Monday, May 31, 2010

Magnet Masterpieces

This morning as I rooted around in our homeschooling cupboard for some blank playing cards, I came across these old business magnets:

They begged to be altered, so this afternoon we created these:

We started by roughing up the surface with some sandpaper, then applying two coats of Liquidex Gesso, drying each with a hair dryer because, well, we're impatient artists. DD8 and her friend shared some paint (acrylic, for those of you who like to know) and half way through the project decided to sand off what they'd done and start again -- which accounts for a bit of a muddied background here on DD8's masterpiece (but I like the aged effect):

DD8 applied a sticker, and her friend (F6 we shall call her here :) chose to do a bit of stamping on top of the paint:

DS3 also applied some stickers to his thickly paint-mixed background. (I rather like the way the texture of his paint mimics the texture of the fridge! If you click on the picture, you might be able to see this better. But I suspect you might not care about THAT little detail ;)

I quite liked the yellow the girls chose, so I used a swatch of wallpaper that my cyber friend Daphne at Sew in Art kindly sent me in the mail (SNAIL mail -- I hardly ever get that any more! It was so delightful!) to stamp it on the gesso background. Then I applied my new little bird stamp and added a bit of bright blue with a Sharpie. (Can't seem to do a project without them!) I used rub-on letters for the "bliss" -- which is the theme for June in the Creative Every Day challenge. (Funny -- I'd been lamenting the absence of that in my life of late. I'm looking forward to reflecting more on it this month. I know it's there -- I just have to tap into it!) Finally, I added a paper flower (torn book pages inked and joined by a jeweled fastener) I'd made for another project. Oh -- and I went around the edge with the smushed nib of an old, black calligraphy marker to add some definition.

All of  our masterpieces were then swept over with a lick of decoupage glue to make them shiny and durable, and then dusted with a bit of fine glitter.

Kinda cute for some old magnets that have sat unused for years in the cupboard, don't you think?

Do you have any creative uses for old business magnets? (I still have lots to use up!)

Friday, May 28, 2010

Creative Money-Makers

I don't think it was about the money -- I think it was more about the fun of making a special drink and offering it to passersby . . .

My Sweet, Sweet Petunia ( aka DD8 -- Does anyone know the source of that pet name? I think someone with the initials SD does -- but I don't know if she reads this blog. But I digress!;) and her friend were looking for some excitement on a hot May day last weekend and asked if they could set up a lemonade stand. I only had real (and expensive!) lemons (have you heard something like this before?!?!?!?) and none of the cheap frozen stuff, so I said, "No -- another time." The disappointment was visible and audible, though fairly controlled ;) -- and it suddenly occurred to me that homemade iced tea was a more reasonable option. Spirits soared again, and the girls busied themselves finding cups and making signs and dumping brown sugar (we ran out of white) and ice into pitchers of tea. When Daddy offered them a special little brass stamp holder for a cash register, they just about went out of their skin with excitement.

Here they are running their little stand out on the sidewalk:

And enjoying a little bit of the fruits of their labour:

What creative ways do your children find to spend a sweltering day? What creative ways do they find to earn a little cash? (DS11 is especially interested in the answer to that one -- he wants to save for an ipod!)

Monday, May 24, 2010

How Sweet It Is

This morning I descended the stairs to be greeted by the delicious aroma of these:

My beloved had brewed the coffee and baked these tea biscuits from scratch. (I have the BEST husband!)

What special little things do your loved ones do that make you smile and feel loved?

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary -- How Does Your Garden Grow?

The other day, DD8, whose name is NOT Mary, was quite contrary. She seemed to be in need of some "time-in" ("girl-time" as she called it), so I suggested that we plant the flowers we'd purchased for her own little garden. Together, we created a little garden AND a little video about our work to share with Dad. Alas, the video simply WILL NOT load here. It's too bad because she really gave Emily Yeung and Daniel Cook a run for their money;) Anyway, here are a couple of stills to document the creative event:

Can  you suggest any other creative ways of helping children get out of their "funks"?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tea for Two - Altered Book Challenge

May 2010's monthly challenge for the altered books yahoo group I'm in was to create a spread using the theme "Tea Time," also incorporating the colour "daffodil yellow" and "a bit of lace or a sweet treat."

