Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Play Food: Fried Egg

Fried Eggs are really simple to make. Here's what you need:

white felt
yellow felt
white embroidery thread
yellow embroidery thread
a very small bunch of fiber fill
FYI- I kind of did mine out of order. I guess I wasn’t thinking straight (pregnancy brain) and I got the egg whites nearly stitched all the way around before realizing I should have put on the yolk first. No worries, I managed to get the yolk on, but my pictures will show the whites already stitched together when they really shouldn’t be. Sorry.
1- First cut out two matching pieces for the egg whites. You can make them as round or funky shaped as you want. Sometimes my fried eggs end up pretty funky shaped! 
Now cut out one yolk piece from your yellow felt. I made this closer to round, but it still doesn’t really have to be a perfect circle. If you really care about that try tracing a ketchup bottle lid.
The pic shows the felt pieces along with the other supplies you need.

2- Next, stitching perpendicular to your yolk, attach it to one of the egg whites. As you get near then end, push a very tiny amount of fiber fill into the yolk before you finish stitching. It really doesn’t take much.

You’ll want to knot the thread at the beginning and end of this step on the underside of the egg white so they don’t show.
3- Now it’s time to stitch the egg whites together. Knot your thread and pull it through from the wrong side of one egg white. Wrapping your stitch around the edge of the egg, work your way around.
When you have about an inch and a half left stuff some fiber fill in the egg to give it as much height as you’d like. Over time, the filling may flatten out a bit, so err on the side of over stuffing. Before you finish the stitching make sure that the fiber fill is spread out like you want it to end up. Once the egg is closed it will be difficult to reposition the filling because it will stick to the felt.
Finish stitching all the way around. To tie off the thread go to the underside of the egg. Knot the thread.

Now pull the thread through one or two of the stitches and then cut it off.

Now you have a fried egg ready for your little one to play with!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Play Food: Tomato slices

The tomatoes are a little more complex than the spinnach, but I think they turned out really well. They are probably the most difficult food item I'm going to share, but they are also my favorite. I tried to take plenty of pictures on these to help with the explanations. These will go in those tortilla wraps eventually along with the spinnach. Here's what you need:

red felt
yellow embroidery thread
red or pinkish embroidery thread lighter than your felt
red embroidery thread darker than your felt
Step1- Cut out two matching roundish pieces of red felt for each tomato. Tomatoes aren’t perfect circles so your pieces don’t have to be either.
Step 2- Seeds
You need to put seeds on both sides of each tomato in three different sections. I tried to imitate a Roma tomato because that's what we have in Tanzania. Roma's have three sections each filled with seeds. We won’t add lines showing the three sections until later so you need to be visualizing it as you put the seeds on. I've drawn in blue lines on the pictures below to show the three sections I'm talking about. 

The seeds are made using french knots. I made them different sizes by wrapping around the needle once for some and twice for others. There is a great tutorial on how to do a French Knot here. There is no right number of seeds. Just make them until it looks good to you.
Now you are ready to put in the lines that delineate the three sections. Use a reddish or even pink thread color that is lighter than your felt. You are going to be sewing through both pieces of felt at once. Use a running stitch to work your way around the seeds, making sure the seeds on both sides end up inside the section. 
After you’ve gone around once, go around again doing another running stitch between the stitches you've already done. Now you’ll have a solid line on both side. Knot you thread and cut close to the knot.

Now, using a red thread slightly darker than your felt, make a stitch going all the way around your tomato. I'm not sure what to call this stitch. I just looped around the edge, but you could use a blanket stitch here. As you work your way around the tomatoes may stretch and not match up so well. Just trim as you go to make them the same shape. At the start you can knot the thread on the inside so it doesn’t show. At the end you’ll need to knot it on the outside. Now, pull the excess thread through one or two of your stitches, and cut it off.

Little Man loves tomatoes, so I think he’ll really enjoy playing with these!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Play Food- Spinach

A few months back I started making various types of play food out of fabric. I haven't actually given any of them to Little Man to play with just yet. At some point we'll make him a little toy kitchen and get out all the food. First, I need to build up his pantry.
Today I'm going to show you the simplest thing I've made, spinach leaves. Here's what you need:
green felt
green embroidery thread (lighter or darker than the felt)

Step 1- Cut your felt into as many leaves as you want. They don't have to all look the same or perfect. You can make a template out of paper if you are worried about messing up your felt. 

