Tag Archives: diy

Bear in Mind

Nibsy is studying California History this year. As usual, we’ve had our own creative meandering around the subject matter, and we’ve had a great time learning along with our friends.

We have connections to a really fascinating blog devoted to Cuffy, the illustrious California Bear Flag bear, in all his various manifestations.  Seeing all the interesting activity there gave us a shot in the arm to post again with our own Bear Flag creations.

I was really taken with a vintage postcard advertising the Panama Pacific Exhibition of 1915, which was posted on the Bear Flag Museum Blog.

photo-8 copy 2

I thought this was such great design, so of its time and yet so timeless. I suggested to my husband that it would be a great little screen printing project.

photo-9 copy

With a show coming up, it’s always good to have something new to present.

The strike off:

photo-7 copy 2

And the finished project: printed by hand, from an artful separation, with 5 colors.

photo-10 copy

photo-6 copy 4


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Signed, Sealed, Delivered

“All you need is love…” The Beatles

I am still not sure what my husband and I are doing for Valentine’s Day.  There’s still time.  We did get some crafts done around here though and had a great time doing them.

We made some Fimo hearts similar to those I saw posted on Oh Happy Day last year.  The girls then wore them to a Valentine’s  exchange that we had at the park this week.

Our contribution to the Valentine Holiday Co-op was inspired by a friend’s pin on Pinterest (Thanks Belem!)

Styrofoam Block-printed Valentines

So simple and fun! Reuse your styrofoam take out box or tray by making impressions into the surface with a pencil.  Use a brayer to spread paint over the surface and then print onto paper or other medium.

Decoupaged Valentine Mailboxes

“Here I am, baby……..”

“…signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours..”

Stevie Wonder


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UnScrooge Yourself: Further Suggestions on How to Find Your Holiday Spirit (just in case it didn’t show up yet)

Okay, still not feeling the Christmasness?  Don’t fret; there are other tactics to get into the holiday spirit.

Go on a Mistletoe Hunt!

We took advantage of being in my hometown over the weekend and went on a mistletoe hunt.  After all, a place that has lots of oak trees also has lots of mistletoe.

So just how does one go about removing a ball of mistletoe from a tree? Well, I know of three methods:

Method 1: Use a blunt object to knock the mistletoe clean out of the branches.  I’ve used fallen branches and brooms with reasonable success.  This method only works on clumps of mistletoe that are reachable from the ground. And I have noticed that for some reason, mistletoe likes to grow way up in the branches. 

Method 2: Shoot the said mistletoe out of the tree with a shotgun.  

Method 3: Climb up into the tree and pull the mistletoe out by hand.  This method is only good if you aren’t terrified of heights.  Therefore, it doesn’t really work for me personally. 

All of these methods are effective. However,  blasting the mistletoe down with a firearm can damage both the mistletoe and the tree so bear that in mind before you lock and load.  Regardless, mistletoe is super easy to pick.  So easy in fact, that it never occurred to me to attempt removing mistletoe myself until I saw someone selling anemic, frazzled little sprigs for $5 per sandwich bag. $5! Now this happened at the height of the dotcom era, in San Francisco’s Union Square, but even so, I was flabbergasted.

Why didn’t I think of that?

Even if I had thought of it, I don’t think I’d have the nerve.

Now, Nibsy was initially concerned when she saw me pick up a broom and start swinging at a ball of mistletoe.  Won’t that hurt the tree? Actually, no.  Mistletoe is a semi-parasitic organism, so actually, I am doing the tree a favor.

She considered this for a few minutes and then asked if she could climb up on my shoulders and grab some down from the branches herself.  Sure thing.

10 minutes later, we had a grocery sack filled with festive, locally-harvested mistletoe.

Bring it home and hang it up.  Take advantage of hanging mistletoe to smooch people passing underneath.

If you have enough to spare, share some mistletoe with your friends.

Decorate with Paper Snowflakes

Plain white paper, a pair of scissors, and a little bit of patience.  That’s all that is required.

This is a great tutorial to get started. 

Make an Iron-On Transfer Advent Calendar

I saw this idea on Oh Happy Day.  The link includes instructions and a super cute printable that is already reversed for iron-on use.

We stuck ours to the front door.  The little bags can be filled with treats, notes, or chocolate whatever else strikes your fancy.

Make your own wrapping paper!

Keep your helpers occupied decorating homemade wrapping paper.  I purchased a roll of natural craft paper from Dick Blick 3 years ago. We’ve used it for all sorts of projects, including homemade gift wrap for all occasions.


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Our First Ever Christmas Movie

We made a Christmas movie this year and had lots of fun doing stop motion animation, discussing plot lines and different ideas.  Some folks send these out in lieu of the standard Christmas card.  We sent out cards this year but I’m seriously considering shifting over to this medium-one that doesn’t require postage and won’t be returned to sender by the ever-so-reliable USPS.

Merry Christmas!


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Halloween Costumes 2011

For some reason or other Halloween always involves a warm-up at our house.  I’m okay with that because Halloween is actually my favorite holiday.  So we got our warm up going on the 24th of October when a parcel arrived in the mail from the girl’s grandparents way over in Ireland.  One must try these things on.

