a content='IE=EmulateIE7' http-equiv='X-UA-Compatible'/> Kenna's Felt Forest: 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Willa-Eve Photography

I am delighted to have been offered the chance for Willa-Eve Photography to take pictures of a few of my products. She did a fantastic job- much better than I have done to date. (Felt food is wily! HOLD STILL, Carrot!) Here' s her blog- click here

Here are a few of my favorite shots. You'll find her work all over my Etsy site now http://www.kennasfeltforest.etsy.com/, and I have plans to mail her more items to photograph (Because of course all her great photos are making my lousy ones look even worse!)

quiet book page, picking flowers

Quiet Book page- Matching Shapes
Yummy Felt Sandwich Set
Fresh Garden Veggies Set

I'm trying to find a link to WillaEve- as soon as I do, I'll edit this post! :) She's awesome to work with and will make your products look great!

toddler Christmas- First Painting

Kenna and I have done lots and lots of painting. We've used water colors many times, and we've painted with just water more times than I can count. (She's not even two yet, and she loves dipping, and definately hasn't missed the "paint" part of painting!)

Shamefully, I have been too neurotic to allow actual paint in the house. now, it's too cold to take it outside, but I figured my Month of Christmas Crafts would be incomplete without some sort of real painting, sooo... I took a deep breath and brought out. . . the paint.

It went a LOT better than I expected. she's almost two and understood my two main directions:
1. we only paint on paper

2. we don't eat paint

I pulled out one of my old shirts for her official paint smock, got some chunky brushes and limited her paint selection to green and red (ho ho ho). I provided one brush for each color, and my neatnick child switched brushes each time without ever mixing them up.

I decided that for our first painting experience, I would just let her do her thing on blank paper, no parameters.

She tried lots of different techniques, including long strokes and stippling. I was very impressed. She kept oohing and ahhing at her work, and muttering things like,"No eat", and "So pretty." It was hilarious. She lost focus a few times and almost swiped me with the brush, but I came away unscathed, and cautiously feel like more painting could be in our future.

On my desk lies a recipe for homemade fingerpaint. Do I dare?

Toddler Christmas- stringing beads

I scored some shiny green and red pipe cleaners on clearance last week, and bought some red and irridescent white pony beads to go with it. If you've ever tried to string a bead on a piece of string, you'll know that it is hard becuase string is floppy and doesn't hold it's shape. Pipe cleaners are PERFECT because they stand up and you need less fine motor control to maneuver a bead onto them.
My thought was to make candycanes to hang on the Christmas tree. Kenna (22 mos) took one look at the pipe cleaner and declared it a bracelet. Ah, well.

It took kenna very little time to figure out how to get the beads on, and then to slide them down the pipe cleaner. She was very intent on her work, and chose each bead very carefully. At first, a color pattern was developing (w,r,r,r w,r,r,r) and I was kind of freaking out, but in hindsight, it was just a fluke. :)

She spent about twenty minutes working on this project and got 12 beads onto the pipe cleaner all by herself. I put it away to avoid boredom or frustration, but after nap, she wanted to do more! I am in awe of her determination- it was really hard to get those chubby fingers to pick up a bead, turn the hole towards the pipecleaner and then slide it on.

As any good Mommy would, I did my own "bracelet" and kept pace, bead for bead with her. She loved I had my own to work on and she had hers.

Anyone else had success with stringing beads? Has anyone tried bigger beads, like those wooden ones?

Toddler Christmas- tearing paper

So, I have a 22 month old who wants to cut with scissors and use a hot glue gun. Of course, she can't actually do those things (scissors in particular frustrate her to no end) which means I have had to be very creative in thinking up Christmas crafts that she can actually do and enjoy. My goal was to do one craft a day each day of December, but let's be real... I'll be happy to do one craft a week!

Today's craft started with the fine art of tearing paper- something that my 1.5 year old thrives on! I gave her a sheet of green construction paper and told her to go at it. That lasted about five minutes (a lifetime in toddlerland) and then she was ready for step two.

Step two was to dip each piece in some glue and cover a tree quickly drawn onto a piece of paper. Unfortunately, dipping flat scraps of paper was way too hard, so I changed gears and smeared glue all over the tree. Ahh- as easy as playing with stickers! She happily poked pieces of paper all over the tree, andI was amazed that she didn't place any outside the tree outline. My little OCD baby...

For the last step I whipped out some little red and yellow pom poms. "HOORAY!" she shouted, (pompoms are very exciting around here) and she lovingly stuck each little ball onto her tree as "christmas lights". Be aware, pom poms won't actually stick to paper with a light coating of glue, so while she napped, I securely glued each pom pom down with a big dollop of glue.

