spent hand-crafting something for that special person? Perhaps you saw the collage I made for him last year in my post entitled Artistic Endeavours. (It, by the way, won second place at a fall fair as a mixed media entry. Never mind that I only remember seeing two entries!:P) Here is the altered book (It was an Usborne board book. Scandalous for a former representative, I know!) I made for him this year (with a heart over his name. It is the www, after all ;):

The cover is plastered with Valentine's cards I received as a child. Does that make them "vintage"? ;)

I did paint the background on this, but otherwise it's cut and paste and stickers. The kissing couple is from an old art calendar.

If you click on the picture, you might be better able to see the calligraphy around the swirls, which were already on the scrapbooking paper I used. I just wrote some of the verses from I Corinthians 13. I didn't want to cover up the pretty swirls, so I didn't know what else to put on the page!

This is probably my favourite page. The woman is a cut-out from an art calendar, and the grid bits are drywall tape. The poem is on graph paper and written using only the letters in the word "sweethearts." I saw the idea in a book of poetry, but the poem is original. The red and gold wires actually spring up, which is kinda fun, I think:)

This page is reminiscent of the letters we used to send each other before we were married, when we lived in different cities. We would decorate the envelopes with drawings and cut outs from magazines. No, I didn't lick all those stamps -- but I did glue each one on!

This is the lovely necklace that my beloved made for me, mostly from beads we already had at home. I love it!

Do you have any creative (and inexpensive) ways of celebrating Valentine's Day?

Opportunity to win a creative product!

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine is offering a Graphics Toolbox Giveaway. Check it out here for YOUR chance to win what sounds like a cool, creative tool!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bring Spring Inside

Do you have strong memory connections to seasonal things? One childhood memory I have is of my mother collecting branches of pussy willows and forsythia in the spring to decorate a table here or there. The other day, while out for our "Morning Glory Walk," my littles and I came across some pussy willows at the park. They immediately thought of doing disection science experiments; I thought of my mother, and bringing spring into the house.

Here are the scientists exploring creation:

(Safety goggles are very important for such endeavours ;)

Here is my bit of beauty:
(BTW -- There's the lovely quilt I told you about in another post that my dear friend Susan made for us:)

I also put a smaller sprig on my kitchen table, but I had trouble getting a good photo with all the light from the walk-out. You get the idea though, right? ;)

How do you enjoy spring inside?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Easter Traditions

Christmas and Easter are two of my favourite times of year. Christmas gets lots of attention everywhere -- but I think Easter is even more worthy of celebration. So, over the years I've had my eyes and ears open for new and creative ideas to celebrate Easter, and to teach my children about its significance. I thought I would share some of the things we do in case an idea strikes a chord with you. I confess that few, if any, of the ideas are original, so I will try to give credit where credit is due.

Easter Basket
No -- don't get visions of pink and blue baskets with bunnies and chocolate eggs. (I'm not completely opposed to those -- except as EASTER decorations. They're more spring decorations to me. BTW -- how did bunnies and eggs ever get associated with each other in the first place?!?!?) Here's a picture of what I'm talking about:

The basket holds a collection of symbols associated with the biblical story of Easter. We've added to it almost every year as we've thought of new things that represent the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Here are the items we have in it this year:
Purple cloth - Because it's a royal colour, it represents Jesus being King of Kings (Revelation 17:14), but also the purple robe the soldiers put on him while they mocked him as the "King of the Jews" (Mark 15:17-18)
Grape vine - Jesus said, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5) Really, it's a symbol of our need for Christ.
Candle - represents Jesus being the true light (John 1:9)
Goblet - represents the cup that Jesus passed around at the last supper, explaining that the wine represented His blood, which was shed for us (Matthew 26:28)
Loaf of bread - a symbol of the bread at the last supper, which represents His body, broken for us (Matthew 26:26)
Stone - represents the stone that was sealed in front of the tomb where Jesus lay and was rolled away by the time the women arrived to anoint his body (Mark 16:4)
Tuft of white wool - represents Jesus being the spotless Lamb who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)
Toy rooster - represents Peter denying Jesus three times before the cock crowed (Matthew 26:69-75)
Toy soldier - represents the Roman soldiers who mocked and beat Jesus (Matthew 27:27-31)
Dice - represent the casting of lots the soldiers did for Jesus's clothing (Matthew 27:35)
3 silver coins - represent the thirty pieces of silver Judas received -- and returned -- for betraying Jesus (Matthew 27:3)
Piece of rope - represents the binding and beating of Jesus (Matthew 27:2, 30)
Cross made from sticks - represents the cross that Simon from Cyrene was forced to carry to Golgotha and upon which Jesus was crucified (Mark 15:21-24)
Crown made from a rose bush stalk - represents the crown of thorns the soldiers made and put on Jesus to mock him as king (Matthew 27:29)
Large, iron nails - represents the nailing of Jesus to the cross (Acts 2:23) for our salvation
Stick with rag tied to the end - represents the wine mixed with gall that was offered to Jesus on the cross to numb his pain, which Jesus refused (Matthew 27:34)
Strip of linen - represents the linen Joseph of Arimathea wrapped Jesus's body in after taking him off the cross (Mark 15:46)
Jar of spices - represents the spices the women brought to anoint Jesus's body, and then discovered he had risen from the dead (Mark 16:1)
Angel - represents the angel that rolled away the stone from the tomb and told Mary and Mary that Jesus had risen (Matthew 28:2)

