Monthly Archives: March 2010

A Quilting Experiment

When the most recent addition of Selvedge arrived this week I was taken with an image of a quilt on the last page. I liked the 3D effect created by the pattern.

I’ve always wanted to give quilting a go so I started a little project using two pairs of old jeans (one dark, one light) and some scrap fabric. This should be an interesting project because

a) I have no idea what I’m doing and am just making it up. I figure that is in large part how I learned to knit so I may as well give this a go.

b) I’m not sure what I’m making! Obviously something small – perhaps a cushion cover, or  a wrap for knitting needles….. I’ll see how it goes.

I’m sure it makes the most sense to sew up all the squares and then assemble but I should probably try assembling a few, just to see how it works. At the moment I seem to be working with a blue pallet though that may also change as I go along. So the whole thing will be an experiment!

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Little Bunny

We are going to a FIRST  birthday party on Saturday and while they said gifts were not necessary, I just couldn’t help myself from making a little something. I thought since it is Easter weekend I’d make a little bunny, and I found a great pattern here. Very simple and quick.

The bunny is exceedingly cute  on its own with just little french-knot eyes. But I also couldn’t help myself from making the bunny a little coat.

I probably should have been doing other things, but sometimes you just have to go with the urge to craft.

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Printed Fruit Trees

Yesterday I taught an art class to 5-7 year olds while being filmed for a kids TV show. I was asked to prepare two activities based on Natural Printmaking. It was a little tricky at first because….well, it’s March, and much of what I would normally like to use for natural printmaking, such as plants, leaves and flowers, are not available. What I came up with is a project that involves two separate printing techniques.

Behold my Printed Fruit Tree!

Of course, I forgot my camera so I don’t have pictures of the lovely Printed Fruit Trees that were created in the class. It’s a shame, because it was wonderful to see all the different approaches to creating the tree form. Mine is an apple tree, but for the class we had pears, apples, oranges and lemons growing on the same branches! I have to say that though I love the look of printed fruits, I found it a little hard to contemplate the waste. I’m sure this is mainly because we still try to get most of our produce locally, and though during the winter we buy oranges and even bananas, it still feels quite “luxurious”! But I’ll set that aside for a moment. Anyway, it is possible to do this project with just one apple!

I admit, I’m pretty happy with this, so I wrote out a little tutorial in case anybody is interested. Here it is:

Printed Fruit Trees



Piece of wood with a pronounced grain pattern. Test it by doing a pencil rubbing.

Brayer (roller)

Block printing ink or paint in brown or black

smooth surface for rolling ink – glass, Plexiglass, plastic


glue stick

Shallow container and thin sponge for print pad in as many colours as paint, or paint brush

Fruit (apple, pear, orange, lemon) cut in half

Wood Grain Printing

Step 1: Use the brayer to spread a little ink on a piece of Plexiglass. Listen for a “tacky sound” to know it is at the right thickness. Roll ink all over the piece of wood.

Step 2: Place a piece of paper ON TOP of the inked piece of wood. (Many children are familiar with stamping and I found even after demonstrating  I needed to remind them to do it this way, instead of trying to  stamp the wood on paper, which does not give a good print.) Rub hands all over paper in a circular motion. Lift paper off and check out the wood grain! Repeat this several times with the same, or a different piece of wood until you have enough “wood” for a tree. Let it dry.

The Tree

Cut out a trunk and branches from the wood grain prints and glue them to a large paper in the form of a tree. With younger children you could easily assist by cutting strips of different widths and lengths while they arrange and glue them on. (but do make sure they are in charge of that process – that’s how you get such beautiful and unique work)

Fruit Printing

Step 1: Place the tree paper on an old, folded towel. This soft surface makes it easier to get a good print. I skipped this step with the kids, and it was ok, but while doing my own I found it really was better. If working with a small group or single child it’s worth doing.

Step 2: Put the sponge in the shallow container and add a few tbsp of paint. Press half a piece of fruit, cut side down, on “print pad” .  Alternatively, with a small group, paint can be applied to the fruit with a brush.

Step 3: Press fruit firmly on paper. Another option, particularly with little ones (and I’d probably do this in a REAL class)  is to let the kids experiment with fruit print on a big piece of paper where they can just stamp away and figure out how it all works. Then bring out the tree. Having done some experimenting they may have a more “compositional” approach to adding fruit.Use many different fruits to create a “Crazy Fruit Tree”!

I felt my tree needed a little something more so I cut a simple leaf shape out of a quarter apple and printed some leaves. In the summer or fall I think it would be great to experiment with printing using real leaves. This would be yet another printing technique and perhaps more in keeping with the rest of the project. Printing with real wood, printing with real fruit and then printing with real leaves. Oh, or even doing some leaf rubbings and furthering the collage element by gluing them on!


