Saturday, July 14, 2012

Bring the Outdoors in: Stick Sculptures

It's time to find your collecting baskets again for this latest installment of Bring the Outdoors In.  Today we will be heading outdoors to collect sticks of varying lengths and shapes.  All you will need to complete this project is, a basket for collecting, sticks and salt dough. A recipe for making salt dough can be found here

Set your little ones to work collecting sticks to fill their basket.  I showed Sean and Isabel how to carefully break the sticks in half if they were too big.  Isabel was particularly fond of this activity.  With older children, you can encourage them to find sticks of varying shapes and sizes.  Ask them to consider what they would like to create using their sticks.

Once you are satisfied with the sticks you have collected, head indoors to your work space.

Introduce your children to the salt dough and demonstrate how to push the sticks into the dough.  Once they have the idea, step back and watch the artists at work.  With young toddlers and preschoolers, they will enjoy simply poking the sticks into a big, sturdy hunk of dough.  Older children can be shown how to roll the dough into small balls to connect two sticks together to create more detailed/representational sculptures.

Sean clapped with joy and pride each time he was able to successfully poke a stick into the dough and make it stand up.

Once your children have completed their sculptures, place it in a sunny spot to air dry.  This dough will usually take about 1-2 days to air dry depending on thickness.  Even toddlers are able to create beautiful abstract art using natural materials.  Once dried, salt dough can be painted using tempra paint to add another layer of beauty to your sculpture.

These sculptures can be brought back to nature and used to decorate your outdoor spaces as a picnic table centerpiece, or even place them in your own vegetable or flower garden to add a bit of whimsy to the space.

Christine can be found online on her blog Belly Bear Baby Gear, facebook, and her etsy shop:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Upcycle Monthly: Featuring Mary from Frayed Fuzzies

 Let's take a moment to welcome Mary from Frayed Fuzzies on Etsy.  She is also a fellow Etsykids team member.  Her shop is comprised of a variety of handmade children, teen and adult items.  She creates beautiful customized keepsake/memory T-shirt quilts using upcycled T-shirts.  After learning more about Mary, be sure to check out her shop and see if something there strikes your fancy.  Links to each of  her online sites can be found at the close of this interview.

Tell us a bit about yourself:
I am originally from St. Louis, MO, but I now live in Cincinnati, OH.  I have had formal training in sewing and costume making (I work in technical theatre by day....and sometimes by night), but also come from a long line of quilters.  I'm at least 4th generation. 

What was your inspiration for using upcycled materials for your craft or art?
My background in costuming was a big influence.  I have worked for a lot of theatres that had shoe-string budgets, and being able to make something completely different or new out of existing materials or garments is vital when you're trying to count pennies and keep the producer happy. 

What is your favorite upcycled medium or material?
I love working with denim.  Worn denim is so soft, and when I turn it into something rag quilted, it frays so nicely, and looks fabulous!

What are some challenges you have encountered using upcycled materials?
Occasionally I will get a piece that a customer would like included in a memory or T-shirt quilt that is a bit unconventional.  Usually after some thought and planning, I can incorporate it no problem.  But there are some items that I just won't include, due to wear or extra strain that could be put on a delicate item.

What is your current favorite upcycled item you have created?
This will probably always be my favorite, because it has sentimental value to me.  I made a small quilt out of my T-shirts from drama club in high school.  I have fabulous memories from all the shows and parties, and if it weren't for my drama teacher, I never would have pursued theater as a professional career.

Any tips for those looking into the use of upcycled materials.
Have fun with it!  One of my favorite parts of creating is seeing a pile of junk, or fabric, or random finds, and coming up with ways they can go together to make something new and fabulous.  As great as reusing old or worn-out items are, you still have to be careful that they're not too worn out.  If they are, your new item may not be of the best quality it could be.

Mary can be found online in the following locations:

Frayed Fuzzies Seasonal Newsletter

Thanks for helping reduce waste in the world all while creating beautiful one of a kind items!