Friday, July 24, 2015

where the wild things are: giant costume heads and puppets

Every year, the parents of Eugene's Parent-Child Preschool put on a theater production to entertain and educate the kids, and help raise funds for the school. This year's production was Where the Wild Things Are. It was an ambitious production, but we made lots of cool stuff! For more info about the school and to look at a gallery of past production posters, you can visit the school's site at

Max's crown; felt + furry felt.

Goat-head wild thing puppet; felt, cardboard, masking tape, hot glue, thread. This is my second-ever performance ready puppet. This is the first:

Bull-head wild thing head mask, in progress.

Long-haired wild thing head mask, in progress (group project).

This wild thing mask is the one I made for the Mr. for Halloween a couple of years ago. Claire made the bird-head wild thing puppet masterfully (first time!)

Dress rehearsal! The sets were created by Anneka, Lisel, and crew, mostly of recycled cardboard boxes and latex paint.

Finished goat-head puppet, and bull-head wild thing head mask.

Long-haired wild thing head mask and Carole's gorgeous orange-nosed wild thing puppet.

I was lucky to recruit two amazing seamstresses (Claire and Carole) who are also very adept at learning to construct puppets and costume heads from cardboard, felt, and hot glue. Amazing work.

Max's costume, and more amazing backdrops.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

hometown tourist: the vintage industry

Okay! So. That was an unexpected hiatus. Have I mentioned I was on the board of directors at my kiddo's preschool this year? I volunteered to be the publicity lead, which was great. And also a lot of work. I made some great stuff this year, and I want to share it all with you, but I'm going to take it easy as I make my reentry into blogging.

Having dropped the kiddo off at day camp for a couple of hours, I went on an errand binge. The last place I stopped wasn't on my list, but it's one of those places I always want to stop until I do some mental math and calculate the cost of imaginary damages my offspring might commit.

The Vintage Industry is kind of an antique mall, with separate stalls set up for different vendors. It's just floor to ceiling packed (two floors), and many of the vendors have an amazing ability to style their spaces. A few, not so much, but in every corner there's good stuff to find: mother-of-pearl buttons, embroidered handkerchiefs, library drawers, locker baskets . . . Okay, I'll shut up now and disgorge the cell phone pics (it's true; I'll never learn).

Located on 21st + Main in Springfield, Oregon.

Monday, December 15, 2014

evergreen wreath

The kiddo's school has a yearly fundraiser selling locally made (not by us) wreaths. I bought one last year and I bought one this year, and I'm fine with it. The wreaths are pretty and they smell good, and the school gets a nice chunk of the proceeds too, unlike with those magazine and candy sales I did as a kid.

Here's the thing: wreaths are relatively easy to make, and very inexpensive if you have access to evergreens. If you want more than one wreath for your house and school fundraisers are too expensive, give it a go. Here's one I made.

I used rosemary branches, some angry, pokey evergreen branches from a tree out back. and some little cedar twigs that got blown down in a windstorm.


The wire wreath form is from last year's wreath.  It's called a soft clamp wreath frame, if you need to order one. I just used some pliers to pull open the prongs last year, composting the old evergreens and storing the wreath form to recycle this year.

Add branches.

Use pliers to cinch everything together.

Tuck additional branches in to cover the wires, and hang it on a nail, ribbon or hook.

My wreaths sometimes look a little asymmetrical, which I like. If you don't, trim yours till it looks right to you.

Okay! That's all from here. Kid's got the flu so I'm off to do another load of laundry. Be well!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

dyeing paper

Hey there campers; it's been awhile!

I thought I'd test the waters with a brief post about dyeing paper for special projects like wedding invitations, book binding or Christmas cards.

I dyed this fuchsia paper for wedding invitation inserts this summer.

You can dye any paper; it's made of plant fiber most of the time, like cotton clothing. High cotton-content paper and paper with linen fiber get the best color, but even regular newsprint or drawing paper can be dyed using Rit Dye or Dylon. (Dylon is my preference.) This color is called Flamingo Pink.

