Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Spring Aaaah...

Oh, what a bit of spring can do.  That is what my girl sang in her role as Mrs. Beaver, in her school play of Narnia a couple weeks ago. She was able to have so much fun as the comic relief of the story and she really did rock it, if I can be so bold and braggy.  She was also the stern Mrs. Macready who ran the children's uncle's museum home, and she wore the gray wig and no-nonsense attitude believably.  Not being a big ham in public, generally speaking, I was bursting with amazement and pride as she owned her roles and beamed with confidence.
She should have teeth to go with the beaver tail you can't see, but this was a dress rehearsal and it didn't happen. Doesn't she looked chuffed?  You should have heard the cockney accent. Alright, I'm done kvelling.

I was talking about spring. Every year I am taken by how the promise of warmth and leaves and growth changes the way I look at the world.  Really, it is like an instant attitude changer and it is one of the many reasons I do love living in New England, where there is no mistake which season we are in.  This year we started the garden nice and early in our greenhouse (That feels great.  We usually are way behind schedule due to laziness or something) and we hope to have a nice Berkshire Boar coming to visit our pigs next week. You know what that means? PIGLETS!! Now, that it something I can't wait to see.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

watercolors to go

Every winter my dear friend Catherine Newman gives my kids the most inspired gifts- both handmade and boughten.  Last year she gave Ava a fantastic book called An Illustrated Life, a book about illustrated journaling and sketchbooking and it was a huge source of inspiration for her.  When I get her permission, I will post some things she has been working on, but for now I will share with you a little gift that I am currently making for her as she fills her personal sketchbook with beautiful and funny and original work of her own.  There was an idea for this in the book that an artist shared that I have changed a bit but it will allow her to carry water colors with her and as long as she can find some water (usually not difficult) she can transform her black line drawings into something even more spectacular.  And, it's easy, to boot.

What you'll need:
  1.  a metal tin (I used a tin that a pair of scissors came in, which was a perfect fit for the "fantastix") polymer clay (sculpey or fimo- go for the soft type).
  2. tubes of watercolors (I went for the cheap type from Michael's for this first try but you could use fancy ones)
  3. Coloring tools such as "fantastix", which are inexpensive and you can find at any art or craft store. They are basically pens without the ink.  The body is filled with a sponge that holds water so you fill it with water and then can use it with the water colors without having a jar of water for your paintbrush.  You could even watercolor in the car!
  4. White metal paint OR a piece of white plastic cut from a tofu or yogurt container that is large enough to fill (or mostly fill) the top of the tin (this is for mixing colors- you want white for that).
  5. A tube of lip balm (you'll see why).
How to make it:

  1. Take one pack of white polymer clay and break in half.  Roll each half into a snake as long as your tin.

Smoosh them so they are flattened along both long sides and then take your lip balm and press 6 wells into each smooshed snake of clay (use the top of the lip balm that is flat).

2. Follow the manufacturer's directions and bake the clay inside of the tin.  After this cools, you can fill the wells with paint.
3. Fill the wells with paint.  Tap the whole thing to flatten the paint into the wells, or use something (like a paintbrush) to flatten it.  Allow this to dry and it will be ready to use.

4. Paint the top of the lid with white metal paint or glue in a piece of white plastic to provide a white area to mix colors.

5. Now it is ready to go.  If you need to, tie a piece of string or use a rubberband to keep the lid secure.  

If you can't find a long tin like this one, you could always just carry the color sticks in your pencil/pen bag.