Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hanging Jellyfish Craft

To prepare for Logan's shark themed 4th birthday party, I decided that we needed a few hanging decorations and these jellyfish were perfect. The inspiration came from here and we made a few changes. The first was that I didn't have any bowls to use so I had to buy some. The original directions used paper bowls and watercolor paints which is lovely, but I found that Styrofoam bowls were cheaper so that is what we got. Since watercolors weren't an option with Styrofoam, we used acrylic paints instead. I loved the idea this person had for using up ribbon scraps, and I expanded it by adding the bubble wrap. I think this gives them some extra jellyfishy-ness, and it's a cute way to re-use some packaging material we had laying around.

This was a fun little project that both kids were able to help with by choosing the color scheme and then painting the bowls and bubble wrap accordingly. They also helped picked the ribbons to include, because believe it or not, I am such a ribbon junkie that we actually had to reject some in order to make it all fit and not look too cluttered. (Please tell me I am not the only person who can't go to Michaels without digging through their ribbon bin to see what there is!) Here is how we made our happy jellyfish, just in time for a celebration under-the-sea.

{A trio of friendly jellyfish.}

  • Styrofoam bowls
  • acrylic paint/s in your color choices
  • bubble wrap
  • Styrofoam trays (to hold paint)
  • foam paint brushes
  • scissors
  • googly eyes
  • tacky glue
  • assorted ribbon scraps
  • masking tape
  • fishing line (for hanging)
  1. First, I laid some bubble wrap, textured side up, and a bowl (Styrofoam or paper), upside down, at each work surface. I poured some paint onto a Styrofoam tray (You could also use a plate or bowl.) and then we used paintbrushes to apply acrylic paints. Foam paintbrushes worked well for this. Tip: Before starting, protect clothing and work surfaces as acrylic paints will stain. My kids wear old t-shirts of mine and Logan's is especially large on him, so I close it at the back of the neck with a clothespin. To cover the tabletop, we used cereal box liners, one per person. (Note: If you are concerned about bacteria from meat packaging, first run your Styrofoam trays through the dishwasher on the top rack. It will sterilize them without damaging the Styrofoam!) Allow paint to dry completely.
  2. Using scissors, I cut the painted bubble wrap into strips, lengthwise. I cut each piece so that there were 6 strips, each one about 3/4 - 1 inch wide.
  3. Then, I adhered the strips of bubble wrap to the inside of the bowls using tacky glue. We spaced our out so that they were somewhat even, although it does not need to be perfect by any means. Tip: We found it best to apply glue to the smooth side of the bubble wrap.
  4. Next, we grouped together a variety of ribbons including: grosgrain, sheer, curling, yarn, wired, raffia, rickrack, whatever we had on hand, trimming them to the desired lengths (not all the same length). After the kids made their final choices, (red for Logan's, pink/purple for Mia's, and blue for mine), I bundled the ribbons together with masking tape and then affixed the bundles to the undersides of the bowls. I also used scissors to curl the curling ribbon and make adjustments to the lengths of ribbons as needed.
  5. They added googly eyes to each jellyfish using tacky glue. 
  6. Lastly, I poked two small holes in the top of each jellyfish for hanging. (I think I used a pin from my cork board for this.) For each jellyfish, I threaded fishing line through the tops of the two holes and then knotted it underneath, after I had strung the jellyfish up on my dining room chandelier. Then, I trimmed and excess fishing line and stood back to admire our friendly-faced jellyfish.

Monday, August 26, 2013

DIY Napkins for a Shark Party Theme

One of the simplest projects that I did for Logan's "jawsome" 4th birthday party was stamping the napkins to go along with the theme. It's a simple trick I've used for various kids' birthday parties over the years. I just found a package of inexpensive party napkins (Dollar Tree has them in several colors, and this is where my package of 30 for this project was purchased) and a stamp that goes along with the theme. In the past, some of my stamps didn't perfectly "match" the theme, but if I had an ice cream cone or a cupcake stamp on hand, and my kiddo approved of it, then that's all I needed.

However, in this case, I didn't have anything suitable for Logan's desired shark theme. I found a stamp an under-sea stamp set on clearance at Wal-mart a few months before the party. It was just 50 cents, so I bought it, not even sure how I would use it at the time, but knowing that for that price it would be well worth it. (This is when it pays to listen when the kids start tossing out party suggestions. Then, whenever you happen to be out shopping, take a quick cruise through the clearance section and see what is there that could be useful for your upcoming celebration.) I strongly encourage advanced planning, if like me, you don't want to spend much money on birthday parties!

After pulling out the stamp pads that I had in my craft stash, I quickly decided to go with the teal color. Paired on top of the dark blue, it made the most sense to me as a shark swimming in the water. To get the best coverage on the stamp, I lightly tapped it about 3 or 4 times on the stamp pad and then firmly and evenly pressed it down onto the napkin. I re-inked the stamp before each impression to ensure even coverage.