Step 2- Start at one end of your leaf and make a running stitch going down the center of the leaf. Don't knot your yarn at the beginning, just leave enough thread hanging that you can use it for a knot at the end. When you get to the end of your leaf you should have a dotted stitched line.

Step 3- Now go back the other way filling in the empty spaces.

Step 4- Tie a knot with your two pieces of thread at the starting/finishing end. Cut the thread close to knot.

I forgot to take pics of this as I went, but here are the finished leaves.

In this one you can see the knot at one end.

Here is the bunch. 

I plan to use these to fill some tortilla wraps that are still in progress, along with other play veggies. I'm trying to make only foods that we eat in our normal life in Tanzania, which limits it a little. 
I'm wondering what folks think about play food and kitchens for boys. I realize it's more normal for girls, but why shouldn't boys learn about cooking? My husband is an incredible cook, which really comes in handy when I'm too pregnant to cook. What do you think?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Felt Bows

I decided to whip up some felt bows for the Craft Fair this year. They didn't sell particularly well, but I thought I'd share them anyway. The inspiration came from Twig and Thistle via Pinterest. The actual tutorial that both she and I used is for making bows from old magazines and can be found at How about Orange. It's super easy and I love the look of the felt, but I'm thinking I may use this in Tanzania to create paper bows for birthdays and what not. They don't exactly carry gift bows at the Nyehunge Super Min Mart. Yeah, that's really the name, but we still call it by the old name, Camp City, which makes so much more sense, right? I run-on and digress.

You'll notice that I made a few different variations: felt with ribbon, just ribbon, felt with embroidery, and folding a little differently. I stitched all of mine with sewing thread and turned them into pins, headbands, hair clips, and regular package bows. Here are some pics of what I made. Any friends who have a little girl and want a free headband or hair clip, let me know.

Package Bows-


 Hair Clips-


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Lesson 6- Impressionism/Pointilism

Here is the last art lesson I did before our trip to the states. I'll resume teaching and posting art lessons in February of next year.

Rather than focusing on just one artist, for this lesson we focused on a style, Impressionism. We did look at the work of Seurat and Monet, but didn't attempt to learn a lot about their lives, just their painting.

Have the 9 and 11 year old read the information on this page:
Have them explain the things they think are most important about Impressionism to the 6 year old. (assist if needed) Make sure they include how Impressionism was different from the current painting styles of the time:
subjects- everyday people
subjects not centered
painting outdoors
study of light
Show some images of Monet’s work. I used images from Wikipedia and made sure to include one of water lilies.
11 year old-
I had her do an impressionist style picture from our flower bed outside. I let her choose which section to do and gave her a piece of cardstock with a 3x3 square cut to help her choose her composition. By closing one eye and moving the square closer to or farther away from you eye you can zoom in and out on the scene. It helps when deciding how much of the scene to include in the picture. She was also working on a square piece of paper. In this case I had her use oil pastels rather than paint to avoid the ordeal of getting paints outside and colors mixed. The focus was on the style of impressionism and the idea of working outdoors.

Here is the finished piece.

Meanwhile, with the 6 and 9 year old:
Georges Seurat took impressionism a step further and created a style that is known as pointilism. He covered his canvas with tiny dots to create an image. Rather than mixing green paint, he would place blue and yellow dots close to each other so that from a distance they looked green. 
Look at one of his paintings
Using q-tips or pencil erasers, create a pointilist picture. Give the student a picture to copy of something simple, such as a flower. I just googled red flower and choose a pic that was simple. This takes a while so start out doing a very small picture. Demonstrate this technique and stress taking your time. I had my students do a flower. First, they sketched the basic outline of the flower. Then they filled in the background with green and last they painted the flower. I had several shades of red and green already mixed for them and one shade of yellow. To make a darker red or green add a little black, to make a lighter shade add a little white.

