Monday, May 31, 2010

Recycled Art for Kids: Painted Rocks Project #2 - Rock Houses For the Garden

My sweet little houses...

Rain, rain... not that the grass and I are complaining, but it can be hard on the kiddos. Here is another painted rock project that came from the recycled art class I taught this month. These are great for kids of all ages to work on. They look awesome in a garden. And the possibilities are endless. Your child can make a whole neighborhood.

Painted Rock Houses

by Tiffany Teske

What You Will Need

~ Rocks
~ Acrylic craft paint
~ Paint brushes; one for covering the rocks with solid all-over color, and smaller ones for detail work
~ Clear glossy spray lacquer


1. Select your rocks. Wash and let them dry.
2. Paint your rocks a solid color (as in the photo above). You will need to paint them all on one side, let them dry, then flip them over to paint the other side. Acrylic paint dries quickly.
3. Repeat step number two, 2-3 times, depending on the color of paint and how well it covers. Dark colors cover better, faster, than light colors.
4. Paint your house on the rock, filling it in with color. Using a small detail brush, paint dots, strips, flowers, and any other kind of design on your rocks. I like to outline my details with black paint once all the colored paint has dried.
5. Let everything dry well. Overnight is good.
6. Spray with sealer according to manufacturer instructions. This it to make the rocks more durable so they can be out in the elements of the garden.
7. Place your rocks outdoors, preferably somewhere you can see them from inside.

One of my student's houses, I believe she is 9. Isn't it adorable?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Recycled Art for Kids: Painted Rocks Project #1 - The Caterpillar

I just finished teaching a Recycled Art class series for kids aged almost 5 to 9. It can be challenging to select activities for that span of ages, but it can be done. One day we did two painting projects, both of which involved painting rocks. Kids LOVE to paint, probably because it is a messy activity that many moms don't want them to do (I am sometimes guilty of this myself). Kids also love rocks. My daughter likes to fill her pockets with them. And since we worked on this project she brings them to me all the time. It is fun because I put them in a coat pocket, or on the mantle, or in the car, and then I think of her and how she thinks of me, when I see them. I am happy she has started to see beyond the obvious uses for things. This project is a good project for all age levels and the kids can feel really good about and use their imaginations to play with the results.

How to Make a Painted Rock Caterpillar
by Tiffany Teske

What You Will Need

~ 5 or more rocks
~ Acrylic craft paint
~ Paint brushes; one for covering the rocks with solid all-over color, and smaller ones for detail work
~ Matte finish sealant; I used Krylon Matte Finish Spray Fixative

1. Select your rocks. Wash rocks and let them dry.
2. Paint your rocks a solid color. You will need to paint them all on one side, let them dry, then flip them over to paint the other side. Acrylic paint dries quickly.
3. Repeat step number two, 2-3 times, depending on the color of paint and how well it covers. Dark colors cover better, faster, than light colors.
4. Using a small detail brush, paint dots, strips, and any other kind of design on your rocks. Also, make a face on your first rock, and maybe little legs and feet on the sides of the other rocks. The sky is the limit.
5. Let everything dry well. I waited until the next day.
6. Spray with sealer according to manufacturer instructions. This it to make the rocks more durable.
7. Play with your new caterpillar.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Another Budding Artist in the Family...

Just a quicky post before I am off to dreamland. This week, while watercolor painting with my 4 year old, I decided to give my one year old daughter a paintbrush. She loved it! She liked putting paint on the brush, then putting color on paper. She seemed to really "get" it. And she only put the brush in her mouth a couple of times... This photograph was taken by me the next day. While visiting a friend for tea, our daughters decided to draw at the easel. Too cute!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Decoupage Your Child's Art Table With Vintage Book Images

I have been wanting to get to this project for, oh, a couple of years now. My eldest daughter turned four this week. She has had this table and chairs since she was old enough to sit on a chair by herself. It is a simple wooden table and chairs, unfinished, with a particle board top. I got the set at Ikea but you could easily adapt this project for use with any wooden table and chair set you own. My daughter just turned 4 and was able to help me with parts of this project.

How to Decoupage Your Child's Art Table With Vintage Book Images
By Tiffany Teske

You Will Need:
- a set of wooden chairs and a table
- mat finish acrylic gel medium (although you could probably use thinned PVA glue)
- brayer (rubber roller) or credit card (to get rid of bubbles)
- a vintage children's book that is worse for the wear
- scissors or utility knife
- Satin finish Varathane (water based, low odor, cleans up with water)
- sponge brush

I had a book in mind well before starting this project. Our local library always has a bookshelf of books for sale near the entrance. Sometimes, the kid books that used to be circulating in the library's collection, are pretty beat up. In good shape or bad they are a steal at $1, which the library uses to buy more books. The day I saw a 1981 copy of Brian Wildsmith's Bear's Adventure, and I snapped it up. Even though it had pages that were almost completely ripped, it didn't matter to me, because I LOVE this man's books and his art, and I knew right away what I would do with this wonderful story. Cut it up and paste it onto something... By the way, Bear's Adventure will soon be re-issued by Star Bright Books, which publishes many wonderful children's books.

Step One
Select the images from your book that you would like to use. Your child can help you with this. I like to use parts of images, overlapping them, not just laying them out next to each other. You can decide what you like best.

I like to lay everything out, with my daughter, so we can decide what we like best. We do this BEFORE even thinking of gluing the items down. I am pretty fast at making compositional decisions but some people like to look at things for a day or even a week before committing. Select the images for both your table and chairs.

Step Two
Once you have cleaned your table and chairs you can start gluing your images onto them. You can use whatever decoupage technique you might know. I like to use mat finish acrylic gel medium straight from the jar. There are pros and cons to this. I need to get the paper down pretty much perfect the first time, but I find it is nice and thick so nothing curls up on me. I prefer a mat finish because I think it is much more forgiving than glossy, since you see every bump and bubble with a gloss finish.

Here is the gluing process, step by step.
1) Brush your glue onto your table top or chair top. If you prefer, you can put the glue on the back of your image instead but it will curl and you will need to handle it with care. Remember to glue the images that will have parts that are underneath other images down FIRST.

2. Lay down your image how you want it. Using the brayer or your credit card, smooth out the image, pushing any bubbles to the edges. Continue to glue the elements of your composition onto the table.

3. Once everything is glued down you can brush glue over the entire table and chair tops. Don't worry too much about bubblse, they should break on their own. Put everything somewhere that is not dusty while it dries.

A finished chair that needs to dry.

4. Once your table and chairs have dried, repeat step 3. at least twice more, letting the glue dry for several hours between each application. These layers of glue seal the paper on the table so that they will not get soaked during the Varathane process.

Step Three
It is now time to apply Varathane to your table and chairs. I used satin finish. DO NOT SHAKE the Varathane can. This will create bubbles. Open the can and using a paint stir stick, stir the Varathane for a couple of minutes. It should appear milky, like in the image below. IT WILL DRY CLEAR. Apply the Varathane with a sponge brush, from side to side, making sure to cover the whole surface. You can gently break any bubbles you see. Let the Varathane dry for 4 hours, then apply at least two more layers. I did four layers. You want your table and chairs to be durable.

Let your table and chairs cure for one week before using. When ours was ready we took it outside for a little tea party. You can wipe your table and chairs with a damp cloth when necessary, otherwise just dust with a dry cloth.

Voila!! We love our new cheery. colorful table and chairs! We like the wood unfinished, but for even more color and fun you could paint the wood. I would suggest doing this BEFORE decoupaging, to save yourself some headache of protecting the images. As always, I would love to hear if we have inspired you to try this. If you have any questions for me please leave a comment. Have fun!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

My New Favorite Cookbook - Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson

Peanut Butter Krispy Treats from the Cookbook Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson

My friend, Jane, and I have been having fun exchanging cookbooks. It is a great way to find some new recipes and to check out cookbooks I might want to buy. The library is good for this, too, but when I exchange with Jane I get the added benefit of hand written notes and recipe recommendations based on what Jane has tried. My new favorite cookbook is Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson. I can hardly begin to tell you why because I love everything about it from the writing style of Swanson to her use of obscure ingredients like agar agar, which I happen to have in my cupboard. It is the vegab marshmallow replacer in the peanut butter krispy treats recipe, seen on Heidi's blog, with pistachios included! We made these treats to take to Quin's friend's house the other day. The kids like them, but mom's LOVE them!

I have also made the Banana Espresso Muffins, which are amazing. I used decaf espresso so that my kids could eat them. The mini muffin version I made along with the regular sized muffins were a bit rubbery... sometimes, living in the mountains wrecks havoc on my baking... but the ones I made in the standard muffin cups were wonderful.

