Thursday
Aug282014

The First Forest Beasts

The Forest Beasts are here!

We had such fun designing these softies. The kids chose all the shapes and colors. I helped with the sewing machine- especially with the faux fur. That material is hard to sew!

I am inspired to think of easy, early tricks for sewing machine skills. The kids loved seeing their ideas become real life cuddle-monsters :)

These may be the first, but they sure won't be the last beasts :)

 

PS- Ian had a friend visiting. These were just as fun for the boys as the girls. A great boy craft! *Not that I believe certain crafts are for "boys" or "girls". I just see how they respond to different ideas. And the boys (and girls!) loved this one!

Friday
Aug012014

Tie Dye Adventures

Tie Dye is timeless.

Seriously. I thought tie dye might be a fun glimpse into my college years. I could share an activity from my youth. I learned that what felt "dated" to me was "all new" to them. And they LOVE it. The process was magic.

And they learned a lot along the way :)

So we started with the Jacquard Funky Groovy Tie Dye Kit. The kit came with directions, dye, rubber bands, and one pair of gloves (which became imortant later). We looked online for inspiration. We learned a few different techniques for using the rubber bands. Anika tried a swirl. Mila wanted a stripes. Ian wanted a bullseye. 

They each had a t-shirt and a white tea towel/flour sack which was thin cotton. The Flour Sack Towels were a surprising hit. They are used as doll and stuffie blankets, dancing scarves, and decorations. We found them on a whim and I'm so glad that we gave them a try. Each child got a shirt and a scarf.

Anika (11) could manage the rubber bands on her own. For Mila (6), I encouraged her to loop the rubber band once, then I cinched each one with a few more loops. Ian (5), pointed to where he wanted the rubber bands and I put them on for him. When they were done, we placed plastic bags in the shade (one for each child). I've dyed before, so I know what happens when projects are close to each other (dye easily puddles and moves to the other project). So we gave each project plenty of room. 

The kit came with red, blue, and yellow. And one pair of gloves. I let Anika wear the gloves. She started with the dye. Then I wanted to have fun, too. We planned to jump in the pool afterwards so using a little without gloves would be fine, right?

Wrong. My hands were dyed for days! My fingernails, especially, looked like monster-hands all yellowed and green. Next time, I will get extra gloves :)

Anika and I used the bottles while Mila and Ian told us where to add the colors.  We were careful not to let the dye puddle underneath the project (keeping each area the chosen color).

After awhile, mixing became fun too!

The colors were so vivid! And the directions had a lot of illustrations, which Anika appreciated. I asked her to read a lot of them to me, so information reading practice, hurrah.

Oh, one idea was to place marbles or bouncy balls inside the fabric before adding the rubber band, thus creating the bulls-eye effect. Fun stuff. We searched Pinterest and found lots of inspiration :)

We had extra dye when the kids finished. And a couple of four sacks. So I decided to dip-dye. I asked the kids to predict what would happen. I found old containers that I wasn't worried about ruining. I draped the towels over a child-chair (that I also wasn't worried about ruining). And we tucked a few inches into the dye. Science! What might happen and why?

By now our workspace was nice and messy. So I made sure that nothing sat in a puddle of unwanted color (brown) and we left everything to sit. This was hard for the kids because they wanted to open their creations right away. I can understand that! Practice patience :)

And by now my hands were a mess! Oh, you can see the fun directions in this image. Perfect for older children.

We let the projects sit. And sit.

The dip dye started its science-magic.

We looked up how water can travel "up". We let everything stay overnight. The next morning, the blue had traveled up half of the towel! I didn't get a photo of that, sorry.

The kids were amazed. Then I wore the gloves (I learned my lesson the hard way) to snip the rubber bands carefully and rinse excess dye. The kids were thrilled by what they had created. Awesome!

I held their projects up for them to admire, then tossed everything to wash and dry (as instructed). Finally, the shirts were ready to wear.

Each one turned out different. Exactly like the kids who made them :)

These child-led crafts are delightful and rewarding for them. Look what can be made! 