One important thing to note about stamping on napkins, is that you will not get perfect delineation. The ink gets absorbed into the paper a bit, so don't expect crisp results. My shark stamp actually had an eye that showed up on first impression but then quickly faded as the ink was dispersed on the napkin. To me, this was not a big deal. I still got the shark I wanted (albeit eye-less), but it might make a difference if your stamp has lots of details that you feel are important to the overall design.

{Left: freshly stamped, Right: after ink dried}

In the end, I had 30 shark party napkins that cost me a total of $1.50. I fanned them out in two areas of the counter near the food and lemonade (which I had dyed blue to go along with the theme). Big impact, small price tag, happy birthday boy. Totally "jawsome!"

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Easy Flower Printing Project

This idea isn't exactly original. In fact, there are plenty of variations floating around the internet already. Anyway, Mia gave me a Mother's Day card she made at school using this stamping method, and it is super-simple to replicate at home with very few supplies. (The hallmark of a good kids' craft project, in my opinion!) So, on a rainy day awhile back, when she wanted a craft to do, this is what I pulled out.

We don't buy a lot of things that come in single-serve plastic bottles, so I have been saving these for a bit. Mia got the water bottles at school and from a birthday party. These worked okay for making flowers. The Sierra Mist was purchased to enjoy mixed with our Bacardi that we brought back from Puerto Rico. If you want the prints that most resemble flowers, these bottles make adorable five-petal daisies. The Powerade bottles are the only ones that we normally have on hand since Brett likes to drink it after long runs, however, these were not the best for producing "flower" prints. They really just made a circle, which can certainly be used for print-making, but it just takes a little creativity to make them look like flowers. My kids ended up using the bottle caps as well, so that could be the centers of the flowers, if desired.

This printmaking project is a craft that is simple enough to be done with any age of children from toddlers on up. I think it was especially nice for Mia's kindergarten class, but I think it would work well, for preschool, too. P.S. Don't be surprised if this turns into a finger painting project. This tends to happen at my house, anyway, and it did with this craft, as well!

{Finished Prints by Mia, 6, and Logan, 3}

  • tempera paint
  • empty plastic bottles (water, pop, Powerade, etc.)
  • Styrofoam trays
  • paper (heavier paper is recommended, but any will work)
  • paint brushes (optional)
  • cereal box liners (to protect work surface, optional)
  • old clothes/paint smocks (optional)
  1. Old clothes are suggested for this. My kids each wear an old t-shirt of mine for paint projects. Logan's is quite large around the neck so I secure it in the back with a clothespin. You might also want to protect your work surface. I like using the liners from cereal boxes, but you can also use newspaper or a vinyl table cloth that you are not worried about messing up. Tip: If you have more than one child, set up a paint station for each kid. This makes things a lot easier when they each have their own space and materials to work with!
  2. Pour some tempera paint onto a Styrofoam tray. We used powdered tempera paints that I mixed up before getting started, but ready-made paints would work, too. Tip: Styrofoam trays can be sterilized in your dishwasher so you don't have to worry about germs from meat! Tip: If you don't have any Styrofoam trays, use a plate. I don't suggest bowls, because you need a flatter surface to make this easy for kids. Tip: Unless you enjoy mud colored paintings, limit the number of paint colors that each child uses. I let my kids pick up to 3 colors for their tray. You can also choose colors that go with your decor if you think these will end up in frames. I let mine use yellow, red, and purple, knowing that they would mix the red and yellow together to get orange.
  3. Let kids dip their bottles into the paint and then press it onto paper. We used construction paper and white card stock, and the card stock was my preference for this project. It produced clearer, more vibrant colors, and the heavier weight withstood the wetness of the paint, which got applied quite heavily in some places. Tip: Paint brushes are optional. You might want them if you would like your flowers to have stems, for example. Or you can use the brushes to apply the paint to the bottles if dipping them into the paint isn't getting the desired coverage. 
  4. Allow paint to dry completely before displaying the prints. Or, you can use it to make a card like Mia did for Mother's Day. Tip: I like to let paintings dry on the cereal box liners, which can easily be moved from one location to another, if for example, you need to use your table or counter for meals. Tip: Keep a black Sharpie on hand, and once kids have finished their prints, label them with name and age or date that they were created. This is much easier to remember right after doing the project and it looks nice in a frame, or relatives always appreciate this sort of thing, if you are running out of room for keeping your kids' artwork.
{Clever kids made use of both sides of the bottle.}

Friday, August 9, 2013

Homemade Window Paint Recipe #2

First I tried this recipe, which I thought was for window paint, and then discovered that it was quite tricky to remove from windows. This in turn, led me to decide that the first recipe was really meant for glass objects, NOT windows. Then, I tried this recipe, which I believe is a true window paint recipe. The colors are less vibrant, more translucent, in fact, than the first go-round, BUT this paint is much, much easier to remove from windows!! I think we can all agree that this is crucial for window paints. This paint recipe for "Window Art Paint," also came from the website where I found the first one.

