Monday, November 26, 2012

Classic Book Review: Tell Me a Trudy

Funniest book ever.   The pairing of the quirkiness of the story of Lore Segal and the awesome hilarity of Rosemary Wells illustrations is a killer combo.  There are three stories in the book, all told about a girl named Gertrude but who goes by Trudy and a mother and a father and a baby brother Jacob.

 They have adventures with Superman and aliens in their bathroom, and with Aunt Shirley and Cousin Leonard and sharing, and with their copycatting Grandmother.  All of whom are extremely funny characters.  The three stories (or Trudys) are all wonderful, but I think the Superman one is my favorite.

The essence of children is truly captured in the full spectrum: annoying, intelligent, gullible, fair, innocent and hilarious.  Both in Lore Segal's dialog, and in Rosmary Well's evocative illustrations.  I grew up with this book, and it weaved itself in and around our inside jokes and random references to become the stuff of familial legend.  Buy it for yourself or your kids for Christmas, or check it out from the library.  You won't regret it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tutorial: Upcycling cereal boxes into carboard mailers

This is so easy I can't believe I haven't thought of this before.   It is brilliant if I do say so myself.  I wish I had thought of this when I was bothering with all of the promotions and whatnot to get a tiny bit of sales with my etsy shop.  Though they will be useful for the new printing run I'm doing of my Ted book.  Just in time for the season of gifting and shipping everything.  Either way I am super happy that I found such a great use for the waste from the grotesque amounts of cereal my children consume.   I will certainly never need to buy another small mailer again! 

See, totally easy!  I know I'm going to be using them from now on.  Are you?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Kid Project: Upcycling old broken crayons into swirly coloring sculptures

I did this last year with my kids for their friends, and since it was for gifts, I didn't blog about it then.  That and I'm pretty awful about blogging.  But in honor of the upcoming gifting/making/shopping madness, I wanted to get more homemade gift ideas out there and in my tutorials.  So, this random post which was half written (and of course not finished) was dug gingerly out of the pile of my squandered molding ideas, and with a little spit polish here and there, I present it to you for your crafting pleasure.

These were from candy pretzel molds, so I had to tape up the end so the wax wouldn't run out, but overall it made a great shape for coloring with.

Upcycled Fancy Crayons

Step 1: Peel old crayons.  (kid step)  Perfect job for kid helpers.  You (the adult) can make it easier by taking an exacto knife and cutting through the length of the crayon paper wrapper.

Step 2: Sort out the colors into like piles.  (kid step)  I used a ton of leftover crayons, all different brands.  Some of which had different wax and sparkles and whatnot other components, so it wasn't all totally homogeneous.  Not the best thing, so I would suggest maybe sticking to the same brand.  It still worked though, but next time I think I'll go with all the same sort of crayons.

Step 3: Melt them double boiler style.  (adult job)  You can use a variety of things for this purpose.  But just know it will probably ruin whatever container you use.  So think recycled.  You can start collecting rinsed out tin cans, or I used glass baby food jars.. anything that isn't going to melt with the crayons.  (don't use anything plastic)  And put them in a shallow pot of boiling water.  Make sure the water doesn't go into the crayon containers.

Step 4: Pour the molten wax into molds.  (adult job)  Use tongs or oven mitts or something, because I guarantee whatever you used to house the molten wax will be super hot.  Be careful when you pour!  You can use all sorts of different molds to shape the wax.  I used candy molds this time.  But you can use old ice cube trays, or muffin tins, old prescription bottles or even hollowed out egg shells.  The possibilities are really endless.  (you could get real fancy and make plaster casts of objects and fill it in with wax..)  I also like to swirl and mix two or more colors together.  I try to stick with colors next to or close to each other on the color spectrum (or mix with neutrals, white, brown, greys and black) to avoid really ugly combinations, like what happens when you mix complimentary colors that cancel each other out.  Because they will mix up a bit.  The mixing colors is my favorite part.  Go crazy and have fun with it though!

Step 5: Cool them off completely.  Cool off in freezer (where the wax will contract, making it easy to pop right out of the mold!)

Step 5:  Remove from the mold and color.  (kid step)  Make sure it is totally cooled off and cold, and not even slightly warm at all.  If so it should come right out and be ready to color with!
re-purposed glass baby food jars work great for gifting and/or storage (as well as for melting) can you tell I did this when Liam was still eating baby food?

 There you go!  Enjoy!  It is really fun, and they make fantastic gifts.  If you want more gift making tutorials let me know!