Another fun, quick and easy toddler art activity – bowl-y bugs. Not a specific insect per se, but you could certainly do red and black lady bugs, yellow and black bees but I really like letting my little guy chose his own colors and be creative.
Paper bowls or plates
pipe cleaners (or fuzzy sticks now a days)
paint brush or sponges
scissors, glue, tape
Poke holes in the top (aka bottom) of bowl for antennae (future step) with a pen or scissor blade. You can also make holes after painting but I found this a little harder to do.
Paint the bowl upside down. I did use a little blue tape to affix it to table so it didn’t slip around while being painted, aggressively at a times. Mix or layer colors, add stickers, such as dots etc. This is the fun part!
Glue or stick on google eyes.
Cut pipe cleaners, bend them into your favorite antennae shape and insert into holes.
Try to contain yourself (or small ones) while they dry. They can be stacked, turned into a story, taped on the fridge (bug attack!) or made into hats. Share photos if you make any.
When done, pull off the eyes and antennae and compost or recycle!
Action art painting is fun and simple to do with kids of any age. This post has a slight twist or two for lunar New Year (or Tet or Chinese New Year or ?) This time of year there is often a need for lucky envelopes, called hongbao (Mandarin), lai see or li shi(Cantonese) to give money to most commonly children at family gatherings, although there are other potential recipients. Festive envelopes can be purchased or acquired from some banks, but this year we decided to try making some, granted a day later than we actually needed them, but such is life. We can use the red envelopes for weddings or next year. So actually, I am ahead of schedule.
golf balls, rocks or other toys/items that can be washed.
Small blank envelopes, we used #7 coin envelopes but plenty of variations
Or paper, small canvases etc
Tape paper or envelopes into the box or double up tape on the back of paper.
Put in globs of paint. We did mostly red, yellow, orange with some pink and purple. I added gold paint blob later so that it was more of a ‘top layer’.
Add some golf balls or rocks or whatever.
Affix lid, maybe tape it down if it does not latch tightly.
Shake! Shake! Shake! Keep shaking until it you are happy with the painting results. You could jump and shake etc. To really get the sillies out or pout on top of it because you really just want the golf balls to play with. 😉
Carefully remove the paper envelopes to a place to dry. If you want to do both sides, repeat once paint is dry.
You could also stamp, write or trace on some words or symbols. We have a double happiness stamp and gold ink from our wedding that I might add to the envelopes when I know that I have an appropriate wedding to attend. But for now our envelopes will be remain ‘event neutral’.
The simplest version of this activity is printing out a coloring page and taping inside a lidded box, adding paint, a ball (or rocks or whatever you want) and the lid. Then shake! We did one with a simple Year of the Rooster picture.Using blank paper is just as much fun a great way to make on of a kind color wall art.
Sample of an oh-so authentic yet so subtle envelop you could buy…… [picture by B. Ng @ Seattle Supermarket] No one will know what is inside.
Chúc Mừng Năm Mới! Gong Hey Fat Choy! Happy Lunar New Year!
Plenty of tutorials out on the inter webs for sensory mats, so nothing too revolutionary here BUT what makes this one different is I used my food saver to seal in the gloopy glittery beautiful mess. Nothing wrong with just sealing and taping a zip locking bag or ironing to seal but using the food saver allows you to make custom sizes and ensures a good seal. I still sealed two separate strips because oh lordy lordy imagine if this leaked.
Ideas for fillers
foam ear plugs
google eyes (or one giant eye!)
partial string of fake pearls
wine cork (but i ended up pulling out because too big)
sky’s the limit, repurpose away!
Liquid – no magic ratio (buy a big cheap bottle), mixing water or paint with oil makes for fun blobby separation
scored green glitter poster paint for a song on clearance) plus baby oil
baby oil and water with glitter (another clearance steal)
Mix together, with liquid taking up about 1/3 of the space, fold out most of the air and seal shut (two rows of seal)! I didn’t use the vacuum function just flattened/folded out most of air. Enjoy! We have to put ours up when out of the house because our dog has a tendency to be ‘offended’ by things in packages and might just rip it open. That would surpass any mess made by a leaking ziplock bag.
If your kiddos are old enough let them help find and make the contents of the play sensory mats. I have a little stash of plastic animals for the next go around.
