Preschool Craft: Nature Rubbings

I guess this is technically more of an ‘art’ than a ‘craft’, but either way, it’s full of so much fun and learning opportunity!

My three year old loves nature walks. Or as she has dubbed them, ‘treasure walks’. She grabs her little plastic pail, and we head off towards the rural woodsy roads that surround us. Along the way she collects all manner of leaves, rocks, sticks; anything that strikes her fancy. For the bigger stuff we have started making Treasure Sculptures to adorn our garden bed. But for the leaves and feathers she gathers, we’ve never really had a plan for them. And then it dawned on me that we’d never done rubbings before! Since my little tends to sway towards all things art/craft related (ahem, can’t imagine why) I knew she’d love it.


She selected a few leaves, and her prized feather we found that day.



And then the fun began! I just never get sick of that look – the complete wonder and amazement of seeing something happen for the first time. It’s absolutely one of my favorite parts of being a parent, and reminds me just how incredible it is that I get to hold her hand and show her the firsts in life.





She was so proud of her finished product! Definitely an activity we’ll do again and again. I love that this combines not only an art, but a learning experience as well. We talked about each leaf she collected, what plant it was from, etc. She has a blast, and learns. Double win.



Making Jack

Back in December of 2012 I introduced my daughter to The Nightmare Before Christmas. She was not quite two then and while I was worried it might be a little scary for her, I thought she would love all the music and singing. I was right. She became obsessed with it. She would ask for ‘Jack’s movie’ multiple times a day (and then had many hissy fits when I did not let her watch it all day on an endless loop as she would have liked to). But we did watch it at least once a day for about three months.

So in January of 2012, since she loved it so much, I decided I would make her a Jack Skellington to play with as he was her favorite character. I wanted it to be kind of like a stuffy, but also have movable arms and legs. So I set to work.

I made this little Jack Skellington back when I still considering having a blog so luckily I took pictures along the way. However,  I was not thinking about this from a tutorial aspect, and I also had never made any type of stuffy/plushie/action figure type thing before. Ever. I was entirely winging it. I used no directions, and completely made it up as I went. So I apologize if anything I did was unclear, and if you feel like making a Jack, please feel free to adapt this and make it easier on yourself! But, here’s my little Jack project.

First off, I gathered supplies.


  • Reference of Jack
  • Black and white felt
  • Cotton batting
  • Various pipe cleaners
  • Small pieces of balsa wood
  • Hot glue gun
  • Fabric scissors
  • Black and white thread, plus a sewing needle
  • Black Sharpie
  • Fine tip paint brush and white acrylic paint (fabric paint would work as well I assume – acrylic was what I had on hand)
  • Tea (no project is complete without tea!)


I started off making a white felt ball. I did this by cutting pointed oval shapes and hand sewing them together, then filling with cotton batting to form a sphere. If you have an easier way to make a felt ball, definitely use it! Make sure you leave a hole in the bottom of the sphere to insert the neck. His eyes are just small pieces of cut black felt I hot glued on, and I drew on his nostrils and grin with the black Sharpie.

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For his neck I cut a small piece of balsa wood I had, then wrapped and hot glued it in a scrap of white felt. I wanted the wood to give it stability to hold his head up so he didn’t end up with a flopping head.


Then I inserted the stick into the hold in the bottom of his head, and sealed it shut with hot glue.


Next I made his torso. The finished torso (above) is only picture I took, but it’s not too complicated to explain. Basically I cut out two torso shaped pieces of white felt and hand sewed them together, making sure to leave a neck hole open and two arm holes open. I shoved in some cotton batting through the neck hole – Jack is skinny, but he still needs SOME shape. I didn’t worry about the stitches being visible since nearly the whole torso will be covered by the pants and clothes meaning the outside stitch won’t be at all visible. Once finished, set it aside as you won’t need the torso again for awhile. Next up I worked on the collar pieces of his suit.


I grabbed a second reference picture to use for his collar detail since in my first pic it isn’t too clear. First I cut out the shapes. Then I hand painted on the bat’s eyes,


and added the striping detail to the collar pieces using the white acrylic paint.


Next I started the pants. First I twisted two pipe cleaners together (they are much less flimsy that way and hold a better bent shape) that will serve as Jack’s legs. I made a paper template to cut out two halves of the pants.


