Sunday, June 28, 2009

How to Make a Miniature Garden

So these are the mini gardens I finished up today for the kids to give to their teachers tomorrow....on the last day of school...FINALLY!!!
I can't wait for some extra time to do some painting and great tutorials for this blog.

I promised to show you how to make these gardens so here we go.......

Materials Required:
a I purchase houses at Christmas time specifically to make these gardens but you can find some at garage sales or make one out of a fence post like I described in this post. If you house has snow on it you can easily paint it to be moss.
sealer, I use Duraclear glossy
large pebbles
small decorative rock

Here are the houses I buy at Christmas. These are from Walmart and I think I paid $3.00 a piece.
There are some craft stores that sell these all year round so keep an eye out. Otherwise you can make a wood one or modify a secondhand house from a Christmas village.

If you are painting a plain one the first thing you want to do is brush it with an old paintbrush. This gets off the excess dust as well as some of the extra plaster bits that shouldn't be there.
Start painting...I use Folk Art acrylic paints. Now when you start to paint you want to work with the largest areas first and then work your way up to the trim. This saves in the touch ups.
Due to the white chalky nature of the plaster you will find your colors appear somewhat garish. If you try to keep to traditional house colors you will be OK once the final antiquing coat goes on at the end.

If you water your paints down a little you will get better coverage as the plaster soaks up the paint very fast.

When you reach the snow bits on the roof and the ground you want to paint these green like moss. I usually paint it a dark green first like "thicket" and then pounce on some light Hauser green and a little bit of yellow. This adds depth to your trees and moss.

Paint the inner sills of the windows black. This hides them a bit.

If you can't get all the little spaces don't worry the glaze will take care of it.
The glaze also hides any imperfections in your painting.

Now it's time for the antiquing glaze. You want a little bit of paint, I usually use Brunt Umber...add some float medium just to the side of your add a few drops of water....mix together in a small amount to make your glaze.

You then want to paint the entire house with this watery glaze. It will fill in all the little spaces and add depth to shingles, stone etc. It also covers all the little mistakes.

It tones down the colors to make them look more realistic.

Here is red roof getting the antiquing treatment.

For stone work you may want to use a bit of black paint for the glaze. It fills in all the grout lines and make it look like real stone or tile.

When finished let dry and cure. You are supposed to wait 24 hrs but sometimes I cheat if I am in a rush. I just have to be careful that the paint doesn't start to lift.

When dry cover in a coat of Duraclear glossy and set aside to dry.

While your house is drying find some nice flat pebbles. This will be your address marker.
Paint with a few coats of a light acrylic color.

Let dry.

Using a fine paintbrush make up an address for your house.....something like Lilliput Lane, Dragonfly Manor, Barnacle Bay.
The secret to using a fine liner paintbrush is to have very thin paint. Add water to black or brown to letter your sign. I then add some flowers or a vine.

Let dry and cover with a coat of Duraclear as well.

Now you need a nice planter for your garden....something with a low profile but large enough to plant a few flowers and have space for your house. I use these terracotta planters...they are 16.5" in diameter and are about 8 inches high.

Put some large pebbles in the bottom for drainage.

Plant some flowers and herbs in a semicircle around the back of your planter. You are leaving space for your house and pathway in the front.

Try to choose plants that will stay small...only about 12" high at the max. Look for ones with small leaves and flowers to fit with the theme.

I usually pick up some extra park benches at Christmas time to go with the houses but neglected to do so this time.
I decided to add a fence to the pathway. I found a bunch of sticks on the thinner side and cut them all to about 4 ".

I place decorative rock in the back of the planter where the house will sit and then add a pathway.
This time I added my twig fence as well.
Put your address marker near the front.

And that's it a cute little mini garden that makes a great gift. My kids like to set up little mini scenes in the regular flower bed as well. It's amazing what you can come up with!
Take care and I'll see you next time.

Friday, June 26, 2009

How to Make Sand Candles

Well it was the second last day of school today and in Kindergarten we had "Beach Day".

I know you're thinking....."they have to go back on Monday!"....well that's the schedule this year..go figure.

We made sand candles as our Beach Day craft. The kids had a blast and they were very easy to do.

Materials Required:

paraffin wax (1 box will make around 6 candles)
old coffee cans or metal pot
electric frying pan
disposable plastic bowls (optional)

The first thing you want to do is get your wax melted. Put 2-3 inches of water into your electric frying pan. I found some old ones at a garage sale for about $3.00..I use them only to melt wax and that way I don't care if they get all scratched up.

Put your wax chunks into a metal coffee can or old pot. If you are using an old coffee can squeeze one end to form a spout...this helps when pouring out the melted wax. Place into the water and turn it on low. You don't want to melt your wax on high heat as it is a combustible...I try to keep the water just below boiling. Keep extra water nearby in case you need to add some....the water evaporates as you are melting. If you want to color your wax take some crayons in the desired color....remove wrapper and add to melting wax. You don't need much about 1/2 a crayon or so. Stir your wax every so often to get it all melted. Here I'm using pencils as my stir sticks. NEVER LEAVE MELTING WAX UNATTENDED.

Because I had 37 students and I wanted a candle they could easily take home I used some plastic bowls. If you are at the beach or have time you can do this in a pail or directly on the beachfront.

Add some water to your want it sticky. Place a handful into the bowl and mold it into a bowl or cup shape. You want some depth to it so you have room for your wax.

Add shells to the bottom and sides and press into the wet sand a bit.

Add a we used wicks that had a metal disk on the bottom. They were pre waxed so they stood was more cost efficient with 37 to buy them this way.

