Child’s Drawing to T-shirt Design

Patriots

Hello everyone! I didn’t mean to disappear for so long. Hope to be here again more regularly.

Here’s a little something we made back in June for Father’s Day. Our son had been drawing his own version of the mascot for Daddy’s favorite football team. (Yes, it’s that team. No, I’m not going to weigh in on Deflategate). Anyway, I loved my son’s spin on the mascot and thought it would make a great T-shirt.

It was a little tricky because of the skinny details, so I definitely had to help my son, but I’m really pleased with how it worked out. I made a freezer paper stencil (google that and you’ll find plenty of tutorials). The paint is craft-grade acrylic mixed with textile medium to make it adhere to the fabric.Textile medium is available at most any craft store.

The T-shirt was a big hit with the hubs. If you’re trying your own, I’d just recommend something without lots of skinny details. A simple shape with just one color would be much easier.

Freezer Paper Stencil Image

Some new-to-me podcasts I’ve been enjoying: Again with This?, which is basically hate-watching Beverly Hills 90210. Somehow it hits the spot. Also, Gilmore Guys, discussing episodes of Gilmore Girls. They are two twenty-something guys definitely not hate-watching but having the most charming conversations about themes, characters, and fashion on the show. It’s my jam.

Summer shows we’ve enjoyed: Playing House, UnReal, Younger, The Jim Gaffigan Show, and we’re about to watch Mr. Robot. Sorry, I’m too lazy to link, but you can find them lots of places.

I’ve been reading a good bit but nothing that I feel you must also read. Somewhat related, super discouraged that my son’s public elementary school will have no librarian this year. And, no, do not tell me volunteers can fill that position. Hearing that only makes it worse because I know how wrong it is. I lived with a similar situation for a couple of years growing up, and it was not pretty. A bonafide school librarian makes an enormous amount of difference in the quality of a child’s education.

Bright spot: we have the day off today, and I took my little guy to the public library and let him get a stack of mysteries. He often gives me grief about his strict screen time limits, but today, he is hanging out in his bedroom hammock, reading away.

Tonight, I’m going to see the documentary Meet the Patels about a local Indian-American family looking for a bride for their son. Sounded so interesting on NPR.

What have you been up to? Read or watched or listened to anything good?

Weeds into Toys

Arrowhead Weed toy

Hi again folks. What have you been up to? I hope it’s getting warm and green wherever you are.

Here in Charlotte it’s very warm now, too warm, but it’s been exciting to see all the flowers make an appearance, and inevitably, there are lots of weeds popping up, too. Lately I’ve been thinking about the things my friends and I used to do with various weeds when we were kids.

  • There was the weeds-into-pop-guns trick, pictured above (arrowhead weeds, I just learned they’re called).
  • Clover chains
  • Trying to make a grass blade whistle (okay, not weeds, but still counts)
  • Of course making a wish on dandelion heads

Know any others?

I’ve been so focused on my writing goals that I haven’t been doing a lot of crafts and (interesting) cooking, though I do have a few things l’d like to share in the coming weeks. Our last day of school is today, which means my schedule will be quite a bit different from here until the end of August.

I’ll try to be here as much as I can, but you may find me more frequently on Twitter and Instagram, since those are easy for quick snippets. My Twitter handle is @emilysmithpearc and I’m on Instagram as Emily Smith Pearce.

Good news! I reached the goals I set for myself with both my nonfiction and YA novel manuscripts. This is big. So much writing done this year, though it’s easy to wish I had gotten even more done.

Currently reading: The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger and The Great Green Heist by Varian Johnson (both purchased at Park Road Books). Currently watching: Game of Thrones and Orange is the New Black.

 

Cardboard Christmas Trees

Cardboard Christmas Tree

This is just a variation on a favorite simple craft of mine. In the past, we’ve used lightweight cardboard (cereal boxes, tea boxes), but since corrugated is such a thing in our house right now, and I’ve fallen in love with this cheap gold paint, I thought I’d combine the two.

