School Projects

Fun Projects

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Super Cool Kid Project!

Many years ago, when I used to have time to do calligraphy, I was really interested in paper: how it was made, how things like sizing affected how ink was absorbed and similar technicalities. That interest led to another interest: beautifully colored papers. One day, I discovered something called marbleized paper, which was paper that was colored to look (sometimes) like marble, and instructions for how to do it yourself. At the time, my hometown did not have a craft store (I KNOW - no Hobby Lobby, no Michaels, nothing! It was a low point in my life), so I couldn't get my hands on most of the rather specialized ingredients and I gave up on the idea. But, every so often over the years, I have re-encountered marbleized paper, and thought about trying again, but it just hasn't happened... Until yesterday!

Thanks to FamilyFun Magazine, Ian and I made a very simplified version of marbleized paper, and I must say, it turned out pretty cool. All you need are:

A cookie sheet

White shaving cream

White paper

Food coloring

Toothpicks, craft sticks or skewers

All you have to do is fill the cookie sheet with shaving cream and smooth off the top (I found that a ruler works best for that). Then, drip food coloring over the shaving cream, and use your stick to drag the dye around. Ian liked circles better then straight lines, and I tend to agree with him. When you like your design, lay a sheet of paper on top of the cream, and gently rub until you seethe dye start to come through. Carefully lift the paper off and let it dry. You can make several prints off one design, or you can modify it by adding more colors or swirling the current ones more.

Some of our finished products:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I Guess I'm Not Martha Stewart

A few months back, I happened to catch an episode of Martha Stewart's TV show where she and a guest hand-dyed some very cute "ombre" scarves. A few weeks later, I decided that I would try making one, so I looked up the directions again on her website: To me it appeared that she had about four times too many pieces of equipment and that doing it her way would cost a fortune. Obviously, I could find a way to do this better. I've done some tie-dyeing, which seemed pretty similar, so I could probably handle this without any problem. I mean, what does Martha Stewart have that I don't (other then a staff who really does everything and an unlimited budget...but who needs those things?)?

I began collecting my own list of supplies:
  • Cheap instead of expensive dye (dark green and sunburst orange)
  • 3 yards of Muslin instead of "cotton gauze" (torn in half the long way to make two scarves)Walmart didn't have "dye fixative" so I skipped that
  • Ketchup bottle for squirting
  • Leftover tie-dye gloves
  • Repossessed sewing tape measure (Brynnie kept trying to possess it)
Finally, I was ready to start. I laid out my fabric, marked off eight inch lengths, and began dyeing with the full strength orange dye. I used half the bottle on the first section, and then refilled the bottle with water (that makes the dye weaker for the next section, and gives the dark to light affect). If you want detailed directions, read Martha's article. It really looked awesome!
I let the fabric dry for a while, and then following some old tie-dye instructions, I rinsed it until the water ran clear. It still looked good, so I threw it into my wash machine and ran it through a cycle. What a disappointment when I opened up the lid. The dye had faded to yellow -a pretty yellow - but not the sunburst orange that I had hoped for, and all but a hint of the "light to dark ombre" was gone. Hmmm. Maybe that dye fixative that Martha had mentioned was a bit more important then I thought.

Undetered, I decided to try with the green dye (still without fixative). This time I decided that I'd let the dye completely dry before I washed the fabric. The green dye didn't look as impressive wet as the orange did - in fact it looked rather blue, so I didn't bother with a picture. I put the material out into the thirty-mile-per-hour wind, and let it dry. Then I washed it. I went down to the machine, hopeing to pull out a "dark green ombre" scarf, but it was not to be. While there was slightly more ombre present then in the yellow scarf, I would never call it dark green.
So, at the end of the project I am the proud owner of a solid yellow and an almost solid blue scarf(that still need hemming), and I am forced to admit that maybe Martha (or her staff) know what they were talking about when their list of supplies is a little longer then mine.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Our Biggest House Project Yet