As we assemble the basket together, we discuss the meaning of each object, reminding ourselves of the events of Jesus's life and the significance of the Easter story. Can you think of any other appropriate items to include?

Egg Decorating
You may have noticed a few eggs in the picture. BC (before children), my dh and I enjoyed making pysanka (Ukranian Easter eggs) with beeswax and authentic egg dyes. We discovered a rich history of incorporating Christian imagery in the decorating of these symbols of emergent new life (not to mention a symbol of the triune God, with the three distinct parts making up one egg). We also created our own methods of decorating using acrylic paints and gold and silver foils. (Some of those have survived almost two decades and are visible in the photos.) So, I guess it makes sense that we make egg decorating a part of our annual Easter celebration -- be it with shrink-wrap sleeves, food colouring, tissue paper, or paint. I'm still looking for a new technique to try this year. Any suggestions?

Here's a slightly better picture of our decorated egg display, behind which is a resin replica of the Last Supper which we borrowed from my dh's parents a few years ago and have neglected to return :{ (That's just so wrong! We must give it back after this Easter!)

Resurrection Eggs:
We use an older version of this set, which is simply a dozen plastic eggs, each containing a symbol of the Easter story and a devotional reading for each symbol. We use this kit in conjunction with a book called Benjamin's Box. Little people especially enjoy opening the eggs and seeing what's inside, expecially since all the objects are in miniature. Symbols include a donkey, praying hands, and a cross.

Here is a link that explains how to make your own Resurrection Eggs.

A few years ago, I read a list of Easter ideas on a message board. One was to work on an Easter related puzzle throughout the season. Family members can work together or independently as time allows, and the end result is a frameable piece of art :) It's a challenge to find puzzles that relate to Easter, so we use ones that at least suggest a Christian theme. Sometimes the dog even gets involved -- in which case we have to find ways to camouflage the missing pieces!

Here are a couple we've done. Excuse the reflection of my hand and camera -- I haven't mastered the fine art of photographing pictures!

We wouldn't be true homeschoolers if books weren't a significant part of our Easter celebration. Our collection isn't as vast as our Christmas one is, but here's what's on the shelf right now (If you click on the picture, you'll probably be able to read the titles -- if that interests you):

One of our favourites is not shown above. It's called The Lamb, by John R. Cross (who, by the way, offers a free, on-line bible survey course which we just completed):

This book has an audio CD narration of the book, which gives a succinct, child-friendly version of the gospel, along with beautiful illustrations by Ian Mastin. We listen to it each year. A few years ago (inspired by friends who did it with Sunday school classes) we did lapbooks on The Lamb, so we take a trip down memory lane with those every year, too. Here's a glimpse inside one of ours, which has lots of mini-books to open and read, but if you want more info about lapbooks, check out this site.


Passsion Hymns
This could probably go in the books section, since we use Passion Hymns for a Kid's Heart by Bobbie Wogemuth and Joni Eareckson Tada to study some of the good theology in a few hymns that are sung around Easter time. Each hymn has a narrative to go along with it, so we read that, then sing along with the CD. Some years we do one per day; some years we spend longer on a single hymn -- it just depends on how quickly the season creeps up on me and how prepared I am for its arrival!

Easter Hunt
Not a big fan of the Easter bunny but fond of fun, we modified the common Easter Egg Hunt to suit life with a diabetic son who is tortured by the presence of copious amounts of chocolate in the house, and by parents who lack self-control when it comes to eating said chocolate (which means it rarely lasts long enough for him to enjoy). My dh came up with the idea of having the children work together to find homemade puzzle pieces that fit together to form verses and other messages that lead to the discovery of envelopes with a special surprise. Last year the "treat" was a fill-in-the-blank form giving the option to choose a special activity with a parent, knowing that x-amount of money was available for that occasion. It was a delight to see the children record their plans for a special date with one of their parents.