Then I stitched them together (obviously leaving the top and ankle holes open) and flipped it inside out so the stitches don’t show and you just have a regular seam. Flipping the pants in on themselves was incredibly frustrating and time consuming. It was such a small area to work with but eventually I found a method that worked. I used a small wooden dowel and shoved some of the material in, then used tweezers to pull it through the other side. It still took some serious time, but it got the job done!


Then it came time for the pin striping. I used white acrylic paint because it’s just what I had, and hand painted on the stripes. This actually went much quicker than expected. Because of the felt, you do get some felt wisps of fabric that get stuck in the paint; I just trimmed them off with cuticle scissors once the paint was dry.


Then I threaded the pipe cleaner legs through the pants, and glued the pants and tops of pipe cleaners to the torso. Also as you can see at this point I have glued Jack’s head and neck to the torso too.


Next I started the coat. I made two sleeves with black felt (using the same process as the pants and if you thought the pants were frustrating to turn inside out, just wait until you get to the even skinnier arms) and twisted two pipe cleaners together again to make arms. Then I made a paper coat pattern (using the oh-so professional method of visualizing how the coat would look open and sketching it out in pencil!). To make sure it would fit the Jack body I’d made, I fitted the paper template to his already made torso. Note – the bottom of Jack’s coat doesn’t end in regular coattails! I just made this to cut out the top shape and did the bottom coattails by eyeballing it.


Here are the two arms and the overcoat all cut out with the proper coattails.

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Then I cut two holes in the coat and sewed on each sleeve. The first picture is the view from the back, the second is the front view with the coat open.


For the next step (before pin striping) I wrapped the coat around Jack to see where to hot glue down his collar/jacket folds. Once those were glued, I pinstriped the coat. It’s not attached to Jack in this picture; this was just the best way to display the pin stripes.


Next I threaded his pipe cleaner arms through the sleeves, glued the arms into their torso holes, and glued his coat shut and used a teeny piece of white felt to make that middle button. I ended up painting the white felt with the white acrylic so it stood out more.

This would be the point where you would make hands. . .and I realized I don’t have any pictures of me making those. Ugh. But all you do is draw a very basic hand shape with pointy fingers on a paper template and cut out four of the templates on white felt. Then take two of them and glue them together so you have two hands (I used two layers of felt so they’d be less floppy). I made my hands with four fingers and a thumb and realized only after that Jack only has three fingers and a thumb. Whoops. Then draw on the knuckle bones with a sharpie (see the finished pictures below for a view of the hands).


Before I start the feet if you look at the top of the pic, you can see the felt hands I cut out! That’s the only picture I have with the hands!
Now onto the feet. I completely made up jacks feet. In all the reference pictures I look at you see that he has some form of pointy black boots. So I made some pointy black boots! I cut out two triangle pieces and folded the farthest corners together to make the shape you see in my hands. If you look in the below picture you see that the two corners aren’t glued together, they are open (look at the boot laying on the table). Make sure you leave those corners open (aka dab a TINY drop of hot glue in the middle of the boot area, not at the top corners)! You’ll need them when you glue the shoes to his legs.


Then I hot glued two tiny pieces of balsa wood into the base of the boot (to hold the shape). After that I cut out two more pointy oval shapes (you can see one in the right of the pic) to glue on to the front of the boot, essentially ‘closing’ the boot. Now it’s time to attach the boots to Jack’s pipe cleaner ankles, which is why you need the top part of the boot open. Insert the pipe cleaner in that open part and glue the sides shut – this hides the funny looking top part of the boot under the pants, and gives the boot more stability with the ankle inside. Lastly, glue on his collar pieces and you’re done!

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And there you have it! Your own Jack Skellington. Hilariously enough my daughter was terrified of him. She did not like the fact that a TV character was IN her real life, and she refused to touch him. I actually had so much fun making him though that I still consider it totally worth the effort! He now has a permanent home on our geeky/nerdy collectibles shelf, as you can see here in this post.

Questions, comments, concerns? I’d love to hear any and all!

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Our Dinosaur Boat {DIY Craft}

My daughter has a big love for dinosaurs right now. We have LOTS of little plastic dinosaurs, and she loves to take them on different adventures. She especially loves bringing them in the tub to play in the water. So we decided to build her dinosaur a boat out of recyclables and sail them in the stream!

The original inspiration for this project actually came from Parents magazine – the article for their DIY can be found here. And while theirs is prettier, mine is much simpler and takes far less time and effort, making it far more suitable for my two and half year old!

What You’ll Need:


  • Some form of empty carton (we used an OJ carton)
  • A straight(ish) stick (the mast)
  • An egg carton (more specifically, cut out one of the egg holders so you have a little ‘cup’)
  • Cardstock (for the sail)
  • Exacto knife
  • Hot glue
  • Single hole punch

After all your supplies are gathered, it just take a few cuts and glue spots and you’re ready to hit the high seas!! Or, the babbling brook as the case may be.


First I cut a small rectangle in the top side of the carton – this will be where the dinosaurs ride. I also dug out a tiny hole near the front – this is where the mast will go in. *Just an FYI, I ended up gluing down two halves of a toothpaste box in the bottom for the dinos to stand on – they were too small otherwise and just fell loose into the carton.*


Then I cut out a vaguely sail-shaped piece of cardstock, hole-punched it on each end, and stuck the stick through it. Voila, my mast and sail! I put some hot glue around each of the hole punches to attach it to the stick, just to ensure it wouldn’t slide down.

Then I stuck the mast in the boat, and glued it down at both the bottom of the boat and the hole so it was really secure.

Lastly, I cut a hole in the bottom of the egg carton cup and glued it to the top of the mast – an instant crows nest! I think that was my favorite part.

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Then we loaded it up with dinosaurs and headed to the stream.


It did end up tipping over a couple times, but that was no big deal. The cardstock sail and egg cart crows nest do get a little droopy when wet, but still managed to hold their shape pretty well.


Eventually my miss got tired of sailing her dinosaurs and docked the boat so they could play in the mud!


I think this has been one of my favorite things to make with her. I love taking what would normally be useless items and making something fun to play with out of them! Plus it was free and took all of twenty minutes to through together. And she had a blast. I hope you enjoy it too!

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Fall Nature Collage

Taking walks on fall days are just lovely. The weather is at that perfect temperature of not too chilly, but not too hot. It’s not quite hat and gloves weather; a sweatshirt does just fine. Me and my little miss have been fully enjoying the weather with lots of walks outside.

She is just starting to learn and grasp the concept of seasons – what that means, and what effects the different seasons have. We often take ‘treasure walks’ as she has dubbed them, where she carries along a little bucket and we collect treasures along the way! Her favorite fall things to collect are of course all the different colored leaves, and acorns as well.


       Some driveway leaf collection as we headed out on our walk.

But instead of just tossing the leaves back outside, we like to bring them in for art projects. We started with a collage of leaves this season, using Con-Tact paper.

Bucket-O-Treasures, ready for crafting.

It’s about the simplest craft ever, but she loves it! I give her a piece of Con-Tact paper sticky side up, and she sticks on the leaves in different patterns. This week she made leaf ‘families’ and designated each leaf a title (Baby Leaf, Mommy Leaf, Daddy Leaf, Mimi Leaf – she came up with so many!).



We’ve got a few more fall leaf crafts coming, so keep an eye out in the coming weeks.

Her first leaf collage of the season.

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Fall Craft: Air Dry Clay

So despite the bout of 80+ degree weather with horrid humidity that just passed through, I am quite ready for fall. I bought some new jeans, busted my sweaters out of my steamer trunk, and actually had to wear slippers the other morning. Bring on the fall!

I can’t wait for apple picking, followed by lots of apple baking. Apple crisp anyone? Drool. . .Point being, I am ready for fall to be here; to see brightly colored leaves out my windows. So I decided to start some fall crafts with my little miss. I found this recipe for air dry clay via Nurture Store and decided to give it a go. It worked great! A nice white clay that dries by itself overnight – perfect!

All you need is:


1 part white glue to 2 parts cornstarch

I used 2 Cups of cornstarch and 1 Cup of glue, which made a TON. I would recommend using 1 Cup cornstarch and 1/2 Cup glue if you’re only doing this for one child.

So blob it all in and mix it up.


It will look like a sticky mess for a bit, but then it starts to form a nice dough.

I put some cornstarch on my hands (so it wouldn’t stick while I still worked it together) to work it into this nice ball.


I did end up kneading it a bit more cornstarch (I’d say no more than 1/8 of a cup) because I found it was still a little too sticky.

My mom gave me these excellent fall cookie cutters last year,


so we grabbed one of each size and started cutting out some shapes! My miss still needs a little help with pushing the cutter all the way down, but she did quite well.

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Then we put all our shapes on a cookie sheet with wax paper to dry. I used a straw to add a hold in each one so we can use them as a little fall banner after she colors them.


The next day, they were all dry, so she got to color them! We just used plain Crayola crayons (albeit the washable kind, since that’s all we have) and they worked great. I wouldn’t recommend painting these, simply because I have every idea that they’d start to disintegrate with water given what they’re made of. . .but crayons, markers, even colored pencils would work great! We started out just using fall colors, but then she really wanted blue and how could I say no? So they became rainbow leaves, acorns, and pumpkins. I plan to hang them pennant banner-style underneath my chalkboard once I redo it for fall.



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On the whole, this is a great, cheap, and simple craft with many applications. I think it would be great to try and make beads with older kids! As you can see from the pics, our session was very messy, but that can be avoided. I just don’t mind a mess (which cleaned up in all of five minutes – it comes right off with water!). Hope you find a use for this easy clay!

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Homemade Paints

Since my daughter was running down to the last scrapes of paint in her jars, I decided to give some homemade paints a go. The recipe I used is this:

via Easie Peasie

It worked brilliantly!


I did exactly what the instructions said and dumped everything in the pan (I had my heat on medium/low which is 4-5 on my stove) and although the instructions didn’t say to, I did stir the whole time it was on the heat as I was afraid the cornstarch would settle and clump. So I’m stirring and stirring for probably 6 or 8 minutes, thinking Hmmmm, this really isn’t thickening at all. Then out of nowhere, this happened:


Ah, the magic of science! This was the coolest transition ever since it went from a white liquid to this awesome translucent gel in a matter of seconds. I was still stirring for all of this FYI.

So once it was all thickened, I gathered these supplies for the coloring process:


I just added in the new paint to the old paint jars, and the little container and spoon were for mixing each color (cleaning in between each color is super easy – just rinse with hot water and it melts away).


After mixing up all the colors and loading them into the jars it was time to paint of course!

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She loved them! In all honesty they don’t make the best brush paints (they are labeled as finger paints after all) simply because when they are spread too thin they tend to turn clear. But my miss still loved them, and it cost me all of about 50 cents (if that) to make. Much better than driving to the store and paying $10 for a new set of Crayola paints if you ask me! And although this wasn’t a great activity for a two and a half year old to help make (let’s see, hot burner and food coloring – ugh) she did great! She understood she couldn’t touch but she did enjoy passing me the paint bottles to fill and picking which color of paint to make next. Bonus: It further reinforced her learning of color mixing!

While we’re on the subject of kid art, I was curious what you all use for your kids to paint on? I tend to use cardboard recycling as it’s something we always have around the house, and it’s free. Plus, the cardboard is thick enough that it doesn’t bend too much if my little one piles on the paint. And did I mention it’s FREE? The white pieces in the above images are actually inserts in between the cans of catfood we buy!



Cereal boxes (and snack boxes) never make it to recycling – I always cut them up for her to paint on! Do any of you have free around the house art supplies you like to use?

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T-Shirt Quilt Beginnings

I have a habit of hanging on to old graphic tees once they either get ripped, don’t fit anymore, fall apart, or I just retire them from my wardrobe. For the last few years they’ve been sitting in the bottom of my steamer trunk taking up space. When looking for craft things to do the other day I finally decided to cut them into squares for an eventual t-shirt quilt. I did a little reading online beforehand to see if there were any particular tips that were important but the only constant I found was keeping your shirt squares the same size (a conclusion I had already come to on my own). So here’s what I did.


First I gathered supplies, which consisted of my fabric scissors, some chalk, and this big rectangular scrapbook paper box to use as my outline for the shirt squares (well, shirt rectangles technically).


Then I put the box inside the shirt, lined it up how I wanted, and traced the outline of the box onto the shirt with the chalk.


Slightly hard to see, but there’s the chalk outline on the shirt.


Then I cut it in beautiful straight  wibbly wobbly lines, which is alright because the seams will be straight when I sew them together and that’s what matters!

Then I just repeated for the fifteen or so shirts I had left so I ended up with a bunch like this, as you may have seen in a previous post.


I’m not planning on doing a full size bed quilt, I just want to make a throw for the living room. I need about ten more shirts and then I’ll be ready to start sewing!

Have you ever made a t-shirt quilt, or any quilt? Any tips or tricks to share? I’d love to hear them!

