Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Mermaids Have Arrived!

The mermaids are here!  Yes, they're ready to swim right up to your couch, table, or felt board!  I made this design a couple of months ago, when our young granddaughter had a "Little Mermaid" birthday party. Then a little while later our son was in a youth theater version of Disney's Little Mermaid (he was a sailor and also changed costume to become a "tentacle" assistant to Ursula).  So I made a lot more mermaids and donated some to the souvenirs table at the play . . . and now there are some of these watery world creatures up in my Etsy shop, Fuzzlemania.
They all have long hair, but for some it is straight (like the one above) and for others it is wavy (like these two below).  I used the basic person shape pattern from Fuzzle Family Felt, and adapted it to have a mermaid tail instead of feet.

Here's a picture of the "Mermaid Assembly Line" in process:

As I said before, these mermaids can swim anywhere!  on a couch (as in this picture), table, rug, bed, or even on the kitchen floor (they are very magical and great at swimming); do you know any young girls who might like to play with them?

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Leonardo (da Vinci) : To Mantua and Beyond . . .

     We have been reading aloud Catherine Jaime's series of novels about Leonardo da Vinci's life; the first was Leonardo the Florentine (about his years as an apprentice and early on as an independent artist), and the second, Leonardo: Masterpieces in Milan (he was hired by a duke, doing commissioned paintings, sculpture, and other works; this is where "The Last Supper" was painted).

     We recently finished the third book in the series. This isn't the last one; Catherine has already written one more novel that continues with Leonardo's further travels, inventions, and artwork. And she may be writing a fifth book in the future (and a sixth . . . ?)

We found this third book, Leonardo: To Mantua and Beyond, to be-- like the rest of the series--an interesting historical fiction account that gives us a picture of what life was like in Italy, and for an artist and inventor, during the late 1400's and early 1500's.

     In the Mantua book, the artist journeys with his friend Luca, a Franciscan monk, to the city of Mantua, Italy-- where he does some work for the Duchess Isabella-- because the French were invading Milan and it was not safe for him to stay. They spend a short while there, experiencing various entertainments with the Duke and Duchess while Leonardo also does artistic projects.

     If you've ever wondered what the city of Venice is like, the descriptions in this novel will give you an idea; later in the story, Leonardo and his friend travel there, on a project they've been called to-- to assist the Venetians in planning a defense strategy against a threat of invasion by the Turkish Sultan Bayaid.

     While in Venice they investigate the city and visit a print shop and glassblower, besides working on their military planning proposal.  Then they are about to head to Florence-- when the story ends (and we are ready now, to hear the next book in the series . . . !)

     I recently loaned two of these books to a friend who has also very much enjoyed reading them; what I like about these short novels is that they give so much description of the setting -- the Italian cities and time period of the late 1400's and early 1500's-- so that it is easy to imagine what it could have been like to be there during Da Vinci's time.  It is also a way to learn more about this famous artist and inventor and some of the things he did during his lifetime.

     Be sure to see Catherine Jaime's other books, too-- she is a prolific author with a wide variety of books-- both fiction and non-fiction.  Many of her books are about people or events in history, plus there are a variety of other topics.  She has books available through Curr Click and Amazon.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Painting with Tissue Paper

Maybe you didn't know you can paint with tissue paper.  I didn't, until I saw this post about it by Jeanette Nyberg at Artchoo: http://artchoo.com/tissue-paper-art-valentines-hearts/.

She explains the process and has step-by-step pictures in her blog post.  I loved the idea of having a "surprise" painting project; it is a surprise because you put pieces of tissue paper OVER your design drawn with oil pastels, then use a paint brush and water to "paint" right over the tissue paper.  You don't know what the final picture will look like until after you let the wet tissue paper sit and "bleed" color onto the paper underneath.''

For some well-written instructions, take a look at Jeanette's post; I'll show some of the valentines we made here:

Please note:  To do tissue paper painting, you must use a special type of "Art Tissue" that will bleed color.  It won't work if you try using ordinary gift wrap tissue; I tried that before I knew what the difference was-- and the result was no color under some areas that had gift wrap tissue over them.  I had some of the right kind of tissue in our craft cupboard, but I had been trying to use a combination of both gift wrap tissue and art tissue.  In the picture at the left below, the white areas resulted because there was pink gift wrap tissue above.  So if you do want to have some white areas, you could use two types of tissue purposely.

I really enjoyed learning this new painting technique.  Of course, it doesn't have to be just for making valentines-- we'll be using it to do some other kinds of artwork, too . . . but since Valentine's Day is almost here, making valentines was a great way to try it out!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A Hand Sewn Felt Family

Homemade felt people . . .

I enjoyed doing the beadwork for the mom and daughter in this family.


