Thursday, September 3, 2009

Blogs: WeeFolkArt has me again ...

this post from Kimara at WeeFolkArt is sooooo me!  You really need to check out WeeFolkArt blog ... I seem to be posting alot about them lately.

I love that she went out and bought a scroll saw in order to make the trees for her grandchild ... and then that she ends up making a forest because her daughter thought it would be "cool" ... and then even made the forest so that the kids could have different orchards (pine trees for winter ... flowering dogwoods for spring ... leaves falling off trees for autumn ...)

Also note her "recipe" for the oil/beeswax finishing ... non-toxic and a hand-lotion-salve at the same time!  I love this and have included her recipe below so that I don't forget it when we get the scroll-saw and roto-tool for my birthday so we can make the Nativity figures we've been thinking on ....

Olive Oil and Beeswax Wood Finish Recipe
(I use a 4:1 ratio of olive oil to beeswax)
Pour 4 ounces of olive oil into a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup. Add enough shaved beeswax to reach the 5 ounce mark on the measuring cup. (You'll be adding 1 ounce of beeswax to the oil. This is just a quick and easy way to measure the beeswax.) An easy way to make shavings is to freeze the solid beeswax then use a food grater.

Melt the mixture in the microwave for 1 1/2 - 3 minutes, until the wax is melted. Obviously, be careful because the oil is very hot.

The hot oil can be applied to the wood while it is in liquid form using a brush. Or, you can wait until the oil has cooled and becomes a firm paste, similar to Turtle Wax. I forgo a cloth, and apply the paste directly to the wood using my hands!

To store the olive oil and beeswax finish, place in an airtight contain and store away from direct sunlight. When you are ready to reuse, simple slather it on the wood as a paste, or if you prefer working with it in the liquid form, heat it in the micro wax just until it is melted.
You rock, WeeFolkArt!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Books: here's a great one for gardening

Gardening is definitely a creative act ... and one that is wonderful to develop with the kids.  In His Image listed quite a few gardening books that I like, but I did want to add this one:  Gardening with Kids by Catherine Woram and Martyn Cox.  This is definitely a keeper -- and Amazon currently has it for 58% (!) off the regular price.  The authors of this one understand kids and what they want to do when they garden. 
Packed with tips and explanations and clear photographs, this book includes planting ideas, crafting ideas, and game ideas.  There are lists of plants that kids should plant and ones that they shouldn't (either because they're poisonous, difficult to grow or hard to work with).  The craft ideas include crafts to make using natural things from the garden (including a really cute elf set made with twigs), crafts to make to attract nature to the garden, and gifts to make from the garden's bounty such as pretty seed packets and lavender sachets.
This book is definitely a must if you want to nurture creativity with your kids in the garden!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Blogs: Crafty Crow does it again!

I love checking out the crafts that Cassi at Crafty Crow pulls together ... there are always really fun and beautiful things to get the creative juices flowing. On Mondays, she always has a giveaway ... and today's is really great -- readers can win a $75 gift certificate to CWD, a kids' clothing catalog. I love CWD stuff and even if I don't win the gift certificate, may have to do some early Christmas shopping.

Check out her blog and join the contest ... even if you don't win, I'm betting you'll find some cool and amazingly creative things to do with your kids.

Blogs: kind of fun ...

... seeing my name mentioned in someone else's blog .... John's kids do amazing art work, don't they?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Blogs: Wee Folks home-style

The wonderful mom at WeeFolk Art has updated her homeschool blog to reflect their creative activities during their education times .... check it out at WeeFolk Activities ... great ideas for crafting and creating with kids and learning all at the same time! Wonderful stuff!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Blogs: mention of In His Image ...

a dear friend and his family have been reading through In His Image and have taken it to heart ... he'll be posting different creativity projects every Sunday. This week's art is by his THREE-YEAR-OLD daughter ... I wish I could do that well!

John and his dear wife have been nurturing creativity since they got married a almost 20 years ago and I'm proud to have even a small part in the their continued creativity journey!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blogs: how to make a painting easel

Well, this isn't really a blog ... it's from Lowe's online "Creative Ideas for Home and Garden". There are complete, online, and FREE directions for making a sturdy two-sided easel -- paint/paper on one side and chalkboard on the other.

The directions are easy to follow and include great graphics and a shopping list of supply-needs so you don't forget anything! Many of the easels you purchase just have a shelf; on this design, the "pockets" at the bottom of each side are actually large enough to hold things.

The original shown is just plain, natural wood -- which looks great. But you and your kids could really have a great time decorating it up and personalizing it. Also, if you change the design slightly, you could make legs that adjust to allow the easel to "grow" with your child ... or make it a family easel for everyone!

One of the things that caught my eye with this particular item is Lowe's tag-line: "inspire your budding artist's creative side with an art easel. It's the perfect art station for big imaginations." This is EXACTLY what "nurturing creativity" is trying to do.

Let me know if you've ever done this project ... and send pictures too, if you'd like!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blogs: homemade soccer game set

HT: Cassi at Crafty Crow for linking to this amazingly clever idea from A Bit of This and a Bit of That ... a homemade soccer game!

How cool would this be for an older sibling to make for a younger one for his birthday ... you could even make it football or basketball by simply changing the field and "uniforms"!

I love this one ... now if I can just find one of my older kids to "volunteer" to make it for my youngest son for his birthday, we'll be good to go!

Jojo, the designer of this brilliant idea is a Montessori mom, living in Japan ... check out her blog for other really creative ideas!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blogs: simple yet elegant art basket

Wee Folk Art created this gorgeous take-along craft basket -- from an inexpensive basket and the ubiquitous toilet paper tubes. Go check it out, it is wonderful. I love the idea of wrapping the tubes to match the basket -- you could even use colored paper-twist to match or coordinate ... and different length tubes could be used for long-handled scissors, knitting needles or paint brushes!

