how to make flibbers (and humdingers!)

the best craft book. ever.

There's this thing I do to get my children interested in certain things -- especially new library books (or used books I buy at the little library shop).  It's complicated, but I'll do my best to explain.  I leave new books lying around on the sofa or the kitchen table, and eventually, a boy will pick it up and start turning pages.

Like most children, mine are naturally curious and like to discover things on their own; however, when I left this book lying on the kitchen table a few weeks ago, I was amazed. My kindergartner opened the book, grabbed a pair scissors, some paper, a pencil, and started following the step-by-step instructions.  The fact that he grabbed art supplies and set himself to work is not at all unusual, but the way he was drawn to the projects in this book, and was then able to create them with complete independence is a testament to its genius.

The projects are utterly simple and very gratifying. The first thing my 5 year old made was something aptly called a Screecher which drove us crazy with an annoying noise. How thrilling!

Next he made this paper worm which can creep along flat surfaces.  The project has an embarrassingly unfortunate title: How to Make a Creepy Willy -- but if you can overlook this, it was really very fun!

Next he made a Humdinger (see above), a Stickit Picture, and then together we made a parachute toy which was hours of fun (a very adventuresome peg doll was repeatedly launched off the front porch, but with the spiffy parachute, it floated gently back to earth each time).

The Beginner Book of Things to Make by Robert Lopshire is seriously is the best little craft book ever.  It was last published in 1977, but you can find used copies of it here and here.


happy thanksgiving

May the food gracing our tables nourish our bodies as much as the company at our tables nourish our hearts.  And always, may gratitude nourish our souls.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed by turkeys in this blog post may not necessarily reflect the views of the author of this blog.  All views expressed by turkeys are entirely their own.


tutorial :: autumn leaf lantern

In this beautiful season we have been enjoying leaves by collecting handfuls and ironing them between wax paper.  This inspired me to think about creating some candle lantern decorations for our Thanksgiving table.  I wasn't sure about using real leaves to make the lanterns; I've seen photos of how others have done it, but these things never seem to work as well for me, so I decided to try making lanterns with paper leaves...

Like this.

-- a glass jar (or jars)

-- Mod Podge or diluted white craft glue

-- a wide paint brush

-- scissors, a pencil & a small bit of cardstock

-- Kite paper, also called Window Stars paper,
    which can be purchased here or here. Plain
    tissue paper will work as well.  Note: for this 
    project you will need autumn colors plus white 
    paper for covering the jars.

STEP 1 :: Find leaves which you like and, using a pencil, trace around the leaves on a small scrap of card stock.  This will be your template for cutting our your paper leaves.

STEP 2 :: Fold your Kite/Window Star paper (or tissue paper) into thirds or fourths and use your template to trace leaf shapes onto your folded paper.

STEP 3 :: Carefully cut out your leaves along the pencil lines you made from tracing your templates.

STEP 4 :: Cut pieces of white kite/window star/tissue paper to size for covering the jar.

STEP 5 :: Using a wide paint brush, cover the entire jar with Mod Podge or diluted white glue and then wrap the white window star/tissue paper around the jar.  Once the white paper is in place, paint a thin layer of Mod Podge/white glue over it.  The paper will have crinkles, but once the Mod Podge (or glue) dries, it will look very nice (I promise!)

STEP 6 :: While the Mod Podge (or glue) is still wet, place your paper leaves all over the jar.  If the top layer of Mod Podge (or glue) dries too quickly, add more Mod Podge (or glue) and keep sticking on your leaves until you happy with your design.

To help the leaves stick to the jar (and so the whole thing has a nice, shiny finish) go over the paper leaves once again, with another layer of Mod Podge (or glue).

STEP 7 :: Place your decorated jar someplace safe and allow it to dry for several hours.

 STEP 8 :: Light a candle in your jar and enjoy the beautiful glow of autumn leaves.


acorns & peg dolls

A few weeks ago I received an email from a neighbor.  She was up in the mountains and had spotted some interesting acorns; knowing how I feel about acorns, she asked whether she should bring me some.


 I said yes (of course).


 Add peg dolls and stir...

 Because around here, everything
inevitably leads back to peg dolls.

Thanks Francine!

note: after some research prompted by the question of a reader (thanks Sharon!), I have learned that these caps are from Notholithocarpus densiflorus, a tree more commonly known as tanoak.  The tanoak is not a true oak but a genetic link between oaks and chestnuts (and it's actually a member of the beech tree family).


pilgrim & native american peg dolls :: a re-post

It was fun last year, so let's do it again!

 -- Peg Dolls (click here for a list of shops where
     peg dolls may be purchased)

-- Brown, black, white, yellow & blue wool
    felt scraps (note: paper may be used for
    embellishments when working with children
    as paper will be easier to cut)

-- A tiny bit of brown wool roving or yarn
    (for beard)

-- A small amount of black wool yarn for

-- Watercolors plus black acrylic paint

-- Beeswax polish (optional)

-- PVA or other non-toxic white craft glue

 -- Paint brushes

-- Scissors

-- Pencil

STEP 1: Paint clothes -- I used black acrylic paint for the pilgrim clothing & brown watercolor paint for the Native American clothing.


  STEP 2: Paint hair.

STEP 3: Paint faces (or draw with pencil).  Use beeswax polish to brighten the paint of watercolored areas (optional).

STEP 4: For Native Americans, create headbands from tiny strips of wool felt.  Braided hair may be glued across the head and anchored beneath the headband.

Use tiny strips of white felt to create hat, shawl, apron and collar for Pilgrims. I added a needle felted beard to the man -- a bit of yarn or felt would work as well for creating a beard. (note: paper may be used for embellishments when working with children as the paper will be easier to cut)

P.S. Don't forget to have a look at my tiny turkey tutorial, too...


tiny turkey tutorial :: a re-post

A re-post from last year... the tiny turkeys are back!

-- Peg dolls or other wooden shapes such as small
    bowling pins, game pieces or finials (I used one
    of these, one of these, one of these & these)

-- Red, yellow, white & various shades of
    brown wool felt (note: if doing this craft with
    young children, colorful paper will be easier
    for them to cut)

-- Watercolor paints, or brown acrylic paint, plus
    black acrylic for the eyes.

-- PVA or other non-toxic white craft glue

-- Beeswax polish (optional). Tutorial can be
    found here.

-- Paint brushes

-- A pencil

-- Scissors & pinking shears

STEP 1: Paint your pegs, finials or other wooden shapes shades of brown.

STEP 2: Use black acrylic paint or pencil to add eyes.  Rub with beeswax polish to give watercolor paint an nice patina (optional).

STEP 3: Cut beaks and wattles from wool felt, and use white craft glue to attach to the face.


STEP 4: Cut curved pieces of brown felt, glue together in layers, trim in white, and attach to the backs of your turkeys with white craft glue.  I found that pinking shears give a nice edge around the tails, mimicking the scalloped white edge on tails of real turkeys.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed by turkeys in this blog post may not necessarily reflect the views of the author of this blog.  All views expressed by turkeys are entirely their own.