For our first arts and crafts time together, Bee and I made Valentine’s day cards and some fun baby prints. IMHO nothing is reeeeaaaalllly off limits (ok a few things) – hands, feet, fingers, buns, ears, bellybutton, nose – pretty sure at some point these will all be memorialized at our house. Whatever you choose – you can easily create thank you notes, framed art for nursery or art wall, keepsake ornaments and really above all, is just a fun sensory activity to do with your baby.
There is a family story of my little brother making “butt pwints” with a friend all over the sidewalk in their wet swimsuits – inspired by family lore, an adorable baby tush and a mother’s need to traumatize her child, Bee and I created some art.
Washable non-toxic paint (if applying to glass or ceramic will need to use a different kind of paint)
Plate for paint
Lots and lots of baby wipes or rags to clean up the craftermath
Paper, stretched canvas, blank cards, tracing paper, yardstick or whatever
Sheet or we just used a pee pad that we line the changing area with.
Rather than dip the foot into a plate of paint, I found sponging it on with a brush applied just enough to make a good mark. Reapply after each print for a similar color intensity.
Practice before making the real deal
Make more than one of the end product if you can (i.e. I made more than one of each card in case i messed up at a later point)
Talk with your baby about the colors, sensations etc
Tummy time! Laying baby down on tummy, painting the bottom and then pressing the paper (taped to a firm surface, like book) to their bottom is easier then pressing the baby down onto something. HOWEVER, this may change depending on the wiggle factor. In that case, this becomes a two person craft most likely
For the feet hearts, rather than rotate your baby or twist their foot to make the heart/v-shape, adjust the paper to the angle
For bum prints, clean off any diaper cream/ointment first
Plan a bath afterwards to get the paint out of all the toe crevices
Take pictures of the final product. We have already started an digital album of art at eight tender weeks of age
A quick Pinterest search will reveal a plethora of hand and foot print ideas – sky is really the limit and no holiday can go uncelebrated with out and baby print. You know we will be making many more where this came from. Just a few for you…..
Upcycle, repurpose and be penny wise with this simple decorating DIY. Painted jars, bottles and vases make wonderful centerpieces for weddings, parties or everyday viewing pleasure. By painting on the inside, you get the illusion of colored glass, smooth to the touch and results in cleaner look. Rest assured that this is not a complicated craft but it took me a very long time finish due to several “craft-astrophies” along the way. I am confident the next time I make a set of painted glass jars, it will be a breeze. Apologies upfront that this is a long post but I feel it is my blog-ly duty to share the fails. Here is my tutorial of how to make your own painted vessels, COMPLETE with lessons learned and thoughts on the various paint options.
Filled with a few stems of flowers, they were the perfect centerpieces for the hub’s birthday party.
Paint (recommend 1-Shot Lettering enamel)
Plastic spoons or oral syringes
Wine corks (optional, great for bottles)
Toothpicks, cotton swaps
Towels that you can toss when done
Assorted glass vessels: jars, vases, soda bottles, mason jars
Prepare the vases by removing the labels, washing inside and out and rinsing with rubbing alcohol. Let them dry fully before applying any paint. This might be good to the night before to decrease temptation.
To remove labels, I submerge in hot water, soak and then rub the label off, sometimes using cooking oil on paper towel. The labels on the soda bottles peeled right off and rubbing with oil removed the glue. BE CAREFUL! Glass + oil = slippery … but your hands will be soft.
TIP: Pour rubbing alcohol into the first clean bottle, swirl around and then dump into the next one. CONFESSION – I used the dishwasher as a drying rack; a tad Asian-momish. My MIL has an extensive collection of plastic dishware stored permanently in her working dishwasher.
TIP: I used soda bottles (Fever Tree, Jones and Fentimans, if curious), a few Mason canning jars, other random glass around the house (the rice wine vinegar bottle is my favorite) and rounded it all out with some inexpensive vases from Value Village. Don’t be afraid to scrounge in your recycle bin – the hubs had some friends over a few nights before I started for Moscow Mules but “forgot” to save me the bottles. I fished them out.
Cover your work space with several layers of paper and set up for painting.