I remembered why I wore so much tie-dye in college. It's fun!

Ian loved the activity as much as the girls, so this is definitely fun for boys and girls. The best part is that, every time they wear the shirts, they remind us of happy times. And that never goes out of syle :)

This is not a sponsored post, but the links are affiliate, so if you decide to try your own tie-dye adventure, a small percentage returns to the Forest. Your price remains the same. Thank you!

Happy dying!

Saturday
Jul192014

The Children's Festival

Another year of magic!

The Children's Festival is a community celebration of childhood and adventure. We dress up as unicorns and kitty-fairies and (this year) Superman :)

Magic can be so simple in childhood! The highlights of the festival include facepainting using watercolors (always check paint for whether it's safe and appropiate (not permanent :)).

Clay and painting a giant cardboard castle and hammering scrap wood to make daggers and swords and little houses.


Children create their own magic! They become vivid characters with a few simple ideas. We are surely lucky to have dedicated volunteers who make these dreams possible.

Oh, and the favorite treat! I almost forgot!

A lemon with a stick of peppermint. You suck the lemon up through the peppermint. The candy becomes a sweet straw. The kids love this treat! We had to go back for second lemons. When life gives you lemons, make easy peppermint lemonade :)

Simple things that make magic for children. I may use a few ideas at our next party :)

The Festival, however, takes magic to another level with the many volunteers who go above and beyond to make an unforgettable adventure!

The bride is guarded by a Troll who demands a stick or rock for toll. The children search for the best items to give him. He has red eyes and a spider on his nose!

And a real fire-breathing dragon!

The entire day is an experience! We can't wait for another journey to the enchanted forest next year!

The entire gallery with lots of photos is here:

Go to The Children's Festival on Facebook for updates about next year's event. Inspiring children (and adults) every year :)

Off to Neverland! Or the Enchanted Forest! Or ... ?

:)

Tuesday
Jul152014

Five Ways to Personalize a Fairy

Fairies love to be gifts. Or special projects. And each time a fairy is crafted, they love to be unique. Fairies have a special magic. Because you create a fairy, you make her (or him) unique.

I give fairies as gifts all of the time. For new babies to hang over the crib, for birthdays, for children in difficult times. I have a few tricks for making a fairy unique. I hope they help you craft a fun fairy for friends, family, or yourself.

1. Favorite Colors

Ask about colors. Ask a parent or child about their favorite colors. Especially in childhood, colors change quickly. Use the colors to inspire your felt and petals.

Children often grow from pink, purple, pink, and more pink, to red, black, and dark purple.

Every age is fun! And using another person's favorite colors is fun.

2. Matching features

Match the family, match the details. 

Fairy Deer by Margaret Bloom at We Bloom Here

I love fairy families! We create big sisters and little brothers. I will use a little gnome for a baby or toddler. Children love when the fairy is part of a family!

Matching hair color and eye-color always delights children.

I gave this fairy yellow hair to match my friend's hair. I threaded a strand of sparkly white in to add texture. Of course, I love colored hair for fairies- pink! green! rainbow! so I don't often matchy-match. Still a fun plan now and again :)

3. Using numbers

Numbers add a layer of significance to any fairy. The birthday fairies (pictures above with the blue candles on her hat) always have the number of candles matching the number of trips around the sun. Numbers can be used in other ways, too.

For this fairy, I sewed four Xs on her hat for the four people in her family (they wrap around so you don't see all of the Xs at once).

I use numbers all of the time with custom fairies. I will put a number of points on a crown, or beads on a hat. The numbers can reflect anything. From trips around the sun. To family. To dreams and goals. Numbers create another link between a fairy and her (or his) new home.

4. Charms and tokens

Bead stores can be my toy stores! A little charm can be the difference between an everyday fairy and a custom fairy.

For these fairies, I found beads with the same letter as the child's first name.

I had to treasure-hunt since the letters were buried in bowls of random beads. I need to find more letter-beads :).

