January 30, 2013

Art with Aunt Joy

With some exclusions of holidays, summers, and Uncle Steven coming back home this year, we are going on two years straight of me getting to have 2 of my awesome nephews over for "Art with Aunt Joy." My amazing sister home-schools all 4 of her children, and while I think she's great at doing it all, I volunteered some time ago to teach extra art lessons to her oldest boys. I love them, and I love art. It's been a super fun journey ever since! Here's a little round-up of some "classes" we've done (though I know I didn't take pictures every class):
:: Watercolor Resist with Leaves ::

:: Coloring on pillowcases with fabric crayons ::

 :: Creating insects & bugs with food ::

:: Contour Drawings of One Another ::

And for a two month set, we worked on learning from & emulating famous painters like Pablo Picasso (self-portraits), Vincent Van Gogh (Starry Night), Andy Warhol (repeating pop art), and this one below is Piet Mondrian:

And last fall we got into some "crafting" type art projects like........

And Steven even volunteered to have his very 1st "Art with Uncle Steven" in two sessions. Session one he built paper rockets out of card stock with the boys. Second session: we all went out to test them as bottle rockets. So freakin' fun!!!!

And then I help the kids make Christmas presents for their other family members (one of my favorite things to do with them.... they get to pick what they want to make). Here's how crafting Christmas 2012 came out:
Peter made: Candles for Mom, a colored pillowcase for H, doll house furniture for L, and a t-shirt for Dad.   Ben made: An art bag for Dad, a wristlet for Mom, clay figures for H, and a PVC microphone stand for L. These boys are talented, let me tell you! In just two years I have seen them grow leaps and bounds in their art and in how they have interpreted the projects we do. I love spending time with them...especially during the dinner and movie that always follows art time at our house. They are a joy in every way. 

I thought sharing all this with you would be just fitting, since we are starting art back up again tomorrow with them. We will be learning about foreshortening and maybe attempting some shrinky-dinks too! Fun! 

Oh, and before you think I'm some super cool Aunt, most of the art ideas I get from Mrs. Brown's awesome site! I just pick one on their level and go for it! Even if you don't home school, her site is a fantastic guide to start doing art projects with your children. K-5th grade projects are featured.

Oh, and P.S.... did I tell you I'm starting to draw something every day again in my journal??? I'm so excited!!!! Thinking this will be my year for my drawing/painting skills to be revived...seriously they need some CPR!  Here's hoping.....or having faith rather!

Happy Art Making, everyone!

January 27, 2013

Waldorf Crown

After seeing many exciting, homemade, personalized birthday crowns come across my computer screen in various ways....some through blogs, and others through Etsy, I just had to have one for my special little guy. I just fell in love. Until blogging, I had never really heard of Waldorf+ birthday+crowns, with the exception of my glittered, construction paper preschool crown I loved wearing when I was 5. (Yep, I remember back that far). Well, I Googled and found THESE pretty decent directions on how-to, and I got to work. HERE is an awesome round-up of some crown making tutorials for you to browse through, though I do tend to favor THIS one of the bunch.

I started with a few 100% percent wool sweaters (one gifted, one Goodwill)

 I shrank them in my washing machine twice (in two full wash/dry cycles). Man, they got small. The blue one started out as a mans extra large and could have fit me pretty tightly after its second wash. Here's a quick HOW-TO for you on "felting" wool. It's a lot easier than you think.

Once the wool gets so tightly woven together in the wash, it takes on a true felt texture, and will no longer ravel when you cut into it. Sewing with felt is one of the easiest fabrics to start sewing with, as it never frays, no edges to press under, no seams to finish. Felt can make wonderful things. After the sweaters were felted, I cut up the side seams (which will be barely noticeable at this point), and then cut off each arm. Just as THIS post instructs, I made my own crown template for Nathan. About 16" across, and a fabric encased elastic band at the back (about 2-3" long).
 Nathan wanted to help me with this project, so I gave him the sweater sleeves to fake-iron for me. He did a wonderful job!
 I then cut across the shoulder seams of the sweater so it could be laid flat.
 I pinned my template in place and cut. I ended up cutting off those long side edges later on anyways, so just stick to cutting out your basic crown shape....without long side additions.
 Now, set your iron to the hottest heat setting, and press your wool crown template. It will compress the felted wool even more and give the appearance of store-bought felt. Why just not buy store bought felt, you ask? Well, because #1: Homemade felted wool is 100% natural with no dyes or chemical additives; #2: this wool has a thicker body to it than the store bought variety, and #3: since I talk about home-making here on this blog of mine (well, mostly), that's what I'm showing you here.... how to make your own : ).

