Today I met Trudy. She admired my shoes in a Charlottetown coffee shop. I have always had trouble accepting compliments (even about my shoes) but I did appreciate her admiration of my shiny Keds.
Coffee in hand, I later spied Trudy manning her booth on the sidewalk of Queen St. Sundays are the day of the Downtown Farmer’s Market with most of the booths showcasing artisans.
I was not surprised to learn that she is an artist …. an incredibly creative one at that. Trudy’s talent is carving which is why her Cabin Fever Carving wares caught my eye.
My father was a carver for twenty-five years and won many ribbons and prizes for his work. He carved mostly decorative decoys so I grew up in a world of blocks of tupelo, sawdust, wood burning and oil paints.
Unsurprisingly, I have great admiration for carvers as it is an art form that I have never attempted. I have always figured that my block of wood would just end up looking like a much smaller block of wood.
Trudy said that she began carving decades ago after she tagged along with a friend to a carving class. Her friend’s duck has never been completed but Trudy found a passion that continues to this day.
Initially, she did carve with wood but, while living in Yellowknife, Trudy began working with bone and antler. After 16 years of residence in Manitoba, she has returned to her native PEI where she has set up a permanent Sunday booth and an Etsy shop.
Caribou antlers and deer antlers are transformed into beautiful jewelry. These are naturally shed antlers that she has imported from Scandinavia (Caribou) and Ontario (deer).
She also turns beef bones into wonderfully soft shapes like the fish necklace that I could not resist. I turn beef bones into soup broth; that is why she is the carver.
Her process of bleaching the bones is not the most appetizing but it creates a beautiful carving medium.
I am fascinated by people who can find a creative answer to my two favourite questions: What it is? What can we do with it? Trudy’s answer is a truly Random Act of Creativity in my book!
Being a crafty girl has so many benefits; great friends, great conversations, great food, and great creative challenges. The Crafty Girls Cottage Getaway (CGCG) was created for those exact purposes.
The first activity in our three day craft-fest was fantastic and earned Paula the much anticipated THREE GOLD STAR rating! You can get all the messy details of our first craft, The Dirty Pour, here: http://wp.me/p821XN-fu
Lori’s craft was next on the docket. We were originally going to keep our activities secret until the actual event but we decided that we would share in advance just in case research was involved. When Lori first mentioned her craft, she feared it was lame compared to ours and had lamented to us on our Facebook event page about the vast lameness of her choice. Boy, was she wrong!!
FINDING THE PERFECT ROCK
Lori had decided that we were going to paint rocks. There is a much larger story here but I will get there in due time.
At the end of Day One, as our Dirty Pour paintings began their long drying process, we headed out to collect our supplies. Our portion of the north shore of Lake Simcoe is very rocky so we were presented with an enormous amount of choices. I should probably mention that, at this point in the day, we might have imbibed in a few cocktails and were feeling quite giddy following our painting successes.
Water shoes donned, we combed the shore looking for the perfect rock. We found thousands … literally.
Wading into the water, we looked for rocks with flat surfaces that would provide a nice painting surface.
Paula, of course, had a plan for her rocks. She was thinking ahead to find specific sizes and shapes for her creative ideas. Lori and I were more like aquatic magpies, merely searching for the pretty rocks. Eventually, while Paula continued her seriously stony search, Lori and I turned to throwing rocks and taking selfies. Kids these days!
We left our rocks on the dock to dry overnight and settled in for an evening of great food and great wine.
DAY TWO DAWNS
After a satisfying sleep and tasty breakfast, we hit the craft tables early. We had collected a silly amount of rocks but brought them all up to the cottage for potential painting.
Now for the story behind this activity. Lori lives in a town called Hastings, a smallish community outside Peterborough in Ontario. Two Hastings residents wanted to do something special for Canada’s 150th anniversary and created a town-wide activity called Hastings Rocks. The tagline is FIND A ROCK, PAINT A ROCK, HIDE A ROCK.
In May, Eric Farley and Lynn Rogers launched a Facebook page where they encouraged people of all ages to paint rocks, attain a number for the back of each rock, and hide the rocks a few days before Canada Day on July 1st. Ultimately, the goal was to have 150 rocks in total. When a participant found a rock, they were encouraged to tag a photo of the rock and post it on the Hastings Rock page.
Lori was given numbers 103 through 112 for our rocks prior to the CGCG so we were handed the task of painting ten rocks in total. Unsurprisingly, ten rocks turned into fifteen rocks and then fifteen turned into twenty rocks. It was incredibly hard to stop painting our Canada-themed stones!
Here are our offerings:
These rocks were numbered, sealed, and put into the pool of rocks for the Hastings Rock Event.
