Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Halloween projects with friends

We've had two lovely friend projects this season: haunted houses and acorn pumpkins. One of my hardest moving challenges has been to find friends to "project" with me, but these two families can now usually be relied upon. They're learning: I babysat the three year old boy from the haunted house family a couple of weeks ago, and when I asked him what he wanted to do, he promptly replied "crafts!" Yup, he well understands Miss Valerie.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

somebody sweet and sneaky

I have lots of purple petunia love to mail out tomorrow, and my duties include a rather belated birthday gift for somebody sweet and sneaky.

I thought this crafty owl and his hollow tree hideout might be just right.

I hope he agrees!

(the owl is a sewing stars pattern, from her woodlands booklet; the tree is my own design, stitched from a linen-backed wool felt at the children's hospital this week while I waited for my baby to get out of surgery...it was a minor thing, but I'm just not happy until we're well home and breathing well. My favorite things about the tree: I embroidered it with these cool spools of wool and linen, leftover from a mill, that I bought at a street fair, and the little buttoned door.)


I've had a couple of opportunities to show off my work lately, and for one I'm supposed to submit a photo. I spent an awkward half hour or so out in the yard with my stylist, with my manager squawking over his shoulder: "I want to play train set! Train set. train set. Train set. train set. Train set. train set...."

I think this is the best one:Though this one is more accurate:
I'll let you know when I decide...

also, since so few photos of me exist, I didn't notice when I got so old....
***AND disclaimer(since my sister wasn't quite sure): I know these are bad. I have others!***

Saturday, October 20, 2007

mug giveaway on scribbit

I got the nicest shout out from Scribbit this morning, who approached me awhile back to host one of her weekly giveaways. You may read her kind words here, as well as enter to win this lovely lavender hedgie mug.

I'm starting to list new mugs and other bits. I had to take yesterday off, since my youngest had a minor surgery & we were in Philadelphia (she was a champ & is dancing today). Here's the whole haul from this week, laid out on my living room floor:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Glazing is my pottery nemesis, though not an original one. I craft each piece with such deliberate care, then have to do the quick dip & melt, which involve factors out of my control. Admission: not in my control. Some potters may have more, but I'm part-time enough that my glaze consistency changes between firings & use a kiln that isn't my own and often temperamental. Oh, and I'm just plain inexperienced at doing my own firing. I know that this is part of the miracle of pottery, part of what makes a beautiful piece more valuable: a bit of dust here or an uneven wall could have ruined it, just the right thickness and kiln heat produced that lovely swirl of color. Still, when I'm making a custom piece, or have a just-so vision, I am just plain disappointed. I had hoped to make two of each custom piece ordered, but I ended up with just too many. Which is good! But I may need to redo a couple this way. That pink glaze!

I unloaded the kiln this morning and I am more or less pleased. My pink glaze crawled on most of the pieces, a couple of bunnies wandered off (better grass on the right side of the mug?), & everything got too hot, but there were no explosions and no mysterious chunks. I walked to pick up the girls and for my fall festival volunteer work meetings, so have to go back with the car and boxes to pack them up tonight, but I did take photos of each shelf as I unloaded. The lighting wasn't the best, but I think it's interesting to see how the glazes change from chalky to bright gloss. I fire at little lower temperature to get more pastel shades than are available for cone 10 high-fired pottery, but I think I want them paler still. The kiln is firing too hot (cone 6 officially, but even my 7 cone was totally melted & flopped), so needs recalibrating, so I think I'll ready some new glazes to test during those runs.

The same shelf as the photo in the last post:And another (higher, so less kiln-shadow):Some I really loved (owl!, penguin!), so they'll probably get their little spotlight here as well as in the shop. You'll be able to see most of the others in the shop, starting tomorrow when I have good light for photos.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

2178 degrees Farenheit

when I dropped by to check at 11:30 on my way to feed Mare.

We're getting there.


