Thursday, October 29, 2009

Shells from the summer

Here's a fun and easy craft project that will put to use all those shells you brought home from the beach this summer. It's so simple that my 4 year old made her own with just a little assistance. It's also another one of those projects good for some bonding time.

Here's what you'll need:
Inexpensive wooden craft frame with at least 2 inch border (I got one at Michael's for $1)
Acrylic latex paintable caulk with silicone (I used DAP brand in the Almond color-Walart $2.50)
Caulking Gun
Plastic knife for spreading
Newspaper to do the project on-it's pretty messy
Using the caulking gun, squirt out a thick line of caulk onto the wooden frame. Using the plastic knife, spread the caulk thick and smooth like icing. You will want it pretty thick so the shells will stick down into it. Spread a think layer over edges for a uniform look. Now comes the fun part, using all types of shells, even broken pieces, press them firmly into the caulk. Try to fill up all the spaces using all sizes of shells. Make sure shells are flush on the edges so the frame will sit correctly. Let dry overnight. Insert your favorite beach pic!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The benefits of Art

It seems most of the children I teach in art, already love it and have an artistic bent. However, I've also taught the not so confident artist, and seen amazing things happen. The one thing I notice with all my students is their level of confidence, especially when they "learn" how to draw something and realize that they can draw after all. Or when they discover that they are really good at painting and learn how to mix great colors. Or see how much fun it is to shape and create things with clay. And especially, when they mess up and find out it's sometimes the "mess ups" are sometimes their favorite works of art.

Another thing I see all my students learn is patience and perseverance, and I remind them of this often. Some projects take weeks to complete, some paintings take many layers before they look like anything, and sometimes it's a takes a lot of hard work to completely cover your paper with chalk pastels. And if they have patience and persevere, they are rewarded with a piece of art that they created all by themselves and can't wait to show off.
In her book, Art for the Fun of It, Peggy Davison Jenkins lists 15 things your child learns from art. I think I have seen all these first hand, either with my students or my own children.
Develops creative thinking.
Provides means of communication and self-expression
Serves as an emotional release.
Strengthens the self-concept and confidence.
Increases self-understanding.
Heightens aesthetic awareness and sensitivity.
Enhances the ability to visualize.
Provides problem-solving/decisions-making opportunities.
Develops appreciation for the individuality of others.
Leads to integration of the individual.
Serves as a balance to classroom activities.
Aids physical coordination.
Develops work habits and a sense of responsibility.
Aids the adult in understanding and helping the child.
Generates joy.
If you'd like to learn more about the arts and kids, visit

Monday, October 26, 2009

New Product-Fall Leaves Project

I wanted to show you a new product that I tried and loved the results. I ordered ArtEmboss Aluminum Sheets from DickBlick. They are 9-1/4' x 12" and come in a pack of 12. I didn't know what to do with them at first, but got inspired last week when all the leaves started turning, and decided to use it in a lesson to teach about warm and cool colors, and also using lines in drawing. All you need is a good selection of warm and cool colored Sharpie markers, a soft pencil (we used Ebony pencils), a piece of soft cardboard, assortment of fall leaves, and the aluminum sheets.

I collected a bunch of leaves in different shapes and colors and had the students trace the leaves on the "back" of their sheet. It will emboss better if you place a piece of cardboard under your work space.Then turn it over and begin to color, giving instructions to use warm colors for the leaves and cool colors for the background. Also make sure students are careful not to color over the "raised" portions so that they will have the silver lines define their shapes. I did this project with 2nd and 3rd graders and it took about an hour. Stunning results! Reminded me of stained glass windows.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fall Pumpkin Door Decor

I saw this idea at the War Eagle Craft Fair up in Northwest Arkansas a couple of years ago and just now got around to making one for myself. They were selling Santa heads, but I decided to do a pumpkin because I needed something "fallish" for my door. Thought it turned out pretty cute.... and it was easy and cheap, or should I say inexpensive. I don't think it looks cheap??

I bought a roll of heavy craft paper at Wal-mart in the paint department (I think for about $6). I drew out my pumpkin on my paper in pencil--I put another sheet of paper the same size underneath so when I cut I would have a back and a front. I secured the paper with some painter's tape before I cut so it wouldn't end up uneven. Before I cut though, I painted. First I outlined my pumpkin in a burnt orange. Then I mixed up some pumpkin orange color and filled it in, not covering up my dark lines. If you work quickly, you can blend the paint on the actual paper and it gives it nice shading.

I added some lighter orange for highlights and a brown stem. After the paint dried, I dry-brushed on some metal and patina glaze by Valspar for an extra glow. After all that was dry, I cut out my pumpkin. If you wanted to paint the back, you could do it now. I just did the front side, but now I'm really wishing I would have done the back just to protect the paper from the humidity. I sprayed it down with a couple of coats of shiny acrylic varnish.

Now, here's a great way to recycle all your plastic bags. I stapled the pumpkin edges and left a spot open so I could stuff in all my plastic bags. I have no idea how many I used, but it was lots. Just get it the size you want (like stuffing a pillow). Then staple up the last part and your pumpkin is almost done.

