Monday, October 31, 2011

happy halloween

a favorite picture from a few years ago

Thursday, October 27, 2011

how do you co-create with kids?


I think there is a wicked irony about parenthood. When I started having kids, I found that my creativity and fearlessness were both ignited. Yet, at the very same time, I had so much less time and energy to myself. I have come to realize that a working solution for me, is to create with my kids as much as possible (as well as carving out time alone when I can).

So, we spend most of our days exploring, wondering, thinking and making. It is not always seamless, but many times we are able to inspire and encourage each other. I am often surprised at how positively kids respond to adults who are creating their own projects - they will give them space and watch with curiosity to see what is unfolding. When I am frustrated or blocked, it is usually not my kids who are hampering me, but ME who is telling myself that I do not have time, or I need a special set of circumstances in order to create. If I get out of my way and just start making (or doing or writing), my environment will settle in around me and support my work.



How do you balance creative work with kids?

How do you co-create?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

wood working with kids

My kids love to work with tools and wood. For some reason, I have a hard time facilitating projects that meet their needs. They come up with HUGE ideas that I can not implement (we watch too much Little Rascals - go carts with real duck horns, playhouses with elaborate stages...). The other option is to just give them a pre made kit - but that falls a little flat. We have very gradually begun to find a few projects that allow them to do most of the work to create something very useful.

This project from Family Fun was a recent success. It is a hanging tray bird feeder. You really do not even need detailed directions to make it. Basically, you make a square out of strips of wood (we used reclaimed wood from our stash) and then using upholstery tacks, attach a screen on the bottom. You can drill holes to make the hanger or even tie the strings to the wood before attaching the screening. It it pretty simple and turned out great.


















I found this book in my brother's old stuff and it looks promising. It offers guidance on tool selection and use, as well as setting up the workshop. There are projects of varying difficulty, from making a block set out of one piece of wood to building a real raft! I love that the projects are all illustrated using real working kids and rely on non-power tools.

How do you wood work with your kids? I would love more resources and tips.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

of random halloweens past


My daughter as H2O. This was completely conceived and executed by her. Um, yes, we homeschool. My son has wanted to be both a lantern fish and the nervous system in the last few years.


This cross stitched pumpkin was really fun to make. Poke the holes first, and then use a blunt end yarn needle to stitch. I got the idea here - but did mine on a real pumpkin instead of a fake one. The mold and decay on the cross stitch was pretty great.

Last year, my kids were a mad scientist, lego brick and belly baring bat. The Lego brick was the hit. It was simply a box with Chobani yogurt containers glued on and then the whole thing spray painted.

Who knows what they will be this year. Much like my philosophy on design your own birthday, we design our own costumes too. The majority of it needs to be made from stuff we already have (costumes, old clothes, paint - we have a lot of stuff) and I will help as much as possible within reason. (The above mentioned lantern fish idea had me pushing around a kid suspended from his waist on a garment rack...)

When do you start planning your costumes?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Action Pack

Get Action Pack - Craft and Creative Activities for Kids 7+

Have you seen and read Action Pack?

WOW!

It is exactly what I would love to create (if I were at all able to write a hip e magazine with activities for kids that appeals to both kids and grown ups). I have been a big fan of Whip Up for years, so my adoration of this magazine is no surprise. The activities range from scientific to arty to just really useful stuff any cool kid would need to know. There is no advertising - just straight, great content.

I printed out and devoured all 60 pages of issue 4 in preparation for a camping trip. My family has camped alot, so I was amazed to see so many inspiring new ideas. We made an anemometer and weather vane to track the weather on our island, and will be making a fish trap as well as some camp scones. The utility belt is pretty awesome too - all I need is a stud kit and I am gold.

I am big into supporting creative moms' projects and this is a good one! Order a copy for you or your kid. A few copies printed out in a binder would make an awesome present for any child and would provide the recipient with so much more exploratory playtime than any mall toy ever could.


from the action pack website
Our philosophy
- We see kids as competent, creative and capable people.
- We believe that our kids are resourceful and clever and we try to enable them to develop their independence and creative minds within a secure and nurturing environment.
- We see learning opportunities everywhere. Learning should and can be fun.
- But we also know that parents are busy and cannot realistically be spending all weekend ‘playing’ with their kids.
- We want kids to get off the couch, away from the computer and learn the value and fun in making and doing stuff.


disclosure: i signed up to be an affiliate for action pack. i have never done this before and the only reason i chose to this time was because of the fervent love affair i am having with the magazine. i truly believe this is an amazing product. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

journal entry: shrinking into vastness

There is much power in cultivating smallness - shrinking, contracting, degrading, dissolving: all seem to lead to infinity and a universal vastness that I seek as much as sunshine and solitude.


