Thursday, December 22, 2011

Another Apron

While I made gingerbread aprons for the five grandkids who are under five years of age, I knew the 16 year old shouldn't be left out, but he needed something more appropriate. He helps his grand-pop in the kitchen with potato pancakes and so his apron reflects his "apprenticeship" status. A plain purchased apron from a craft store or warehouse type store is a blank canvas and ready to be personalized. In this case, I made a caricature of the young man and put cooking utensils in place of guns. He often wears a three-cornered hat to SASS shooting events and so that added an even more personal touch.

Bow in a Hurry

 When you need a pretty bow in a hurry, think about your crisper. Much of our bountiful harvest of fruits and vegetables come packaged in mesh bags. You may already save the mesh bags (tied in knots and stored in a baggie under your sink) to use as non-abrasive scrubbers for your non-stick surfaced pots and pans, but the mesh bags also make for lovely--and often colorful--bows. Simply snip off any advertising cardboard pieces. Hold at approximately one-half and tie a regular shoe type bow. Pull tight. Be sure to puff the bow out. Attach to a gift and you have a colorful (and useful) final touch.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gingerbread Man Aprons

Been busy this week. I cut out and stitched five "Gingerbread Man"aprons for five of the six grandchildren. Two are shown here. One "apron" is more a bib, quite small, for the baby--but all of them have the verse: "Run, run, as fast as you can. You can't catch me. I'm the gingerbread man." The last line is on the pocket that contains a felt gingerbread man. I sent them off to the kiddos with a package of gingerbread mix and cookie cutters. These were especially easy to make by using quilt seam binding for the neck loop and ties. I did make adjustable neck portions using two circles as I was guessing on size as three of the grandkids are out of state. Okay, so I said I had six grandkids and made five of these aprons. Well, the grandkids are 5 mo., 1 yr., 2 yrs., 3 yrs. 4 yrs. and--drum roll please--16 years. I knew the 16 year old wouldn't especially want a "Run, run, as fast. . ." apron. Therefore, I made him an apron, but put his caricature on it. His apron is a "Potato Pancake Apprentice" one and since he does help in the kitchen from time to time, I know he'll use it. The felt gingerbread man was easy to make with adhesive backed felt. I folded the adhesive in on itself and used a cookie cutter to trace and outline. Then, I added buttons, magic marker eyes and white trim.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

More Fun with Envelopes

As promised, here are some more fun things to do with envelopes. The outside of the envelope often has lovely boxes of lines under the stamp area or else they bear an interesting postmark. Here I have simply taken some of the wavy lines, straight lines and interior patterned papers--cut them out--and lined them up as packages. Then, they have been topped them with bows. (Wouldn't these packages make for a cute front of a birthday card?) Teachers might want students to count the lines and put the numeral under the package. Maybe these shapes could be buildings instead of packages. Or, perhaps several could be combined to make "blocks" for building. It is advisable to cut (or have students cut) some of the patterns from the outside of the envelope and collect them in a clear plastic bag ahead of time so that there are plenty of pieces available when you begin this activity. Or, have a lot of envelopes available for students to choose and share shapes. Have fun!

Where did you get those great papers?

 I just finished doing a Florida Reading Association workshop on the 9th of September. Teachers are a receptive audience and love to discover inexpensive activities that can be coupled with curriculum studies. I will admit, teachers are sometimes surprised at the "trash" I collect and turn into treasures. Recently I discovered that security envelopes have some of the most beautiful patterns on the inside--and that there are many different designs. To unlock the beautiful papers, simply cut off the side edges of an envelope and open it to reveal the inside paper. What a treasure! (Kids will love to look at the patterns with a microscope too.) Just think of all the lovely collages you could make using the papers. Here are just a few samplings from the inside of envelopes. I collect them and put them in a clear zip-type plastic bag. Although a lot of banking and bill paying is now done on-line, it's amazing the number of envelopes that still come to the house. Collect a lot of patterns and let your little ones create interesting and fun shapes and collages using the pieces.
 Most of the patterns are in browns, blues and blacks and many have shapes tucked inside the patterns. I also use the rest of the envelope in some pretty interesting ways. That will be the next two blog posts.  This bottom picture is a close up of several different envelope insides. Some already suggest fabric and/or landscape features.  Have fun!                                                                                          
 What would you make with these designs?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

More Mini Gift Cards

Choose a card with a pretty front.