Here's what the paint tray with different shades looked like.

The pointillist pieces. left is the 6 year old's and right is the 9 year old's.

After everyone was finished I let the kids share their pictures with each other and had the oldest tell us what it was like to work outdoors, so we could really think about what the Impressionists were up against (heat, cold, wind and light constantly changing, etc).

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Well, I've been MIA for a bit now and there is a reason. I'm not really sure if there is anyone who reads this blog and doesn't read my other blog, but just in case click on over to see where I've been:

I'm back in the states now for about a 3 month visit, but I've got one more art lesson plan that I've not yet shared (more will come after my return to TZ and teaching). I've also got several projects already made that I'll be sharing and a few new ideas bouncing around in my head for the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lesson 5- Edward Hicks

5- Edward Hicks

Access to the internet
printed copies of crossword puzzles found at: http://gardenofpraise.com/artpuz2.htm
printed copy of Noah's Ark color sheet- also found at the garden of praise site. I don't have the exact link, but it's right there with the other resources on the main page.
crayons and/or colored pencils

7 year old- 
Tell her a little bit about Edward Hicks-
He was born in Pennsylvania in 1740. His mom died when he was a baby and he was raised by a Quaker family. When he was 13 he started learning how to paint coaches. Late on he became a Quaker minister, but eventually quit preaching to pursue painting. He painted lots of pictures called Peaceable Kingdom based on some verses in Isaiah. He also painted Noah’s Ark. Show images of Peaceable Kingdom and Noah’s Ark.
Assignment- Color sheet of Noah’s Ark- I am not always a fan of color sheets because they lack creativity, but I think for the little ones it can be a fun way to get the image of a famous painting imprinted in their minds.
11 year old and 9 year old- 
Have them read through info found @ http://gardenofpraise.com/art2.htm. Do the crossword puzzle together. They will each have their own copy, but can work together on it.
9 year old- Choose one of the animals in Hick’s picture and redraw it, mimicking Hick’s style. Now place the animal in a different background.

11 year old- Draw a picture of Hick’s ark once the flood has begun. Is there any land still showing, or just water? What does the rain look like? How does the rain change the look of the boat? Use colored pencils and demonstrate using them for this assignment.

As the students finish they can do the jigsaw puzzle or memory game found here:
Jigsaw Puzzle of Noah’s Ark-
memory game-

All info in this lesson came from the the site listed in the lesson and from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Flower Hair Pins

Last week another of our young teammates celebrated a birthday. This time I decided to make some flower hair pins. I'd seen this project from Martha Stewart and had already started creating my own version of it. You can find Martha's tutorial here.

Martha's project calls for ultrasuede, a nice fabric which doesn't unravel. I can't exactly get my hands on any of that in Geita, so I decided to let controlled unraveling edges be a part of the look. Pretty stitches keep the fabric from unraveling too much, while adding a nice detail to the flower. Here's my process:

1- I cut out 5 petals. You could make a template, but I just free handed it. They don't have to be exactly the same, just similar.

 2- Using some embroidery floss in a contrasting color, I did a simple running stitch around the edges, knotting the thread at both ends.

 3- Following Martha's directions I attached the petals to each other. In this pic they are just all bunched up together. After knotting the thread you can spread them out.

 4- I had to use several stitches between the first and last petal to get it to spread out the way I wanted. There wasn't really a science to it, just wriggling the fabric.

 5- To make my flower into a hair pin, I added beads to the top of the flower while sewing a bobby pin on the back. Basically everytime I went through to the front I added a bead, then pulled the thread through to the back making sure to wrap in around the bobby pin. I used a double thickness of normal sewing thread for this. You could use embroidery floss if your beads have a big enough hole to allow for the embroidery floss needle. Otherwise, you'll have to switch to normal thread here.

If you look closely you can see where the pin is attached. I made sure that the stitches went as far down the pin as possible to secure it. I also did several extra stitches around the bend in the flower to secure it. You don't want the pin to just slide out.

Here are the two that I made for the birthday girl. For the one on the left I actually stitched the fabric to some felt that was cut slightly larger. I like the look of it and it adds some extra durability.