You can make your own by tying wicking to a metal washer and then dip the wick into the melted wax to stiffen it.

Carefully pour your melted wax into your mold. With young kids this should be done by an adult.

Place the candle aside to harden and don't disturb it. We had ours outside and they took about 45 minutes to harden up.

Gently remove candle from mold and brush off the excess sand.

Trim the wick if needed.

There you have it. A great summer project to try. If you have excess wax you can keep it in the can and melt it again for another candle project.

As they candles melt down you might want to make a foil bowl to set them in to protect your table.

That's it for now. The mini garden post is still coming. I am planting the gardens this weekend and will take lots of pictures.

see you then


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Folk Art Houses for the Garden

I always have these grand plans of all these things I want to paint for my garden thru the winter so I'll be ready when the weather cooperates......but they never seem to get done.

So now I am in a rush to get them completed before fall.

We have had such a cold spring but the garden is starting to come together.

We have two squirrels that hang out in our backyard and for the most part don't cause any trouble......until now!

They have been zipping up and down the railing on the deck and have knocked over all my painted birdhouses.

Now granted these birdhouses are not the most sturdy...its hard to get nice solid unfinished ones.....I had filled them with rocks to hold up in our unrelenting wind...but they couldn't withstand the squirrel dancing. of my unfinished winter projects was some heavy cedar houses that could withstand both wind and time like the present to get these done.

I purchased a heavy cedar fence post 5"x5". It was 8 feet long and cost me about $20.00. (not bad when you consider I can get about 12 or so houses out of it)

I had my husband cut it into houses of varying heights and roof lines.

I then started to paint. I use Folk Art acrylic paint for these. Out of all the craft paints Folk Art wins hands down.....great coverage and their Artist's Pigment series is great for projects like this.

Here are some others I need to finish.

I added a tree in the back.....

maybe a nice flowering tree.

Some nice details in the front......OK once I get started it just goes on.....

When finished add a couple coats of outdoor sealer in a gloss....I like Duraclear.

Now the squirrels can knock them down but they will stay in one piece...fingers crossed!

Give it a try and let your kids have a go....some great folk art for your garden.

Here is a sneak peek at a new tutorial....I make these mini gardens for my kid's teachers every year...they have become my signature gift at the school....I have 3 to make this year.
This time I remembered to take step by step photos so you can make one too. Stay tuned.

See you next time.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Father's Day Frames

Here is the Father's Day present Kindergarten made this year. It went with the Father's Day Saw card I posted earlier here. I found the idea at Kaboose.

These were a big hit and fairly easy.

You need a wood frame. I bought ours at Michael's for $1.50.

You then need to paint it with black acrylic paint. I had the kids paint the back first....then after it had dried I turned it over and they painted the front. For the most part they did awesome... I did do a little quality control just to make sure they had it fully painted.

We stamped on the word DAD with some large 2 inch stamps (Walmart $6.00 for the alphabet) and silver paint. We applied the paint to the stamp with a brush rather than loading from a plate. This ensured we had an even coat with no drips.

I found some assorted washer sets ....500 pieces for $5.00 at Walmart. For 37 kids we used 4 sets. We glued them on with tacky glue.

I then applied one coat of mod podge to the front. Keep the cardboard insert from the packaging and use it for the backing for the picture you place in the frame.

The Grade 3's attended a field trip at Home Depot and made their picture frames for Father's Day. It was terrific!
I hope everyone has a wonderful Father's Day and we will see you next time.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Outer Space Scenes

Kindergarten is starting their Space unit so our first project is an Outer Space Scene.

Take a piece of poster board or heavy duty sketch paper. Take a scrap corner piece and cut a template of your planet. Here I used a different color so you can see it.

Attach temporarily to your paper with some masking tape.

Using black paint color in your outer space background. The scrap poster board protects the area where you will be painting in your planet. Great technique for kids.

Let the black paint dry but do not remove that scrap piece just yet. Splatter some white paint on your space for stars. With kids you can use a splatter box.

Remove the scrap piece and paint in your planet.

While your planet is drying working on the characters for your Space scene. Here I am cutting my astronaut out of corrugated cardboard for a bit of a 3D look. The kids will probably cut theirs out of paper.

Paint or color in with markers.

After the planet has dried I want to add some texture to it. For the look of craters I'm going to be using a few different materials,...bubble wrap, toilet paper roll, a straw, empty glue bottle, and a maybe a bottle lid.

First the bubble wrap.

Toilet paper roll...make sure you do some craters coming right off the end of the paper...more realistic looking.

the glue bottle and the straw.

Let dry.

For the astronaut face plate I am using some leftover mylar wrapping paper from Christmas...glue into place.

Add some fine details with a sharpie and a fine marker.

If you want to be able to change out your characters just use tape or Velcro circles to allow for easy changes. You can also laminate your background so you can keep on making changes for months to come.

That's it...give it a can make your background larger with additional then can create lots of different characters to change around.

I also wanted to show you my find from this weekend. The Calgary Herald runs a large secondhand book sale every year. I lucked out and found a complete set of "Family Creative Workshop" all 23 volumes plus index.

Now these books are from the early 70's but they are terrific. When I started out 20 years ago running art therapy groups at a local hospital I would take these books out constantly from the library...but due to their age they were eventually taken out of circulation.

I hope to show you lots of projects from these books....a few modifications to update them a bit but surprisingly a lot of the designs are back in fashion.

Here is some wire jewellery techniques.

Weaving projects.

Paper cutting designs.

I'll see you next time.