Empty Tombs
Another idea I found online was making "Empty Tomb" cookies while discussing the significance of the ingredients in relation to the Easter story. Here is a link to a recipe that needs to sit in the oven all night. We've done it with success -- but it's a drawn out process, and I'm not always good with those :P I tend to prefer this recipe, though we don't put anything on the outside of our rolls. I can't forget this activity because I'm usually reminded to purchase the ingredients ahead of time:)

Art Activity
You may have seen the wire cross in this post, which is the art activity we did last Easter. It's late, but I still haven't determined what we'll do this season. I'm thinking of these clay and bead crosses over at That Artist Woman, who inspires me with so many of her great art ideas for children and adults alike.

Anyway -- that gives you a pretty good glimpse of some of the ways we try to be creative in celebrating the Easter season at our house. I'm ALWAYS looking for new ideas, though, so if you can point me to any, please do!!!!!

I've linked this post to the Easter linky at Impress Your Kids. Check it out for more ideas!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Art Fair

I mentioned in an earlier post that we hosted an art fair with a couple of other homeschooling families recently. Each of the children studied a particular artist or type of art and presented an oral report about their findings. They also created a piece of art modeled after the work they studied. Here is some of the art work my children created . . .

My oldest daughter initially thought she'd like to study Paul Klee, but was really frustrated with her imitation of his Der Niesen. I think she did a good job -- but I know what it's like to not like your own work! LOL Here's her attempt:

Ultimately, she decided she'd like to try her hand at some anime, so here are the creatures she copied.

My 11 year-old son studied the work of  Quentin Blake. These are the pieces he created, with his own twists,  after his study:

My 7 year old daughter wanted to study collage, and one artist we came across was Michael Albert, who developed a form of collage he called "Cerealism."  Here's her version of his style:

And finally, my 3 year-old was not about to be left out of the activities. You'll see his model attached to the top of his work here:

We all learned a lot and hope to have a repeat of the event next year :)

Family {Art} Day

Our province is blessed to have a designated "Family Day" as an official holiday in February. This year, my husband and I decided it would be fun to do a family art project. Since our children range in age from 3-12, it was a bit of a challenge to come up with something we could all do simply and successfully. I figured we could each create a square with a series of concentric paper circles and put them all together, along the lines of  Kandinsky's Colour Study of Squares . (I got the idea from Art Projects for Kids, a very inspiring site!)My dh had the brilliant idea of taking it a step further and telling each person to select one paper to represent each member of our family and then decide how to order the circles on their squares. We have lots of scrapbooking paper, so the selection was vast. It was so fun to see what each person chose to represent themselves and others in the family -- and fun to GUESS before they explained each choice! (Interestingly, three people independently chose purple paper to represent me -- largely because of my love of lavender oil, which I use for just about everything :)

Unfortunately, the pictures I took during the process of our family art day mysteriously disappeared (and we can't blame the dog --- oh, but that's another story!!!). I would have liked to show you the work in progress. However, I'll have to settle with just showing the finished product and each person's part of the product.

Here's the finished product -- with a dark wash to unify the whole piece. I was a bit disappointed that we lost some of the "pop" of the coloured papers with the wash, but I'm still really pleased with the results. (BTW -- it's not really as lopsided as it looks. I had trouble taking a good picture of it on the wall, and couldn't crop it quite right!)

This is my youngest daughter's square -- lots of pink and sparkles to suit her tastes, but still representative of the people in our family. (For example, the buses represent her youngest brother's love of playing with cars and trucks.)

Next is my husband's. I especially like the "social butterfly" paper with the princess castle that he chose for your youngest daughter.

Here is our 3 year-old son's piece. He really chose and cut all the papers by himself! (He used a special circle cutter for the one that is perfectly shaped, which happens to represent Daddy.) He loves to roar and growl like a tiger, which is why he chose the lion to represent himself :)

Next is the work of our 11 year-old son. He's not fond of working with scissors, so he used the circle cutter for all his papers so they'd all be exact. He chose to place the circles in order of age, the oldest (me) being the base. It's not hard to guess that the monkey represents his little roommate, who's always "messing with" his stuff! LOL

Here is our 12 year-old daughter's square:

And finally, my square. I chose to tear all my circles just to be different ;) The smallest circle with the horse represents my oldest daughter, who loves to ride and is also an enigmatic patchwork quilt of colourful emotions and ideas. The circle with the sports pennants represents my 3 year-old son who loves to go-go-go and is always shouting things like "yippee!" Everyone was stumped by the next circle. The blue and green buildings are significant because those are my 11 year-old son's favourite colours, and he loves to build things. The smoke clouds also remind me of the speech bubbles he incorporates into almost all of his drawings. Behind that is a coloured coffee filter which I made with my youngest daughter. She loves art and colour, so I thought it was a good opportunity to make use of the little creation we'd made together months earlier. The page of text represents me, as I love to read and write, and the gold paper with the embossed man overseeing the whole piece represents my husband, who is solid gold to me and a wonderful head of our household.