Not too shabby for the first toddler art project of the month! Next time, I'd let her color the white outline of the tree green first, or possibly paint it (silly me, I thought we'd cover the whole drawing with green paper! ha!) . I also forgot to let her decorate the star before we started- I'm thinking glitter!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Chunky Toddler Crayons

Kenna is a scribbling maniac these days! She loves to draw and color and write on anything that holds still. So far, she's decorated my flat screen TV, the mirrors, my wood floors, and the toilet seat. She's truly a budding artist.

Her favorite medium is marker, and I think I've finally figured out why. Markers are thick and easy to grasp. Well, arming a one and a half year old with markers is always a poor idea, so I googled around to see if I could come up with something better for her to color with.

I got inspired by the idea of melting regular crayons down into larger, chunkier crayons. Why not? She has such a hard time gripping those little crayons that she loses interest very quickly, so they're just sitting around taking up space.

First I soaked the crayons in cold water to loosen the paper. It worked like a charm- the paper slid off every crayon with ease (except one really really stubborn one that must have had double glue on it or something... grrr.)

I grabbed my mini-muffin pan and lightly coated with vegetable oil, hoping the crayons wouldn't stick too horribly. (oh, wouldn't those silicone ice cube trays in all different shapes be fun?)

Then Kenna and I sorted the crayons into colors, and broke the crayons into about four pieces each. (You could of course make rainbow crayons or medley crayons, or contrasting color crayons... I'll try those ideas next time!!) Kenna chose which spot to put each color in.

I set the oven for 300 degrees F and let the crayon pieces bake for about 6 minutes until the pieces were completely melted.

Here they are, all gooey and melty in the oven after about 4 minutes:

I took a toothpick to each waxy puddle and gently swirled the colors together. (just to experiment) I then let them set up for about fifteen minutes. I read somewhere that they would set up faster in the freezer, so in they went for about 20 minutes. I checked on them and they were already nice and hard, and pulling away from the sides! They popped right out of the muffin tin- whew! (Hubby would not have been happy...)

This is what they looked like when they came out. I think they look so inspiring! Too bad Kenna is sleeping now.We'll have to wait til she wakes up to start a new masterpiece.
I only did a few colors just in case my recipe needed modifying. (Plus, this was a "hurry and finish before naptime" project.) The next batch is going to be a lot bigger, and I'm going to try some different shapes!
These chunky crayons are super-easy to make and would make great 1st birthday gifts, along with some paper or coloring books. These crayons are great for inspiring the very young to start working on their fine motor skills. Drawing, scribbing and pretend writing are the foundations of future literacy!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Handy Husband 10-10-10

My hubby is always into some interesting project or another. This week, he decided to create a dress form so that he can "drape" and sew clothes for me. Without a pattern. Dress forms are pretty darn expensive, so he found a tutorial online to help him craft one out of duct tape. He told me that the end result would actually end up being the size and shape of my body. How, you ask?

By wrapping me in duct tape. Lots of duct tape.

We started with Hubby wrapping me in cling wrap." So the duct tape wouldn't adhere to my skin," he explained.
I crossed my fingers and kept reminding him to cover carefully.

The clingwrap was bizarre looking and since I was indecent, I didn't allow pictures. Please feel free to use your imagination.

Next, Hubby started with the duct tape. he worked from the top down, using short lengths of duct tape to control the shape, and being sure to really smooth it down before moving on. It did seem to get tighter and tighter as he went- so if you attempt this, be sure to keep it a little looser than you think you should.

Ack... can't breathe!

He totally finished the body, and went all the way up to my neck and around my armpits, so that he had an accurate shape and size to work with. Don't I look cute... I'm a bit woozy from the chemical smell of the duct tape in these pictures!

When he was done, he ran some thin blue tape at my waist, hips and bust as reference marks. Then he cut me out of the suffocating duct tape dress!!

On to Stuffing:
Hubby matched up the blue tape lines and re-taped the duct tape shape back together on the inside.

Using some old pillows we got at Goodwill plus some newspaper, Hubby stuffed the body of the dressform. He used cardboard to seal up the neck and arm holes, and then added more duct tape. About halfway through stuffing, he stuck the pole into the form so it would get wedged in nicely around the stuffing. (He used an old broom handle.) It took a few tries to get the stuffing just right- the dress form started out with a GIANT backside and a very lumpy side! He just kept adjusting and stuffing til it looked right.

Lastly, he stuck the pole into a christmas tree stand and Viola! A perfect dress form to start his career in fashion design.

