The urge to decorate is at an all time high, and less is more is not everyone’s mantra. Neither is good taste. So let’s all take a deep breath, calmly walk past those cars with red nose antler combos, and find solace in the fact that it will soon be over. It’s a safe bet that a few flapping birds will not elicit any intense, negative feelings. Besides, they’ll be safely inside your home.
Tag Archives: arts and crafts
I’ve always had mixed feelings about crayons. There’s no denying the pleasure of opening up a fresh pack of those perfectly chiseled tips, and having them stare back at you in a wonderfully satisfying range of colours. Then the first one breaks, paper gets peeled off, and that perfect little box transforms into a plastic tub filled with broken, waxy, crayon bits. In this project, the crayons never get to the broken bits stage. They just melt into a glorious rainbow of colours. Hats off to the person who came up with this great idea, which my daughter and her friend stumbled upon in cyberspace.
Portugal produces about half the cork harvested annually in the world. So it’s not surprising that I came across field after field of strange looking trees while visiting this summer. I thought maybe Tim Burton had a hand in this, but it turns out these were cork oak trees whose trunks had been stripped of bark…which is the cork. It’s harvested every nine years giving it enough time to grow a new layer, and continues for about 125 years, the life of your average cork oak tree!
While cork has many uses, keeping our wine bottles happily sealed is what it’s best known for. So what to do with all th0se corks? Make hairy little people of course.
Alexander Calder was born into a family of artists, and while he initially began painting and drawing, he developed a keen interest in mechanics and engineering which he incorporated into his work. His innovative way of thinking and wonderful sense of play lead to explorations in kinetic art, where sculptures were moved about by air currents or motor power. He became famous for inventing these mobiles, as they became known. They showed us a new way of looking at sculpture, which was now shown to move freely and interact with the environment. This project will allow children to experience making this kind of mobile, by using wire to create 3 dimensional portraits.
The egg carton’s primary purpose is to escort eggs from the chicken coop to your home, where it either gets tossed in the recycling bin, or with the help of some ingenious humans, mutates into bug eyes, seed starters, sorting trays, cat beds, flowers, molds, lights, and creatures of all kinds. Finding a second life for an egg carton has never been a problem, but using it as a canvas to paint portraits and patterns on never occurred to me until I came across the work of Enno de Kroon. His “eggcubist” portraits play with the viewer’s perception, looking strangely deformed because of the peaks and valleys of his unorthodox canvas. They’re also very cool and look deceptively easy to paint. I found focussing on vibrant colours, patterns, and simple shapes worked best for children, and proved easier to execute. They’ll love the results.
Word clouds have become a popular advertising trend, and are great for making personalized valentine cards. Simply visit one of the many websites and decide on the text you would like to use, select various options like font and colour, submit your choices, and your words will show up beautifully arranged. It’s a great way to make unique looking cards that stand out from the unimaginative options available for kids.
When my son was in elementary school, there came a time when he discovered the fine art of cussing. To discourage this behaviour, we started a swear box. Fines consisted of a dollar for your basics and a whopping $5 for the ‘f’ word. He was a sweet little chap to begin with, so I really had nothing to worry about. I was the problem. It’s not that I ran around randomly using obscenities for no good reason. I had reasons, dammit! I dropped things, broke things, tripped over things…actions that warranted something stronger and more satisfying than darn it or effin. In short, my son’s elementary school years were fairly lucrative. Miracles happen, I’ve been cured and we don’t need a swear box anymore, but you might. And if your children don’t have a problem, think of how they will delight in making money from their potty-mouthed parents.
Jackson Pollock’s explosion of drips filled his canvasses with energy and passion, and while the paint appeared to be applied randomly, he usually had a very clear idea of what he was looking for. This American artist was born in 1912, and died at the young age of 44. Today would have been his birthday.
During his “drip” phase, Pollock dispensed with traditional tools like easels and brushes, preferring instead to place his unstretched canvas on the floor or wall where he could fully engage in applying paint from any direction. His unique style of pouring, flinging and splattering paint with tools such as sticks and basting syringes, earned him the nickname “Jack The Dripper.” His body of work was considered part of the Abstract Expressionist movement, and is currently part of an exhibition at MoMA called Abstract Expressionist New York, on until April 25, 2011. It will then move on to Toronto’s AGO from May 28 to September 4th.
For obvious reasons, children love to explore this technique of getting paint on canvas, so let’s celebrate Pollock’s work and splatter some canvasses of our own.
Follow The Line is a clever book by Laura Ljungkvist, which explores the idea of using one continuous line to make a drawing. Simply start at one end of the paper, illustrating whatever you like until you reach the other end. Just remember, no lifting or back tracking! Shapes will be formed when lines overlap, which can then be filled in with colour at the end. You’ll need nothing more than a stack of paper, some markers and kids in need of something to do. Enjoy, have fun, and I bid you all a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and plenty of vices to see you through it!
Trick-or-treaters beware. There are dentists out there proposing that you spend several hours in the cold collecting candy, and willingly trade it in for a paltry amount of cash. Your candy will then be sent off to support troops overseas. The purpose? According to Dr. Berdahl, it’s “a great way to prevent cavities and support the troops.” This is mean, mean, mean on all fronts. Unless I’m missing something, is off-loading candy onto troops a good idea for their teeth? And isn’t pigging out on candy a childhood right of passage? Let’s just learn to brush our teeth properly, shall we, and get on with the fun.
The thought of giving colourful candy wrappers a second life really appeals to children. It gives them a wonderful and permanent way of proudly displaying what they collected and indulged in on Halloween, a time when my dentist actually gives out candy. Bless his soul.