Let your mind's and hands go wild with this one ... it really is a creative idea that can be used in so many ways! Thank you Wee Folk Art!

BTW, while you're over looking at the basket, stay and browse awhile thru their crafts -- done by a homeschooling mom and grandma who love crafting with kids ... Wee Folk Art has some grand ideas for nurturing creativity in the heart of your home!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Blogs: Curriculum planning gets creative!

I just saw this on Serendipity's blog and I'm so excited to begin gathering these resources for String Bean's curriculum for next year.

Seems the VERY creative minds of Elizabeth Foss and Jennifer Mackintosh have merged to create a curriculum (with all but math -- easy to add) for girls at the bend in the road, girls who are between 11 and 15 where they begin to blossom like a flower in the garden. A Fascination of Its Own: Literature for the Young Lady at the Bend in the Road goes beyond most curriculum plans and is specifically for Catholic girls.

And flowers, gardening and creativity play a LARGE role in the curriculum plans ... something right up String Bean's "alley". I love that this curriculum is written by two amazing Catholic women for their own girls ... I love that they've shared their work with others at no cost ... I love that it is a fully integrated, Catholic program that has the girls loving, learning and living their faith and their subjects ... I love these plans.

Head on over to Serendipity and check it out ... you'll love the creativity that went into all the plans, with promises of more to come!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Blogs: paper dolls need a home?

Check out Jennifer's solution! These look like the kind of dolls my own 9yod loves to make ... and what a great idea for keeping them contained! I love it! And this is one of those that the kids can really go to town with!

Thanks, Jennifer for sharing.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Books and resources: Painting

Jenn at 4real asked about books on helping kids (and adults) learn to watercolor.

Here are some books I've found helpful:
  1. Painting with Children by Brunhild Muller -- very good detailed instructions; a little more Waldorf-y than I like (includes poems to unleash the creativity within) but the information is worth getting the book
  2. Watercolors: for the Artistically Undiscovered (Klutz) by John Cassidy -- just fun to use; many of the pages are watercolor paper so you can do the exercises and play right away (including watercolor paint).
  3. Watercolor Basics: Let's Get Started by Jack Reid -- don't be put-off by the cover; this book is a gentle tutorial on watercolor painting. Reid has taught for many years, thousands of students how to paint gorgeous watercolor like the cover image!
  4. Watercolor in Motion: How to Create Powerful Paintings by Birgit O'Connor -- now here's a great one because not only is there a spiral-bound books (I love spirals as you can lay the book flat without worry) but she has also done a 50-minute DVD so you can SEE what she means. I really liked this one and the kids learned alot.
  5. Fine Art Studio: Watercolor by Mary Iverson -- like the Klutz book mentioned above, ths is a full kit with paints, watercolor pencils (which are so fun to use), watercolor paper and a mixing palette (altho you can use any shallow, plastic plate just as well). This one is geared for kids and includes work examples by Beatrix Potter -- one of our favorites. The recommended age is 10 but there is no reason that younger kids (with adult help) couldn't do the 40-page book!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Blogs: Charlotte gets pretty crafty here!

I can always count on Charlotte to have some cool, Catholic-inspired craft ideas. Today, she's posted some awesome Saints'n'Stitches -- some very cool outlines for making saint dolls by stitching the outlines.

You could also use these very creative drawings for making two-dimensional cloth dolls by copying the lines with a black-marker onto cloth and cutting out (you can always do basic lines to do a "back" or just repeat the front shape) and stuffing! What about fabric markers for "coloring in", just like a coloring-book page!

And Charlotte, who is always so generous with sharing her talents ... has done 12 of these and they're FREE to anyone to make dolls for their kids -- or better yet, have the kids MAKE the dolls!


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Blogs: PineWood Castle posts some amazing plans ...

Check out this post from Tracy at PineWood Castle .... wow ... now that's nurturing creativity and spirituality and loving and living with your kids!

The plans carry through Thanksgiving. And, she promises to post Advent plans soon. Can't wait to see those.

Lovely, Tracy ... and thanks for sharing all these plans with the blogosphere!

HT: Elizabeth for sharing the link!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It's here!

Margot, the dear sweet thing she is, drove down to Allentown on Thursday to pickup the books in time for having them available at IHM! They look great and I'm so proud .... thanks to Margot, Rose (the editor) and Elizabeth Foss for the wonderful work that brought the book to fruition.

Thank you, too, to Our Lady of Guadalupe under whose patronage I placed the book! If you get a copy, please let me know what you think ....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Yes, It's almost here ...

Margot emailed to let me know she'll be picking up the first run of In His Image! She'll be debuting them at IHM on Friday ... and I just can't wait!

Thanks to all for the good words ... I so want this to be for the greater glory of God ... let me know what you think!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Resources: great books on playing in the garden

Books on gardening:

  1. Ball, Ann – Catholic Traditions in the Garden – Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana). 1998. This book is replete with ideas and suggestions for using things from nature (either growing them yourself or buying the materials from a craft store) to celebrate the liturgical year, embracing traditions from the Catholic church and generally reveling in God’s creation. Ball does a great job of describing the background to the “traditions” while also giving clear and easy-to-follow directions for all the projects.
  2. Davis, Tina – Sow and Grow: A Gardening Book for Children – Stewart, Tabori and Chang (New York). 2008. This is third children’s book by Tina Davis that carries the same retro feel to give 21st century children an idea of the simpler life. In this book, she links indoor gardening and related activities to seasonal celebrations and changes. The book also gives kids basic plant biology information and simple gardening science. The spiral binding allows the book to lie flat for hands-holding-chin, belly-reading time.
  3. Fryer, Jane Eayre – The Mary Frances Gardening Book: Adventures Among the Garden People – Lacis Books (Berkley, CA) 1998. This book tells the story of a family project: Mary Frances and her brother plant a garden around her playhouse and discover just how fun it is to grow things. A Mary Frances book wouldn’t complete without helpers. In this one the Garden People help explain just exactly what goes on when the flowers
    bloom or the vegetables come up from the ground.
  4. Hart, Avery & Mantell, Paul – Kids Garden: The Anytime, Anyplace Guide to Sowing and Growing Fun – Williamson Publishing (Charlotte, VT). 1996. I love the “kids can” book series from Williamson. The books are all black and white with hand-drawings; but there is so much fun information and activities that the “no bells and whistles” quickly is lost! This book is packed with fun things to grow and then fun things to do, explore, or learn with what you’ve grown.
  5. Lovejoy, Sharon – Roots, Shoots, Buckets and Boots: Gardening Together with Children – Workman Publishing (New York). 1999. This book is an amazing combination of gardening tips and unique activities for creating in the garden with children. Lovejoy is a master at these books!
  6. Lovejoy, Sharon – Sunflower Houses: Inspiration from the Garden – A book for children and their grown-ups – Workman Publishing (New York). 2001. Another great gardening book that has fun, exciting and unique ideas (like building a “play house” out of sunflower plants!) for nurturing creativity within a garden.
  7. Lovejoy, Sharon – Trowel & Error: Over 700 Shortcuts, Tips and Remedies for the Garden – Workman Publishing (New York). 2003. This books is loaded with great tips and ideas for working in the garden; many of her herbicides and pest traps are kid friendly. I love her illustrations which are gentle and lovely drawings.
  8. Matthews, Clare – How Does Your Garden Grow? Great Gardening for Green-Fingered Kids – Hamlyn (New York). 2005. This one is for the kids that REALLY want to go far with gardening – whether it’s flowers, food or wildlife growing in your garden, this book will help your kids give their green thumbs a work-out. It’s beautifully illustrated and quite detailed!
  9. Morris, Karyn – The Kids Can Press Jumbo Book of Gardening – Kids Can Press Ltd (Niagara Falls, NY). 2000. Printed on newsprint and paperbound, this humble book has tons of great projects and information for gardening. Starting out with how gardens grow and then moving on to fruit & vegetable gardens, flower gardens, native plants, wildlife gardens and finishing up with school and community gardens. The wealth of information in this humble book is amazing.
  10. Rushing, Felder – Better Homes and Gardens New Junior Garden Book – Meredith Books (DesMoines, IA). 1999. The kooky illustrations will hook your kids while the detailed information will hook you. This is another good one for giving the kids something fun and creative to do while also giving them great information on why things happen the way they do.
  11. Spohn, Rebecca – Ready, Set, Grow! A Kid’s Guide to Gardening – Good Year Books (Tucson, AZ). 2007. This book covers indoor gardening, outdoor gardening and “food and fun from the garden” – what more could you want to nurture creativity? The illustrations are a bit goofy, but the information in this one makes it easy to ignore the pictures!
  12. Wilkes, Angela – First Garden Activity Book – DK Publishing (New York). 2008. First, this is spiral bound – which gives points from the get go! Then it has some really cool ideas for different types of gardens, activities and great (and really interesting) plant facts. Usually “first books” are for babies or toddlers – this one isn’t; it’s definitely for elementary and on!

Resources: great books on the culinary arts

Books on cooking basics:

  1. Ball, Ann – Catholic Traditions in Cooking – Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana) 1993. With Ball’s usual thoroughness, this book gives great ideas for celebrating the liturgical year through treats and traditional foods. This is a classic!
  2. Cunningham, Marion – Cooking with Children: 15 Lessons for Children, Age 7 and Up, Who Really Want to Learn to Cook – Alfred A. Knopf (New York). 1995. This is great for really teaching kids how to cook … and once they know how, why and when, they can start getting creative with their cooking. Cunningham covers all the basics – how to cook rice, how to grate – while explaining the proper way to do these things. Definitely a book everyone should have on their shelves (especially if you have kids heading to college who never learned to fend for themselves!).
  3. Davis, Tina – Look and Cook: A Cookbook for Children – Henry N. Abrams (New York). 2004 With a very cool retro feel, this cookbook is a great starting point for culinary artists. The recipes are traditional “comfort” food-type dishes but with such clear explanations of each step, that the adventurous could easily veer off and create unique "family comfort food.” The spiral binding is a nice touch for easy use in the kitchen. There is an excellent overview of kitchen tools and directions for things like measuring and chopping.
  4. Fryer, Jane Eayre – The Mary Frances Cook Book: Adventures Among the Kitchen People – Applewood Books. 2002. I love the Mary Frances books. This one continues the adventures of a little girl who learns the secrets of the kitchen from the tools themselves. While it is a fun read and has great information, it is not so much a cookbook as a kitchen reference.
  5. Kenda, Margaret & Williams, Phyllis S. – Cooking Wizardry for Kids: Learn About Food … While Making Tasty Things to Eat – Barrons (Hauppauge, NY). This book is exactly what those who want to nurture creativity through food need to read! Not only does the book explain why, how, and when with all things “food”, it has great (and whimsical) recipes to test the facts. Definitely worth having on your shelf.
  6. Yolen, Jane & Stemple, Heidi E.Y. – Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers and Eaters – Crocodile Books (Northampton, MA). 2006. I love this book – a combination of great stories (told by a master) and fun recipes inspired by the stories. The creativity shown here – with recipes inspired by stories – will have your kids creating their own links! And the illustrations are really fun, too!