Isn't my hubby cool? Next week, his first attempt at draping a dress! :)

worm bin DIY

We try our best to recycle and repurpose most of our trash- striving for one bag of trash per week. We have a compost heap in the back for branches and fall leaves. And we have a vermicompost. HAD. Our worms used to reside in a makeshift, ventless Rubbermaid container that we kept in the kitchen. The worst part of this system was that we had to hand-sift the compost out each month, trying to separate the rich compost from our worms and their fragile worm eggs. Separating rotting food and worms by hand= YUCK. But alas, with no money to upgrade, our worms struggled through the winter and sadly died off in their rubbermaid prison.

Well, my husband has had his eye on this awesome "Can-O-Worms" kitchen compost bin for months, but we never seem to have the extra money to spend on it. We actually saw the Can-O-Worms worm bin in action, and it is much tidier than our current system, and the worms seem happy. As they move up, you can easily access the rich compost in the bottom trays. NICE!

Finally ready to attempt vermicomposting again, but STILL not able to afford the Can-O-Worms, I stumbled across this easy DIY online, and Hubby and I decided to give it a try. It basically described a cone-shaped felt bag with an open top and a drawstring bottom. As the worms eat their way up, you can get to the compost from the bottom, via the drawstring. The felt bag hangs from a handmade wood frame, and is very cool. I didn't want to build a frame, though, so we needed another option.

1. I headed over to Ikea and picked up the Antonius shelving rack for ten bucks. I also grabbed a clear plastic tray for the bottom to collect worm tea and store newspapers.

2. I popped over to the craft store and bought a couple yards of black felt, some white rope and a stop cord (a drawstring mechanism doohicky).

3. I used wire cutters to snip the bottom out of the mesh drawer that came with the Ikea Antonius rack. The bag hangs right through the wire drawer. This is cool because if I want to add a top to this bin, I can simply pull the worm bin out to fill it and then push it back in without removing the top.

4. Hubby sewed up a felt bag using the instructions online, creating a drawstring bottom, and some button holes along the open mouth of the bag. I affixed the top of the felt bag around the sides of the shelving rack using some cord, laced through the button holes. I like the idea that this is breathable material, that it's cheap, and that it's thick so we don't have any oozing.

Here's our finished worm bin. We're both so proud of it!!

4. About a week before I went to Ikea, I ordered a pound of worms online. They are soo cute and wriggly!! Can you see them? (be aware- worms can't ship if it's too cold, so plan accordingly.)

Once the worms arrived, we started layering worms, wet shredded newspaper, kitchen scraps, and coffee grinds. We shined a little desk lamp at the top of the pile for about a week to keep the worms underground. We didn't want them wandering off!

Live long and prosper, little worms! I'll keep you updated as to how they fare. (and how well the smell is contained, how well the felt holds up, etc. ) Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

First time Featured!

Kenna's Felt Forest was featured in an Etsy Treasury!! You can see the treasury here.

Treasuries are created by other Etsy sellers, and can include any items they find unique, beautiful or inspiring. In this case, the "Curator" went with an Eggplant theme, and chose my adorable felt eggplant for the treasury!! I am so excited. I've had my items featured before, but this is my first time as Kenna's Felt Forest!

I "paid it forward" by creating a treasury of my own, and featured one of the "curator's" listed items. I call my treasury Acorns on the Ground. You can view it here. It was inspired by the acorn adventure Kenna and I had last week.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Collecting Acorns

I've been learning about the Waldorf method for a few months, and investigating the type of toys and materials they recommend using. I'm really trying to get a handle on the philosophy and put some of the ideas into practice with Kenna.

Now, I live in NC, and apparently acorns simply litter the ground for a few months if you know where to look!! Kenna and I were out dogwalking yesterday and stumbled across a thick layer of acorns all over the ground! I was so excited. Kenna and I started grabbing them- all sizes, all colors, and gathered them into a bag. When we got home, I decided to hot glue the acorn caps to the acorns, since many were loose or had come off. We have all sizes, shapes and textures. The plan is to set them out and use them for sorting, counting and studying with a magnifying glass. If we collect more, I may consider painting some, or possibly trying to "felt" a few like these cool guys!

What else can we do with acorns?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Inspired Fridays- Aug 27 Literacy rocks!

I don't know about you, but one of my favorite ways to be inspired is to google random things and see what pops up! Today I was inspired by this post by a wonderful mama at The Write Start. She is all about literacy and helping her preschooler to love to read and write. I'm a former teacher, and the ideas on her site are just wonderful to see... I hope lots of parents work with their preschoolers to get them ready to embrace literacy!

Since my daughter is only 18 months, I am not able to employ most of her ideas yet. This one struck my fancy, though, I knew I could modify it for my toddler. It's this one here.

