Make: Tiny Tea Set

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These petit plates are about the size of a penny. They please me to no end. And I mean that: to no end. I have no idea why I made them, except I did. The instructions are from the delightful Ann Wood at annwoodhandmade.com, my new favorite place to visit to look at miniatures & antique French fabrics.

The central ingredient needed to make these is paper clay, which is a lightweight material you can mold and then it hardens with air exposure (but not to be confused with Model Magic, which is lesser stuff). You may or may not appreciate the help of a cat.

The little bottles and glue sticks are for pressing interesting patterns into the clay. When they dry, you can sand them smooth. My plates also kind of warped. Charmingly so?

I made these a couple of months ago but only recently painted them. The ridiculously small paintbrush was intimidating (especially to this near-sighted/far-sighted person) and I didn’t know what kind of pattern to make. I went with tiny fruit, of course.

Make: Clothespin Doll Bed

A while back, I fashioned a box-and-clothespin doll-sized bed for a library craft to accompany the many versions of Princess and the Pea that I read with my students. Then I tripped onto Ann Wood’s wondrous miniature creations. Those Lilliputian pillowcases in antique fabrics! The tufted tiny mattress! All the things Ann makes make me so happy.

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So . . . I felt compelled to make more little beds. Ann’s clothespin-framed fabrications seemed a little complicated for me and my characteristic impatience so I stuck with a simple construction: top of jewelry box or other small box covered in pretty paper with clothespins hot-glued to corners for bed posts. (My clothespins are “weathered” by the actual weather that they experienced on the job hanging clothes on the line.) I sewed small covers out of fabric squares and felt.

One of these beds now lives on a low shelf in my library. No one has noticed it yet (unless the kids are thinking that their librarian is bonkers and they don’t want to bring that up). I’m willing to wait them out. Who will discover the wee family tucked among the books?

 

Read & Make: Count on Me + Math Quest Cards

When Danielle Davis of This Picture Book Life asked me to dream up a little math-y crafty to accompany Miguel Tanco’s picture book, Count on Me, I was ready. I could overcome my fear of all things arithmetic!

Unlike me, the curly-haired heroine of this beautifully illustrated book has a special love for math. While her dad has a passion for painting, her mom science, and her brother music (he plays a tuba twice his size), the smallest member of the family sees shapes and patterns everywhere. She skips stones to see concentric circles form and tracks the trajectory of a paper airplane. She finds math everywhere.

Count on Me cover

Tanco’s sweet story is followed by a book-within-a-book: the heroine’s math notebook that illustrates math concepts like fractals, polygons, curves, solid figures, trajectories and sets (in terms clear enough that even I can understand).

Inspired by the small heroine’s passion for math, I painted a deck of cards with basic concepts from the book to spark my own scavenger math hunt. If we take the time to notice, what patterns, polygons, circles, and curves can we discover in the world around us?

Materials:

  • Art cards or index cards (I picked up these little Legion Paper samplers at my local craft store)
  • Pen, marker, and/or paint
  • The world!

Count on Me supplies

I copied the math concepts illustrated in Count on Me and in an attempt to emulate Tanco’s delightful, watery illustrations, I used watercolor paint to tint them. However, young artists can skip the paint and get the job done easily enough with markers and crayons.

Count on Me Deck

I drew and labeled the cards with a range of basic polygons, solid forms like cones and cylinders, patterns of concentric circles and curves, and other concepts to create a deck of 25 cards. Then my son and I went hunting through the house and around our neighborhood. This is some of what we found:

We found so many surprises: dandelion fluff fractals, milk carton polygons, the curved trajectory of a Frisbee in flight. What will you find?

 

More Summer Making–a Stamping Project

Coffee and a bowl of cherries, a slingshot of birch, farm eggs, a quick trip to Vermont and . . . carving stamps with my co-maker & 11-year-old niece. So many pleasures during a busy and un-busy July. Our printing project was surprisingly rewarding. We weren’t so sure we’d like the results because we thought our carving was clumsy and far from perfect. Luckily printing is a forgiving craft–lopsidedness and splotchiness only add to its charm.

This is how our project went:

  1. We sketched our designs on paper. Then simplified, simplified, simplified when we realized how tricky the carving would be.
  2. We transposed our designs by drawing directly on our Speedball 2 3/4 x 4″ Speedy-Cut carving blocks.
  3. We carved with Speedball linoleum cutters. Number 2 and 3 cutting blades made easy, chunky lines. A number 1 blade makes a delicate line but we learned not to carve deeply with it because pressing it too far into the block shreds and rips the surface a bit.
  4. We used a brayer (the rolling thing) to apply the ink, rolling the ink on paper first to distribute the ink evenly before applying it to the block.
  5. We placed the paper on top of the inked block and rubbed with the back of a big wooden spoon.

We were delighted & made a bunch of prints for cards and postcards!

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.