Resources: great books on music and movement

Books on music, movement and sound:

  1. Bottomer, Paul – Let’s Dance! Learn to Swing, Jitterbug, Rumba, Tango, Line Dance, Lambada, Cha-Cha, Waltz, Two-Step, Foxtrot and Salsa with Style, Grace and Ease – Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers (New York). 1998. This is a great illustrated, step-by-step book of how to dance just about any dancy you’d need to move to the music. The author not only explains the steps to each dance, he gives a bit of information about the dance itself, its antecedents and rhythm.
  2. Dunleavy, Deborah – The Kids Can Press Jumbo Book of Music – Kids Can Press (Tonawanda, NY). 2001. Lots of great instruments can be made with wash buckets, radiator covers and other household items and this book has them all. In addition, it teaches the reader how to play classic songs on their new instruments (i.e., make a pan-pipe and then learn to play “Yankee Doodle”). Lots of fun, creative times with this book.
  3. Fiarotta, Noel & Phyllis – Music Crafts for Kids: The How-to Book of Music Discovery – Sterling Publishing (New York). 1993. A brother and sister got together to create this book of fun projects for making things that make music: wind chimes, log drum, gourd rattle, skin drum, tin can maracas and a Native American rattle are just some of the projects for making instruments. The book also covers music theory, sounds, and dance props (flamenco castanets, maypole and a hula skirt).
  4. Hart, Avery & Mantell, Paul – Kids Make Music: Clapping & Tapping from Bach to Rock! -- Williamson Publishing (Charlotte, VT). 1993. This book is all about music for and with kids – songs, dances, types of music, homemade instruments and even “nature’s music”. A great overview of all things musical for kids.
  5. Sabbeth, Alex – Rubber-band Banjos and a Java Jive Bass: Projects and Activities on the Science of Music and Sound – John Wiley & Sons, Inc (New York). 1997. This book explains the science behind sound, movement and music; but more than that, this book encourages the reader to make his own instruments and experiment with what was explained. The experiments use common household items so kids can play and learn all at the same time – a win-win, no?
  6. Wiseman, Ann Sayre & Langstaff, John – Making Music – Storey Publishing (North Adams, MA). 2003. This is a fun book! The authors tell you how to make tons of different kinds of instruments (“from tambourines to rainsticks to dandelion trumpets …” as the cover says) and then how to play them and suggested songs to play. Perfect!

Resources: great books for working with wood

Books on working with wood:

  1. Faurot, Walter L. – The Art of Whittling – Linden Publishing. 2007. This is a reprint of a 1930s classic that takes whittling to an art form; the projects in this book (useful for beginners to strive for proficiency) include a wooden chain, entwined heart, and puzzles. This is a great book for those interested in going beyond the Lubkemann projects to true works of art.
  2. Lubkemann, Chris – The Little Book of Whittling: Passing Time on the Trail, on the Porch, and Under the Stars and Whittling Twigs and Branches: Unique Birds, Flowers, Trees and More from Easy to Find Wood – Fox Chapel Publishing. 2005. These books are small enough to fit in a backpocket or backpack for hitting the trail and whittling to while away the time. I like that he has geared these books for kids – the illustrations are clear and detailed while the directions are easy to follow. These are the kind of small projects that go over well with kids because there isn’t much outlay of time or effort to get some amazing results.
  3. McGuire, Kevin – Woodworking for Kids: 40 Fabulous, Fun & Useful Things for Kids to Make – Sterling Publishing (New York). 1993. This book is a great overview of woodworking aimed directly to kids. Starting with an overview of wood and then going on to tools and techniques and than just lots of fun projects (which are actually useful and doable!).
  4. Robertson, Craig and Barbara – The Kids’ Building Workshop: 15 Woodworking Projects for Kids and Parents to Build Together – I like this book because it assumes the parents and kids are doing the projects together. The ideas in here are basic, so the creative juices should start flowing after making the basic projects. The projects are useful products: lemonade stand, table, “shut the box” game, etc and each project lists ALL the supplies and tools necessary to finish the item like a pro.
  5. Sabol, David – Taunton’s Wood Carving Basics – Taunton Press (Newtown, CT). 2008. This book is written by an expert – Sabol has been carving in the traditional style (with chisels and knives) since he was eight. Add to this that Taunton books are amazingly well-illustrated, well-documented and just plain well-laid-out, and you’ve got the book that will get a budding woodcarver drooling.

Resources: great books on ink and color projects

Books on ink and color projects:

  1. Brookes, Mona – Drawing with Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too – Putnam Books (New York) 1996. This is the classic book for helping children learn to drawn and sketch. Definitely useful for adults to follow too.
  2. Brookes, Mona – Drawing with Older Children and Teens: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too – Putnam Books (New York) 1991. Although written for an older crowd than Brookes’ first book, this adds to the information so both are very useful for learning to draw (and having fun at the same time).
  3. Diehn, Gwen – Books for Kids to Make: Making Books that Fly, Fold, Wrap, Hide, Pop Up, Twist & Turn – Lark Books (New York) 2006. Diehn is the doyenne of making books and journals; this one is a great one to use with kids because the instructions are so clear and the projects are so unique.
  4. Fletcher, Ralph – How to Write Your Life Story – Harper Collins (New York) 2007. This little paperback is packed with great ideas and activities to help children (and adults) write their autobiographies. He also has written Poetry Matters: Writing a Poem from the Inside Out, A Writer’s Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You and How Writers Work: Finding a Process that Works for You as well as other books on writing – all aimed at children and nurturing their writing. Fletcher really knows how to get kids trying out this form of creativity.
  5. Kaye, Peggy – Games for Writing: Playful Ways to Help Your Child Learn to Write – A book of games for children from kindergarten to third grade – Noonday Press (New York). 1995. This book has great games to spark creativity in younger children and help them learn to love to play with words and writing. I love Kaye’s books, but this one is the best of all.
  6. Muller, Brunhild – Painting with Children – Floris Books (Edinburgh, Scotland) 2001. This is the classic, Waldorf-style book on using watercolors and teaching children how to paint with lots of freedom and creativity. This really expands the creative aspects of painting.
  7. Pensiero, Janet – Totally Cool Journals, Notebooks and Diaries – Sterling Publishing (New York). 2003. This well-illustrated book has great ideas for creating your own notebooks or journals. Geared to kids, the ideas are fun and relatively easy for the 8-12 year old crowd to do on their own. My daughter loves this book.
  8. Phaidon Press Editors – The Art Book – Phaidon Press (New York) 2005. This is the book that spawned the two by Amanda Renshaw and is geared to adults, but children will also find it interesting as it reproduces 500 pieces of art in as much detail as possible – a great survey of art from a solely visual perspective.
  9. Renshaw, Amanda (et alia) – The Art Book for Children and The Art Book for Children Book 2 – Phaidon Press (New York). 2005. These books are great for showing beautiful works of art, breaking them down and then asking questions to draw out reactions for children. There are also suggested activities for kids to try to learn more about techniques, composition and colors.
  10. Sayre, Henry – Cave Paintings to Picasso: The Inside Scoop on 50 Art Masterpieces – Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA). 2004. This is a great “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” book in that the chosen artworks are given lots of closeups so the kids can really see the work. Lots of great information complements the pictures – this is a great book for artist study and imitation of technique.

Resources: great books on general crafting

Books on general crafting with kids and adults:

  1. Ball, Ann – Catholic Traditions in Crafts – Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana). 1997. How do you craft your way through the liturgical year? This book will cover most of what you need to start your creative journey. Ball does a great job of describing projects and the Catholic traditions behind these projects. This is a great resource!
  2. Ball, Ann – Catholic Traditions in the Home and Classrooms: 365 Days to Celebrate a Catholic Year – Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana). 2005. This is a compilation of Ann Ball’s individual books and is organized by the calendar so it’s easy to find the great projects that fit various feasts and liturgical celebrations. If you don’t want to get the individual books, this is a good way to get Ball’s creative genius in book-form.
  3. Beal, Susan, et al – Super Crafty: Over 75 Amazing How-To Projects – Sasquatch Books (Seattle, Washington) 2005. Very cool, fun crafty projects using lots of recyclables to make funky but functional products.
  4. Berger, Petra – Feltcraft: Making Dolls, Gifts and Toys – Floris Books (Edinburgh, Scotland) 2004. This is a classic in the Waldorf-style of crafting with kids. Beautifully illustrated and amazing projects.
  5. Berger, Petra & Thomas – Crafts Though the Year – Floris Books (Edinburgh, Scotland) 2001. A classic among the Waldorf-style of crafting with suggestions for crafting by the calendar. The Bergers are amazingly crafty.
  6. Cooper, Stephanie & Fynes-Clinton, Christine & Rowling, Marye – The Children’s Year: Crafts and Clothes for Children and Parents to Make – Hawthorn Press (Gloucestershire, UK) 2002. Excellent resource for family-oriented crafting to make clothes and seasonal crafts using lots of objects from nature and natural fibers.
  7. Desmoulins, Virginie – Girls’ Best Book of Knitting, Sewing and Embroidery – Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York) 2007. This book, unfortunately geared only to girls, has some great projects and simple, clear instructions for doing the basic “girl” crafts of knitting, sewing and embroidery, all crafts boys can learn and do with great results!
  8. Jaffke, Freya – Toymaking with Children – Floris Books (Edinburgh, Scotland) 2003. Lots of great toys (in the Waldorf-style) of creating from nature or natural fibers to make imaginative toys like gnomes, elves, woodland creatures and life-skills playing (bowls, utensils, etc).
  9. Leeuwen, M v & Moeskops, J – The Nature Corner: Celebrating the Year’s Cycle with a Seasonal Tableau – Floris Books (Edinburgh, Scotland) 1990. Another Waldorf-type book, this one focuses on bringing beauty into your home through season tables using all natural pieces.
  10. Mavor, Salley – Felt Wee Folk: Enchanting Projects – C&T Publishing (Lafayette, CA) 2003. Gorgeous and fun felt projects for flat pictures as well as 3-dimensional dolls and toys.
  11. Railla, Jean – Get Crafty: Hip Home Ec – Broadway Books (New York) 2004. This takes funky one step beyond the norm and has some really fun things for young parents to do with their kids; definitely written for the Gen-X (if not younger) crowd but lots of great ideas even for this “old” mom.
  12. Watt, Fiona – The Usborne Complete Book of Art Ideas: Over 400 Inspiring Ideas for Things to do with Paints, Pastels, Collage, Crayons, Inks, Paper, Pens, Found Objects, Stitches, Rubbings – EDC Publishing (Tulsa, OK) 2005. This is a compilation of other Usborne art books which clearly and beautifully illustrate classic and not-so-classic art projects for kids to complete. This is one of my favorite books.
  13. Rhatigan, Joe & Newcomb, Rain & Dean, Irean Semanchuck – Craft It! 50 Fun Stamp, Paper & Polymer Clay Projects – Sterling Publishing (New York) 2005. This is a fun book with a good combination of styles of general, basic craft projects but with lots of potential for expanding beyond the ordinary.