Love those beautiful cards folks send, but hate to throw them away? Here's yet another way to recycle them. Choose a part of the card without writing--usually the front. 1. Trim a rectangle or square from the front. 2. Score the rectangle or square so that will fold easily.
3. Fold it and enjoy your mini card. These look especially cute on small packages just be sure to make the mini card large enough to write a tiny message inside. This particular card also had a nice, simple greeting at the top front. I cut it the saying out in a teardrop shape, made a hole for hanging and laced a gold cord through it. Now it will make a cute attachment to a bottle of wine neck or to a bud vase neck when I want to thank a friend for a kindness.
Score using a straight edge.

Two free mini cards from one card front!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dotted Easter Egg

Here's a fun way to improve fine motor skills and have fun with the hole-punch dots I've suggested you save. Materials: hole-punch dots, paper, scissors, glue.
1. Cut out an egg shape from white paper.
2. Make tiny glue dots where you want hole-punch dots to go.
3. Carefully place the hole-punch dots on the glue dots.

Create words, shapes or patterns.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Make Your Own Glitter and Add it to a Shape

Roll the wrapper.
 Any shiny candy wrapper will do. After you have wiped off any extra chocolate or residue, simply roll the wrapper. Cut into the folds to make a sort of pom-pom. Then, cut across the pom-pom tails and catch the cut pieces in a lid. Scoop all the pieces into an empty, clear container until you're ready to use them. When you're ready to use the glitter, simply put down some glue and shake out some of the glitter onto it. Allow it to dry. Here I have put some of the glitter onto a heart shape that I cut out of the side of an old envelope.
Cut the wrapper into a small pom-pom shape.

Cut across the long pieces and catch the glitter in a lid.
Shake the glitter into a clean, empty, clear container.

Use the glitter to decorate a shape you've cut out. 

Here is the green heart shape decorated with homemade glitter. 

More Fun with Old Envelopes

Cut heart shapes from edges of envelope.
Make four heart shapes of similar sizes.

Why not use some of the green envelopes you get for St. Patty's Day in much the same way you used the red ones last month? Simply cut out heart shapes from the edges of an envelope. After you have several hearts hold them together and trim them so that four are relatively the same size. Place the points of the hearts together to form a four leaf clover. Use a scrap piece to form a stem. Glue in place.
A lovely St. Patty's Shamrock from an old envelope.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Repurposing Envelopes

Foil and envelopes have a lot of uses.
Brightly colored envelopes never get thrown away at my house until they have been "mined" for a few hearts. If the envelope has the added benefit of foil, that is saved too. A lot of hearts can be snipped by using the natural fold of the envelope as the center line.

These hearts are then deposited in a clear zip-type bag along with other hearts, from other envelopes, to be used as needed. The foil pieces too are folded and cut into hearts (or other shapes).

It doesn't take long to collect a lot of very colorful shapes. As Valentine's Day approaches, think of the fun children will have creating pictures and Valentine cards with all the bright--and shiny--hearts you've stored away in that zip bag.
Free-hand cut or trace and cut.
Soon you'll have lots of colors and sizes from very little material.
Cut out around your first cut, again and again.

Open them to reveal the hearts.

You might also try looping some of the open hearts together by cutting one heart and lacing it through another one. Then, tape the cut to close the heart again. Lace another and another in the same fashion. Soon you will have a lovely Valentine mobile.

One heart laced through another one.
Several laced together.

My "To and From" Tags for Next Year

Had a chance to sit down and repurpose more of the Christmas cards. Thought I'd share the results to show a few more of the many cool "to and from" tags I'll now have for Christmas this year. It's fun to see what cool shapes and designs you can make from the cards. Next--the envelopes!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Trash to Treasure "To and From" Tags

Christmas is over, the New Year has begun. Time to discard all those beautiful Christmas cards and greetings. Don't you just hate to throw away all that beautiful art work? Well, don't! Now is the time to make "to and from" tags from all those pretty cards.

 All you will need is the card fronts, scissors, a hole punch and string, ribbon or yarn.
1. Gather together the card fronts. 2. Cut the pictures, etc. into pleasing shapes. 3. Hole punch the new "To and From"card. 4. Lace yarn, string or ribbon through the hole. 5. Write To and From on the back or leave them blank. 6. Store them away for next Christmas--it will be here before you know it!

You may even want to store the cards in one of the pretty, colorful envelopes that housed one of the cards you received.
As you can see, sometimes you will be able to cut several tags from one card front.

I'm always pleased to have so many nice "To and From" tags ready for the next year. Also, this is a fun activity to do with children as they like to find the most pleasing part to cut out and keep.