It worked great! And, now we have a shark-infested dining room window to go along with Mia's undersea scene on our sliding door. To create the sharks, I used some shark stencils that I purchased at the rainforest gift shop on our Puerto Rico trip. I just painted some blue waves above, and some green seaweed below my sharks to complete the scene. This will be perfect for Logan's upcoming shark-themed birthday party. FYI: It's gonna be "jawsome!"

  • muffin tin (you could also use bowls)
  • 1/2 tablespoon powdered tempera paint
  • 1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid (clear is recommended)
  • spoons for mixing (optional)
  • paint brushes (NOT foam)
  • paint shirt/smock/old clothing
  • something to protect work surface (I used cereal box liners.)
  • damp and dry cloths for cleaning up spills
  1. In a muffin tin (or bowls), add powdered tempera paint and dishwashing liquid. I used green, blue, yellow, and red, which are all the colors of powdered tempera paint that we have. (Note: Clear dishwashing liquid was recommended by the site I got the recipe from. I didn't have clear, so I used green Palmolive. This worked fine for my red, blue, and green. Unsurprisingly, however, I ended up with neon green instead of a true yellow. This didn't bother me, but that is why you might want clear dish soap, depending upon what colors you are trying to produce.)
  2. Mix together. Tip: I used spoons for this, but you could also use paint brushes. Note: You can also mix colors together. I decided to keep the proportions of the recipe the same, and then later mix two colors together to get a second color. For example, I mixed some yellow and red together in another muffin compartment in order to make orange.)
  3. Protect area under windows. I was the only person painting today, so I just laid a cereal box liner down to catch drips. Tip: If painting with kids, I would recommend taping it to the window sill and more on the floor.
  4. Paint your window. Tip: Use regular paint brushes, not foam. For whatever reason, foam paint brushes did NOT work for this. I know I normally suggest them for most all painting projects, but today I found myself pulling out the regular bristle brushes after the foam was absorbing too much of the liquid in the paints.
  5. Allow paint to dry. Tip: This doesn't take too long, but it may dribble during the process. If you want the painting to look neat, just remove the drips with a dry cloth or paper towel, being careful not to smudge the rest of the painting.
  6. HOW TO REMOVE PAINT? Happily, this paint cleans up very easily! To remove dried paint, simply wipe it off with a damp cloth and then follow with a dry cloth. The dishwashing liquid, I believe, is what makes this a breeze! (Note: It also makes it super easy to clean your paint brushes and muffin tin. The original directions had suggested first lining the muffin tin with aluminum foil, but I suspected that this was unnecessary. This was confirmed by the quick, simple clean-up process.)
{This actually looks cooler than the photograph shows.}

Homemade Window Paint Recipe #1

Well, we're gearing up for another birthday party, and this time my little man has requested a shark theme. (It made no sense to me, but he has stuck with the idea for a few months now, so I'm going with it.) One idea I had for decorating was the paint the windows so it would look like we were under water. On a recent rainy day, I tried out this recipe for homemade window paint, or "Goofy Glass Paint," which I found on this website. (In looking at this again, I see that in the directions it says to apply it to a glass surface, not a window per se, although this did work for us. That said, it is somewhat labor-intensive to clean up, so you may want to try the next window paint recipe that I will be posting soon.) Since it was the first time I made this paint, I reduced the quantities from 1/4 cup to 1/2 tablespoon, after noting that it essentially just called for equal amounts of white glue and liquid tempera paint. Mia enjoyed painting an under-the-sea theme on our sliding door. Good thing it fits in with the upcoming party theme, because this is not coming down any time soon!

  • white school glue
  • liquid tempera paint/s
  • bowl/s (1 per color)
  • spoon/s (optional, for mixing)
  • paint brushes
  • glass item to be painted (jar, window, etc.)
  • old clothes/smocks (optional)
  • something to protect work area (cereal box liners worked for us)
  1. Protect work area using cereal box liners, newspaper, a vinyl table cloth, or even a drop cloth, whatever you have that is handy. Old cloths or paint shirts are also recommended.
  2. Using one bowl per paint color, mix equal parts white school glue and liquid tempera paint. (Tip: I used spoons for this, but you could also use your paint brushes.)
  3. Let kids paint on glass objects (or windows, like we did). Paint may dribble a bit, so having a damp cloth on hand is helpful. (Tip: It wipes up easily while it is still wet, so take care of any messes as soon as you notice them.)
  4. Allow paint to dry. The directions I read said to let it set over night, but we found that it dried much quicker than this.
  5. HOW TO REMOVE PAINT FROM WINDOWS? I have found two ways to do this, but neither one is ideal. The first is with a damp cloth and plenty of elbow grease. This takes some effort, but it is doable. The second method takes less effort, but it is much messier. Simply take a straight razor blade/utility knife and scrape away the dry paint. You will want to first lay down some newspaper or something to catch all the scrapings, however. NOTE: I honestly don't recommend using this paint recipe on windows. Next time around, we will paint some other glass objects!
{Fun on a rainy day...}