June 26, 2011

Felted Mobile

One of the last handmade touches for the baby's nursery that I finally finished this week was a felt mobile, and I love how it turned out!
Felting is one of my favorite art forms, and over the years I've created many kinds of things by agitating, hot, wet wool (kinky, I know) and shaping it into different things.  This time, I used wool (which I buy pre-dyed and ready to work with from here) and felted around a wooden embroidery hoop.
I got out a basin, added a bit of dish soap and some really hot water, then shaped the dry wool around the hoop.
Using my hands, I gently wet the wool and agitated it, rubbing it around to make the fibers stick together.  I also let Soren play too, though not with really hot water.
Kids love this!
Once the fibers started to felt together, I wrapped some more wool around the hoop 
then I wrapped some mesh around it to hold it in place and continued to rub the hoop.
After quite a few minutes, it became nicely felted to the wooden hoop and would be great for stringing felt beads onto.
Soren and I made some of the beads, but I also used some that I had bought for another project.  You can find lots of pre-made wool beads on Etsy and at other online retailers.  They're wonderful for those of you wanting to work with felt but not wanting to buy a huge bag of wool.
I think the mobile looks spectacular, and I'm imagining the delight when the baby lies in the crib, looking up at what his/her mama (and brother!) created.
For some of my other felting posts, click here, here, or here.

June 21, 2011

Patriotic Fun: Coffee Filter Bunting {Tutorial}

One day, while trying to nap with Soren, my mind was wandering about, and for some odd reason, I was thinking "what can I do with the 200 coffee filters that are clogging up my art cabinet?"  Sheesh, no wonder I have such sleep issues lately--aren't there bigger things to worry about?

Anyway, because our most recent coffee maker uses a cone filter, I have tons of the round ones hanging about, and my A-ha! moment came when the idea of a bunting for the 4th of July popped into my head.
In my pathetic excitement, I skipped the nap and headed downstairs to get materials to make my idea come to life.  Here's what you'll need:
 round coffee filters | red and blue paints, brushes and water | scissors | glue stick | ribbon, yarn or string | newspaper to protect your table

STEP ONE
Lay out your filters flat (it helps to put a bunch under a book for a few hours prior to crafting) and paint some areas blue, leaving plenty of white space (both for the red and white).  Kids will love decorating these, and they can meander away from the bulls eye pattern I used.
S wasn't too keen on navy blue, so I got him a different shade.  Whatever floats your kids' boats, or your own for that matter.
STEP TWO
Add the red.  I alternated the designs, making the bulls' eye blue on some with red borders, and vice versa.
Ta da! They look great, even just spread out on cardboard.
STEP THREE
Once dry, get your glue stick and your length of string ready.  I recommend making it a few feet longer than the total number of your filters times the width of them.  You can always discreetly tie more on if you need to.
Fold your filters in half, and set them aside in a pile.
Starting with the first one, put some glue in the center and all over half of the filter, then lay the string in the middle, making sure to leave around 12" of string at one end, for hanging.
Fold it over, then add your next filter in the same way.
Keep adding filters until you run out.  Super easy, so much so that you can let your kids do it.

Once you've finished, display your bunting wherever you'd like to create a cheap, festive decoration for the upcoming July 4th holiday.
Enjoy and have fun!

June 14, 2011

Creativity for Kids Classic Wood Craft Kit {Giveaway}

Now that school's out for most kids, parents are probably scrambling around figuring out how to keep them busy.  I know when I was school-aged, we often had lots of art materials and activity books to occupy us, and I'm sure that I would have begged my mom to buy me activity kits from Creativity for Kids.
I've worked as an Ambassador for the company previously on my blog as well as on the Creativity for Kids blog, and as a former art teacher, I adore their products.  I recently had the chance to try out the Classic Wood Crafts Kit, which would be really engaging for kids of all ages.
Like other kits from Creativity for Kids, Classic Wood Crafts comes with everything you need to create imaginative items out of your own design.  There's a variety of wooden pieces, paint, pipe cleaners, glue--nearly everything you could want to make some creative sculptures, jewelry and other items.
There's even a muslin bag to store all of the 400 (!) pieces, which parents will appreciate since it keeps them contained and not all over the house.
While my son is a little young for this kit (recommended for ages 5+), I think it will be a great source of inspiration for making trucks, cars and little play scenarios with the cut-out wooden people included.  The kit is also eco-friendly, with green paints, a box that can become a display your creations, and a lid that can be used to contain items when crafting.
As usual with Creativity for Kids products, I highly recommend this kit for your own children or for other wee ones in your life.  It will keep idle hands quite busy this summer!
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Disclosure: I received a Classic Wood Craft Kit for review.

June 7, 2011

No Sew Fabric Shade

While I love roller shades because they're so cheap, darken a room wonderfully, and are easy to have cut for your windows, they are pretty ugly.  That white vinyl just reminds me of the previous owners of our house (I'll spare you the details) because they had them in every room, and of course they didn't work so well and kept falling on our heads.

For the nursery, I really wanted to keep the window light and airy with white curtains, though I did need something to darken the space when the baby is sleeping.  Rather than just put up a white roller shade, I decided to cover it with some cute fabric.

It was simple to do, but involved much patience.  Tip: don't try to adhere large swaths of fabric to anything on a windy day.  If I hadn't used up much of my fabric stash on it, I'd like to redo this shade, but I'll just use what I made, and maybe down the road make another one.

Here's what I used:
Tacky glue, Elmer's Spray adhesive, scissors, roller shade, fabric (slightly larger than the size of the shade), and a foam brush for applying the glue.

First I measured the fabric to about 2 inches wider and longer than the shade.
Then I ironed my fabric to get all the wrinkles out.
Next I took the fabric outside and covered the back of it with spray adhesive.  Worked well until a big gust of wind wrinkled it up!
I did the same on the roller shade, spraying the "right" side of the shade where the fabric will be adhered.
Due to the windy conditions, I brought the shade and fabric back inside, then started adhering them together. (notice the wrinkles...ugh!)
I started at one end, centered the fabric so there was a little overhang on each side, then kind of "rolled" the fabric little by little onto the shade.  I smoothed it out as I went along with my hands and also with the straight edge of a ruler.
Eventually I covered the entire shade, and then smoothed it out some more.  If only that darned wind hadn't messed up my crisply ironed fabric!  Live and learn, Kathleen.
Next, I folded over the excess around the edges, and adhered them with tacky glue.
I liberally spread the tacky glue around the edge, then spread it out with a foam brush. 
For the corners, I trimmed them at a 45 degree angle so they'd make a nicely mitered corner.
(yeah, ignore the messy cutting. I was working against the clock of Chris' outing with Soren to the park...I don't work so well under the pressure of knowing a 3 year old will be back in the house soon)
Finally, fold and smooth the edges down.  Hang your shade and you're done!
I'll post some photos when it's hanging in the finished nursery. We're having our upstairs windows replaced on Thursday, so I can't hang it until they finish installing them.

In retrospect, I wouldn't attempt this on a windy day, and I think I'd use PVA glue rather than spray adhesive.  I have noticed a few wrinkles in the shade after having it rolled up for a few days.  I think a different glue would have worked better.  But all in all, I love how adding fabric really dressed up an ordinary roller shade.
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