Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Cursive Project: Moon

For Letter M of The Cursive Project, Trevor choose the word moon. Having taught about the solar system to 11 years' worth of 4th and 5th graders, I had a number of art projects in my mind. We ended up combining my favorites into something I never did in the classroom, primarily because of the drying time required. It's nice not to have limitations like that on projects we do at home.

Step one was to splatter yellow paint onto black cardstock.

We used a stencil brush, though an old toothbrush works really well too.

While that was drying, we worked on the moon portion of the project. We gathered our supplies: heavy watercolor paper, a circle template, white paint, flour, an empty roll of tape, and an empty pill container. We each cut a large circle from the watercolor paper and set it aside. We each put white paint into a container and then stirred in flour until the paint looked like spackle. (Trevor added a few drops of yellow paint to his; I kept mine pure white.) We used brushes to spread the thickened paint across our cut-out circles. When the circle was covered, we used the tape roll and pill container to stamp craters into the moon.

Here's how mine looked.

At this point, we set our moons aside to dry. It's very hot and dry here, and they still took a full 24 hours to dry completely. Plan on multiple days if it is cool and/or humid.

When the moon is dry, you can leave it as is... or not. I chose to use grey ink to add extra dimension and shadows to the moon. Trevor chose to cut his moon into a crescent. When you're happy with your moon, attach it to the splatter-paint background. We used a very strong double-stick tape.

Here is my finished moon:

This is Trevor's.

We're halfway done with The Cursive Project... on to Letter N!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Cursive Project: Llama

Letter L of The Cursive Project couldn't have fallen at a better time. Trevor chose "llama" for Letter L, his godmother Jonna owns a llama, and she (Jonna, not the llama) would be coming to our house on the very day we were scheduled to make a llama craft! I asked Jonna for llama craft ideas and she said she could do a llama draw-along. Perfect!

First, we looked at pictures of Jonna's llama. Meet Leia. 

Time to draw a llama! I snapped a very quick picture of each step as I drew, so please forgive the poor photo quality. I also zoomed inconsistently, which makes the first steps appear larger than they should. Sorry about that.

Step 1: Draw two large raindrops next to each other. These are the legs. 

Step 2: Draw horizontal lines to connect the raindrops and form the llama's body.

Step 3: Add a downward curving tail and flat ovals for feet.

Step 4: Add a neck and head, positioned directly over the front teardrop. The top lip protrudes over the bottom lip.

Step 5: Add ears that point up and forward.

Step 6: At this point, you can add an eye and erase any extra guidelines. Instead, we cut out our llamas and used them as tracers to cut llamas from cardstock. 

This is my llama: 

Here is Trevor's. 

This is Jonna's. She added a dark patterned paper to the feet and ears to give them some definition. 

I love how they turned out. Our llamas are just the right size to use as a card, so now we have some cool llama cards to send! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Entering a Colllection

Over the last 35ish years, I've entered something in nearly every non-livestock division of the county fair, with one notable exception: I'd never entered a collection. As I was looking through the entry guidebook back in the spring, I decided to finally tackle a collection. I'd recently come across my 4-H hat and about 10 lbs. of trading trinkets that I'd received during my numerous trips as a State and National 4-H Ambassador. I thought they'd make a pretty interesting and unique collection display.

I started by going through all my trading trinkets and setting aside any pins, buttons, or other items with the 4-H emblem or name on them. I selected one from each state. It wasn't a complete collection of all 50 states, but it was close. Paired with my 4-H hat with all my awards on it, it looked pretty good. Most importantly, odds were very slim there would be another collection like it at the fair. It's not something you can just go out and buy.

According to the entry guidebook, the collection display boxes were three different sizes: 1' x 3', 2' x 3', and 3' x 3'. The small size was perfect for my display. While I was working on my display, Trevor was working on his own display of his Perler Bead art. He too decided that the smallest size would work best for his collection. We measured out the exact size on our dining room table and practiced setting up our stuff.  

When the entry delivery day came, Trevor and I made sure to be the first ones there. The display cases were first come first served and we both wanted one of the small ones. I helped Trevor check in, then left him on the Youth side of the building setting up his collection. I headed over to the Adult side and started mine. 

It was immediately apparent something was very wrong. I'd cut green craft foam to exactly 1' x 3' to serve as the base for my display. It didn't fit AT ALL. Not even close. Turns out the alleged 1' x 3' display case was actually about 8" x 46". My base was too wide and too short. It looked terrible.  