For the wrapping I cut out four circles of tissue paper, two for each side because it was kind of see through. Then I stitched most of the way around.

 I dropped in the pins.

 Then I finished stitching. It almost looks like an Easter egg.

 Here's the birthday girl with her hair pins.

 And her younger sister trying one out.

And here are a few more of these flowers that I've been working on. Some will become hair pins, some brooches, and some are already on headbands. None of them have the beads added yet. These two both have felt backing.

 For the one on the right I used a double row of stitching.

Here are a couple of baby headbands, almost finished. These are a completely different style, just circles with french knots in the centers instead of beads.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lesson 4- Katsushika Hokusai

Things have been pretty blah around here, or at least my food choices. Pregnancy is in full force and my days are spent trying to decide what to eat next (oatmeal or toast?), fixing the food, and then trying to keep it down. It's incredible just how much time and concentration those things take. Anyway, there hasn't been as much time for crafting, but I do have some things in the works that I hope to be sharing soon. In the meantime, here's last weeks art lesson.

Katsushika Hokusai
1- Present information about Hokusai-
In this Japanese name, the family name is "Katsushika". Get the kids to practice pronouncing the name. 
 Hokusai was a Japanese artist who lived from 1760-1849.
Hokusai is best known as author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji which includes the internationally recognized print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, created during the 1820s. Put Hokusai, The Great Wave on the Time Line.
Hokusai had a long career, but he produced most of his important work after age 60. 
Constantly seeking to produce better work, he apparently exclaimed on his deathbed, "If only Heaven will give me just another ten years... Just another five more years, then I could become a real painter." 
2- Look at  Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and discuss how the mountain looks different in each one (size, location in the picture, colors). Make sure to point out The Great Wave. This is the most famous so I want the kids to remember it and be able to recognize it.
These prints were created in the style called Ukiyo-e.
3- Discuss printmaking. (this is sort of a deviation from where we are headed with the assignment, but I wanted to take the opportunity to teach a little about printmaking anyway. This step can be left out, particularly with younger ones if desired.) You can also discuss the Ukiyo-e style at this point if you want. Wikipedia has information about details of it.
Show the students some printmaking tools (cutter, brayer, lino blocks) to better explain the process of printmaking. (I’m including this because I happen to have these things on hand, but if you don’t just skip this step.)
4- The assignment- We are going to do our own series called 6 Views of Baobab Trees. (I choose this because Baobab trees grow in Tanzania and the girls are familiar with them. You could also use an Oak tree or any object or landmark you can imagine. Choose something you think will interest your student.)
11 year old- Draw a Baobab tree from 3 different views- above, far away, close up. I want you to imagine that this is the same Baobab tree, so if you draw a house near the tree in one picture it needs to be there in the others, just from the different view.
9 year old- Draw a Baobab tree from 2 different views- far away and close up. Imagine that this is the same tree in both pictures, so if there is a house near the tree in one picture it needs to be near the tree in the other picture.
6 year old- Draw one picture of a Baobab tree to contribute to the collection. Make the tree far away and add lots of details around it.

The oldest is still finishing her pictures so I'll come back and update the post with images once she finishes.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lesson 3: Greek Pottery