Somehow, we managed to slip in more than the required 10 rocks. Lori had a brainstorm …
In the days leading up to and following Canada Day, we were thrilled to see pictures of our rocks that had been found. It was also amazing to see all the other painted rocks as well. Some people chose to keep their rocks and replaced them with one of their own, others re-hid them and some just chose to love their new-found Canadian craft.
NOT JUST FOR HIDING
Of course, we were not done painting rocks after our Hastings Rocks were completed. Painting rocks is very addictive! I just had to have one of Paula’s Moose rocks. I decided to paint some goldfish and lily pads on one to keep all for myself. Paula also painted a beautifully colourful turtle.
Last, but not least, is the face that Lori uncovered in this small rock. It has found a home nestled along with the river rock in one of my gardens.
Lori’s craft was deemed NOT LAME and was given the coveted THREE GOLD STAR rating! A friend of mine was even inspired to paint rocks with her lady friends during Canada Day weekend. Thank you, Hastings Rocks, for giving us such an inspirational craft!
This, of course, made me (Lisa) very nervous about Day Three. Stay Tuned!
The first Crafty Girls Cottage Getaway was a roaring success! For three days, Paula, Lori, and I accomplished so many Random Acts of Creativity! On the beautiful rocky shore of Lake Simcoe, we cooked, ate, drank (Black Fly coolers, of course), gabbed, laughed, and crafted!
We put much research into the event, setting up a Facebook event for our communications. We were each assigned the task of bringing the basics for one creative activity. Our totes were filled with paint, brushes, glue and other fun stuff. Our coolers were filled with delicious meal fixings and other REALLY fun stuff (mostly gummy bears).
GOING FOR FIVE STARS
Paula’s craft was the first session. Entitled The Dirty Pour, it involved wooden initials, acrylic paint, water, glazing liquid, silicone spray, disposable cups, heat gun, and popsicle sticks. We covered our table with a plastic drop sheet and created temporary trays with aluminum foil.
To begin the craft, we each chose four or five different colours of paint. Lori is a colour genius so she helped us with our combinations. We then poured our paints into the bottom of our disposable cups (1/4″ or so).
After adding a squirt of glazing liquid and eight or so drops of water from an eye dropper or pipette into each cup, the thinned paint was ready for the silicone spray. One good spray and very little mixing was all that was needed before we carefully poured our various colours of paint into one cup.
Next, comes the fun part; we poured the contents of the cup onto the wooden initial and then tilted it in various directions until it was covered! Left to dry, we put the initials aside to start on our canvases.
BIGGER AND BETTER
Repeating the paint prep, we moved onto doing a Dirty Pour With A Cup Flip on a 10″ x 10″ canvas. I prepped my canvas by pouring a generous amount of white paint on opposite corners and around the edge but that is optional. Lori used black paint for her canvas prep on her first painting.
Now for our favourite part! Holding the paint-filled cup, we flipped them over and held them in the middle of our canvases, letting gravity pull all the paint down in the inverted cup. After thirty seconds or so, we lifted the cup to excitedly watch the paint flow across the canvas.
Holding the canvas by the edges, we tilted and turned the canvases to cover the surface and create some awesome patterns! If you are like me, you and everything around you are covered in paint at this point. If you are like Paula and Lori, you are still annoyingly clean at this point.
HEATING THINGS UP!
Once we covered our canvases to our liking, we were ready for the best part! Using a heat gun, we trained it on the paint swirls (from a good distance, of course). Paint cells began to appear within the patterns like little dots of colour! Amazingly, the longer we added heat, the more cells that appeared.
The paintings continued to change as they dried, with some areas even cracking to reveal colours below. Paula dragged a feather through one of her canvases for even more visual interest. We let our paintings dry for two days.
The results were fantastic!
We were honestly like six year old kids marveling over our artwork; that might also have been the alcohol beginning to talk.
Paula’s craft was given a much deserved FIVE STAR rating! Now, where to hang my canvases …
Whenever I decide to contact a Community TV station for a science demo or put together a few easy experiments to do with kids, they all involve three things:
Easily found objects from my home or dollar store
Toilet paper rolls are plentiful in my house, especially when all the girls are home. I save every empty roll. Every. Last. One.
Although there are some really fun science experiments that can be done with toilet paper rolls, I would like to focus on art in this post.
Even though I consider myself to be an artist, I am not proficient at painting or drawing real life objects. Fortunately, I have carried over my finger-painting skills from when I was a child.
As a kid, painting with your whole hands is fun mostly because its messy. As an adult, finger-painting makes us feel like a kid again! It is essentially play.
Play is one of the best things we can do for our brain. It’s really difficult to think about anything other than the paper when your fingers are coated in brightly coloured paint. Play makes the time fly and we feel a certain sense of accomplishment or exhilaration when we are done.
