06 March 2012

Watercolor Lanterns

The girls and I made some lanterns using watercolor paper and paints, vegetable oil, and white craft glue. I think they are lovely! I did see this idea somewhere else on the interwebs, but I am unable to find it now to give any credit. This idea seems to be kicking around, though, so I don't think I am sweeping the glory out from under anyone's feet too terribly.

We started off with plain watercolour paper which the girls painted, using the wet on wet watercolour technique. This simply means that you soak your paper before painting it with dissolved watercolours. (Not "dry" paint, as it is considered straight out of the tube.)  Here, Katalin demonstrates both her one-brush, and three-brush methods. ;) I cut one large watercolour sheet into two, one side a bit smaller than the other, to get two lanterns out of it in different heights.

This pair was a Birthday gift for their Grandma, and I only gave them yellow and red paints to work with so that she wouldn't get mud lanterns. They didn't seem to mind, and enjoyed swirling the two colours into orange in places, and trying to cover their entire papers.

When they had finished painting, we sprinkled the wet papers with a little coarse sea salt. You can use any salt, though, and it will absorb the paint directly under it, and gather the paint in the area into little pools around the grains. Different sized salt grains make different sized patterns. The salt has a nice effect, you can see the visual texture it left in some of the below photos, and the kids always have fun sprinkling it on. Many of our watercolour paintings get this treatment!

When the paintings were dry, the girls rubbed vegetable oil into them with paper towels, until they were thoroughly saturated and transparent. They were a little over-enthusiastic, so I dabbed the excess oil off when they had finished, and we left them overnight to dry on a few paper towels. The next day, I cut little strips along one side, this side become the base. Ours are approximately an inch apart.

Then I put a line of white craft glue down one of the side edges and rolled the paintings into cylinders, overlapping the glued edge with the opposite side. This seam needs to hold together well while it dries, so to hold it in place, I slipped a jar in each lantern. I clipped the edge the jars didn't reach shut with paper clips. To be on the safe side, I left these to dry overnight as well.

Once the side seams were done, I folded the fringe on the bottoms in with a dot of white craft glue where the strips overlap. I set them upright and dropped the jars back inside to hold the strips firmly in place while they dried. This is what the bottom of your lantern will look like when yo are finished. Unless your child's name isn't Katalin.

They look so soft and beautiful, with or without a candle lighting them up. The girls made a couple more for us using lots of colours, and I have been using votive candles (that are contained in glass,) inside them to keep flame away from the paper. In the ones we gifted we included some wax LED candles, so that they can be safely placed anywhere and left flickering away without fear.  

Kaia has been constantly asking me to light the candles in them, I am going to pick up another LED candle so that she can do it herself. I think it would be sweet for her to have one next to her bed at night, glowing warmly while she drifts to sleep. Next, I believe I will be wiring some handles onto ours for them to carry around, as this is what they do anyway!

03 March 2012

{this moment}

Joining Soulemama's {this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

01 March 2012

Process Over Product

 Sometimes I post about things you can make for children to create with on their own, like our play dough, sidewalk paint, baking clay, or even our much loved mud pie kitchen. Most of what I post about here, though, are coordinated crafts. That is not most of the art we do around here, however.

And it is certainly not the most important.

Day to day, I set my kids up with a requested medium, or introduce them to something new, and let them have at it.

It is far more important to let them explore...

Let them experience art, on their own terms...

...Than to try and get them to make something you envision. Don't get me wrong, I very much enjoy the crafts we do together, working with each other to achieve a preplanned goal. Those activities are important to us, too, but in an entirely different way.

I make materials available to them, and sometimes I may suggest a way they could use them, such as showing them how tissue paper will stick to wet paint, or bubble wrap will leave a print, but it is up to them. It should be up to them.

 Because the process is so much more important than the product.

 I don't usually post about their free form art activities, because... well, who really needs to be told how to let their children do what they wish with their art materials? You don't need a tutorial for that

 I did wish to let you know, though...

 About the most important art in our home.