So, that's what we did with our family day this year. I'd be thrilled to hear of any ideas that you have for making family memories with art -- or anything else! Please leave a comment with your ideas:)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Altered Book Entry: Heaven

The altered book yahoo group I'm in has started a monthly challenge. This month's challenge was as follows:

Prompt 1: Travel
Prompt 2: Destination
Colors: Your choice, but include a shot of orange
Technique: Your choice
Embellishment: Include a ticket

Here's my response to the challenge. I'm not thrilled with the artistic quality -- but I treasured the thought process, which I'll elaborate on below . . .

I've been thinking a lot about heaven lately. Often it's on those days when I'm at my wits' end with teaching and training the children!!!!!! LOL But the uncertainty of tomorrow has been weighing heavily on my mind lately. I calculated last night that in the last three years, 11 people in my immediate family (including in-laws) have suffered with cancer alone, never mind other life-threatening illnesses (like heart attacks and lung disease) -- several to the point of passing. In fact, just yesterday we celebrated the life of my Aunt Ethel. The wonderful tributes her children and grandchildren gave had me almost sobbing at the loss they were enduring, but also at the hope they conveyed in the conviction that she is now joyfully reunited with her husband and other loved ones in heaven. It's so easy to get caught up in the despair of death -- in the sadness that can be all-consuming in the loss of a loved one -- or even the THOUGHT of the loss of a loved one when something like the dreaded "C" word is mentioned. But how wonderful -- how AMAZING to know that we have HEAVEN to look forward to! And how comforting to know that we can be confident that our "ticket" -- the saving grace of Christ -- will get us safely there! That sure makes it easier to "enjoy the journey"! :)

The Art Studio

I mentioned that we have a room devoted to art, so I I thought I'd share a little glimpse of it with you . . .

As you can tell, it's pretty simple -- a place to work and a place to display that work -- especially the children's. I feel really blessed to have the space, and to have a husband who enjoys working down there with me :)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Art Journal - 2

Here are a few more pages from my art journal, in no particular order, since I work on a page that suits what I'm doing, not in chronological order . . . (You can click on the pictures to make them bigger.)

Colour wheel -- done as an exercise with a group of homeschooling children for an Art Fair. The challenge was to find an instructive activity that could work with children ranging in age from 3-12! There were so many possibilities -- but this is what I decided upon to teach/review the basic colour wheel and discuss primary and secondary colours. We used water colour pencils -- which have most of the fun of water colour paints with a fraction of the mess:) (BTW -- each child drew or traced a shape of their choosing for the centre to personalize their work.)

My children and I made Valentine's cards layering tissue paper and glue. I didn't follow the instructions properly the first time (we tore the top layer of tissue into bits instead of laying on a large piece to cover the whole surface), so I tried again in my journal. The idea was to "smoosh" the top layer so it had a nice glossy texture (once it was covered in glue again).

For our Art Fair last month, I also wanted to incorporate an Easter activity, so we glued painted egg shells to cardboard crosses and glossed them with more glue. Afterwards, I read that an additional touch is to finish with a wash of black for an antique look.

Below is my attempt at an Usborne art idea -- blown watery paint with a face painted inside.

I had thought to make my dear and very creative friend, Susan (http://www.islandcove.ca/), a birthday gift, and tried a technique I'd read of online in my journal. (Simply place flowers and leaves face down on paper under a paper towel and hammer!!!!). You probably can't tell, but I then outlined things with a sparkly gel pen. It looked OK for my journal, but not a good enough gift idea for my friend. (You should see the quilt she made for my husband and me!!!!! And the necklaces . . . well, you can see some of those on her website :)

This masking tape portrait was something I thought I could do with my children. Ya -- no. Kinda finicky, especially for little hands. My 12yo could do it, but I'm not sure she'd really find it worth the effort.

I'm a member of an altered book yahoo group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alteredbooks/) and in February, lots of people were creating "Tangles." I thought it was a cool idea, so this is my first attempt.

One of my first attempts at using water colour pencils. I copied an illustration that caught my eye in one of my dd's science books. I can't draw from my head -- I have to copy something:{

That's about it -- at least of the things in my journal that are somewhat worth posting:)  I hope someone finds a glimmer of inspiration in something :)
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