If you are one of the finger-painting squeamish, you could use a toilet paper roll and some watercolour paper.
For the picture below, I cut the bottom half of a roll into a hula fringe, with each piece being about a centimetre wide. After fanning the hula skirt out 90 degrees from the roll, I dipped the fringe into paint that I had poured onto wax paper.
Swirling the fringe around on a piece of paper creates a pretty circular pattern. Once I was I happy with the affect, I dipped the toilet roll paint brush into another colour of paint for more swirls.
I added blue, green, and purple swirls but I wanted more shapes. Dipping the end of the paper tube into black paint allowed me to stamp circles all over my paper; that was the start of some serious black paint improv.
Several finger swirls, dots and circles added some interest to the paper. Afterward, I grabbed a white gel pen and grease marker and decorated the black shapes. Some final loops and crossed with a black pen and I was done!
This piece of painted watercolour paper met with the sharp edge of a paper trimmer and became the background for a greeting card. I love creating art out of everyday objects like toilet paper rolls. They are like snowflakes. Each one is different and equally as beautiful.
I recently completed a series workshops at an elementary school in a nearby town. The workshops were classified as electives which is a fancy way of saying that they were purely for fun. My elective was titled “Be A Real Scientist” and it included science, art and lots of balloons. There was a cooking elective across the hall from my room and an art session down the hall. Many of the kids in the school rode buses to either bowling or roller-skating.
I had complete creative freedom for the two and a half hour workshops. Twenty-eight students, from the third to sixth grades, joined me for three fun and, at times, truly chaotic afternoons.
The first workshop revolved around roller coasters. We used pipe insulation, paper, toilet paper rolls, tape and marbles. Lots of marbles. In fact, marbles were everywhere!
In the second workshop, we used household objects to create sound. Popscicle sticks, elastic and balloons can make some pretty awesome noises! Students created musical compositions within their groups and performed for the whole class.
The final workshop was all about air pressure. We blew up windbags, combined balloons and CDs to create hovercrafts and folded paper airplanes. Unsurprisingly, the craziest of all activities was balloon twisting.
I had never twisted a balloon prior to preparing for this workshop. It is not for the faint-hearted but is very addictive! A friend of mine is a professional balloon twister so I contacted her when I first thought of including this activity for the kids. Although I did buy some balloons at the dollar store, the professional balloons that my friend so kindly sent me are` far superior.
Blowing up a twisting balloon is nearly impossible for me so pumps are a necessity. I used online videos to learn how to twist a most basic dog and soon graduated to twisting a sword and a flower.
It was pure insanity twisting balloons with groups of seven or eight kids at a time. We all had a great time and most of the kids left the workshop with a dog or sword or both.
Yesterday, I was cleaning my supply cupboard and found the extra balloons. I grabbed a pump and within minutes had made an orange dog and a purple flower. My random act of creativity was spontaneous and satisfying.
I was reminded that it is so simple to do something that makes me feel like a kid. And when I feel like a kid, my heart smiles.
I am a great believer in energy and as a physicist, I have studied the Law of Conservation of Energy. The theory that energy can neither be created nor destroyed therefore it can only be transferred or transformed is near and dear to my heart.
Energy goes where our focus lies and if that focus is pointed in the direction of our loved ones and it is positive energy, we can transfer it to them. There are so many ways of transferring energy. One of my favourites is through acts of service. Cooking delicious meals, spending quality time and making things allows me to transfer positive energy to my family.
I planned the Origami Advent Calendars a little late but one has reached it destination and two will arrive tomorrow. Let the festive box opening begin!
Personalized initials are a very popular decorating accessory. There are wooden letters, marquee letters, paintable letters and letter pillows. But why not make your own that you can be used as wall art, gifts or even gift tags? And the best part is that you get to eat the main materials afterward! Check it out!
Why do presents often seem to come with a hefty price tag for the buyer? Also, the cost seems to go up every year as children age. Gift buying can be very expensive if you have several children and a spouse who is so difficult to shop for that you can only buy him really expensive things like power tools or computers. Did that sound bitter?
A few years ago, my family decided to humour me by agreeing to my homemade Christmas gift challenge. In short, each family member was to make a gift for one another. It could be as simple or as complex as they wanted. Of course, my husband and I did help any of the girls who asked but the results were amazing. I loved the look of amazement on the girls’ faces when they opened their presents. I can still remember exactly what they gave each other. Believe me, that cannot be said about any other Christmas time.
I had a lot of fun making the Origami boxes and getting very creative with the instructions. Each girl received a different set of instructions. How can you go wrong in a craft as simple as this one?! Check it out!