Start painting! Pour, spoon or drizzle in some paint and then start swirling, tilting, turning and inverting the bottle to coat the inside with paint. The wine cork is handy when inverting the bottles. If pouring the paint, spoon the paint out of the can into the cup and then pour. You will have to invert, swirl etc. several times. I rested some of the bottles propped upside down in an empty cup and started applying paint to the others. Here is where having an oral medication syringe would have been helpful. Why I didn’t buy some at work? I don’t know…
TIP: Do not rush and put a ton in. I started with about 3 spoonfuls. The less you use, the longer (and more patience) it will take to cover the inside but if you use a lot you need to leave them upside down to drain and dry. Out of the small 1-Shot cans, I was able to paint at least twenty pieces, probably more like thirty, as some were done twice (see below) and a few others just bombed (see below).
After the inside is completely coated, invert the bottle to start draining out the excess. You could use a cup for each of these but I used a muffin paper per bottle. I was then able to pour excess paint back into can/cup. Let this drain for a while (?30 minutes). When you go to lift it up be ready, more paint will come out. Switch out the muffin paper and invert it again. You do not have to wait as long this time.
Invert the bottle again this time though it needs to be elevated so that the paint can drain completely out of the bottle. I set mine up on tooth picks on newspaper. Leave the bottles alone. After a while, you can move them to a clean spot on the newspaper to check if paint is still draining out. Do not knock over causing a domino show – not that I would know.
After most of the paint has drained out or you have grown weary of waiting, go ahead right the bottles, clean off paint on the outside and rim (or leave the rim painted) and let them dry. This will need to be at least overnight. I suggest drying them outside.
TIP: If you google hard enough you will come across some 1-Shot recommendations to speed dry by placing in a 150 oven (page 33/37), DO. NOT. DO. THIS. I tried, granted my oven’s lowest setting was 160F, but I propped the door open! A few dried but the rest it was like the paint evaporated, gone, vamoosed and left me with something spooky. So, basically, I repainted them repeating step 3-5, at midnight.
TIP: The can will mention that it dries to touch pretty quick. I did not find this to be remotely true for this project, due to application technique and lack of air flow inside the bottle.
Once good and dry they should hold water for quite some time. My paint held up and I know for a fact not all of them were 100% dry in time for the party, since it took me eighty nine times longer to complete this project..
Decorate to your heart’s desire, or leave them plain, maybe in clusters. For the birthday party, I used some honey bee ribbon, various stamps and tags, bakers twine and ribbon scraps.
Paint Selection for DIY Vases
I tried four different kinds of paint. I am not endorsing over the other, just telling you my experience. Of note: I couldn’t located the enamel Martha Stewart line but I would hypothesize it would perform the same as the Folk brand, in terms of thickness, based on feedback from others.
The Folk Art enamel line was thick and hard to cover the inside of the bottle without using a ton, meaning you could only paint a couple jars and had to wait a very long time for it to drain out the excess. Despite the pretty colors, I would only use this for onesie, twosie projects or using a brush. I also tried thinning it out with enamel paint thinner. Yes, it made it thin but dried really weird when I tried popping into the low heat oven (I swear it recommended the heat drying as an option) after air drying overnight.
Pebeo Vitrea Glass Paint (at art supply stores) comes in a nice variety of colors. The jars are small but paint is a little thinner than Folk Art, so it was a little easier to apply but still really slow to cover and drain out the excess. It also pooled in the base of the bottle, even after being upside down over night. This paint is supposed to be heat set (not me just being impatient) but came out streaky, not opaque and with surprise bare spots. I think this paint would be best for painting, faux stained glass versus covering a larger surface.
My recommendation for this project is clearly the 1-Shot Lettering Enamel. It might seem more spendy up front than Folk Art and you will not find it at Michael’s or JoAnns (try Amazon or art supply stores) but it will apply like a dream, cover several times more of the surface area and leave you with an even layer of color. You could probably blend colors if need be (e.g. add white etc). Do not dry in the oven, drying outdoors on a warm day but not in super hot or direct sun worked great.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comment section!
Conclusion: not all stories have a happy ending, but don’t worry this isn’t one of those… only bummer is we were having too much fun at the actually birthday celebration to get good photographs of the centerpieces in action. Just this one lame shot that required cropping and zooming….. oh well! We had a blast!
Other tutorials – because there is always more than one way….
There are so many great ideas out there for using chalkboard paint, or even making your own. Almost any surface can be transformed with an even spray or steady brush. I picked up these ceramic birds for a song at a cute boutique that was clearing them out. But alas, didn’t warm up to them the way I had hoped. They were almost yard-saled, until the great idea – chalkboard paint. I imagine they will be updated according to my mood, holiday or special occasion. I think they will even be employed for parties – food signage! I have thought about painting my beehives too, but worry the Seattle rain will wash away whatever important info I log…
Object to transform, with maybe a smother surface. You could find all sorts of items at Goodwill, your mom’s basement or perhaps your own shelves.