Resources: great books on non-knitting fiber crafts

Books on other fiber crafts:
  1. Busch, Marlies (et alia) РFriendship Bands: Braiding, Weaving, Knotting РSterling Publishing (New York). 1996. A great way to practice knotting or weaving or beading is to start with small projects. The projects in this book are perfect for color-practice as well as building proficiency with weaving and braiding and macram̩. Excellent for use with a group because most of the projects can easily be finished in an hour or so.
  2. Gentry, Jim – Macrame: 20 Great Projects to Knot – Lark Books (New York). 2006. When you’re ready to go beyond friendship bracelets or lanyards, this book is ready to go with you. The projects include: coasters, pillow tops, eyeglass case and a pet leash. These are things you’d actually make and use – and you can take the techniques and easily expand to other projects.
  3. Patrick, Jane – Time to Weave: Simply elegant projects to make in almost no time – Interweave Press (Loveland, CO). 2006. You or your kids want to try weaving? This book is a must for you then. Including projects with weaving cork pieces, rubber mats and even paper bags, this book will teach you the fine art of weaving and making practical and beautiful items for the home. I’m very impressed with this book – the directions and projects are relatively easy but the final results are glorious. One thing I particularly like about Interweave Press books is that their authors go beyond the “recipe” and give suggestions for making your own creations. Check out this book – I think you’ll really like it.
  4. Swett, Sarah – Kids Weaving – STC Craft (New York). 2005. This is the best book I’ve found for teaching weaving. It starts out with paper weaving and then goes on to using a cardboard loom and then a “pipe loom”! How cool is this? The projects range from weaving a wall for a fairy garden to friendship bracelets to making coasters and rugs – and all from looms you can make yourself. This should nurture creativity in any home!

Resources: great books on knitting

Books on learning to knit for kids and adults:

  1. Bliss, Debbie – How to Knit: The definitive knitting course complete with step-by-step techniques, stitch libraries and projects for your home and family – Trafalgar Square Publishing (North Pomfret, VT) 1999. A wonderful, easy to use, knitting book that leads the reader through this ancient craft. Bliss is a well-known London designer with her own line of yarns. The Brits do such a great job with their knitting books and this is one of the best!
  2. Falick, Melanie – Kids Knitting: Projects for Kids of All Ages – Artisan (New York) 2003. This is the book I always recommend for teaching knitting (even adults). The projects are fun and lead the reader through the process (starting with making your own needles). Falick, former editor of one of the best knitting periodicals, does a great job with this book!
  3. Fryer, Jane Eayre – The Mary Frances Book of Knitting and Crochet – Hobby House Press 2002. A reprint of a book from the early 1900s that leads older girls and adults through the process of knitting and crochet through a delightful story of a little girl and the tools that teach her. The vintage feel includes projects for war-time knitting and clothes for celluloid dolls (that would fit today’s 18” dolls).
  4. Gildersleeve, Mary C. – Glory of America Knits! – Ecce Homo Press (LaGrange, KY) 2004. Inspired by chapter books written by Joan Stromberg about American saints Francis Cabrini and Elizabeth Ann Seton, this book includes over a dozen hand-knit projects.
  5. Gildersleeve, Mary C. – Great Yarns for the Close-Knit Family: Over two dozen original hand-knit designs inspired by one dozen fantastic family read-alouds – Hillside Education (Lake Ariel, PA) 2008. Merging the author’s love of knitting with family read-alouds, this book contains more than 20 designs inspired by great classics like Mary Poppins and Pinocchio.
  6. Gosse, Bonnie & Allerton, Jill – A First Book of Knitting for Children – Wynstones Press (Stourbridge, England) 1997. This is a great Waldorf-style book about teaching children to knit. The projects are unique and fun toys and dolls that kids want to make!
  7. Hansen, Robin – Sunny’s Mittens: Learn to Knit Lovikka Mittens – Down East Books (Camden, ME) 1990. Part story, part knitting book, this book describes how a little girl learns to make super-warm, cozy felted mittens. This is a classic!
  8. Haxell, Kate & Roberts, Luise -- First Knits: projects for beginning knitters – Martingale Company (Woodinville, WA). 2005. This book has been out a while, but I just discovered it and it will now rank as my go-to book for helping others to learn to knit. This one is great – excellent illustrations, clear and concise directions, beautiful projects and a creative mix of technique tutorials. I really like this one for giving beginners and nervous knitters the impetus to try some different stitches, color-work, techniques and projects.
  9. Murphy, Bernadette – Zen and the Art of Knitting: Exploring the Links Between Knitting, Spirituality, and Creativity – Adams Media Corporation 2002. Although Murphy goes a bit new-agey, this book does a good job of linking knitting with the spiritual and creative processes. A good read when you want to get meditative about the craft.

Resources: great books on sewing

Books on sewing by hand or machine:

  1. Alvarez, Beverley – Kids Can Sew: Fun and Easy Projects for Your Small Stitcher – Barron’s Educational Series, Inc (Hauppage, NY). 2004. Barron’s does a great job with producing craft books for kids that are attractive, well-laid-out and have fun, doable projects. This one focuses on using a sewing machine to make all kinds of fun things to wear and use. The directions are a bit minimal, so you do have to have a little experience with sewing to use this book.
  2. Cantrell, Alice – Sewing with St. Anne – Little Way Press (Twain Harte, CA) 2002. I really like the clear, clean explanations of hand- and machine-sewing in this book. The projects are very cute and useful. Again, I think this one errs on the gender-specificity of its presentation. Boys should also learn to sew!
  3. Cantrell, Alice – Tea & Cake with the Saints: A Catholic Young Lady’s Introduction to Hospitality and the Home Arts – Little Way Press (Twain Harte, CA) 2007. This book has great little projects to make a house a loving place of beauty of creativity.
  4. Cherry, Winky – My First Doll Book: Hand-sewing – Palmer/Pletsch Publishing (Portland, OR). 1994. This innocuous book will have a child sewing his/her own dolls in no time thanks to the simple, clear and direct instructions. Creativity is encouraged by describing different ways to do the face, clothes, hair, etc. Don’t let its size fool you.
  5. Cherry, Winky – My First Embroidery Book: A Name Sampler – Palmer/Pletsch Publishing (Portland, OR). 1994. A great first step with embroidery is stitching on gingham – the squares make for easy positioning of stitches and regularity of stitch size. Another great, easy to follow stitching book that has tons of great advice and information.
  6. Cobb, Mary – A Sampler View of Colonial Life – Millbrook Press (Brookfield, CT). 1999. This is the kind of cross-curriculum book I love to use in my home-educating adventures: this one combines American History and needlework by explaining the history of the colonial sampler and teaching the reader how to make the sampler (from making the cloth through the stitching and on to creating other stitching projects like a copy book).
  7. Davis, Tina – See and Sew: A Sewing Book for Children – Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York) 2006. This is a fun, spiral-bound volume that starts with the basics and really teaches children (both boys and girls!) how to hand-sew. I particularly like the retro look of this book which gives the idea of hand-sewing as being a traditional, homey well-loved craft for children.
  8. Fryer, Jane Eayre – The Mary Frances Sewing Book – LACIS Books (Berkley, CA) 1997. Reprint of a volume from the early 1900s that teaches how to sew through a story about a little girl and her imagination. Lovely, vintage feel with interesting projects, aimed at older girls or adults.
  9. Gagnon, JoAnn & Corrie Gagnon – Stitches & Pins: A Beginning Sewing Book for Girls – Bunkhouse Books 2002. This is a great project book from a homeschooler and her daughter. The projects are useful and include great, clear instructions.
  10. Kanamori, Miyako – Happy Gloves: Charming Softy Friends Made from Colorful Gloves – Penguin Group (New York). 2007. This is one of the cutest books I’ve seen in a long time. All the projects in this book – for making squirrels, chipmunks, ducks, dolls and even teapots – are created from knitted gloves! And are they cute!
  11. Karol, Amy – Bend-the-Rules Sewing: The essential guide to a whole new way to sew – Potter Craft (New York) 2007. Fun and funky projects that gently lead the reader not only toward sewing but also give the reader the confidence to go beyond the projects and create your own!
  12. Llimos, Anna – Easy Cloth Crafts in 5 Steps – Enslow Publishers (Berkeley Heights, NJ). 2005. This is a great fabric craft book for pre-sewing fun – the projects go from easy to hard (although none is too hard) and use glue, staples or tape to make the objects. This one is fun for the younger kids who are too little for real sewing. The projects are fun too!
  13. McAllister, Buff – Sewing with Felt: Learn Basic Stitches to Create More Than 60 Colorful Projects – Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA). 2003. The wonderful thing about learning to sew with felt is that you don’t have to worry about fraying edges and you can just worry about stitching the felt to the background. This book walks the reader through every step of the way – encouraging the reader to go beyond the wonderful projects shown. This is beautifully illustrated and the directions are clean and clear.
  14. Nicholas, Kristin – Kids’ Embroidery: Projects for Kids of All Ages – Stewart, Tabori & Chang (New York). 2004. Nicholas was former creative editor for knitting yarn company Classic Elites Yarn and famous for her colorful designs. Here she brings her beautiful color-sense to a step-by-step book on embroidery, explaining all the basic stitches and suggesting amazingly fun projects. If you only get one book for your kids to learn embroidery, you should get this one!
  15. Rothschild, Sharon Franco – Sweater Renewal: Felting Knits into New Sweaters and Accessories – Potter Craft (New York). 2008. So you have a pure wool sweater you accidentally shrank or you see a sweater in a thrift store that has beautiful colorwork but is the wrong size – this book will help fix the situation. Rothschild has over two dozen projects that demand that you find wool sweaters to shrink. These projects get the creative juices flowing to go beyond her clear directions and start creating your own recyclables.
  16. Ryan, Jenny – Sew Darn Cute: 30 Sweet and Simple Projects to Sew and Embellish – St. Martin’s Press (New York). 2009. For simple, but fun, sewing projects, this book is one of the best. The projects are practical (glass case, laptop bag and bibs to name just a few) while developing a sewing skill-base. This book includes patterns for making a crochet-hook case and a multi-pocket crafting apron. Very cool!
  17. Sadler, Judy Ann – Kids Can Do It: Embroidery – Kids Can Press Ltd (Tonawanda, NY). 2004. This is a beautifully illustrated, step-by-step guide to embroidering. An added bonus: the projects are cool!
  18. Sealey, Maricristin – Kinder Dolls: A Waldorf Doll-Making Handbook – Hawthorn Press (Gloucestershire, UK) 2001. A classic! This one leads the reader step-by-step through the process of creating the beautiful cloth dolls that are a traditional gift for all children in Germany. These dolls are gorgeous and come in all sizes. Beautiful!
  19. Stapleton, Dorothy – Kids Can Quilt: Fun and Easy Projects for Your Small Quilter – Barrons Educational (Hauppauge, NY). 2004. This book might even get me quilting. The projects are fun and look doable with the great illustrations and directions. My 8-year-old daughter can’t wait to start – always a good sign!