If you’d like a template for a tree of your own, click here. That earlier post also has pics of some of our other trees. If you’re using corrugated cardboard, though, the slits in the trees need to be a tiny bit wider. I painted our tree white before I used the gold, though next time I think I want the brown cardboard to show through.

Checked out a fun Christmas book from the school library this week, by my lifelong hero, Tomie DePaola. An Early American Christmas is the story of a German family who arrives in a New England town in the 1800s, bringing their Christmas traditions with them. According to the author’s note, the Puritan and Calvinist types didn’t celebrate Christmas at all at that time. The story is fictionalized but based on actual accounts of “Christmas” families entering New England. I love the descriptions of cookie and candle-making. Mr. DePaola has always had a knack for depicting hands-on creativity in such an earthy, tactile way.

Okay, that’s all for now. A few more Christmas-themed posts coming your way soon. Cheers!

Gift Cloths

Gift Wrap Cloths

Sorry for being away so long! I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving. Ours was nice and low-key, and featured some gluten-free apple pie. There was a big to-do about who got the last pieces, and not just among the GF folks. It’s that good.

The hubs and I also took a trip just before Thanksgiving, which I’ll have to tell you more about in another post.

Here I wanted to show you a little holiday craft we did. Last year I made gift cloths with Christmas fabric and existing Christmas linens, but this year I decided to add to the collection by decorating and sewing up scraps of fabric I already had in my stash.

The red and green stripe in the back left corner was made with watercolor-type fabric paints by Deka. I’ve had that paint forEVER. I tried to find a link to a place you can buy it, but it’s looking like it’s not sold in the US anymore. Bummer. It’s good stuff.

We decorated the fabric for the center red-ribboned present with Target brand “slick” fabric paints (you squeeze the bottles to draw with them). My least favorite fabric paint ever. Really poor quality, but we made the best of it.

The blue-ribboned gift cloth is pale pink, and we drew on it with Tee Juice markers, which are great for quick and easy projects, especially with kids. They are totally permanent, though, so, as with all of these supplies, dress accordingly.

Lastly, on the red-spotted cloth with the dark green ribbon, we used stamps with cheap acrylic paints from Michaels mixed with textile medium. This is one of my favorite ways to paint on fabric, because mixing it yourself gives you a wide range of choices. And in the end you aren’t left with a bunch of fabric paint you may never use again.

Below are some pre-decorated and hemmed gift cloths: a thrifted plaid tablecloth and two tea towels from Target marked down to 88¢!

The kids loved trying to guess what all these fake presents were, the favorite by far being the pink one below that’s wrapped like candy. It’s a sack of corn meal.

Loving this free printable nativity the kids can color themselves at Made by Joel.

Hope to be back soon with some details of our trip.

Gift Wrap Cloths

Stick Chic

Painted SticksDo you ever feel like your subconscious is leaking out?

I was researching decorations for my dear friend’s wedding when I got kind of stuck on sticks. Here’s my pinterest page on stick decorating.

My kids never saw any of this, but somehow, they seemed to know about it, because later that day, after hubs had trimmed some bushes, they hunted down the paint and began decorating these sticks. I’m loving the Dr. Seuss vibe.

I also chopped (with the trimmer) a bunch of sticks into shorter segments for us to make into a new winter wreath. Our old one is kind of sad and decrepit.

I’m alllllllmost finished with a dress I’m making. Just three more buttons! I can’t believe I actually made 9 successful buttonholes. This is a new milestone.

Meanwhile, I hope a certain little ninja will appreciate his costume that’s nearly finished. Who am I kidding? Kids have no idea the work that goes into costume-making. That’s okay. I’ve had fun making it, and I’ve kept it really low-key. I may make a little tutorial about the tunic part of it.

I’m still plugging away at my writing projects. Trying to keep my nose to the grindstone. And made Foster’s Market Jamaican black bean soup last night. Also put up some pesto. Yum!

Cardboard Robots, Take Two

Cardboard Robot

I’m sorry to have been away so long—I’ve missed being here in this space. I’ve been very busy on my writing projects and trying to use my days to work on them. But don’t worry, I’m still here.