This lesson is sort of three in one. All three of my students will be learning about Greek pottery and decorating an Amphora, but each will be using a different Greek style.
Homemade Scratch Paper (made with appropriate colors for the style of Greek pottery to be created. See this post for how to make scratch paper.)
something to scratch with- we used toothpicks
images of Greek amphoras and the style or styles you plan to teach- There are a ton on Wikipedia. I didn't have to pull images from any other source.
1- Intro to Greek Pottery- Much of the artwork we know of from ancient Greece is ceramic. This is not necessarily because they made so much, but because it is what has survived.  In this lesson we will explore three of the different decorative styles used on Greek pottery: Geometric, Black Figure, and Red Figure. 
2- What colors are seen on Greek pottery? - The range of colors which could be used on pots was restricted by the technology of firing: black, white, red, and yellow were the most common. 
3- What Subject Matter is used to decorate Greek pottery?
-Greek pottery often told stories about Greek daily life such as funerals, marriages, wars and athletics. Athletics and wars were particularly popular subjects for pottery. These vases depict men wrestling, running, high jumping or throwing a discus. Another very popular subject matter for ancient Greek pottery was scenes from mythology
4- What is an Amphora- a vessel with a 2 handles and a long neck that is narrower than the body. They were used in large numbers to store and transport both liquid and dry goods. Show an image, which can be found on Wikipedia.
5- Go over each style with the student who will be using it. Show images of the style as you explain it. I found plenty of images for each style on Wikipedia. There is a page about Greek pottery as a whole and individual pages for each of the styles. Demonstrate how to used the scratch paper and help them brainstorm what they could draw to mimic the Greek style. Let the student practice on a test piece before doing the real Amphora. 
Geometric was one of the earliest styles (900-700BCE). In the Geometric style pots have several bands going around them creating horizontal lines. Shapes used to decorate include circles, semi-circles, zig-zags, meanders, and simple animals in later Geometric pieces. (There is a page on wiki for meanders that shows exactly what that design looks like)
Black Figure was common between the 7th and 5th centuries BC. The style features black figures painted onto a reddish colored pot.
Red Figure 530BC until 3rd century BC Red Figure is the opposite of Black Figure; a read figure on a black pot.
6- Place each of the styles of Greek pottery on the timeline.

Here is our finished work:


Black Figure

Red Figure

Info in this lesson came mostly from Wikipedia. 
The initial concept for this lesson came from:

By the way, I love that last site. It is an incredible resource for art lesson plans and inspiration and it is well organized. I used it all the time when I was teaching in public school.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Scratch Paper

Well, we've finally got good internet again, so here is the beginning of the Greek Art Lesson from  two weeks ago. You'll need to make scratch paper, so I'm posting that part today and the rest of the lesson tomorrow.
Scratch paper is really easy to make. Here’s how it’s done:
1- Color with crayons or oil pastels on a piece of paper or a thin piece of cardboard, like the inside of a cut up cereal box. You need to press really hard to get a nice smooth waxy finish. The oil pastels are messier than crayons, but I think they create a nicer, brighter finish. You can do a solid color, stripes, or any design you can imagine.
2- Mix about 3 Tbsp of tempera paint with 1/2 tsp of dish soap. Cover the drawing with a layer of the paint and let dry.
3- Once dry you are ready to scratch through to reveal your beautiful colors! A toothpick works great for the scratching.
*On one of mine I forgot the dish soap and it did make it a little harder to scratch a clean line.

Here are a couple of extra pieces (before the paint was applied) that I did for the kids to take home.
Try out different patterns or shapes of colors to scratch through to.

Now here are some more specific directions for making the scratch paper needed for the Greek Pottery lesson:

You could have the kids make the scratch paper, but I went ahead and made it for them.
We are going to be decorating Greek amphoras. An amphora has a long, thin neck, a wider base, and a handle on each side. We used three different styles of Greek decoration, geometric, black figure, and red figure. The colors combos are different for each of these but the shape of each amphora is roughly the same.

On a piece of cardboard or paper using the appropriate color for the style you are doing color hard in a rough shape of an amphora.
For geometric I did different colored stripes going up the amphora all in earth tones.
For black figure you need to use black crayon or oil pastel.
For red figure use red or a reddish brown.

Now you need to paint over the waxy surface with the appropriate color for your style. Don't forget to add a little dish soap to your paint. Paint only over the crayon or oil pastel. 
For the geometric I used a light brownish, peachish color.
For the black figure use red or a reddish brown.
For the red figure use black.

Once it dries you can cut out the amphora. To get a symmetrical shape I cut out one side first and then used the scrap from that side to trace the same cut onto the other side. If you are scared to just start cutting on that first side you can draw out your line on a piece of paper and cut the line. Then use it to trace the line onto both sides. To cut out the holes inside the handles I used and exacto knife. Again you can make a little piece of paper to trace before cutting so that both sides are the same.

*As I was making these I also made some little scrap pieces so the kids would have something to practice on before scratching into the real thing.

Here is what I ended up with: