iMake CLT

iMake CLT

Summer felt like it was going to last forever.
Floating on my back in the water.
Watching the clouds.
Hanging out with my kids.
Playing with our dog.
Visiting friends.
Binge watching way too much Netflix.
Making to-do lists.
Planning big plans.
But then feeling too hot and too lazy to execute much at all.
With only enough energy to slide back into the pool.
Now that’s what I call a good summer!

But now, ready or not,
it’s time to put all that summer laziness behind and prep for a slew of fall workshops and events.

First event of the fall season?
iMake CLT 2018

Saturday, October 13 from 10am to 2pm
(Rescheduled because of Hurricane Florence from Sept 15 to Oct 13)
Hosted at C3-Lab
2525 Distribution Street
Charlotte, NC

The two most pertinent facts are:
1.  It’s going to be super FUN
2.  It’s FREE!!!!

There will be all sorts of creative activities for participants to try out.
Giant chess.
Hydroponic gardening.
3D printing.
Fiber art.
Paper art.
The list goes on and is quite impressive.

Much as I’d like to try all the different options out myself,
I’m actually one of the folks running a booth this year.
(Smiley face)
My project will be short and simple.
With a neat little take-away.

Come check out iMake CLT on the 15th.
Kids and grownups welcome to play.
Can’t wait to see you!

Felt Flowers for Teacher Appreciation Week

Felt Flowers for Teacher Appreciation Week

It’s teacher appreciation week.
Students are supposed to bring flowers on Friday for their teachers.
Sweet, yes?
I imagine the teachers will be inundated with flowers on Friday.
Said flowers will be left in the classroom over the weekend.
And probably shriveled and discarded within the next week.
 What a waste.
My boy and I discussed our options.
We decided to make each of his teachers a vase full of felt flowers instead.
Handmade felt flowers won’t shrivel or fade.
(Though I’m guessing they’ll eventually end up in the trash too…)
We started making his teacher gifts last night.
We pulled out felt, scissors, pipe cleaners and my big bowl of buttons.
We cut and talked.
Talked and cut.
He picked out just right buttons.
We’re finishing the flowers this evening.
Then making tags and embellishing the vases.
When they were little guys,
They were so interested to be part of every project.
But each year sees me a little bit more alone in my art and craft endeavors.
I was happy for this opportunity to lure my boy-o back to the craft table with me.
I’m wondering if I can drag the project out a little longer…
Or what else we might want to make together?
Minecraft Guys from Wooden Blocks

Minecraft Guys from Wooden Blocks

 My 10 year is wild about Minecraft.
Given his druthers, 
I’m pretty sure he’d permanently plug himself into the game.
Too bad for him…
I’m rather strict about gaming.
My boys stay unplugged Monday through Thursday.
Once weekend hits, they are allowed four hours of electronics each day.
Subject to deductions should they fail to be responsible during the week.
The four hours per day on the weekends is a hefty chunk of gaming time.
Enough so they don’t feel rushed.
But it still leaves a whole lot of the day open for sports, reading, dreaming or plain playing.
I love it when they just play.
As in,
With their whole bodies and their imagination.
The old fashioned way.
In 3D.
Real space.
Real time.
How happy was I when my 10 year old wandered into my studio and asked to make something.
He wanted to make Minecraft guys.
He considered sewing them out of felt.
But I refused to share my stash…
(Sorry, kid, it’s the good stuff).
I suggested he needle felt them.
He said that took way too long.
Plus he was tired of injuring himself with the felting needles.
When I pulled out the box of plain wooden blocks,
His eyes lit up.
Of course.
What is Minecraft but an elaborate game of virtual blocks?
Helped my boy-o set up a work station.
A large piece of cardboard atop the table to protect the surface.
A pile of blocks.
His choice of Sharpies.
A period of industry followed.
Me at my work station.
He at his.
Each of us muttering to ourselves while we worked.
He rummaged through the blocks to find just the right pieces.
Arranged and rearranged.
He patiently colored each block.
Then called me over to glue the pieces together.
I plugged in the hot glue gun.
Started by glueing head to torso.
Then adding legs.
And finally arms.
Making sure to get his approval before I pressed the pieces together.
Word of caution:
Beware that hot glue gun.
The hot glue is really hot.
Burns even worse to accidentally bump into the metal nozzle.
I’d advise not letting children with their tender kiddie skin handle this piece of equipment.
Call me clumsy.
But I burn myself every single time I hot glue anything.
And here they are.
One Zombie Villager.
One Enderman.
Whatever that means…
I don’t get the whole Minecraft craze.
I suppose that doesn’t really matter.
My boy can’t get enough of the game.
I’m just pleased he brought it from the virtual to the real world.
Even if only for a few hours.
Cinnamon Salt Dough Ornament FLOP