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Latest Arts and Crafts

I spent my free time last week working on many different projects. I started five new art projects, and even got a few crafty projects going too. Unfortunately, I can’t post a single one of the three drawings and two paintings I’ve started! They are all Christmas gifts/commissions for people, and while there is no guarantee they’ll see them on my little blog here, it is a possibility I’m not willing to risk. I’d hate to ruin a surprise present, especially a present that a client is giving to someone else. So just know I’ve got lots of art going, and will probably have a giant art dump post sometime after the holidays!

However, I can post my latest finished commission, as it has already been given! This was an anniversary present for the client’s parents. I had SO much fun working on this one; the reference photo was just so fabulously retro. And I liked the challenges it presented – mainly the bouquet of flowers and the lace of the veil. And bonus, I’m quite pleased with the outcome of both!

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Size is 8×10 inches, all graphite pencil.

As for crafts, I finally (half) sorted through my giant steamer trunk full of clothing and started picking out some shirts to use for my t-shirt quilt. I had so many old tees in there that I was saving for some reason or another, and finally decided to begin the process of getting the quilt going. I still need a bunch more before I’m quilt-ready, but I’m glad to at least have a start.

It’s going to be a tribute to my geekery. I can’t wait!

And not wanting to waste the fabric on the back of the shirts, I set to cutting up lots and lots of t-shirt yarn for bracelet/anklet making. I love t-shirt yarn bracelets, and have some plans to make some gifts out of it too. Yay for some upcycled jewelry!

T-shirt yarn! I still have an earthy green and a grey one to cut up.

Oh, and remember that $2 chalkboard I got at a yardsale? Finally got that up. . .I still want to paint the border, but haven’t yet decided what color. It’s up in the front entryway as the first thing you see when you walk into my apartment. I definitely need some practice with my chalkboard lettering, and getting the chalk to have a smoother look, but for my first attempt I’m pleased with it. I just love that quote, too. I plan to change the board with the seasons/holidays and this was the perfect quote for the current time of year. Still summer, but you can feel it slipping away with every day that passes. . .


This week is going to be filled with some house chaos – finally starting all the home redos I’ve been wanting to do and basically put off out of laziness. Better late than never! Keep an eye out for the first post on my room redos – it’ll be up this week.

And lastly, I have finally remade a DeviantArt account. I had one for a couple years before I had my little girl, but as you know from my earlier art post, I took about a two and a half year break from art, and let my account lapse. So now, I’d like to make a new one there. I love the community aspect it provides, and it can be a constant source of inspiration when I get down about art. Nothing like drooling over other artist’s work to make me want to improve my own skills. I’ve added a new button at the bottom if you’d like to connect with me on DA!

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Tea Time

Here it is. . .my newest crafty DIY project.

Voila! The Custom Tea Mug!

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This came from a double Pinterest inspiration. The first was a mug that had the first lines from famous works of literature printed on it. I though to myself hmmm, I would love this but with the first lines of my personal favorite books. So began my quest to make this cup. It started with a $1.49 plain white mug from Marshalls. I traced the outside of the cup onto paper to make some templates. Using a black crayon (taken straight from my 2 1/2 year old’s crayon cup) I marked the template blocks onto the cup. Then came the tedious task of doing all the tiny lettering with a crayon! I didn’t worry about font, or even real legibility for this step; this was solely for blocking on the letters to make sure they fit in their allotted spaces. The final lettering is where the second Pinterest inspiration comes in.


There are many pins floating around that claim you can write a plain ole Sharpie marker on porcelain, bake it in the oven, and have it magically fused forever. Codswallop! Hogwash! This is entirely untrue – the Sharpie can be wiped right off with a sponge. What you need is an oil-based paint Sharpie – designed specifically for writing on porcelain, glass, metal, etc (and sold at any craft store). I’m not even sure you have to bake it once it dries, though I did. Back to the lettering. I erased the crayon with a Q-Tip as I went along filling in the final text. You don’t even need water; it just rubs off! I used a few different fonts so the sections of text are a bit more visually separate. And presto – your own one-of-a-kind mug!


So there’s my new mug in all it’s glory. The lettering isn’t perfect, and the lines are crooked in some places. But that’s what makes is my own. I love it’s little imperfections! Massive awesome points from me to anyone who knows any of the books these are from – you’ve got good taste. Do you have a tea/coffee related craft of your own? Submit it over at Little Green Guy – she’s doing a feature on them! You’ll find my mug in there along with other cool tea and coffee related crafts.


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