Friday, June 29, 2012

Watercolor Painting on Sand Dollars

Did you know that painting with watercolors on sand dollars produces a really neat effect?  I didn't until the other day when my kids and I spent a morning painting.

Lately, I've tried to maximize our fun to clean-up ratio by saving  messy art for times when we have two or three full hours to devote to the fun.  So, the other day, I covered our kitchen table with a drop cloth and we spent the morning finding everything and anything our imaginations could think of to paint on and with.

That happened to include a couple of large sand dollars that I had saved in my craft cabinet, waiting for a good use. (Unfortunately, success stories in this department encourage me to keep my craft cabinet full to the BRIM)

The super absorbency of sand dollars means that they soak up the paint, and the color spreads across the shell like magic.  (If you do this, make sure you use lots of water with your paint.  A dry watercolor brush doesn't do much at all)

It's hard to improve upon God's creation.  The sand dollar was probably actually prettier in it's original pure white form, but I think these are lovely in their own way as well.

I got my sand dollars at a garage sale, but I discovered recently that you can also buy sand dollars on Amazon.

(that's my affiliate link)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sticker Resist T-Shirts

Ever since I discovered the fun sticker and tape resist art technique that bloggers like Putti  Prapancha have featured, I've been giddy with all the possibilities.  We've done thank you cards, and tape resist collages, and just yesterday we tried our hand at sticker resist t-shirts.

Michaels has been had some pretty decent t-shirt sales, and I bought up a bunch of them the other day.  I got out our big pot of foam alphabet stickers and let the girls dig through to find the letters of their name.  We made sure that the stickers were pressed on nice and firm and that the names were centered decently well.

Then I got out the acrylic and fabric paints we happened to have around the house (acrylic paint works just fine on fabric, by the way...the only real advantage of fabric paint is the softness and flexibility) and told the girls to dab on colors close to the foam stickers.
They needed to guidance (and help in little G's case) getting the paint into all the little corners and crevices, but we got there eventually.

Since the girls like using lots of paint, I let it dry for about 4 hours before I ventured to take off the stickers.  I think next time, I would choose slightly larger alphabet stickers, but mostly, we were pretty happy with our t-shirts.  I like how they look kind of like a celebration of children's arts and crafts.
Excuse the bed heads on our top picture; we were excited to try them on as soon as the girls got up this morning. :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sharpie Tie Dye Method: 10 Tips

The Sharpie Tie Dye method is not at all original to me.  I've seen it around Pinterest a lot, and as far as I can tell the first person to do the sharpie tie dye method was Steve Spangler Science. But it was the first time for us, and we enjoyed the results so much I just have to share!

What worked well for us:

1.  Use small cups and a rubber band that fits tightly.
2.  Experiment with the different sharpie colors.  Some bleed more than others.  Some leave a more distinct line.  (We found that our blue pens didn't bleed much, but the purple and yellow spread quite far)
3.  Use a paintbrush to dab on the rubbing alcohol rather than a eye dropper .  The color bleeding is easier to control if you use less alcohol.  Only use rubbing alcohol that is 70% alcohol or higher.
4.  Wait for the alcohol to dry almost completely before you remove the rubber band.  If you remove it too soon the colors will bleed beyond the circle.
5.  Pay attention to what colors are next to one another.  Those colors will mix, and it is too easy to end up with ugly browns if you don't pay attention.
6.  Leave lots of white space between colors.
7.  Symmetry in the sharpie design makes for a more attractive circle.
8.  Flower designs look especially pretty.
9.  When you are done with one circle, start the next circle in a very different part of the fabric.  If your rubber band cinches a circle that is still wet, it will mess up the design.
10.  There is lots of patience and waiting required for this craft.  Watch a movie at the same time so you don't get impatient!

Have you tried the sharpie tie dye method yet?  What tips could you share?  We'll probably be doing this again, and would love to have some new ideas.  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Baby Playtime: Flashlights!

Baby J is almost six months old, and has finally found his way on to the blog.   M and G were playing with a flashlight and happened to set it down next to him.  It was so interesting to watch him explore.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Father's Day Mug for Kids to Make

There's an idea that's been floating around Pinterest these days that I've been curious about for a while- color a ceramic mug with sharpie and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

So simple and exciting if true- but it made me wonder why anyone would bother to buy real ceramic pens if a sharpie works just as well.

With such a fun idea though and all the materials already in our house...definitely worth a try.  First, I used a black sharpie to draw a bubble letter outline for "I Love Dad" on one side and a blank face on the other side of a plain white, ceramic cup.  I baked it at 350 for 30 minutes, waited for it to cool and let my preschooler use our colored sharpies to decorate.
  Back in the oven for another 30 minutes.

So what were the results from our little experiment?

1.  The marker does not smudge when it is handled.  It didn't even come off when we ran it through the dishwasher.


2.  If you work at it with your fingernail or with a rough sponge, you can get some of the marker to rub off.    Rubbing alcohol erases it completely.

3.  I imagine ceramic pens work better and don't rub off, but for a child-made mug for Daddy I think the sharpie is just fine!

I looked it up, and it does seem that sharpies are non-toxic, but since they are not manufactured for use on food items, I think playing it safe and keeping the pen marks out of the inside of the mug and away from the rim might be a good idea.

Looking for more Father's Day ideas?  

Fill-in-the-blank Father's Day letter
10 Ideas for Building Memories on Father's Day
Daddy Banner

Monday, June 4, 2012

Using Rubber Stamps on Cookie Dough

The following is another example of something that is generally a flop can sometimes still produce deceivingly decent pictures.  Inspired by Martha Stewart, we tried using our rubber stamp collection on cookie dough the other day.  We washed off the stamps, made up a batch of shortbread dough (because I had read that it puffs up the least in the oven), and experimented a little bit.

This is what we learned:

- deeper, simpler stamps are better
- you don't want to press down too hard because then the corners of the stamp show up
- you don't want to press too lightly because then the outline of the picture is indiscernible
- even when you are as careful as possible, the picture often fades away in the oven.  Only about a third of ours turned out.

I love that the girls were completely unaware of its having been an aesthetic flop. To them, it was just like playing with sweet playdoh.  They especially liked using our pawprint stamps on the doh, and they enjoyed painting the cookies afterward with diluted food dye.