Summer Making

This is a little post for me to look at come February. I read that book (so good!) & drank that coffee, all the while sitting next to that delicious bowl of blue water. Ah.

In between reading and swimming and strawberry binges, my niece and I tie-dyed a mess of T-shirts. She was a perfect helper at age 11. My advice is don’t bother with younger kids–it’s too tricky and intensive. Can you spot the blue raspberry Coolatta camouflaged perfectly with one of our dyed creations? Forgive me, folks. I’m an imperfect guardian of nutrition. We also dyed spiral designs (not truly hard and they impress people), accordion folds (like the one pictured here), and sunburst designs. I’ve done this project for many, many summers and it’s always satisfying when you unfold the dripping bundles and reveal what you made.

During a post-lunch slow minute, we also made these sun catchers, inspired by the glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. There are many Chihuly lookalike projects online. This one seemed the simplest, plus we happened to have the materials: Sharpies and translucent plastic cups.

We colored stripes and designs on the cups (weirdly enjoyable in a sensory way) and popped them in the oven at 350 degrees. I think 1-2 minutes creates a more dimpled, wavering Chihuly-type bowl but we may have left ours in for 3-4 minutes. Ours were more like tiny Frisbees. They condensed like Shrinky Dinks. We punched holes in them and hung them in the windows. Everyone thought it was fun, even my nephew who doesn’t usually like anything that might be considered artsy or crafty.

Pippi Stitches

Pippi Stitch

Lately I’ve been trying to summon more Pippi into my life: her strength and irreverence, her mismatched socks and gravity-defying braids. If you know and love Astrid Lindgren’s creation, you know what I mean. If you don’t, you’ll have to get yourself a copy of the classic (preferably the one with Lauren Childs’s paper-cut illustrations). On a recent night, my friend gathered a bunch of us and invited us to make something that would inspire us in the months to come. I decidedly to embroider–sloppily, unevenly, in Pippi fashion–one of my favorite quotations from the book: “I have never tried that before so I should definitely be able to do that.” Here’s to that!

It’s a piece of cake!

Cardboard cake by homemadecity.com

I haven’t been here for a while. I’m not really sure why. But . . . here I am again, and back with my happiest craft from the past year. I made this slice of cardboard cake as a three-dimensional card for a friend on a particular birthday. (It was also the year of my own particular birthday.)

I don’t know why making fake cake should be such a giddy experience, but it was. I grinned and grinned, hot glue gun in hand.

Clearly, cake doesn’t have to be edible to be delicious. Wayne Thiebaud on the subject:

Image result for wayne thiebaud cake

I sawed cardboard pieces with my X-acto and covered them in a collage of paint sample strips. Of course, this was the pink for the top:

Cardboard cake by homemadecity.com

Layering the rosette made me delirious with glee:

Cardboard cake by homemadecity.com

And then a little door to the hollow inside, space for a secret message:

Cardboard cake by homemadecity.com

I hope you have something to celebrate with cardboard cake. I recommend it.

Cardboard cake by homemadecity.com

Cardboard cake project by homemadecity.com

Read & Make: Blue Rider

When you open the cover of Blue Rider by Geraldo Valerio, you’re met with delicious saturated color in an array of forms and shapes. It’s a treasure just like the book that the child character discovers on a city sidewalk in this wordless story. As the child opens the book, a blue horse leaps across the sky streaking the city’s gray grid with a spray of color.

When Danielle Davis of This Picture Book Life suggested I make a craft for Blue Rider, I happily took up my scissors and glue stick. But how best to reproduce the surprise and pleasure that a reader, like the child in Blue Rider, can find by opening a book? How about a pop-up? With collaged bits of jewel-hued paper. And a blue horse, of course.

Spirals are the simplest way to create a pop-up–and their shape adds whimsy and movement as you open the fold. Plus, they’re easy enough for both kid creators to make.

What You Need:

Card stock or construction paper

Paint color sample cards

Scissors & glue stick

Here’s how:

First, fold a piece of paper in half. I used an 8 1/2 x 11″ sheet of dark blue card stock. Set aside.

On a different piece of paper, trace and cut out a circle on stiff paper. I traced a circle about 4″ in diameter using a tin coffee can. Cut a spiral into your paper circle. It’s OK to freehand, lopsided spirals are as beautiful as uniform ones.

Dab glue to the center of your spiral. Place your circle (glue facedown) inside of your folded paper.

Dab glue to an inch or two of the exposed tail of your spiral. Press the folded paper closed so that the glued tail will adhere to the other half of the paper. When you open the card, the spiral will pop up like a spring!

Now for the fun–cut shapes or hole-punch dots or stars or flowers from your paint sample color cards. If you want to write a message, trace letters and cut them out–whatever pleases you!

Glue your shapes to the spiral, making sure nothing peeks out when you fold the paper closed.

I cut out a blue horse and fashioned a rainbow mane like the one that canters across the city sky in Blue Rider. Then I added abstract shapes to the dark blue background, inspired by Valerio’s pages of rich color and collage. It was so delightful, I quickly made another with abstract bits and tiny hole-punched blooms.

No horse this time, just color, shape, surprise:

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Creative Kid: Ink Drinker Shoebox House

In our school library, we’re back at it–creating new shoebox rooms to go with our favorite stories. Last year we made a fairy-tale themed high-rise. This spring we used a mishmash of recyclables to make a crypt (and aboveground graveyard!) for the Ink Drinker, Eric Sanvoisin’s ink-slurping, book-swilling vampire.

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The Ink Drinker, a book about discovering an appetite for books, is beloved in our school. The kids supplied the crypt with coffins for the Ink Drinker (and a couple guests), books for guzzling, wallpaper made from words, and plenty of headstones.

If you haven’t encountered it yet, this skinny early-chapter book is well-pitched for a third-grade read-aloud. (Read it to second graders at your own peril. Those littles tend to FREAK OUT about the vampire element.) Because it’s slight, you can read the whole thing aloud in about 30 minutes.

If you find your audience is hooked, follow up with the next three stories in the series (A Straw for Two, The City of Ink Drinkers, and Little Red Ink Drinker). The stories are translated from the French somewhat choppily but I choose to believe that the bumpy translation adds to its charm.