I used a 110 lb arches cold press watercolor paper trimmed to A4 size, then pre-soaked it in a bath of hot water with just a dash of dish soap. I use the dish soap as a nod to my method of dyeing clothes; I always pre-soak and wash to achieve even dyeing by saturating the fabric and removing any waxes, oils, or fixatives. With paper, the saturation is key and the soap, while probably not completely necessary, is just a little bonus to help assure that the saturation is allowed to happen.

I dye paper in my stainless steel kitchen sink. It's easy, large, readily available and unlikely to stain. I boil water and pour it into the plugged sink; just until I have 2 or 3 inches of water in the sink. I add 3 or 4 times the recommended amount of salt and stir until dissolved.

I add the dye before I add the paper, and stir till dissolved. A quarter of a package is a good place to start, since I dye paper in batches. Paper into dye, saturating one side and then the other, eight or ten sheets in the bath at a time. Keep track of how many, as you'll be turning and repositioning the sheets in the bath every ten minutes or so for relatively even dyeing. And repeat until the dye cools or you get a color a couple of shades deeper than your desired result (dyed paper and fabric tend to lighten as the dry).

Of course, the idiosyncrasies of hand-dyeing are often desirable. I like to sprinkle a little dye powder in the bath to add speckles sometimes.

Rinse in cool water, then press gently in a towel,  hang with pipe cleaners ("chenille stems") and clips, and let air dry.

Paper will warp a little as it dries, so ironing will be necessary to run dyed paper through a printer or a printing press. Use a press cloth and turn your iron on the cotton setting, no steam.

Thanks for dropping in as I attempt to get my sea legs back! I hope you'll stop by again soon. I aim to.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

counting on it!

Well hey there! It's been awhile, right? It was an amazing and busy summer. The kiddo and I made a lot of stuff, went on a lot of adventures, and generally kept ourselves occupied from the day preschool let out until the day preschool started. And I'm on the board this year, so things have gotten even crazier.

I'm stopping in today to share one of the big projects we finished this summer. It's a book.

About halfway through the school year, the kiddo's teacher started having the kids make one or two alphabet letters per week as part of a daily series of arts and crafts projects.
E is for Eagle

F is for Flower
X is for X-ray
If the kiddo was sick on a day a letter was introduced, we made our own version at home. Adding to the fun was putting each letter in a black portfolio book, one after another, until finally we had the whole alphabet.
P is for Pirate
Q is for Quilt
"But wait, Mama!"

There were so many blank pages left! I suggested we take on as many numbers as possible until the book was filled, and the kiddo was game. We managed to fit zero through twenty in the book before we ran out of space.

One red apple / Two pretty flowers

Six crunchy carrots

Aside from cut paper, we used a little of every material in our arsenal, from googly eyes and multi-color pipe cleaners to bingo daubers, glitter glue, and stamps.

Eight wiggly spider legs

Seven spangly fireworks

Ten flying keys

He even stitched through the buttons using a tapestry needle and yarn!

Nine colorful buttons

Towards the end, when things were getting crowded and the projects a little lengthy, we got extra inventive.
Eleven apple trees

Thirteen sugary donuts

Fourteen fuzzy bunnies

I love the sweet little faces he drew. Love them to bits.

Sixteen glittery jewels

Seventeen black zebra stripes

Eighteen wiggly hairy eyeballs

Nineteen peppermint candies

Twenty pink carnations

Whew! We made it through the whole thing. I tried to let the kiddo do most of the work on the gluing, drawing, punching, stamping and coloring (although I got a little bossy with the zebra). I stuck mainly to cutting, although he's getting so good with the scissors now that I'm going to be pawning more and more of that work off onto him, too. We're planning to tackle the lowercase letters next, unless the new preschool teacher gets to them first.

What about you? Did you tackle any arts and crafts projects this summer too?

Thanks for reading!