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:
- We sketched our designs on paper. Then simplified, simplified, simplified when we realized how tricky the carving would be.
- We transposed our designs by drawing directly on our Speedball 2 3/4 x 4″ Speedy-Cut carving blocks.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
*Publisher giveaway* for U.S. residents–The giveaway offer has now ended. Congratulations to Erin Ellis!
You can clean your eyeballs with your tongue (if you happen to be a gecko). Or you can use your tongue as a lance (if you’re a woodpecker impaling a larva). And if you’re a snake, you can smell with your tongue.
I learned about these fun tongues in Maria Gianferrari’s playful, informative picture book, Terrific Tongues! (with spirited, bright illustrations by Jia Liu). An inviting read-aloud, the simple text keeps the audience guessing at each turn of the page: Which tongue (with which function) belongs to which animal? Sidebars and back matter offer more detailed information about the unusual abilities of tongues.
If you (or a young someone you know) would like to take a turn unraveling your tongue just like a North American bullfrog, here’s a project to try.
What You Need:
party blowers (in red or pink)
1 sheet of card stock green paper
color paper (construction, origami, whatever you have)
Frog Party Blower template
optional: googly eyes
Using the template above, trace the frog shape onto your green card stock. Cut along the outline. Use a hole punch to cut out the circle/mouth hole. Trace and cut out the cheeks, eyes and pupils onto color paper of your choice. Glue the eyes and cheeks to the frog. Insert the blower into the mouth & voila. You are a bullfrog! Perfect for a birthday party or a book celebration of Terrific Tongues!
To learn more about author Maria Gianferrari, go to http://mariagianferrari.com/ or visit her on Facebook or Instagram.