I modified it by doing a limited amount of rocks, and opting to spell full words on the rocks, instead of one letter per rock. We spelled Mom, Dad, cat, love - one word on each rock. (Mom rock was commandeered by my toddler during this photo)

Then I made a few single letter rocks- the letters of her name (so we can assemble her name like a puzzle) and the letters I and S. that way we can make sentences:

I love Mom.
Mom loves Dad.
I love cats.

I figure we can expand this idea to the whole alphabet in a year or so when she is ready. Let me tell you- she picked up on this idea quick- when daddy came home for lunch, she ran to him with the "Dad" rock and proudly told him all about it. (in baby babble, with lots of emphasis on dada.) CUTE!

The rubbing took more effort than I thought it would, but basically took me an hour of Project Runway to finish. I bought letters that looked slightly aged, so that if/when they peel off a bit with rough play, it will seem intentional! I bought my rocks (ACK- BOUGHT- I know, I really wanted to travel to a quiet stream and collect them peacefully, one at a time...) but they were like 3 bucks at Michaels, and I am impatient crafter!

OHHH- and I contacted relatives and told them that Kenna has a rock collection now, so hopefully each special person in her life will donate a rock and we can add their name to it! PLus, it'll be a nice easy thing to collect on vacations. :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Definition of a quiet book

Some, possibly many, of my posts will be directly related to my new crafting passion- Quiet Books.

I thought I'd start by explaining what a Quiet Book is for those who were unlucky enough to go through childhood, and church,without one.

A Quiet Book is a soft paged book, generally homemade, designed to occupy little hands and little minds during church, long car rides, and other places where kids are easily bored. I personally did not grow up with a quiet book, but I have seen many beautiful and inspiring ones in my time researching online. I set out about four months ago to complete one for my daughter, and I became completely and utterly addicted to making these pages! They are ridiculously detailed, meticulous and time-consuming, but I love it!

Many people feel overwhelmed at the thought of making a Quiet Book for their own child, but honestly, it is a labor of love and well worth the effort. Something special will come out of your work- a book to be treasured by your child, and possibly your grandchildren! So special. And really, these can be as detailed or as simple as you'd like. It is your project to enjoy.

My daughter was only 14 months when I began her book, so many of her pages are geared toward a young child. As she grows, and as I take more time to experiment, I anticipate the pages becoming more older-kid friendly. Look for posts tagged Quiet Book to follow my progress!

To get inspired, here are a few of the Quiet Books that sparked my creativity.

Getting things up and ready!

I'm finally ready to start loading products up to Etsy. Check out the site at www.kennasfeltforest.etsy.com I'm still waiting on my custom banner and logo, but for now, I can at least get my items in the shop!

I'm all caught up with customs, and debating whether to take some September orders... it makes it so hard for me to keep things in stock when I do customs, but I love the chance to make exactly what a customer wants, soo... I guess it's more long hours at the sewing machine!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

First Entry!

Finally took the time to set up a separate blog just for all my crafty thoughts and ideas. Can't wait to get blogging! Check me out on Etsy for all of the little handmade things I'm creating. :)

I have a sweet little girl, a handy husband, and a lot of DIY plans. I am planning to homeschool, and start Tot School (montessori style) soon. I can't wait!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Cupcake Birthday- Kenna is 1

Happy 1st Birthday Kenna!
 I took about a million pictures of Kenna's first birthday, and created a beautiful scrapbook for her. I wasn't blogging when this party took place, but I wanted to throw a few pictures up here to inspire myself as I get ready for Little Man's first birthday.  Her party was February 2009. It snowed the night before, and I several party guests planned to sled over if the roads were bad.  :)

I used my mom's favorite sugar cookie recipe to make these cute cupcake cookies. I iced them, added some sprinkles and tied them up in cellophane bags.They looked fantastic in person- the picture doesn't do them justice. (I even made the flame yellow!)  I added a cupcake pencil and plastic cupcake ring when I tied the bag closed- they were the perfect favors! You can kinda see them in the bowl in the bottom left of the photo below.
This was our simple table spread. I made all the printables myself. I ordered the cupcakes at Walmart, and provided som pretzels and goldfish for youngers.  I used rice in some candle vases to hold up the big K signs and a couple of cupcake lollipops that I found at Target for $1. 
 That was it! Fun, easy and inexpensive. 

 Although this isn't a great picture- it is the only one I have of Kenna wearing her special birthday hat that Handy Husband MADE!! He created it with cardboard, some fuzzy boa, fabric that he hand embroidered a 1 onto, and then tied the whole thing with some ribbon. Seriously. 

He also made her a birthday Tutu. Seriously. 

Kenna ditched the hat and dived into her cake. First taste of sugar, icing, white flour, etc.
 She was in baby heaven. (make that 1 year old heaven!) 
We had an amazing party, with all of our favorite people. 
What a great way to celebrate Kenna's first year of life!
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