Witchy Poo #1

Witchy Poo #2

The reluctant feline…..

makes a POUNCE!

Our littlest witch…cat? She hasn’t decided yet what she’ll be so that remains to be determined right before we commence trick-or-treating.  The other one, however, is going to be the moon, personified.  As in Artemis, the Greek goddess.  Great stuff! I just love mythology. However, barring the old make-a-toga-from-a-bedsheet approach we had no appropriate apparel to suit the costume choice. And I cannot sew to save my life. What to do?

How to Create a Greek Goddess Costume When One Cannot Sew

Step 1: Enlist the sewing skills of one’s ace seamstress mother.  

Step 2: Visit the local fabric store utilizing one’s near complete ignorance of fabrics, patterns, etc, to select the needed materials. 

Step 3. Hand off fabrics and pattern to one’s ace seamstress mother.

Step 4. Keep eager goddess occupied with prop creation crafts. 

I saw these amazing Valentine’s arrows earlier this year on Design Sponge, but didn’t get around to making them in time for that particular holiday. Instead, I revisited the post for some inspiration in making arrows for Nibsy’s Artemis costume.

Dowels-soon to be converted into shooting star arrows suitable for use by a goddess.

Pringles can + metallic silver spray paint = quiver

Getting there….

Closer….but we’ll need some sparkling stars for the arrow points……..as well as a moon to top her tiara….

and some help…

We’ll obviously need some glitter…

We’ll have to fletch the arrows with feathers……..cue hot glue gun…

and attach the shooting star points…….

ALMOST done….

Of course, you cannot shoot arrows of any kind without a bow.

Step 5. 

Put it all on and have a Happy Halloween!

Our own celestial beauty, Artemis, the goddess of the moon and the hunt.

Goddess of Wilderness and Wild Animals………..and Children (who are also quite wild).

And the Goddess of Maiden Dance and Song……sounds about right!

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Calaveras de Azúcar

We decorated sugar skulls today with our friends.  Dia de los Muertos is approaching quickly so we’ve been digging out the photos, and the candles, and yes, making some sugar skulls.

Look at ALL of those sugar skulls Andrea made! That’s about eight pounds of sugar right there. Yes, eight.

She also whipped up quite a lot of icing and then we all got to work. Well, maybe some of us ate some icing before getting to work.

And everyone had to get used to using the icing application apparatuses.

But we got the hang of it,

and proceeded to go to town.

As you do.

Although some just continued eating icing, but for the purposes of this post, said persons shall remain nameless.


We had quite a variety of styles and motifs utilized.

And we’ll all have some very nice calveras de azúcar to put up on our ofrendas for Dia de los Muertos this year.


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Allegory of Los Angeles

We held our first art class in our house yesterday.  It’s not the first time I’ve taught a child something about art, it was just the first formalish class meeting. We started a month-by-month study of various artists, focusing on one work and then applying it to an in-class art project. We had 13 participating artists for this session and it was a suitably boisterous and noisy affair.

Allegory of California by Diego Rivera

We had only just paid a visit to Sonoma County and to San Francisco the previous weekend to visit some very good friends, but were unable to view this mural, which decorates the wall and ceiling of the main staircase between the 10th and 11th floors at the City Club (Formerly the Pacific Stock Exchange Club). We will see it sometime though.  I’m nothing, if not determined.  From what I’ve seen online, the City Club is a beautifully adorned example of art deco architecture and design.

The artist on his scaffolding, with the work in progress behind him:

We discussed the mural, and all of the symbolism packed into it, and how it applies to California’s history, how it is perceived, and the artist’s optimistic visions of its future.  I emphasized Rivera’s desire to create art for everyone, not only the wealthy and elite.

Then the children decided on their own subject, Los Angeles,  and started their own murals.

One group created this mural featuring Dodger Stadium, a tangled freeway system, a massive dollar sign, the Pacific coastline, Hollywood, downtown Los Angeles, and the La Brea Tar Pits.

Please note: click on any image to see it larger.

Detail: Sports Fan Cole’s Dodger Stadium

Detail: Ian’s La Brea Tar Pits

Detail: Tinamarie’s Hollywood street and buildings

Detail: Tinamarie’s tangled freeway system

Detail: Isabel’s Downtown Los Angeles.

An unidentified artist contributed the unidentified flying object.

Detail: Tanner’s dollar sign

And the other mural: featuring a typically unpacific Pacific ocean with a boat and surfboard, and rain; the Hollywood sign; the Griffith Observatory; a gloriously massive sun; highrises; roads and freeways;  the Los Angeles Zoo; the Hollywood Bowl; and the Grand Central Market.

Detail: Rebecca’s Griffith Observatory and Hollywood Sign; and Abigail’s Pacific Ocean:

Detail: Abby’s giant sun and gray building at left; and Nathan’s urban scene of streets and highrises:

Detail: Olivia’s Grand Central Market at top; Niamh’s Hollywood Bowl at bottom.  Ava’s Los Angeles Zoo at right.

and another view of Ava’s Zoo:

“The painter can and must abstract from many details in creating his painting. Every good composition is above all a work of abstraction. All good painters know this.” -Diego Rivera


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