Resources: great books on defining creativity

Books on creativity defined and developed:

  1. Brocket, Jane – The Gentle Art of Domesticity: Stitching, Baking, Nature, Art and the Comforts of Home – STC Craft (New York). 2008. This is one of those books that synthesizes creativity into the heart of the home. I love the way the author incorporates the traditionally domestic into an art form. The book is full of amazingly beautiful photos of projects and inspiration from books to movies to food to make! This is a definite keeper!
  2. Burns, Marilyn – The Book of Think: Or How to Solve a Problem Twice Your Size – Yolla Bolly Press (Covelo, CA). 1976. Marilyn Burns, author of “I Hate Mathematics” and “Math for Smarty Pants” as well as others takes the idea of thinking outside the box and works through how to teach the skill of creative thinking. The exercises, puzzles and questions lead the reader through the process of thinking outside the box.
  3. Butterworth, Eric – The Creative Life: Seven Keys to Your Inner Genius – Jeremy R. Tarcher/Putnam (New York). 2001. The author, a Unity minister, looks to scripture and his Judeo-Christian religious background to explain creativity and God’s desire for us to imitate him through being creative.
  4. Cameron, Julia with Mark Bryan – The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity – Jeremy R. Tarcher/Putnam (New York). 1995. This book has exercises for nuturing the artistic side; tends toward the “new age” a bit but still well worth a read.
  5. Carlson, Ginder – Child of Wonder: Nurturing Creative and Naturally Curious Children – Common Ground Press (Eugene, OR). 2008. The author, holding a Masters in Education, implements many of her ideas in schools as well as within her home with her son. Many of her ideas are for classroom setting, but can be easily translated into the home.
  6. Field, Christine – Life Skills for Kids: Equipping your child for the real world – Waterbrook Press (Colorado Springs, CO). 2000. This book has a great chapter on nurturing creativity. The other chapters are well-worth reading, particularly if you home-educate your children.
  7. Gelb, Michael J. – How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day – Random House (New York). 1998. This book has a fabulous overview of the seven tools Leonardo DaVinci nurtured to become the epitome of the Renaissance Man.
  8. Gregory, Danny – The Creative License: Giving yourself permission to be the artist you truly are – Hyperion (New York). 2006. Personal tragedy led the author to change careers and learn to draw – something he’d always wanted to do but never took the time. This is a great book for adults who think they’re not creative. There are many great tips and techniques to get the reader’s creative juices flowing. Although geared primarily to the sketch/drawing/painting type arts, the basic information applies to all creative pursuits.
  9. Henri, Robert – The Art Spirit – Westview Press (Boulder, CO) 1984. This is a classic art school text written back in the 1920s. Henri taught his students many creativity “tricks” to develop their own style.
  10. Kenison, Katrina – Mitten Strings for God: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry – Warner Books (New York). 2000. A compilation of essays from a working-career mom who wants to live each moment fully not competitively; her essays help to point out the need to slow down, take a deep breath, and enjoy by doing things most would think were a “waste of time”.
  11. LeFever, Marlene D. – Growing Creative Children: How to help your child listen, enjoy and anticipate – Tyndale House Publishers (Wheaton, IL). 1981. Theme of this out-of-print volume is that it’s not so much how much creative skills God gave our children but how we nurture what they have; the author has an entire chapter on the importance and benefits of reading, read alouds and family reading times.
  12. Leuzzi, Linda – A Creative Life: The Young Person’s Guide – Franklin Watts (Danbury, Connecticut). 1999. Written for the 10-15 year-old crowd, this book does a great job of giving examples of different ways to be creative and expands the traditional definition to include cooks, mechanics, etc.
  13. Lewis, Gareth – One-to-One: A Practical Guide to Learning at Home Age 0-11 – Nezert Books (Duault, France). 2003. The author, an unschooling father, gives excellent proof of the benefit of nurturing creativity in a home learning environment. Wonderfully basic project ideas are included within the text.
  14. Lewis, Gareth – Unqualified Education: A Practical Guide to Learning at Home Age 11-18 – Nezert Books, (Duault, France). 2003. A sequel to One-to-One, with fewer projects but still lots of “witnessing” to the benefits of creativity in the home.
  15. Schaeffer, Edith – The Hidden Art of Homemaking: Ideas for Creating Beauty in Everyday Life – Tyndale House Publishers (Wheaton, IL) 1983. The author, wife of Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer (and mother of Susan Schaeffer Macaulay), writes a lovely book discussing all the many arts which make a house a beautiful home, a beautiful witness to God’s creation.
  16. Smith, Keri – Living Out Loud: Activities to fuel a creative life – Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA). 2003. This spiral-bound book is filled with games, puzzles, activities and craft projects that encourage adults and their kids to get in and create! Wonderfully whimsical and just fun stuff here.
  17. Soule, Amanda Blake – The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections – Trumpeter Books (Boston, Massachusetts). 2008. This is the book that got me started thinking about writing my book; Soule’s book is fabulous but completely misses the link between God and the human person’s ability/need to create.
  18. Tharp, Twyla – The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life – Simon and Schuster (New York). 2003. This is a fascinating book by the famous dancer/Broadway choreographer that has sage advice for obtaining and using the gift of creativity.
  19. Wakefield, Dan – Creating from the Spirit: Living Each Day as a Creative Act – Ballantine Books (New York) 1996. Jounalist and novelist Wakefield defines the creative act as more a mind-set than a thing. He interviews the spectrum from artists to CEOs to show that those who are successful live their lives with the creative, entrepreneurial spirit necessary for answering all challenges. He also debunks the myth that creativity comes from a bottle, a packet of drugs or other external.
  20. misc authors – The Crafter’s Companion: Tips, Tales and Patterns from a Community of Creative Minds – Snowbooks Ltd (London, England). 2006. This is a compilation of tips and project ideas from a group of artists, designers, and other creative types who “know” each other from online.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

WooHoo: it's out!

Please celebrate with me .... Margot, my publisher at Hillside Education, just posted that my book, In His Image: Nurturing Creativity in the Heart of Your Home is available for pre-order (with a shipping date of June 15th). If you get a chance to read a copy, please let me know what you think. And my good friend over at 4real, Elizabeth Foss, kindly wrote the foreword for me!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009