I had a bead with the year for awhile which will help me in the future (I need 2014 beads :)). I also have charms with Made With Love on them. I adore charms with HOPE, or DREAM, or WISH on them. My challenge is that I often forget all my choices until the fairy is in the mail. Oops. This list will help remind me.

I also use charms to share a moment in time, favorites, or memories. This birthday fairy has a snowflake charm even though she has a spring birthday. Can you guess why?


I expect fairies to be loved, played with, and taken on adventures. My friend may not have this fairy forever. If she does, though, I want her to remember that this was the year she discovered a new favorite story and sang the songs with all of her heart. I want the fairy to reflect her life. 

And my children do keep their fairies in a collection. We have everyday fairies and sentimental fairies :)

5. Stories, friends, and accessories

As I write this, I hear the stories that I hold as I create these fairies. Every once in awhile, I include a written note with the custom features of each fairy. Usually I let the fairy speak for itself. Most people notice matching elements, or discover the number of candles. Every once in awhile, though, I write a story to give with a fairy. Such as with the emotional Fairy Road that travelled with a fairy to a family in a very difficult time. Fairies are celebrations. They can also be a source of great comfort and strength. Fairies have been given to children who need extra support (my son carried one in his pocket the first days of school). They have also been angels in challenging times for health or grieving. Fairies have stories too. Writing a quick note can create an immediate connection between a fairy and a child (or adult).

I actually rarely give fairies a name. I often give that opportunity to the child. Naming is a connection as well. And they often choose a name that I would never imagine on my own :)

Fairies love friends! You can make your own, like Margaret Bloom made this darling deer to live in our Forest :)

We also give stuffed friends with fairies. We might give a cat or dog that looks similar to a family pet. Or magical friends. Often, I don't have time to make my own animal friends (I wish!). Luckily, the world makes awesome unicorns, dragons, foxes, and more that can accompany a fairy.


This unicorn is no longer available (unfortunately) the same company makes a similar Only Hearts Club Unicorn. Or you can click here to find many, many unicorns. We also adore dragons.

My almost-last idea (I have so many ideas!) is to give a bottle of Pixie Dust/Fairy Dust with your fairy.

Of course, again, I cannot find this exact bottle to share, but these look very similar- Pixie Dust Bottles with Fairy Wand. I need these wands to prop in the fairy's hand!

I just thought of necklaces or bracelets, too, that can travel with a fairy.

Every fairy has their own unique magic. Making your own means that no one else in the world can create the exact same fairy. That is magic right there :)

Fairies make lovely gifts. Even bees know the magic of fairies :)

Enjoy creating and giving the magic away!

Bonus sixth way! Of course, a very simple way to customize fairies is to choose a special fairy. A mermaid or zombie or warlock may be just what your friend loves these days. Our book has many, many choices!

All of the fairies in this post use tutorials found in our book. We want to inspire creating of all kinds (these tips are great for gnomes too). I am happy to answer any questions!

Now, I'm off to pack up the Birthday Fairy for a special friend. Share the magic :)

*please note: This post contains affiliate links. Should you choose to purchase any items through links on this post, a small amount returns to the Forest. Your price remains the same. We both win. And thank you!

Friday
Jul042014

Happy Fourth of July!

Hello fairies!

This week we made fairies to celebrate the Fourth of July. They are so festive and fun!

We were inspired by carnations in the craft store with red, white, and blue petals. We found great supplies with my Christmas collection of pipe cleaners, sequins, and sparkly threads. We realized that pompoms make perfect fireworks :)

So we sewed the design of the Leprechaun Hat with a long top (layered with another color). We tucked the pompom inside. Magic :)

Ian made a boy that had Fireworks Power. The blue thread going down his arm is how he shares his power to make fireworks.

And he wanted an orange face. This boy loves orange (he has a collection of All Things Orange by his bed).

We have a big party today (it's my birthday!) so I better go decorate :)

Enjoy the holiday! Happy Fourth of July! Happy Fairy Crafting!