September 10, 2010 will always be a memorable day for our family because it is the day our youngest daughter was born. It will also be memorable for another reason: 45 minutes after our daughter arrived (we had a home birth), the excavator who was scheduled to dig a trench along our foundation also arrived. So, our biggest house project yet (and possibly ever) got started with a real bang. Later in the day we got a celebratory fountain, when the "digger" hit an old, unmarked water line. That was only the first adventure in what would be a long week of digging, patching, strengthening the foundation, hauling gravel, adding a basement egress window, and refilling the hole. While I hid out in the house caring for the new baby, Aaron worked like a madman, trying to get everything done outside. When you have a tight budget and a tight timeline, resting is not an option!
Today Aaron went back to work, which I think will feel like rest after this past week. The project is mostly done, with only the usual odds and ends to finish up and a lot of clean up to do. I might even be able to pretend to help with that....or I might just keep hiding out on the house with the new baby!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tie-Dye Project Day

Ever since last summer, when I had my first tie-dye party, I had planned to have another one this summer. Making tie-dyed t-shirts just seems like a summer thing to do, like going to fireworks and parades and eating popsicles. Somehow, though, the entire summer went by without the party getting planned. As September neared, I realized that my window of opportunity was gone, and that I needed to come up with a different plan. Soon after, my sister and I started making "Official Project Day" plans, and I decided the first project would be doing tie-dye. It was a bit ambitious, since the number of kids (5) outnumbered the number of moms (3), but we all need a little bedlam in our lives sometimes....don't we?

So, last Thursday, the fun commenced:

(Jamie tried the "Drip splotches of dye on the t-shirt method" - I can't wait to see how this one turned out!)

(Ellie watched the action from the safety of a highchair)

(Ian and his almost finished product)

We learned last year that too much dye is not good, because the rubber bands can't contain it all and the colors run together and the tie-dye effect is lost. So, this year we tried to compensage by using less dye. It worked great on the t-shirts, but not so good on the sweatshirts. Maybe we'll buy some more dye and try to do some touching up.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Brand New Project Arrived

I think that one of the best feelings in the world is to walk out to the mailbox and discover that inside is not just junk mail or sales flyers but a package to be opened. I get a similar feeling when the UPS truck pulls into the driveway and I realize that they aren't just using our driveway for turning around in. A new box to open - new things to find - how much fun is that? Even if I know what is inside I still think it is a thrilling feeling. Several weeks ago, I got to have that feeling every few days, as my school book orders for Ian started to trickle in (and I admit, I splurged and ordered a book for myself too, which of course came LAST). But, even as fun little boxes arrived in the mail, I was waiting with sometimes more and sometimes less patience, for the arrival of a package of a different kind.

I've gotten two of these packages before, and they always arrived well after the "should receive by" date stamped on the order form, so as September 11 approached, I reminded myself that chances weren't very good that this package would arrive on time. The Shipper, however, had different plans for me this time, and He delivered my new little girl package a day early, on a bright and beautiful fall morning. She arrived healthy, if not exactly happy, and the feeling of seeing her for the first time was as wonderful as I could have hoped for.

The best part about this little package is that the excitement and wonder doesn't wear off after the box has arrived and been opened. This little girl will grow and change, and be a continual project for the next twenty years, but I'll never get tired of her, or need an updated model. No matter what her life holds, she'll always be my perfect little package.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

An Educational Project

Way back in 1986, I started school. I stayed at home and my Mom taught me, which seemed perfectly normal (except that strange grown-ups would ask me about my social development and other seemingly silly questions). So, for the next 12 years I continued on in school, graduated, and headed off to college. I had no desire to be a teacher. I wasn't always certain what I DID want to do, but I felt I knew myself well enough to know that teaching was not the profession for me. I graduated, almost went to grad school but got married instead, and then a few years later kids started arriving. Suddenly, a thought crossed my mind: these kids will have to go to school. We want to homeschool. I'm gonna have to be a teacher! Yikes!

On Tuesday, this new educational project began. Ian had his first day of school, and was he ever excited. Since he isn't even four yet, this year is more of a "get ready for school" project (for both teacher and pupil) then any sort of academically challenging educational experiment. My motto is: We'll see how this goes.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Trying Something New

Jewelry has always been a problem for me. Stuff I can afford I don't like, and stuff I like I can't afford. So, when jewelry making supplies went on sale a few weeks ago at Hobby Lobby, I bought a few beads. Somewhere, deep in a box, I found some old fishing line and necklace clips, and I was ready to try a new project. Here is the finished product. I learned that making a solid knot with fishing line is difficult, and that if I am going to do more of this I will need to find a better method. Still, I'm happy with my first try. Now, if I can just keep my children from pulling it off my neck....