Now for the finishing touches. I poked a small hole and wired on a pre-made raffia bow that I bought at Michael's (around $2.50). I painted a little wooden cross in a distressed finish to cover the center of the bow and secured it with a dab of hot glue--which didn't work so well, so I added some jute rope around it. Then I found these cute little wooden tags (four for .99 cents) at Michael's. I painted one white, added some glaze and stain and my "Give Thanks" message, and attached it with some jute rope. Lastly, I stapled the ribbon to the top so I could have a way to hang it on my door---and that was it! Let me know how yours turns out.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Canvas Floor Cloth

I love doing canvas floor cloths. They are such a fun way to perk you up on the days your looking down. This is a canvas floor cloth that I helped my daughter's class make for their school art auction. I used a 2' x 3' pre-made floor canvas by Fredrix that I ordered from . I painted the background design and scripture around the edge and then took it up to school and let each student design and paint their own heart. I gave the final design three coats of Delta Cermacoat glossy indoor/outdoor varnish. I thought they did such a great job and it turned out adorable. This would also be a great teacher gift.

Usually when I make a custom floor cloth I make it with the 100% cotton duck canvas and cut it to the size I need. I prepare the canvas with two thick coats of Gesso, glue down a 1 inch edge with Fabri-Tac, paint my design with acrylic paint and seal. Also, a coat of paste floor wax with help preserve it.

Custom Floor Cloth by Sleepyhead Designs

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pumpkin Decoupage

In my home school art class we started a fun decoupage project last week and finished up this week. They really seemed to enjoy it and they turned out so cute. First, on tan craft paper we used acrylic paint and foam rollers and stamps to create our background. Next, we cut out pumpkins and stitched around the edges with crochet thread just to add a fun detail.

Then things got messy with the Mod Podge as we decoupaged on the pumpkins and gave the whole thing a good coat of glue also. Lastly we stamped on some expression with letter stamps, glued on some button accents and framed it out with some jute rope around the edges. Really cute and festive!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Displaying Art

I know my art student parents are always asking how I recommend framing and displaying children's art. Here's a neat project that I did in my laundry/craft room that was very simple, and provides a creative and inexpensive way to showcase the day to day art that your child does. I wish I could remember where I saw this idea so I could give credit, but I've had it filed away in my head for awhile now.

First I chose a size of paper to serve as a template. I picked a 12 x 12 piece of scrapbook paper so an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper could hang vertically or horizontally. I traced my squares on the wall with pencil. Now just get creative on your frames. I free-handed three designs in pencil, but if you are not comfortable with that you could draw a template on a paper bag, cut it out and trace around it.

Next, with a smaller brush, I painted my edges with my paint color (I always paint edges first, then fill in). Then I used a larger brush to paint in the total frame. I didn't worry much about coverage or the edges being "just perfect" because I was going for the whimsical, artsy look. I used Delta Ceramcoat opaque white.

Now for the details. With a small dry brush, I went around the edges and corners with gold (Liquitex Basics Matt) and then added the polka dots (I love a pattern) in moroccan red (Delta Ceramcoat) and highlighted them with a touch of gold. Lastly, I used a fine point black sharpie marker and made some black accents around the edges and corners. Other variations: paint the inside of frame with black board or magnetic paint, mount a cute clip to hold the art, or personalize the frames with your children's names.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Bonding With Your Child Through Art

Since the weather outside has been so frightful, once again this week my four-year old and I defaulted to one of MY favorite things to do.... art. While that sounds pretty selfish on my part, I will say it is a wonderful way to bond with your child. I mean how many meaningful conversations can you have while chasing your child around Chuck-E-Cheese (no offense Chuck, we LOVE you). And usually when we are at home, I’m so distracted by all the chores that I’m tempted to turn on the TV, or try to multitask by playing Barbies between folding towels.
So today we decided to trace our simple and mess free! All you need is some white paper, a black marker and a large assortment of Crayola Crayons (I love the box of 96). We added in some safety scissors because Lucy is obsessed with cutting right now, so I figure it's a good skill to work on. Please note that adding the scissors cancels out the "mess free" guarantee.

First I traced both our hands with a sharpie, and then it's no rules and all imagination as we decorate them. I was feeling kind of spooky so I announced I was going to do a witch hand with warts and all, to which my daughter replies, "I’m going to make mine pretty because I’m pretty." She wasn't that impressed with my first hand and begged me to do a "pretty one" too. So, of course, I did. Jewelry and fingernail polish are much better girlie conversation topics than warts and blood.
As we colored together, we had some great discussions. We talked about our favorite colors; hers is hot pink and mine is turquoise blue. I did a little story telling about the good and bad witches in the Wizard of Oz. We discussed how God made her so special, and there’s no one just like her on the whole planet. Then the questions started; "Why do some people want to be mean?", " Will my hand be big like yours someday?", " Mom, why did you want to make your first hand look dirty?", "Do you think my hand is prettier, or yours is prettier?" It’s in these moments that I love being a mom and my day seems worthwhile. And the best part is, when we are finished, we can hang up our art so we can remember that time together.

*Sleepyhead tip: When you do "bonding art" with your child focus on the bonding process, not the project or outcome of the art. Let the conversation flow and just have fun just using your imagination. You can talk about the colors they like and don't like, the shapes they create, the ideas they come up with. Let them make their own decisions on their designs, and encourage them in their efforts and enjoyment of creating.