Next, I cut a back, or lining, panel out of another felted sweater, to give the crown a little more sturdiness. Press down this additional crown template with your iron. The next few finishing steps I completed downstairs while watching a movie with my husband. So, alas, no pictures of a few steps. But, I'll cover that with some links and directions for you.
The next step is to sew the two crowns together (with wrong sides together, right sides facing out) using a blanket stitch. I used dark blue embroidery floss for this step.
 Now cut a piece of 1" wide elastic about 3" long. Cut a piece of cotton fabric (to make a covered casing for the elastic) 5" long x 2 1/2" wide. Place right sides of fabric together long-ways. Sew a straight stitch (1/4-1/2" from edge). Turn fabric tube inside out and press with your iron. Insert elastic into fabric tube (fabric casing will be about 2" longer than elastic). Match up elastic end with one end of casing and sew across end with a straight stitch. Scrunch up rest of casing fabric and sew other end of elastic with other end of casing....so they meet. ***Please email me if you need further explanation, or are seriously confused! *** Now you have a fabric covered, elastic band. Insert ends into back of crown template edges and straight stitch them on (or hand sew). See here:

I used some more felted wool for Nathan's N monogram for the front, and instead of adding a ribbon at the bottom edge, I decided to cut out felt shapes each year to represent that specific birthday. We had a monkey theme for his FIRST birthday, and a train theme for his SECOND. While I free handed my above shapes, an easy way to make your own is to internet search "coloring pages" in what theme you want. Find the picture you want, cut out the coloring page, and use that shape as your template.

I suppose I will be able to fit new shapes on the front until he is at least 6 years old. Then I could maybe add more on the inside? By age 7 I'm figuring he'll start to show a disinterest in wearing it???? Or maybe I'll get him to wear it till he's 18! Ha...., yeah right! He's not that interested in wearing it right now, in fact, but I'm always hopeful for cooperation next year! Ready to make your own now? I may just take special orders if you'd rather have me make one for your special little one. 

Hope you have been inspired to make your little one's birthday extra special in some way. When I was growing up, my Mom had a huge pillar candle with numbers down the side. Each year she would burn down the candle to reveal the next number I was turning, and then take my picture sitting behind that candle. I loved it. I loved looking back on those pictures. I love sentimental things. 

Happy crown-making! 

January 24, 2013

Just Playin'

I hope you enjoyed the change to my new Joy 2 Sew banner above! Isn't it just beautiful? I look at that painting and find myself longing to go there; to go sit under that tree's shade, and gaze at the countryside while aloof in a daydream. Yes, a quiet place. A peaceful place.  My brother-in-law, Peter Frederick is a highly talented water colorist! You can even buy his painting pictured above, View From Dry Run Road, HERE or HERE! And to see even more of his gorgeous landscapes, check out more of his fine art HERE. Can you tell I'm VERY impressed and proud of my brother-in-law?!! Yes, I have to show him off a bit! And thank you so much, Amy, for showing me how to change, create & design my new banner!


Since Nathan's birthday this past Monday, there has been many full days of play indeed around here. He is enamored with all of his new, wonderful and exciting toys! We have played with lots of terrific new kitchen gadgets including a working mixer and blender, kitchen utensils, and cool Melissa & Doug wooden food. Love it all (both him and me!). He will play for hours in that kitchen I tell you! It was well worth the money for us, and we adore all the accessories! 

More hours of fun have been had in exploring a new substance called "Moon Dough." If your child has never tried it, get some! So much fun! We all had a dough making adventure with this gifted kit: forming doggies, bones, steaks and bowls of food. Give it a try sometime, or just come on over (but totally call first...hee hee)!
Nathan and I were very impressed by a gift given by his Aunt Amy, and we certainly think you will love it too! I mounted it on his wall, and N now has a reason to run into his bedroom to play for once. Upon mounting it to the wall, we discovered that plastic wall anchors (used to secure screws into drywall and plaster) fit perfectly into the peg board holes and are perfect for little hands! The attached bag (with zip ties) holds extra wall anchors and rubber bands very nicely! Amy painted the pegboard, placed machine type screws in the backside of the peg board, then added nuts on the front side to secure the bolts. She added a handy leather handle to the top, and sewed up the perfect little vinyl pouch to hold the extras. We love it! 

Yep, I know that is pretty cool, huh!  I have a pretty awesome and talented sister, I know! : ) 
Maybe you can pay her to make one for you too??!!!!

I love watching Daddy teach Nathan things. I love how they cuddle up together. I love that Steven loves to be with his little man. Here they are exploring N's new Innotab. Fun! His first tablet PC. I know, we are starting him young! 
 A few more great new toys are filling our space...and filling, and filling. But, we love it! By the way parents, how do you keep all your kid's toys organized anyway? If you have any secret tips for keeping it all together please do share! Was thinking....cabinet, shelves? Lots of shelves? 

And after N's birthday, I think a true painter was born. He's painted every. day....even first thing in the morning. Ahem. Each new masterpiece will undoubtedly get scanned in a "Nathan's Artwork" file on our external hard drive, spend a few weeks hanging on our art wall, and then move on to be recycled  to make room for new masterpieces. Being artistic ourselves, you better bet S and I are encouraging all artistic expression in our little one. Well, most artistic expressions at least. Ha!

Hope there is lots of art, playing, learning and growing in your homes too! 
Have a very blessed, and certainly CREATIVE day!

and P.S......another HUGE thanks to all of our friends and family for the wonderful
 and thoughtful gifts!

Now lets hear about those toy/art supply organizing tips...please!