Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Making time!

So the kids are home all day for three whole months, now what? Time to get creative!

Now that their days are solely my responsibility I want to get my kids really amped about making stuff! Of course that's always a part of their lives since both of their folks make stuff all day every day but during the school year our creative time together is much more limited. In the summer I like to really engage them creatively and I'm always looking for new ways to do that while continuing with our favorites from the past.

Here are some of our tried and true, super simple, easy-to-throw-together projects:

1. Fabric-in-hoop.

Lyric's first piece, age 3

Gift to me from Tigerlily, age 6

This can mean a lot of things. Usually it begins with me envisioning the kids embroidering and evolves from there into their own imaginations. I put lots of supplies at their disposal and they always come up with things that amaze me. Tigerlily loves to stitch bits of fabric, zippers, yarn, buttons, and whatever else she can find on to her base fabric and often also embellishes with markers. Lyric is much more of a purist and mostly sticks to embroidery floss and perle cottons, using meticulous stitches to create a myriad of designs.

2. Stuffies.We most often make these with felt because of ease of use (so easy to cut and sew through even without a sharp needle, and no unraveling!) but my kids have also made them with cotton fabrics, often after embroidering them. When they were little I cut the shapes for them and they sewed them together and filled them themselves. Tigerlily (8) now mostly designs and cuts her own shapes and Lyric (4) is doing it more and more too.

3. Reclaimed paper books!

Who doesn't love cool little blank books? This has been a mostly mom-made project for us (cutting the cardboard and paper, sewing it all together on the machine) but the kids are involved in collecting bits of paper and hoarding every cereal and cracker box we go through for later life as books, as well as decorating the covers if they're to be given as gifts. Tigerlily has been running them through the sewing machine lately, too.

4. Painting on stuff.

I always cringe when my kids beg me to buy them the wooden trinkets at the fabric/craft store (more mass produced junk, no thanks!) but I admit to caving a couple of times. And, of course the kids have a blast painting them. Still, there's no need to buy things to paint when the world abounds in stuff that is unused and unwanted, ready to be painted and reborn! Rocks, glass jars, cardboard boxes....these are just a few. There's always something to paint, and my kids will always accept the challenge.

5. Plein air painting.
There's no greater inspiration than nature! This summer I hope to spend a lot of time with the kids outside and painting.

6. Fabric collage.

crafting at The Free School
I know not everyone has piles of fabric and yarn scraps kicking around like I do, but paper works just as well!

7. Nature collages/transient art.

winter and summer!
All kids love nature and all kids come to creativity naturally (or most of them--I've never met one who isn't creative in some way). The two together can make for some really inspired (and inspiring) kids! I find I don't even have to prompt this creation in nature, my kids just go for it and I encourage it. I try not to interfere but will sometimes collect piles of "supplies" to fuel their creations. This is especially true with fairy houses, which both of my kids love to create on walks either in the woods or the city. Fairies live in the city too, you know ;)

8. Origami.
The whole family took part in creating these gift boxes
filled with truffles for the kids' teachers

This one might seem like it's only for big kids but actually even toddlers can be involved in creating really cool origami by decorating the paper itself. And Tigerlily has been able to tackle some simple designs with a little guidance since she was 5 or so.

9. Collaborative sewing.
'T' ornament: T.L. chose the fabric, designed and cut the pieces, and stuffed it
after I sewed it on my machine

2010 Father's Day gift: Tigerlily wrote and embroidered the text, chose the fabrics
and pinned, I cut the pieces and sewed it all together.

School pencil pouch: Tigerlily chose the fabrics, traced and cut the letters, and pinned it together, I cut the large pieces and sewed it together.

I sew for a living so my sewing machine is in constant use, and my kids want in. I've just started allowing Tigerlily to use a machine (I learned to sew by hand first and I want my kids to do the same) but for the most part any machine sewing that is required in the projects we do together is done by me. Garment making and the like are a year or so off for my aspiring designer. Still, she is a designer and I want to encourage that in her! She will often bring me drawings of things she wants to make and we will work together to finish the details, choose fabrics, cut and pin. That is the meat of the creation, I just run it through the machine at the end. I truly believe that even if our kids aren't ready to run a machine themselves they can do a large part of the creating in sewing projects.

*Honorable mention: Digital Paint.

'Butterfly Wings' by Tigerlily, age 7

'Dad' by Tigerlily, age 6

'Spiderman and Luke's Home' by Lyric, Age 4

'Apple, Tree and Person' by Tigerlily, age 7

Untitled by Tigerlily, age 6

'Desert Off Dead' by Lyric, age 4

My kids spend very little time on the computer but when they do and I can pry them away from 80's music videos on YouTube they're on Paint. I don't know how they do it but they come up with some pretty cool art!

Some other stuff we like to do and even more that I'd like to try for the first time this summer:

* making paper dolls
* making doll clothes
* felting
* finger knitting
* straight up knitting
* cross stitch
* patchwork by hand (Little House style!)
* potato prints
* kid designed fabric (hello Spoonflower!)

Let the making commence!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer already?!?

It's official: today was the last day of school and graduation at The Free School and the kids are home until September! I'm completely unprepared but realize that I will always feel unprepared for this huge change in our schedules and am determined to embrace it and make this the best summer ever!
Unfortunately blurry photo of my girl singing Like a Prayer at graduation. This year she received the "Put another dime in the jukebox baby" award--pretty apt!

As is my yearly tradition I made gifts for all of the staff at the (small) school because they all play a part in teaching/learning with my kids. I like to change it up each year (last year was personalized tote bags) and this year decided to do a bit of cross stitch after finding a bunch of perfect, simple, fun-to-stitch patterns from the awesome Etsy seller andwabisabi. So I made embroidered hoops for the teachers and zipper pouches for the interns. And even though I began this project this past winter I was finishing it this morning, true to form. Granted, it was a lot of stitching:
another inexplicably blurry photo--what is wrong with my camera?!?

This pile of poo was given in deepest admiration, honest! It's a long story :)

And with that another school year ends. Next fall Tigerlily will be in 3rd grade and Lyric will be in Kindergarten! I cannot believe it. Though I can believe that Lyric is finally old enough to go to a local day camp this summer :)

Skye's up in the Adirondacks this weekend for a bike race so I'm flying solo with the kids for the next two nights. Tonight we watched Jurassic Park which was actually way too scary and I nearly turned it off more than once but they made it through and now want to learn everything there is to know about dinosaurs. Awesome, me too! First stop: up to the Museum tomorrow to check out the dinosaurs that lived in our backyard!

Here's to the summer of '11: the best summer ever! What do you have planned?