August 31, 2010

Paper Clay Fishing Game

While making our Marionettes, we ended up with some extra paper clay.  I decided to press it into some ikea ice cube molds that I bought the other day.  I thought the little fish and flowers would make a fun magnetic fishing game since the paper clay would be very light when it dried.  We used acrylic craft paint and sprinkled a little gold glitter on the fish and flowers while the paint was still wet.
Acrylic paint is permanent when dry, so make sure you have your painting clothes on if you use it!  When the fish were dry, I put small screws into the ends of each one and into the tops of the flowers.  You may have to go in at an angle to make sure that you don't go out the other side with the screws.  If your fish seems to be falling apart, just take the screw out and try again.  The paper clay holds together surprisingly well.

To make the fishing lines, I took apart some old refrigerator magnets.  I threaded a piece of cotton yarn through a large button and tied it off with nine knots so that the yarn would be very secure and I glued down the loose end with a bit of white school glue.  Then I hot glued the button onto the magnet.  
We made a fishing pond out of a piece of cardboard covered with tin foil.  We may add fishing poles later, but I kind of like just using the yarn and the magnets.  We can make the fishing line as long as we want and we can store it all in an old wooden tray which used to have beads in it. Aren't the fish pretty?  We also made a few red paper hearts that I'm going to save for Valentine's Day. I plan to glue them onto some small boxes that I can fill with candy.  Looking at them makes me realize that if I had painted them brown they'd also make some really cute play food truffles.  Sweet idea!

August 30, 2010

Paper Mache Marionettes

I am sure most of you have made paper mache projects before.  There are tons of recipes for the basic process all over the web.  We used the easy recipe from Family Fun.  I really wanted to share our project because we made some really simple marionettes using things around the house.

We started with a regular wire coat hanger which I bent into a sort of armature (or underlying structure) for our puppets.  To make sure that we could hang them, I slipped a paperclip onto the hanger before I covered it up.  I scrunched up newspaper and wrapped it around this frame with some masking tape to make the shape of the puppet.  We layered on strips of newspaper until we covered the whole thing.  Just make sure you leave the paperclip sticking out!
We filled in the gaps by making paper clay.  Just keep adding more small shreds of torn newspaper to whatever is left of your paper mache liquid until it becomes the squishy consistency of play dough.  We used this to cover the figures and to make some facial features.  We had some extra that we pressed into molds to make a fishing game.  And Holly made one big lump that she said is going to be "the sun".

 All of these things were left to dry which took several days for the thickest pieces of paper clay.  When everything was completely dry I gave the figures a coat of white paint.  Then I painted the skin color and Holly painted the clothing on them.  We made a mom, dad, and daughter.  I painted simple faces on them and tied some black yarn to the paperclip.  Then I put a loop of cotton yarn on each paperclip so that we could make them walk, dance, and fly.  Since the arms and legs don't move I'm not sure if these are officially "marionettes" or if they are just puppets, but we really had fun making them.

August 27, 2010

99 Cent Costumes: Super Mario Bros

We found red and green caps at the 99 Cent Only Store.  The red one is kind of a trucker cap and the green one looks like a puffy-headed sailor might have worn it.  Of course, seeing red and green my kids don't think of Christmas.  They immediately think of Mario and Luigi.

I looked online for some iron on patches, but couldn't find any that I liked, so I sketched the logo in lightly with pencil, then slowly filled in white acrylic craft paint.  It's not hard if you go slow.  Just remember acrylic is permanent when dry.  The kids think the hats look great, but then I thought...  You know, it's not quite Mario without the mustache.  So, I grabbed some yarn and knit them each one.  The knitting pattern is below if you decide you must have this absolutely ridiculous accessory.

Mario Mustache Pattern
black chenille bulky yarn
skin-tone colored yarn or elastic (for tie-backs)
number 10 needles

CO 8 sts
knit 2 rows
k2tog, k6 (7 sts)
k2tog, k5 (6 sts)
BO 6 sts

Tie a length of skin-tone yarn to top of each side of mustache.  Or use elastic.


August 25, 2010

Eden Original: Sugar Skull Portrait

I finished the painting!  I'm so pleased with it.  I want to enter it in a juried show this fall, so I'm sending in the entry today.  Fingers crossed that I get in.  There is no prize, but it's an honor to be included and a lot of fun, too.
Here's the finished painting...

Calavera, 24 x 36 inches, acrylic on canvas 

And look at who was outside waiting for me when I went to take the photos of the finished painting...  yes, it's a black widow.  Normally I don't kill spiders, but this girl had to go.  Sorry.

August 24, 2010

Work in Progress: Sugar Skull Portrait

I spent most of the day painting today.  That means the dishes are not done, the kids are hungry, the dog is looking from me to the door and back again with begging eyes.  Such is the life of an artist.  Whoever said you can do it all obviously didn't include fun in the mix.  Yes, painting is fun.  It's also hard work and my fingers are barely able to type this right now, but I had to share where I'm going because I think it looks really great so far...

