Thursday, April 30, 2015

clay plant stakes

If there is one thing that I love to give and receive it is plants and with Mother's Day right around the corner, I thought I would share one of my favorite ways to add a little bit of whimsy to a plant. Adding a decorative stake to a potted plant is a really fun way to incorporate something fun, especially when giving a gift.

I used oven bake clay because it is super easy, colorful and a fast!
I created round flowers and leaves- I kept the design of the flowers simple because Lucy was helping with this project- she was in charge of rolling out all of the little balls of clay.
I poked a hole in the bottom of each flower and then baked them in the oven according to the directions. After removing them from the oven I mounted the flowers onto stakes.

I love that there are endless ways to put your own spin on this project! I also love that with a few simple supplies, a pretty plant becomes even prettier!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

my 3 favorite toddler art activities

As I shared a while back, Lucy's little brain is developing and growing so fast and gone are the days where she is dazzled by paint! I used to be able to pull out the paint and she would be endlessly entertained. Now paint is not so dazzling, instead it's just another supply that she is comfortable using. This new stage has challenged me to come up with all kinds creative activities that will keep her challenged, interested and creative. I've found that she is most inspired and engaged when we take time to plan and teach new techniques that appeal to her current interests. While these creative activities are always changing, today I am sharing the top three (right now) that are really getting her excited!

1. PRINTMAKING: So far printmaking continues to be her favorite creative activity, specifically monoprinting with a gelli plate. I introduced gelli printing to Lucy when she was about 1.5 years old and it is still something that is really exciting. Parents of toddlers- go out and get yourselves a gelli plate! Not only is it fun and easy to use for adults but it is a really great supply for kids. The sticky surface makes it easy for little hands to imprint all kinds of textures (leaves, stencils, stamps, flowers, etc). I typically gather anything and everything that has texture and let Lucy go wild printing. Her favorite part of the process, just like mine, is peeling the paper away to see what the print looks like.

2. FIZZING WATERCOLORS: Watercolors continue to be a favorite supply but Lucy loves experimenting with materials. A BIG favorite lately is fizzing watercolors. This process involves mixing watercolor paint with baking soda (I like using using liquid watercolors). 

You use this mixture to paint paper and then add vinegar to the surface of the paint. We use paint brushes to swipe and drop vinegar onto the painted paper- the result is a reaction between the baking soda and the vinegar- the surface begins to bubble and fizz! It is super fun and a really creative way to make some interesting watercolors backgrounds.

For even more DRAMA (and mess) you can pour vinegar into to the cups of paint/baking soda mixture and watch the entire cup erupt with bubbles and fizz- this is a favorite around here!

This process is fun for adults too but keep in mind that you are left with residue from the baking soda on the surface of the paper which makes it challenging to create with. I like to scan these colorful pages and use them in digital projects.

3. HOMEMADE COLORING BOOKS: I am not a big fan of traditional coloring books so we have been making our own custom coloring pages for Lucy since she was around one year. For a while she lost interest in coloring but recently she started up again and now really enjoys using watercolors instead of crayons. Andy and I spend time creating simple line drawings that appeal to her interests or we even let her request the images- the subject matter seems to change by week! We scan the pages and print them out and she spends hours painting these pages.

To read and see more of my time creating with a kid check out the entire series posts HERE

Monday, April 27, 2015

lettering with makewells: dress up your mail

Hello! It's Megan here with another guest post about lettering, and I'm super excited about what I have to share today!

One of my favorite 'simple pleasures' in life is opening up the mail box and finding a hand addressed letter. Tucked away inside the ads, bills, and catalogs, there's a special goodie just for me. Oh the joy! As I open it, I know that I don't owe the sender money, they aren't trying to sign me up for the latest credit card, and, even if what's inside is a simple 'hello', it can be a wonderful moment in my day.

Today I am challenging you to take what you've learned so far in this lettering series, and put it into practice in a very tangible way. Send some snail mail!

Addressing an envelope is the perfect way to practice your lettering skills.  Each name and address is simply a combination of letters, words, and phrases. Addressing creatively can be an extension of your lettering practice. The only rules are that it fits a stamp is is legible! (I sometimes do the "husband test" and if he can read it easily, I trust the post office can too!)
And just think of the smile you will bring someone when they receive your work of art!

If you aren't super confident in your lettering skills yet, painting your envelope first is an easy way to dress it up. Painting simple patterns on your envelope before lettering is easy, but makes a big impression.

But if you don't have time for paint to dry, practicing your lettering techniques with pen and pencils can make just as big an impact. 

In the envelopes below, I used my white uniball signo gel pen to do the lettering, and then a graphite pencil for the drop shadow. 

The drop shadow gives it that extra pop which I love...

Or for an even softer effect, try using a colored pencil. With this navy blue envelope, I drew my letters with a white colored pencil. On the dark paper, it really pops - and almost gives it a chalky effect.  Little doodles and embellishments add a finishing touch.

And if you have the time to make something extra special, try painting the name and address! I love painting on kraft envelopes - the colors pop so nicely against the neutral brown. For this one, I drew the letters very lightly in white pencil before painting on top, adding a drop shadow at the end for dimension.

So practice away AND brighten someone's day with your work. In today's world full of emails and texts, and hand written note says goes a long way. And with an envelope disguised as a work of art, your mail is bound to make someone smile! 

Remember to use #redefinecreativelettering on instagram to share what you've created!

Megan Wells

Makewells - an art blog

Friday, April 24, 2015

around these parts

I am pretty much smitten with Instagram and it is a place where I am able to document, show and share a more personal look into our life (without words). You can follow me HERE for a peek into our daily happenings.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

a reminder from the sea

Living at the ocean you get used to mother nature at her finest. From raging storms, beautiful sunsets, finding treasure and witnessing the cycle of life- you learn that the ocean is powerful, ever changing and full of mystery. A couple of weeks ago we woke up to the beaches covered with thousands of Vellela vellela- a type of jellyfish (often referred to as by-the-wind- sailors). These small animals float on top of the surface of the open ocean and ride the currents and wind searching for food. They use their triangular shaped sails to travel but are at the mercy of  wind and can wash ashore by the thousands when there is a big storm or heavy westerly winds.

I spent the day around the area photographing the Vellela vellela- something about this phenomenon was so inspiring, somber but inspiring. The shades of blue, the shapes, the pattern and sheer number covering the sand was truly a sight to behold and something I was compelled to capture. By the afternoon, as the tide came in, most of jellies were gone. Leave it to the ocean to remind me (again and again) how miraculous, sad and beautiful life can be all at once. 


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