Cinnamon Salt Dough Ornament FLOP

Advent calendar activity for day 4:
Making cinnamon salt dough Christmas ornaments. 
This should’ve been a no brainer.
It’s just salt dough, after all.
What could go wrong?
Joke was on me last night.
There are a ton of cinnamon salt dough recipes on the internet.
I followed what appeared to be a fairly standard recipe.
Don’t know where I went wrong,
My batch of dough ended up a sticky slimy mess;
Impossible to work with.
That first batch of dough eventually went into the trash.
But not before my husband got his hands all over it.
He thought the sticky stuff was perfect as poo.
Forget the pretty Christmas ornaments I wanted us to make.
He rolled up realistic mounds.
Added in sound effects.
Brought out the toilet paper.
Thanks for adding to the holiday ambiance, honey.
…Have to admit, I’m not about toilet humor.
I was gut laughing over his shenanigans too.
Cinnamon salt dough batch #2.
This time, I tweaked my standard play dough recipe:
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cinnamon
1/2 cup salt
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
dash of ground nutmeg
1 cup water
1 tablespoon cooking oil
Mixed dry ingredients together in a non-stick pan.
Added wet ingredients into dry.
Stirred and “cooked” at medium-low heat til play formed.
I’ve never tried cinnamon or nutmeg in my play dough recipe.
Wasn’t sure of proportions – which is why I’d followed a new recipe in the first place.
Was relieved our 2nd batch worked out.
And was thrilled my boys still got into the crafting moment.
I tried a few different designs.
In the end,
I liked this simple round ornament best.
 We had some good family fun last night.
Batch #2 yielded one pan of dough ornaments.
Should’ve STOPPED right there and just let our ornaments air dry…
But no…
Thought the oven is turned low enough to only dry the ornaments out.
Completely forgot why we add cream of tartar when we bake…
Just 20 minutes at 250 degrees.
The tops dried out too much.
The backs puffed up all big and hollow.
Some exploded to let the hot air out.
It wasn’t a pretty sight.
True to form, my guys said the gingerbread men looked like they’d all had diarrhea.
Reminded myself it’s about process, not product.
Dare we go for batch #3?
Rock Garden Markers

Rock Garden Markers


Hurray!  I’m pulling out of the crafting funk I complained about last month.  For the most part, our move from NYC to Charlotte has been quite smooth.  However, it has still knocked me off my making groove.  I’m trying to not worry about it.  But in truth, not having any crafty projects in the pipeline upsets me.

I’ve been spending all sorts of time in garden.  Mostly on clean up.  Lawn guys and I have cleared six big loads of dirty pine straw and trimmings off the property.  They’ve started laying in my preferred mulch of bark medallions.  And remember that pallet of pavers?  Well, 90 pavers weren’t enough.  I had a second pallet delivered today… can’t wait to show you what I’m doing with them…

I’m pretty sure I’ll be clearing, weeding and clipping til Kingdom Comes.  But I’m thrilled to say I’ve made a noticeable dent in our jungle of a backyard and I’m even happier that my first project to break the crafting block is for the garden.

My boy and I wanted garden markers for the kitchen garden we’re creating.  We wanted something big and heavy enough to match the scale of the garden.  We wanted our markers to blend with the garden yet still stand out enough that we could easily read what each plant was.  We didn’t want anything cutesy or flimsy or cheap looking.  Oh, and I didn’t want to spend any money if we could help it.  Gardening is turning out to be quite an expensive hobby!
So what to do?
Inspiration came in the form of the many rocks we found under various overgrown bushes behind the house.

We picked out the bigger, flatter rocks that had good writing surfaces.  E washed the dirt off the rocks and lined them up in the sun to dry.  We took some time out for a swimming break…

When I tired of swimming, the rocks were all dry and ready to be labeled.
I decided simple was better.  And bright colors in the garden should be from the plants, flours and vegetables.  So I used only a black sharpie to write on each rock.

I love the look of these .  Clean.  Simple.  Functional.  Yet, they add a little something to the garden.  Best of all?  I didn’t spend a cent!

Finger Puppets and Such

Finger Puppets and Such

Just two more weeks til I close my studio down and get serious about packing for our upcoming move.  Thought my kid-students would want to make an ambitious final project; perhaps an item of clothing?  But no.  They’re all suddenly in the mood to sit at the table together, chat and make things by hand.

So instead of working on bigger pieces on the machines, it’s little felt finger puppets, tiny stuffed figures and amigurumi time.

Which is fine with me – ‘cuz I love it all!