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Found – A Country Diary

Found – A Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady, by Edith Holden. I found it in a bin while on a second-hand clothing trip to Salvation Army. All I could see was the word “Country” but that was enough for me to fish it out. And look at this stunning little book!

We were meant for each other, this book and I. It is full of a years worth of lovely illustrations and hand-written observations, poems and sayings. Beautifully inspiring. When I live in the country…..

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A Sewing Experience

One of the most exciting experiences from my class last week was sewing. Yes, with sharp needles.

The class was for 3 – 5 year olds but the youngest was two months shy of his fourth birthday so when I saw the list of children I was pretty confident we could do some sewing. I’ve worked before with sewing by making sewing cards, which I had originally intended to do as well as a warm up activity, but  just didn’t seem to fit into the day. I think it could still be worth doing though. We used embroidery hoops, embroidery thread and large pointy needles (I’m not sure exactly what kind they were) .

We sat in a circle on a mat, each child having been assigned their own spot (a coloured square on the mat) to avoid any accidental neighbouring needle pricks. Then I showed them how to sew, focusing on how the needle would go from back to front, then front to back. The embroidering hoops and threaded needles were handed out with much solemn ceremony, which I think encouraged the children to feel very grown up and responsible. Then they started sewing!

They all seemed to really enjoy sewing and were very proud and excited. In a group of nine it requires a fair bit of support to re-thread needles with new colours and to deal with any tangles and I was happy to have a volunteer thereto help! The most common issue was if the needle didn’t go back through the side it had come and the thread went around the hoop. Some children noticed this issue right away and we could solve it, others happily sewed away and I dealt with it afterwards. When they had been sewing for a while I introduced some beads for them to add to their work. They worked for about 45 minutes and had to be persuaded to stop at the end of class. It was lovely to sit in our own little sewing circle with everybody so concentrated on their sewing.

The needlework looked fantastic in the hoops but unfortunately the hoops couldn’t go home. When I took the cloth out of the hoops the results looked a little sad, what with the resulting lack of tension, especially with the rather large stitches. So I improvised and took the pieces home and used a machine to sew them into small round pillow shapes. The next day the kids stuffed them with fabric scraps and then sewed them closed. That last step was a little more tricky but they managed it. I could have stuffed and closed the pillows myself (hmmm….maybe if I had a bit more time!) but the children were so proud and pleased of their work that I’m glad I let them do it. I think another alternative would be to make round cardboard frames and attach the fabric with staples instead of using hoops. This way the “mistake” of sewing round the rim of the hoop would not be a problem, and they could also take it home. Now that I’ve had success with the sewing I know I’ll be thinking of all kinds of ideas to include it in projects! Sewing is so rare these days that many of the children didn’t have much of an understanding of it at all before we started. I found this activity really helped them to appreciate some stories we read about quilting and they were able to identify dashed lines in the illustration as the sewing lines. All very exciting.

Here are some of the funny little pillows:

Oh, and in case you are wondering – over the course of the week there were TWO paper cuts, and nobody got stuck with a needle!


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Flock of Birds

It’s been a busy and exhausting week so I feel a bit behind with posting! Today in Folk Art for Little Folk we made birds out of cardboard. In the first class I gave the children pencils to draw their birds as I was anticipating some size issues (they needed to be cut out). In fact, I think the pencils had a negative effect, almost causing the children to tighten up and worry about what they were drawing. I hadn’t considered that before. As we moved on things went well, but it is a little crazy to have nine little kids draw, colour and paint birds, with all the support that requires, and also cut out and assemble the birds without having the kids waiting around……so I was almost tempted for the second class to give them vague bird-like cardboard shapes for them to work with. But I decided against it and I’m glad I did. I knew it would be busy but the results were worth it. In the second class I  skipped the pencil step which worked better. You always learn something in these classes.

We attached the wings using a button technique found here. I love looking at the finished flock of birds and when I see the wonderful different sizes and colours and shapes and ideas I’m glad I didn’t limit them simply for ease!

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Paper Weaving

Today was my first day of Folk Art for Little Folk – my March Break Art Class for” 3-5″s at the AGNS. Today we did some lovely paper weaving. Originally I planned to do a group weaving as I was concerned about their ability to weave but when I saw that the classes were mostly 4 and 5 year-olds I thought I’d give individual projects a go. They decorated  paper with pastels and paint, let it dry and then it was cut into little strips for the “weft”. Developmentally, I think it was just about perfect. It wasn’t easy for them to do but they seemed interested in learning the skill. The hardest part for them was not the over-under path of each strip of paper, but figuring out the alternative pattern of the strips and starting one “under” the next “over”. Where there was interest we helped the children figure this out but some were happily weaving away in the manner of their choosing so I didn’t think it was important to “fix”.

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