Sunday, March 13, 2016

Giant Flowers

Spring has sprung early this year at the Barn. The snow is gone, the birds are singing and the first signs of new life are peeking through the soil. As we jump into art projects we are inspired by all that is around us, this week we made some beautiful giant flowers. I love this project because it brings together a few different fun processes for kids to explore creatively before tying it all together into these beautiful sunny flowers.

You will need:

Sheets of white tissue paper
Oven bake white clay (or make this recipe)
Clay tools - or objects that have a nice print
Paint roller
Kids glue
Hot glue gun
Any old cardboard

Step 1

Taking large sheets of tissue paper (the kind you use for gifts) we had lots of fun experimenting with paint squeezing, cookie cutter prints and symmetry. I had placed out some paint trays, cookie cutters and the paper and the children began this way but this quickly evolved following their lead into squeezing the bottles of paint, because every kid (and adult) loves squeezing paint right?

The tissue paper being thin was going to quickly become too wet so I showed the children how to fold the paper over and these beautiful butterfly prints were born.

As you can see all three activities led to beautiful results sometimes its just fun to see where a child will take you.

Step 2

While we left the painted tissue drying on the line we began making the centers of these flowers. For this we used Sculpey oven bake clay which I love because its so easy for the kids to work with once you've softened it up for them, its waterproof and once baked really difficult for them to brake. If you don't want to buy this clay you can also make you're own oven bake clay, our favorite recipe is here

We rolled out the clay and cut it into circles with a cookie cutter,

Then using various tools the children decorated the centers. I showed them a real flower to demonstrate how many spiral around and have circular patterns to them.

Once the children had created their patterns we baked them in the oven.

 Step 3

Once the centers were baked and cooled the children used a print roller to ink the top surface of their clay centers. This technique allows the clay to be printed on the raised surfaces while highlighting the dips and patterns made in the clay by the children.

We used printing ink for the centers, however an acrylic paint and roller would work just as well. I placed the ink on some wax paper, the children rolled through it to get a flat cover of color.

Then they rolled it over the dried clay pieces. We used both pink and blue paint for the centers.

Step 4

To create the petals of the flowers we cut each sheet of tissue paper in half and then folded it like a concertina. Forward - back - forward - back.

Then fold the concertina folded paper in half like a fan and glue center sides together.

Repeat 4 times (so you have used 2 sheets of your printed tissue paper). 

The final part of creating the petals is to glue along all the edges and push them together to create a circle.

Step 5

The final step is to assemble the flowers and this really brings all the separate projects you've been working on together. We began by hot gluing the clay centers to the center of the tissue paper circle. Depending on how you feel about letting the kids use a low temp hot glue gun adults may want to help, I always like to have the kids try if they want to and the low temp hot glue guns are very manageable even for younger hands.

Once you have fixed the center on the top flip the flower over. To give extra support to the flower and to have something to attach a string to for hanging we hot glued a cardboard circle onto the back. This was just a circle cut from a cereal packet.

Your flowers are now complete, 

You can attached string to the back to hang from the wall,

Or as we did on a sunny day, glue a stick to the back of the flower and go on a sunflower parade.

Beautiful, happy spring to all.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Tyvek Monsters

These monsters were inspired from my littlest guy who is obsessed with anything small and fury. He spends half his life pretending to be as he calls it a 'little creature', this little creature can be anything from an Ewok to a puppy dog to a baby yeti. The common theme it seems is it is small and fury and likes to make a snarf snarf noise lots!

Do your kids have imaginary friends or play at being different types of animals? I'm always fascinated with their own imaginary creatures and this project really sprung from trying to get them to describe their animal/monsters/friends to me.

You will need:

Tyvek material - In the US priority mail envelopes are made of this, outside the US you may have to purchase from FEDEx or other carriers.
Needle and embroidery thread
Small hole punch (only needed to make threading easier for younger children)
Stuffing, we used the polyester stuffing sold for soft animals but to really recycle you could use shreadded paper or plastic grocery bags.

Step 1

Have your child draw their monster onto the priority mail envelope using sharpies. I asked the children to ensure the monsters feet were at the bottom of the envelope on the red line. We did this because then when we came to cut them out for the next part we avoided cutting the bottom of the envelope and it kept the front and back of the together nicely making it easier when you come to the sewing stage.

Step 2

This step really is an optional step, if you are working with older kids they can probably be taught to sew directly through the paper layers as you would when sewing fabric. For the younger kids that were joining me I showed them how to use our smallest hole punch to make a line of tiny guide holes around the outside of the monsters. These guide holes really helped them when they came to sew make neat even stitches around the edge of the monster.

Step 3

Once the holes were made we took the embroidery thread, knotted one end and beginning at the base slowly stitched around the monster. Occasionally checking to ensure the thread is not becoming tangled. The older kids needed little help the four year old's needed checking on more frequently to be untangled but most managed to sew their own monsters. 

As you go around the head of the monster and start to close up the final side remember to leave a space in which to stuff the monster. Depending on the stuffing type you may need a bigger or smaller area to fill it. We used a chopstick to push the stuffing into the smaller arms and tails etc.

Step 4

Once you have stuffed your little monster finish up your stitching. The kids all needed help with this part as the stuffing made it harder to match up the holes we had punched through. They also needed help tying the embroidery thread off at the end. 

And there you have it, little creature...

Here are some of the others, so cute and all so different what does your child's imaginary friend look like?