My six-year-old made this robot, with just a tiny bit of help from his older sister on the hands. I love it! I think he must’ve been inspired by this robot display photo, sent to us by a friend while she was in London. The robot a continuation of the Cardboard Factory that hatched in our dining room over the summer.

I’ve been sewing a little, trying to screw up my courage to make some buttonholes (an Achilles heel of mine) on a dress. Also, I’ve been working on another Halloween ninja costume.

I’m a little stuck in the cooking department, having most days used my creative energy to write. But it’s got to change, because I get tired of the same old stuff. Any great fall ideas for vegetable dishes?

On the reading front: NEWSFLASH! It’s now scientifically documented that reading literary fiction promotes emotional intelligence. Read all about it here. I understand from a psychologist friend that Eleanor Estes’ The Hundred Dresses (not mentioned in the article) was used in this study.

I recently received Colette Sewing Handbook as a gift. I’m loving it. It’s so nicely laid out, and already there are so many little details that I’m learning about the sewing process that I never knew before. It comes with five patterns.

In other completely random news, Trader Joe’s is giving me no money to say this, but I’ve found a couple of new-to-me great things there lately. Their Five Country Blend whole bean espresso is totally awesome, as good as Illy. And I found a Hungarian gruener veltliner wine (Floriana) that reminds us of minerally, grassy, Austrian ones we’ve had but can’t find here. In our TJ’s, it’s in the German wine section, but the shelf label is French, so it’s not so easy to find, but well, there you go. Good luck.

Have a great weekend! Oh, and I’ve been a bit more active on Instagram and Twitter lately, so meet me there if you want to see more of what I’ve been up to.

Favorite Craft Books for Kids, Old and New

Craft Books for Kids

I love looking at craft books almost as much (okay, sometimes more) than crafting. In my house growing up, my mom and I always called these “make it/ do it” books, after two of our favorites, her own McCall’s Giant Make It Book (1953) and my Great Big Golden Make It & Do It Book (1980).

Many happy hours were spent poring over those pages. Most of the projects I never made or did, but just knowing that I could, imagining them, and looking over the pictures and instructions was (is) very satisfying.

Kids' Craft Books

I still love make it/ do it books, and in the stack are a few more recent favorites.

Made to Play  by blogger Joel Henriques. This book, given to us by a good friend, inspired our cardboard factory last summer. The author’s blog is madebyjoel.

Sticks & Stones & Ice Cream Cones by Phyllis Fioratta is another childhood favorite.

Oodles to Do with Loo-Loo and Boo by Denis Roche, a Vermont College friend of mine. This one has great illustrations and fun characters who guide you throughout as you make arts and crafts with easy-to-find and recyclable items.

Things to Do Book by Jennie Maizels. I love, love this concept for a book. Each illustrated spread has a theme (“in the car,” “in the garden”) picturing various activities in a particular setting. There are little flaps to lift that are like secret treasures. In concept, it’s a little like a Richard Scarry book with activities to do instead of labels. Perfect for those “I don’t have anything to do!” moments.

I also remember loving A Boat, A Bat, and A Beanie: Things to Make from Newspaper from the library back in the day. It shows you how to make great stuff (sandals! a wig!) out of, yes, newspaper. I think I need to order a copy of it. I love getting copies of old library books I used to check out over and over.

Below: It was so well-loved, we had to re-cover mom’s copy of the McCall’s Giant Make It Book:

Recovered Book

Here are a few of the inside pages:

Vintage Craft Book

Vintage Children's Craft Book

Vintage Children's Craft Book

Ach! There’s just something about these glowing 50s illustrations that just gets me every time. Everything looks so fun! The clothes so quaint! I just want to jump into the pictures, like Mary Poppins’ chalk drawings.

There’s a little video about the McCall’s book here.

What about you? Do you have any favorite craft books of your own, or do your kids? I think craft books make great gifts.

For more kid craft posts, click here.

Hope you have a great weekend. I’m off to the Carolinas conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Lucky for me, it’s right here in town.