I called the Exhibits Coordinator over and showed her that my base, cut to the exact size specified in her entry guidebook, did not fit. She was very apologetic (though offered no explanation). She said that I was welcome to use one of the other sizes. This was not a great solution, as I didn't have any extra foam. I tried out the other two sizes (neither of which were remotely similar to their advertised 2' x 3' or 3' x 3') and settled on the medium-sized one. It left a large border around my display, but at least everything fit.  Here's my finished display:


Backing up, you can see that there's a lot of extra room in the case. That upper shelf is the alleged 1' x 3' space that I rejected. Hopefully whoever uses it didn't cut their base to size.

Here are some close-ups of the display:

My sign reads:
"I was a member of 4-H from 1983, when I was 11, until I aged out in 1991. My 4-H experience was amazing.  There's no doubt in my mind that 4-H was instrumental in making me who I am today. All these years later, when I look back on my 4-H career, I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunities and experiences I had. I was the State Winner in Breadbaking in 1988, served as an Alameda County All-Star in 1988-1989, earned my Emerald Star in 1989, represented California 4-H at the Model Assembly of the Organization of American States in 1989, was a California Diamond Star in 1990-1991, and served as California's National Ambassador in 1991-1992, just to name a few of the highlights.  
By diving into everything that was offered and constantly striving "To Make the Best Better," 4-H opened many doors for me and exposed me to the world beyond my city, county, state and country. Through 4-H, I had the opportunity to travel extensively. I attended conferences and trainings throughout California, as well as in Washington D.C., Chicago, and New York City. At each of these events, we were encouraged to bring pins, buttons, or other items representing our home to trade with new friends from around the world. There isn't a display case big enough to show all the interesting items I was given over the years, so I've limited this collection to trading items from different states (and Canada) with the word 4-H or a clover on them. Putting this collection together brought back many fond memories."  

Meanwhile, over in the Youth area, Trevor was having the same problem I had: his carefully planned display, measured to exactly fit the dimensions given in the entry guidebook, did not fit the actual space. He ended up moving his display to the medium-sized area also.

His sign reads: 
"This is my collection of Perler Bead designs I've made. These aren't all of the Perler Bead designs I have. I still have other ones I haven't shown. I picked these ones because they are my favorites.

I've been making art with Perler Beads for a long time. First, I started making easy patterns by following instructions. Then, I made harder 3-D designs with instructions. Then I started making up my own designs, like the Ninjago characters, the robots and my name. Now, I'm even making my own 3-D designs, like the 3-D bunny!"

The fair opens in a little over two weeks. We still have to make and deliver our baked goods, but all of our non-perishables are there already. Once the fair opens, I'll let you know how everything does!

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Cursive Project: Kites

For Letter K of The Cursive Project, Trevor chose "kite."  Earlier this year, he made several different styles of actual kites in Cub Scouts, so I didn't want to repeat that.  Instead, I suggested that we make some kite artwork.  

A few weeks ago, my friend Tanya sent me a huge box of awesome craft supplies she no longer needed with the instructions to use what we could and donate the rest.  (Thanks again, Tanya!) I pulled out my cloud squeeze punch and a bunch of papers from Tanya's box and we got to work.  

To make my card, I punched three clouds, inked the edges slightly with a light blue, and glued them to a blue cardstock base.  Then I cut kite shapes from three patterned papers, making one smaller than the others.  I glued a tail of embroidery floss to the back of each, and then added three little rectangles of matching patterned paper along the floss.  I glued the small kite down in the highest position, then used Pop Dots to attach the other two.

Trevor punched three clouds, glued one down, and used Pop Dots to attach the other two.  Then he chose three polka dot patterns and cut kites in three different sizes.  He added white embroidery floss to the back of each, then glued them to the card, tucking one under a cloud. He used blue embroidery floss to create wind blowing across his card.  

I love that we used the same elements in essentially the same places, but our projects are quite different from each other's.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Cursive Project: Javelin

We had a lot of fun with the homemade football in the backyard, so when it was time for Letter J of The Cursive Project, I was really excited to make a javelin.  Trevor had all sorts of ideas for fun ways we could use it for more backyard games.

We gathered our materials: a long cardboard tube (that once held wrapping paper), newspaper, and tape.

We rolled a chunk of newspaper into a cone and added a piece of tape to hold it in place.    

We tested to be sure the cone would fit snugly over the end of the cardboard tube, which it did. (On the first try!)  We wrapped the whole cone with black gaff tape to strengthen it.

It looked like this when we were done.

We slid the tube into the cone and headed to the backyard.

We each did a few tosses to make sure it would hold together and sail straight.  It was perfect.

We set up one of Trevor's plastic rings on the far side of the lawn and aimed for it.  We earned a point when the tip of the javelin was inside the ring.

Trevor added more rings and assigned different point values to each color (including some that had a negative point value) to make the game more interesting.

I like this picture.  It's fun to see the javelin sailing out of the frame.

We played with the javelin for a good hour and it held up beautifully.  So much fun!