Friday, July 31, 2009

Calling for Rain

In my opinion, there is no better use for a paper towel tube than a homemade rainstick.

You will need:

  • paper towel tube

  • wide needle (put a bunch of tape on the back end so it can be handled comfortably)

  • white glue

  • flat toothpicks

  • masking tape

  • 2 cupcake papers (any paper will do if you don't have these)

  • uncooked rice

  • paper mache glue (flour and water will do--more details later)

  • colored tissue paper

Wrap the eye end of a thick needle with masking tape so that it can be held comfortably. Poke holes all over the tube. The more the better. This can be a counting game, try to count and poke 100 holes.

Squeeze a dot of glue onto each hole and insert a toothpick until it hits the other side of the tube. Do a few at a time so you don't end up with a sticky mess. Part of the toothpick will be sticking out so that eventually you have what looks like a cactus.

Even the baby wants to help!

Your child will like to see the tube from this angle as it fills up with toothpicks. The more you use, the better your rainstick will sound. Try to fill 100 holes. Now, let the glue dry for a few hours then cut or break off the pieces of toothpick that are sticking out of the tube. An adult will have to do this part. This sounds tedious, but it goes quickly. I have found this method to be the best way to make rainsticks. Traditionally, rainsticks are made by pushing in the needles on a dried out cactus and in a sense you are recreating just that.

Cover up one end with a cupcake cup. They fit just right. Tape it on nice and tight. You can use any paper, but I like using the cupcake paper because kids think it is funny and they can handle getting it to fit really well. Get your dustpan ready, you will need it for the next step!

Pour about half a cup of uncooked rice into the tube then cover up the other end with the other cupcake paper. Wrap the entire tube in masking tape. This will cover up the prickly toothpick stumps and make the tube stronger. You can stop here and listen to the sound of rain as you slowly tilt the tube back and forth. You could just decorate it with paper and stickers or markers, or you can decorate using paper mache glue and tissue paper (described below).

Cover your workspace and tear up some pieces of newsprint or paper towels. Have some squares of colored tissue paper handy, but don't put them out until the plain layer is done. Mix flour and water together, about 50/50 until you have a gluey consistency. I like to add a big squirt of Elmer's too. Mix it up. Get your hands wet and goopy and rub the rainstick. Cover it with newsprint being sure to cover it with a layer of goop. Do a bout 2 layers. Encourage your child to rub it smooth and flat.

Now put out the tissue paper. The process is the same, you are simply using colored paper now.

Allow it to dry overnight. You can add feathers or string and beads. You can add a clear acrylic coat for a little shine. We kept ours simple. It really will sound like rain, especially if you have a group. Hmm, I just heard some thunder. I am always amazed at how making rainsticks or even talking about them brings the rain! I better go get the clothes off the line!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mosquito Net Hat

While packing up my daughter's dress-up clothes today I realized that a particular white bridal gown would make a really useful mosquito net for our future summers in Alaska. And, since we have more dress-up clothes than any group of children could tire of, I made the decision to donate this dress to one of my sewing experiments. I cut a piece of tulle large enough to fit around the outside edge of the hat's brim and long enough to cover her face and neck, with a few inches to spare. Then, I pinned the tulle netting in place and sewed it to the hat.
Next, I stitched the right sides of the tulle together to create a tube around her face and neck. This worked just fine, but next time I think I will do this step first.
Next, I hemmed a 1/2 " space along the bottom, leaving a space to insert a piece of elastic. The piece I used was about 15" long. I wanted it to be tight enough to keep insects out, but loose enough for a 4-year-old to put on and take off on her own and be comfortable. After running the elastic through I sewed that space up, trimmed my threads and turned it right side out.

Cute as can be! Of course, she ripped it right off and said it was too tickley. She may decide that tickley is better than itchy on a very buggy day--we will just have to see! I may try another version of this on a firmer hat. I have lots of ideas for cute mosquito wear. It will be something to work on this winter.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I love the natural sculptures created by Andy Goldsworthy His work was the inspiration for the earthworks we created in our backyard. I don't even think instructions are needed. Just go outside and collect. Then arrange your treasures in interesting ways. There are endless possibilities here. You can explore color, value, line, shape, patterns, textures and size--not to mention the botanical and geological contributions. When you are finished, take photographs. You can create a slide show or make a book. You can also start out or finish up by looking at Goldsworthy's work. I really enjoyed doing this. Hollin and I worked on this while Waylon was napping. We talked and worked collaboratively. So often I give her materials and she works independently. It was nice to do this together. I am looking forward to making this a seasonal tradition.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Water Play

We are really enjoying the challenge of playing without toys and creating without traditional art materials. We said good-bye to our sandbox and water-table yesterday, two of our outdoor favorites. I have to admit that I fretted quite a bit about not having those things in our yard over the next 3 weeks before we move. Now that they are gone I can honestly say we don't even miss them. Both kids enjoyed painting the deck with water yeasterday. Hollin got very into splattering the water and making foot prints. Waylon is happy with any form of water, including the container of ice cubes we had out there. I love water play because it is always fun and easy to clean up. It is also important to me that we spend as much time enjoying the summer and soaking up vitamin D now while we still can. Heat and humidity will be missed in Alaska!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Should Be Packing...

I really have no business blogging today, or more importantly, making more freezer paper stencils. But, I had promised to make a few for my nieces and nephew. Waylon also had a big stain on an otherwise nice shirt, so I dug my fabric paints and X-acto knife out and set to work. Now I am really going to go and pack this stuff up for good!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pack, Pack, Pack

Color, Color, Color may be taking on some new personas over the next few months as we plan for and execute our big move from Maryland to Alaska. Yesterday I spent the day packing up the majority of our art supplies. The movers will be here in less than a month and I really need to clear things out and start to see some progress. I did leave some things out to put a small travel art kit together for me and the kids because it will be quite some time before we get to our belongings. The move itself will take 2 weeks, then, everything will be in storage until we find a house and are ready to move in. I must say, I am excited about the challenge of creating with new and few materials. I did leave out our clay, it will have to passed on because it is just too heavy to take so I am sure we will be using that in the next few weeks. I think we will also be working with nature, looking, listening and talking about the art and beauty around us. I may actually discover that we don't really need many materials after all!