This is a painting of my husband with his face painted like a sugar skull.  I painted on his face last Halloween and this is from a photo I took.  I don't think I've shared yet that I fall deeply in love with every painting I make... well, this one is like some kind of super double love because it's also a painting of someone I love.  Can you have too much love?  No way!

Following are stages of the painting in progress from the initial sketch.  It's 2x3ft, so it's pretty HUGE.  My hubby has amazing blue eyes (the only one in the family, even the dog has brown) so I wanted that to be the focal point of the painting...

August 19, 2010

Work In Progress: Faux Bois Mural

I'm working on a new mural for the Studio City Co-Op Preschool.  This is the "Work Zone" where the kids hammer nails and build projects with wood.

I decided to have a little fun with some woodsy faux bois lettering.  The area is really overgrown right now because I'm working on this during summer break, so the plants and creepy crawlies were on the attack.  I got smacked in the face and tripped on the ivy.  Then, I saw a couple of HUGE spiders and a giant purple bumble bee buzzed right by my ear.  Oh, the joys of working outdoors!  Finally, I had to stop when the sun threatened to burn a hole in my back.

I seriously don't think Monet had to deal with this when he painted outside.

August 18, 2010

WIP: Aquarium Mural

In 90 degree heat, I finished the Aquarium Mural.  I guess I was dreaming of a cool blue place under water!  I do love Southern California, but sometimes I dream about the Bahamas...  I went diving there on my honeymoon and it was like paradise.

So, here are the pics of the finished mural.  I know the kids are going to love it and I'm very proud of all that I accomplished with just two days of work.  It has the placid tranquility I was going for, while still looking fun, happy, and colorful for the kids.  What a difference from the starting pic in my previous post.

August 17, 2010

Octopus and Elephant for Lunch

My daughter is getting ready to go to Kindergarten and so, like any other mom I've been worried about whether or not she's going to eat when I'm not hovering over her.  A lot of moms online seem to combat the problem by creating elaborate Bento boxed lunches.  These are gorgeous, but seriously, who has time for that?  I can maybe stamp out a sandwich with a cookie cutter, but that's about the extent of my capabilities when making lunches at 6 in the morning!

However, my search did lead me to something really fun.  A popular bento trick is to slice a hotdog like this so that when it's boiled the legs curl like an octopus.  That's adorable and an easy trick that can prevent a full scale MUTINY when you run out of hotdog buns!  Another cute thing I've seen online is poking uncooked spaghetti through chunks of hotdog, then boiling it and you end up with spidery looking things like this.  My kids like to call them squidlets.  [If you are hotdog-averse, Lindsey at Filth Wizardry also tried it with ham and carrots.]
All this hotdogging and boiling got me thinking, though... why stop at octopus (or is it octopi?) and squid? Why not get out some other pasta and really get creative?  Obviously that dangerous-looking knife is for adult use only, unless you like real finger food.

So, we tried to make a few other things.  Aliens, robots, beta fish, a trophy cup, and even an elephant.

Not all of them held together perfectly when boiled.  Our trophy cup lost a handle and the fish lost a fin... but the point is that your imagination can help you move beyond the sea.  Let me know if you've created any other fun things with pasta and hotdogs!

Remember that small slices in the hotdog with a sharp knife can create awesome muppet style mouths which open up when boiled.  You can even try letting the kids poke holes in the hot dog with a fork.  Grab some (organic, nitrate free) dogs, some (organic, whole wheat) dry pasta and make something funny for lunch.

August 16, 2010

Work In Progress: Aquarium Mural

Today I started work on an underwater mural for the Studio City Co-Op Preschool.  I've done a few murals for them and they were looking for something to brighten up the outdoor sink area which was already painted a deep blue.  Here's the area before I started...
I began by sketching in some loose coral shapes to give the reef a bit of structure.  And I painted in some highlights to give the water a bit of sparkle.
Then I started to build up the layers of color.  I want to keep everything really cheery since this is for a preschool and the kids will see it every day.  Realism isn't a priority here, so I made up my own fish!  The most important thing is to make sure it's fun and BRIGHT, so I used my favorite Lascaux brand acrylic paints.  They have super-saturated colors that really pop.  

Here's where I stopped today on the right side of the sink...
...and the left side.
and here's the center section in progress.  
I should be able to finish up this week and I'll post more pictures as I go.  I have to say I really love painting at this school.  My daughter used to go there and so there are lots of fun memories for me. Plus the school is 100% outdoors, so I get to paint outside which is one of my favorite things.  Why do you think all my crafting is done on my patio?  I love making art outside!  Stay tuned for more progress shots as I finish up the undersea adventure.  I'm thinking jellyfish, some more big fish... and lots of bubbles!