These felt people are hand-sewn, using a double layer of felt for the body and then adding clothing on both front and back.  A pattern set for making a felt family, Fuzzle Family Felt, is available through Fuzzlemania (Etsy shop) or Gentle Shepherd (also includes patterns for a felt house, trees, car, dog, cat, and more!).

Monday, January 20, 2014

Illustrated by Me! Story by McCollonough Ceili

Do you have kids who like to draw?  Here's a set of unique books where something is missing-- it is the illustrations!  These books are called "Illustrated by Me."  They have words to stories typed along at the tops of the pages, and large blank areas where children can draw in their own illustrations.

I think this would be a great way to investigate illustrating, drawing, and artwork while not requiring the child to compose a story him or herself.

The author of these stories is a homeschool graduate-- she was home educated from kindergarten through college!  She has Irish ancestry, and grew up on an island off the coast of Ireland, though now she lives in America; her name is McCollonough Ceili (pronounced Ma Call In Ah KayLee).  She has written various other books -- an autobiography, some poetry and literary fiction works, and some other children's books.

There are two books in this series.  Book One has three stories; Book Two has two.  Book One's stories are:

1- A Friend for Dinner (about a fire-breathing dragon who helps some hunters solve their problem of needing fire to cook with, and they help him, too)

2- Mama Has the Sleepies (about what happens when "the sleepies"-- with accompanying yawns-- spread through a busy family's day)

3- A Kitten for O'Malley (about a dog taken regularly to visit patients at a veteran's hospital who becomes friends with a new kitten his owner brings home)

Book Two's stories are:

1- The Remote is Missing (about a girl who understands that there is more to life than TV)

2 - Mama went to War (about a military family in which the mom is called to active duty, and she and her young daughter agree to both keep a LED candle nearby at night, as a remembrance)

My very favorite story is in Book One-- it's the one about "the sleepies"-- I think we can all relate to having sleepies sometimes, and this is one of those stories where the wording and actions just keep passing from one character to the next.  There would be lots of different drawings of people (family members, one at a time) in this book, as well as some of animals (family pets).

The concept of these "Illustrated by Me" books is similar to the writing and art work pages in Gentle Shepherd's printable ebooks -- My Alphabet and Number Pictures, Copy and Draw, and Picture and Writing.  I love to see activities that encourage creativity and making original artwork, and I think this storybook format is a great idea!

The drawings could be done gradually, as school assignments, and would eventually make a fun-to-read completed book.

Here is a link to McCollonough's Amazon writer page (all her books are listed there):

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Epsom Salt Painting -- adds a crystal sheen!

Have you ever painted using Epsom salt water?  We were doing this as a science experiment at first, using just food coloring  (equal parts Epsom salt and water, heated on med heat -- with stirring-- to dissolve).  Here is one of the pictures made with the food coloring solution:

You can see the gleaming of the crystals; this painting is DRY, but it looks shiny as if it were wet.
This was very interesting, and added a new dimension as an art medium, so I wanted to try using actual paint instead of food coloring, and see what that would look like.  It worked well, except that on my first try I let the water and Epsom salt get too hot-- they were boiling-- and the mixture turned crystally and thick instead of being clear and liquid (as it should look when dissolved completely).
Here's what the too-thick boiled mixture looked like after mixing in paint:
If you paint with this, it is very globby and doesn't stick well to the paper; so after trying it out I decided to start over, and make sure to watch the mixture while cooking.
To my new batch I added acrylic paint (about a teaspoon in each small cup) and stirred it well. 
Here it is before and after stirring:
The paint mixture was less watery than when we used food coloring, but it was easy to use-- it flowed along on the brush just fine. 
Here are some pictures made using the paint:

Would you like to make some crystally pictures like this?  It's very easy to make the mixture (equal parts Epsom salt and water, put on medium heat and stir just until dissolved); I think next we'll experiment with using Kool-Aid as a dye; I'm wondering if we can get bright colors but keep the watery feel.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Fuzzle Family Felt -- Day 37 of I Homeschool Network 40 Days of Christmas

TODAY there is a giveaway -- for Fuzzle Family Felt pattern set, by Gentle Shepherd (continuing through Friday, Dec 13).
It is part of I Homeschool Network's "40 Days of Christmas" advent calendar . . . 6 winners will receive a pattern set (PDF ebook) with patterns for people, clothing, house, car, trees, bushes, dog, cat, and more . . .
Making up felt stories is a lot of fun for kids, and these felt toys are quiet, soft, and flexible-- easy for kids to handle, and convenient to store or to take traveling.
Today (Dec 10) is day#37 -- Here is a link to the calendar:
Here are some more pics from this felt toys pattern set--