My original plan was to use some tea-stained pages my DD8 and I dyed, as well as some flowers made with torn and inked pages. However, that just wasn't working with the vibrant colours of the "picniked" photo I wanted to use. Then I remembered I'd kept a stash of my daughter's water colour paintings that she'd made ("For you, Mom") thinking I could use them as backgrounds one day. How perfect is that?!?!? I spritzed one with some gold glitter spray, and it was even more perfect! We had some lace ribbon on hand (we're hoarders for a reason!)with flowers that resembled the border in my photo, so I cut out the flowers and inked them with some of the same colours as in the border and background. (I'm not happy that the glue I used seems to be visible, but "Oh well!")I had my daffodil yellow in one of the flowers, but I noticed that our sewing machine happened to be loaded with yellow thread, so I zipped around a few elements on the page, and created a stitched border. (I love the look of stitched paper!)After adding a bit of journaling about my DD8, who loves to bless me with sweet cups of tea, I decided the page needed a little something else. I'm not very experienced with stamping, but I decided to try out a new stamp that fit with the flower motif. The spread was a bit big for my scanning bed, so you don't see the scalloped border of the spread, but I thought it would add a bit of interest to the page when it's in the book.

It was interesting to me to see how this spread evolved as I worked on it; it's completely different than I originally envisioned, yet I'm pleased with the results. Have you ever begun a project and had it morph into something completely different than you originally planned? How did it turn out? Was it difficult for you to give up your vision and just "let things happen"?

I particularly enjoyed thinking about my daughter as I created this spread, and relishing all the memories I have of our tea times together.

Are there special moments or memories that you have with loved ones that might be used to spark your creativity?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Just for Fun

While we listened to some audio dramas the other day, I tried an art idea suggested on the back of our Portfolio water colour pencils: I photocopied a picture in black and white, draft quality and coloured it with the water colour pencils. I doodled a bit in the background just so I could play with more colour. Then I applied water to blend the colouring and outlined things with a fine tip, black marker. It looks like my drawing skills have improved dramatically -- but they really haven't ;) I like the fact that it helps me to see where the shadows are -- for when I really DO work on my portrait skills!

Do you have any fun ideas for working with photographs? Can you think of how a technique like this might be worked into a larger scale art project? What could I do with this cute little piece?

Woo hoo!

I've been selected as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine's 2010-2011 Homeschool Review Crew !!! I can't wait to get started trying out new educational materials and writing about them :) Not only will it provide my family with creative, new learning opportunities, it will keep my creative juices flowing as I write (hopefully helpful) product reviews for my readers. It's another way for me "be creative every day" and help others along the way :) (Yikes! Ya -- no, I won't be doing a lot of rhyming in my reviews!)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wii-Indiana Jones-Lego Inspired Art

DS11 loves all things Lego and has a current passion for the Wii/Lego version of Indiana Jones. (How many media CAN you combine into one game?!?!?) So, while he's been listening during read-alouds, he has been busily drawing his own renditions of said game. He didn't think anyone else would be interested, but he agreed to let me post them here :) I kinda like his style!

Are there any things in the popular media that inspire YOU to create? What about your children? How could you use aspects of pop culture as a springboard for your creativity?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"Identity" Tag Book

Inspired by my cyber friend Daphne's work, I spent some time chillin' this week making some functional art out of . . . (drum roll, please!) . . . toilet paper tubes. We like to find creative ways to encourage our children to reflect on life, so I made this interactive book for my daughter during the wee hours of some nights I couldn't sleep anyway. Each little book/pocket has several tags on which she can finish the sentences, "I am . . ." -- "I have . . ." -- "I believe . . . " -- and "I will . . . ."

I decorated the backs of the pockets, too, as well as some of the tags.

Below is the rest of the double-tagged booklet above entitled "A Loving Family." Gotta love the GQ poses ;)

Have you found any creative uses for toilet paper tubes??????

More importantly, can you suggest some creative ways to get children reflecting about their lives?

I think I've said it before -- I'D LOVE TO HEAR YOUR IDEAS! :) Comment below, or email me at xinme2bcreative @ yahoo dot ca.

Cootie Catcher Cuteness

Makin' ABCs and 123s tactile and fun :)

Working on those fine motor skills, too! It's challenging to work just your thumbs and pointers in alternating directions!

Oh, and look -- we're learning about shapes and colour, too!

All of this was to help DS3 learn through play -- but of course, DD8 had to get in on the action, too:)

What are some creative ways you've found to make learning the basics fun and physical?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fun and Games

A while ago, someone in my Altered Books Yahoo Group posted some altered Dominos that she had stamped and covered with microbeads to make pendants. (I'm afraid I don't remember who it was -- there are so many awesome artists in the group!) That and a Google search inspired me to try it out myself. So, I guiltily broke up a set of double nines that we've had since BC ("before children," that is) -- after an unsuccessful posting of a request on Freecycle for an incomplete set, of course. (We have two other sets -- each slightly different -- so I didn't actually feel like I was depriving anyone of any fun!)