When I abate, so many things fall away - ego for sure, but also responsibility and guilt and worry. All that is left is the essential me, and that is not much. Just a small primordial pulse of longing and love. I recently learned that each persons's body has something like one teaspoon of the original matter from the big bang - so maybe that is my essence - a spoonful of concentrated star dust.


In the hours after the birth of each of my children, I had a wonderfully transcendent moment where I was awake, yet traveling within their bodies. I could fully feel what they were feeling, see through their eyes, and even move their muscles. Until, slowly - the occupation and connection faded. And we were separate. In order for the birth to be complete and successful and gentle - I had to shrink down, inhabit, and travel with my child's body just as they had inhabited mine.  The symbiotic relationship had to contract and swell and finally transform (sort of like the big bang).


I have a very similar experience when I am in the ocean. Bobbing in the water - far out - I become hyper focused on the light on the waves and the swells that pull my body along. I feel helplessly weak one moment and as if my body is determining the movement of all the seas the next. Almost like strings are connected all over me to places in the water - the top of a wave, the abysmal crags in the floor. It all becomes muddled as to who is controlling who.


The waves block the view of my family every few seconds, so it is as if I am looking at an old projected film, with jerky and sloppy timing revealing a banal narrative. My body and mind effortlessly attune to the salinity and soupiness of the sea. I am fully convinced that this is exactly how I will feel when I am dying and slipping from life into the unknown. It will be like floating in the sea and then effortlessly returning under to where tears, ocean water and blood, all taste the same.

Monday, October 10, 2011

into the woods...

The weather here is amazing. Cool, rainy, breezy. I am unable to stay on a computer for more than a few minutes. The woods keep calling.

So, I will see you in a few days.



Thursday, October 6, 2011

you don't have to understand

"No, Meg. Don't hope it was a dream. I don't understand it any more than you do, but one thing I've learned is that you don't have to understand things for them to be."
A Wrinkle in Time


*we are deep into Wrinkle right now and it is magical for all of us, in different ways...

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

make a coffee filter fall twig

This might just be the week of cheap and easy things to make. Don't get me wrong, I like to spend money - but not on fake flowers or box store decorations. Our seasonal decorations tend to be our current art projects. Usually, they are open ended and utilize really basic supplies. 

Coffee filter projects are everywhere now. Have you seen them?  Some of them are truly stunning. But we went simple for this project. First, we water colored a bunch of cheap coffee filters. The idea was to use fall colors, but since that is really a concept my kids only know from story books, we had a wider range. 

After they dried, we free cut some basic leaf shapes and glued them on a stick from the yard. This was an ongoing project. We glued on some leaves and then came back later to glue on some more. There are plans for a birds nest and a little bird. While it is not the most high end project, I love its organic nature and that is can be played with and changed as the season continues. 



Tuesday, October 4, 2011

make fairy hoax photos

Inspired by the wonderful movie Fairy Tale: A True Story, we headed to the woods to make our own hoax photographs. These were really fun and I think we will do it again (and again).

We started by taking photos at home in front of a brightly back lit curtain, so that we basically had dark silhouettes. The kids really enjoyed thinking of different, plausible fairy poses. 

Next, we printed them on card stock and cut them out, leaving a tiny bit of white around the edges (the idea was that this would make them sorta glow in the photograph). We taped a skewer to the back, so that we could stick them into the ground. 

Then, we headed to the forest to make fairy houses. After each home was complete, we stuck the photos in the ground creating scenarios. We then took loads of photos. We were going for an ethereal aesthetic - a little misty and and in some cases with just a hint of something supernatural happening in the margins. 

We are thinking about using these images to write fake newspaper pages about fairy sightings and then leaving them at the same nature center where we started these hi jinx. 





Monday, October 3, 2011

awesome monday (and a GREAT resource)



inspired by my recent favorite quote 










I had this huge weird wall space in between two bookcases in my office. I wanted something big, graphic and inspiring (and not from Ikea). I also wanted it to be fast, cheap and easy.  I learned about The Rasterbator on Abbey Goes Design Scouting and it was the answer! I had just made the quote design for a smaller print and then uploaded it to the Rasterbator and within seconds I was able to print out 40 sheets that I could glue together into this huge poster. You can fool around with size and the number of pages you want to print on. It reminds me of the low tech posters we printed out 20 years ago on a dot matrix printer and would then piece together. And best of all, if I get tired of it, I can make another. 

We already have ideas of a huge beetle for my sons room. And what about printing on fabric and sewing together?

If you already know about this (and I am sure you do), feel free to chuckle to yourself. I feel like I am finding a new resource or inspiration everyday. If you have used it - please share your project or other ideas on how to use the program.

*There is another program called Block Posters that does the same thing but without all the dots. I have not  tried it, but it looks great too.

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