Banana Espresso Muffins

I will make everything I have made again, including the spring asparagus puree which can be used like traditional basil pesto. I am truly happy to know this recipe, since I am not a huge fan of jarred pesto, and I never have access to piles of fresh basil. I will be making this a lot.

Spring Asparagus Puree with pasta

I am so happy that Jane lent it to me Super Natural Cooking. I must get my hands on my own copy, as I want to try all the recipes. Also, it has so much valuable information about different flours as well as recipes for basic things like making your own aluminum-free baking powder and a good vegetable stock. I could go on and on. If you are the type of person, like I am, to curl up on the couch with a cookbook, and you love natural foods, you will appreciate Swanson's newest cookbook!

PS You can also subscribe to her blog, 101 Cookbooks, and she will send you a recipe a week! And if you want to look at this book online I found it here on Google Books!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Smile, A Fun Treat For Kids

I collect vintage cookbooks, craft & art books, and kid's craft & activity books. I randomly pull them from the shelves when I need inspiration for a project, for a class I am teaching, or for a fun activity to make with my eldest daughter. Yesterday, I found this simple snack, which we had all the ingredients for, and which I knew Quin & I could make together in a snap.

Apple Smiles
Makes 4

- one apple
- peanut butter
- mini marshmallows

1. Cut apple into 8 slices.
2. Spread peanut butter on one side of each slice.

3. Place 4-5 marshmallows on top of one slice. Press the other slice on top of that.

4. Have fun hamming it up for the camera. Then, eat!

Quin LOVES these. We made them after lunch then again after dinner so she could share some with Daddy...

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Spruce Up Your Front Door With Your Child's Art

Artwork by Quin & Mama

Every year in June, our local library has a children's art show. It is a lot of fun for everyone involved. Last year, Quin and Andre made a painting and dropped it off together while I was at home with a brand new babe :). We all made it to the show's opening, including a two week old, Emmanuelle. When the show was over, we decided to hang the painting on our front door. Ever since then we have showcased Quin's art there (and all over the house). It makes me smile every time I come home. And people who stop by for a visit always comment. We decided to put some new work on the door a couple of weeks ago, right before I hosted a spring clothing swap. It really brought a touch of spring to our entrance. You can do the same, in a few easy steps, using recycled cardboard and yarn or ribbon. Yippee for kiddo art!

How to Showcase Your Child's Art on Your Front Door
By Tiffany Teske

What You will Need
~ Your child's art
~ Poster board
~ Cardboard
~ Hole Punch
~ Yarn or ribbon

1. Cut either your child's art to fit on the poster board or the poster board to be larger than your child's art. I like a 1" - 2" border. Glue the art on the poster board using white glue. Smooth out with your hands, making sure everything is well attached.

2. Cut cardboard to a bit smaller than the poster board and glue them together using white glue. Smooth out and make sure they are well attached.

3. Punch two holes at the top of the poster board, a couple of inches in from each side, using your hole punch. Here I used a regular round punch but I have used shaped punches for a more decorative hole.

4. Thread your yarn or ribbon through each hole from front to back, then knot each end. Voila! It is ready to hang on your door and make people, especially your little one, smile.

I love this photograph of Quin diligently photographing her art...

A view of some of the items for offer at the clothing/book/housewares swap my friend, Kim, & I hosted. Here is a post I wrote in the fall about how to host a clothing swap. It is a great way to socialize with friends and meet new people, Plus you keep your old items out of the landfill while finding some new used items for yourself.

Aren't these tulips a lovely springy hostess gift?! Thanks, Amelie!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Doing the Happy Dance for My Friend, Serena!!

I am a die hard fan of creative magazines. A junky really (for another post)... I collect them all but currently subscribe to only one, Cloth Paper Scissors. I love it sooooooooooo much! The lastest issue arrived while we were on our recent trip to Kelowna (more on this as soon as Andre remembers to bring MY USB cord for MY camera back from HIS office!!) I am always thrilled to see the newest issue, it makes me all aflutter. I did get to look at it for a couple of minutes the other evening while breastfeeding my youngest. Then, tonight, while doing the same, I looked at the cover. I mean REALLY looked at the cover, and thought "Wow, either Serena wrote an article for CPS, or someone else is copying her work..." I just about ripped the magazine in two looking for the article, and then I saw the byline, "Serena Wilson Stubson". Then, I did the happy dance for my lovely friend from Winnepeg. Way to go, Serena!! If I had not been in such a inward daze lately, I would have seen the news on your blog (or actually heard it from you personally). Hugs to you!