So, I started out with some of these:

With Podge-It glue, I applied some bits of a decorative paper napkin to several tiles, then glued on some micro beads and a bead with a decent sized hole to thread ribbon for a necklace. I liked the general effect, but was disappointed with the poor adherence of the microbeads.

Next, I tried a magazine cut-out and some scrapbooking paper with rub-on letters. For the one on the left, I used double-sided tape to adhere the microbeads -- but I don't think it was strong enough. I haven't found the perfect glue yet. Any suggestions?

I was having a lot of fun, but the microbeads were bugging me -- so I tried some with just decorative rub-ons. I quite like the effect :) I was thinking they could be used for gift tags and things like that. I turned the one on the left into a brooch by putting a pin on the back.


Alas, I didn't have many appropriate rub-ons, so I turned to my current default art medium -- Sharpie markers:

I made the mistake of applying a clear coat thinking it would protect the markers -- but it made them bleed instead. Sigh. Live and learn, I guess.

Here are some others I did while listening to our science CDs and waiting for the children during their gym class:

Of course, creativity inspires creativity, so DD12 got in on the action:

Unfortunately, the clear coat ate away at the microbeads and double sided tape on hers (the one on the left), so I'm going to have to find another way for her to adhere the microbeads on it. But it still looks pretty :). She used a magazine cut-out and a vellum word for the one on the left and Sharpies for the one on the right.

I'm glad there's still a whole bunch of Domino tiles left to play with -- it's really rather addictive! It's not "Blow me away!" art work -- but it's "I could do that!" art. And that's exactly what I want you to say --

"I could do that!"

So do it -- and let me know how it goes! :)
Do you have any other ideas for ways to decorate and use altered game pieces?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Creation Inspired Creativity

This morning, our devotional book challenged us to look at all the everyday wonders that surround us -- the moon sparkling on a lake, the clapping of leaves in the breeze, floating dandelion seeds lit from behind by the sun . . .

So, on our "Morning Glories Walk" we made an effort to notice these wonderful glimpses of God's creativity. One thing that captured DD8's interest was the veins on the spring leaves. This reminded me of the childhood rubbings I used to do with leaves and grave stones and such. So, when we got home, we did these rubbings together:

Simple, but sweet. I can envision using them as background in a collage or an altered book page . . .

Are there some aspects of creation that you particularly marvel at? Do you have any creative ways of capturing those wonders?

Creative Lighting

A couple of Christmases ago, I put some lighted garland above our sliding glass doors and really loved the evening ambiance created by the lighting. I lamented the fact that when Christmas was over I'd have to take it down -- but this year my brilliant and creative SIL suggested I just change the garland and make the decorations seasonal. So here's our spring version (though I think it needs more lights):

I'm sorry I haven't mastered the art of taking pictures in dim light, but you get the idea here. It's an ivy-like garland with mini lights and springish flowers. Here's a close up:

There's nothing like soft lighting to make a room cozy and comfortable after dark. Do you have any favourite ways of creating ambiance?

Creative Dressing

I sent DS3 to get dressed, and this is how he returned:

M&Ms candy container lid for a hat, crooked sunglasses, backwards sweater, and Nana's slippers. Gotta love him!

Necessity is the Mother of Invention

On Sunday we hosted some friends for lunch. When we have guests, we like to set the table with napkins, but the only ones we had that matched our table were these cocktail sized ones:

It just wouldn't do to fold them under the fork or lay them on the plates, so I tried this:

Pretty simple -- but it worked for me!

Do you have any creative, in-a-pinch table decorating ideas to share? I'd love to hear them!

Before I go -- here's a glimpse of the only completely home-made part of the meal (we cheated a lot this time!) -- but they look pretty good, don't they?!?!?

Saturday, May 1, 2010


Isn't it wonderful when friends inspire each other? The other day, while our children were attending a gym class, my friend Susie pulled out a little sketch pad and said, "See what you've inspired me to do, Paula? I've had this sketch book for years, but I just put it in my purse so I could use it at times like this." She then proceeded to sketch an adorable little picture of my DS3 as he played with her son.

Isn't this awesome?

It thrills me to know that she has been inspired by me and this blog -- that's exactly what I want to happen! I'm recording my own creative journey in hopes that the creative drive will be awakened in others. And seeing Susie's sweet sketch inspires ME to keep being creative -- and to keep working at my sketching and finding ways to let the Master Artist live through me.

I love the ripple effect, too . . . Because Susie has been inspired to use her artistic skills more, she has shown her children some drawing techniques. In turn, her son's drawing skills have taken off! How cool is that?!?

What inspires you to be creative? How might you inspire others to tap into their creativity? Think about it -- and let me know :)
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