Chalkboard paint, I like the spray kind for most products, it goes on smoother.
Maybe: painters tape for marking lines or edging, brushes, sponges (you can see my drips/blobs that I needed to sponge off to make smooth)
Patience (got to let it dry!)
Make it happen! Read the directions on the can but basically apply paint to clean dry surface. Let it dry between layers and then “cure” for a day or two before you starting using.
Easter Eggs! You can pick up ceramic eggs at craft stores and feed stores for cheep cheep.
Christmas Stocking Holders – might have to make these from repurposed frames. Hmmmm…
For more of my favorite chalkboard pins visit my Buttons, Chalk and Jar board). No surface is safe from chalkboard paint! Now I leave you with a lyttle Lynard Skynard love….. my muse for these birdies (sorry, Beattles)
But if I stayed here with you, girl,
Things just couldn’t be the same.
‘Cause I’m as free as a bird now,
And this bird you can not change, oh, oh, oh, oh.
I don’t know why large pots and planters are so darn expensive and if they are on screaming deal, you are walking. I really hate how expensive the light resin versions (poser!). That said I have had good luck scouring Goodwill for big pots at good prices and Ikea has come through on occasion. This is a story of wanting new pots but not to part with buckoo bucks and spend hours looking for one that is modern enough for our style. Enter galvanize pair of pots (from Ikea). I love galvanized metal and it does match some of our siding but the front porch needed something a little more colorful and inviting, not to mention they were rundown (and full of weeds).
The Fix! Two cans of Rustoleum spray paint Spring Green and Harbor Blue for under $10! Add a husband willing to spray paint in the wind (upstream of course) and throw down some cardboard like you are break dance till dawn. Almost a celestial picture, but it captures the spray engulfing him. We just tucked some paper inside to protect the dirt and weeds. This also allowed us to paint the part inside too.
Viola! And repeat with Spring Green.
They turned out great and really pop on our porch. The petunias smell wonderful too. Such a humble annual…… This brings me to my pet bunnies. Thinking about petunias reminds me of my childhood rabbit, Petunia, 1987. She liked to eat them and I liked to make her special pies (grass, pellets, dandelions…) to eat. Well fed. We don’t have a photo of her munching the name sake but she liked Junipers too apparently. There were several other great rabbits.
Homer was my first pet bunny. Adorable! 1983
There was Secret, the Netherland Dwarf, circa 1992.
And then there was Peanut – 1995. Peanut ending up being a money maker and lived a long happy life. I took him as my 4-H project to the county fair. He just happened to be the right weight for the market rabbit class, so that is how I entered him. No painstaking food diaries, measured pellets etc. He just ate whatever he wanted, and I am sure I made him pies too. I felt comfortable taking his as a market animal as rabbit isn’t big in the Powell County market and I heard rumors he would live on as a pet. Well, that rabbit netted me $350 in the livestock auction and I got him back! He eventually went to live out his years with a young boy on a local ranch.
Pretty sure the basket and his all-round adorableness brought in the dough (it certainly wasn’t my hair!) This photo could have been filed in my awkward years post, if wasn’t for cutey-patootey Peanut. My truck in High School was also named Peanut. No relation but similar colors….. Peanut the truck still lives on in my hometown as the Mosquito Spraying vehicle. He even got a flashing light! I wonder how long the cops followed the truck around before they figured out I wasn’t driving it any longer. If Peanut the truck could talk!
I am currently scheming how to get pet bunnies back in my life. I think I would like a house-trained bunny but pretty sure Barky McPhearson would dine on rabbit and dumplings at the first unattended moment. I also googled about raising chickens and rabbits in the same coop. Not much published literature on this practice, but would probably have to only be with young impressionable birds. Rabbits also don’t lay eggs (yes, news flash) and I wouldn’t raise enough to eat them (not sure I could, although I have had rabbit at restaurants) and the business model of raising chinchillas in the city to shear and make sweaters is a weak one at best. So for now, I get to live in my fond memories, and spot the occasional Leporidae in their more natural habitat (see Sense of Place in the Web of Life for kung foo bunnies).