I've been absent lately, but very busy. With this (happily, but briefly)
and always with this.
Sheesh, I need to charge more. And do less. Pottery took over life a little too much this time. Glazing was a beast. Hours and hours and hours. But they're in the kiln! (one shelf-worth above). Finished pics in 2 or 3 days when they finish their journey to 2200'F+, then slowly cool enough to touch...

Friday, October 5, 2007

Dove Onslaught

this is fantastic.

and so spot on.

ah, my daughters...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

GBLUES fall festival--your ideas

Some of you wanted/needed to design your own game or activity for the festival. Look over what is already being planned below, then suggest what you'd like to do in the comments to this post. I'll contact you directly.

GBLUES fall festival

I thought it would be a great idea to involve the university education students in our elementary school fall festival planning, since, well, the so-valuable help they already give is why our lovely little school has its pretty location on the university campus. We hope that we help them, too!

I am using this blog post as an interactive "sign-up". I will post pics of the crafts I need helpers for, and descriptions of game ideas that would like leaders, and you can use the comments section to sign up for what you would like to do. Please indicate the activity number, then what you will do to help. From there, I will communicate with you directly to work out specifics.

I know the festival is nearly a month away (November 2nd), but please, only sign up if you really and truly can be relied upon to participate. And if you get chicken pox or are otherwise unavoidably engaged, I hope you will let me know as soon as you can. Then this collaboration will be a good experience for all of us, and we (groupspeak--university students and lab school PTO) will be able to help each other out more in the future. Moralizing lecture over! On to the fun stuff. Crafts first, then games.

I like to make things. I especially have a crafting crush on Waldorf education sort of handwork and all of the associated lovely natural materials, and those sorts of nature crafts were, I thought, a perfect match for a harvesty fall festival. I exercised restraint and am not hoping to see kids hand sewing that night (my great love & frequent teaching-to-a-group nemesis), but still decided on some lovely gluing and poking options. For each of the following crafts, I have procured most of the supplies, but some prep work is still needed. Each could use a leader to design a sign, finish prep work, and help set up in the afternoon on November 2nd, and 2-3 helpers for that night to help the festival attendees with their lovely little project.
1) clothespin dolls: I have all of the supplies, but scraps of fabric need to be cut & ready for the clothing. This is mostly a gluing project (tacky glue in bowls with Q-tips are my preferred group tools), and easy, with very sweet results.(leader via e-mail, helpers still needed)
2) acorn babies: a gluing project, though the necks will also need tying & I'm sure kids will need help with that. The wood beads need to be pre-glued to the acorn bodies to provide a stable (and less frustrating) base for the kids to attach the rest to, and some acorns may need a bit of sanding at the base to stand flat. Felt for the hoods will need to be cut.

3) teasel hedgehogs: This easy project involves trimming the teasel (a road-side weed's seed head) a bit, then poking in pins for eyes and nose. I've gathered the teasel and purchased pins, but the pins are bright yellow now & need to be dipped in black paint, or otherwise colored...
4) cork boats: I'm collecting corks from parents over the next few weeks. That night, the kids will split them lengthwise and then construct the catamaran and add the leaf sail with toothpicks. A couple of gutters will be set up outside for races after construction. They're very efficient little people-wind-powered crafts! Leaves for sails will need to be gathered, and volunteers that night to run the races outside and supervise construction inside.(leaders via e-mail, helpers still needed)
5) autumn crowns: A paper sample is pictured above, but we are making these purposefully temporary, with real leaves. Prep work needed: cut strips of poster board, gather leaves and perhaps press flowers to glue on that night. Or other glue-able nature bits like maple keys. I'll have gold glitter to sprinkle on, too. Crown fitters and craft-glue watchers needed that night.
6) squawking chicken: This is a funny little craft that is well-tried and popular. It could be converted easily to a turkey to be more seasonally appropriate :). A plastic cup is pierced with a thumbtack and a string threaded through the hole, tied around a piece of toothpick to hold one end of the string in place inside the cup. When the protruding string is gripped with a bit of damp sponge, and the sponge tugged along the string, the cup amplifies the sound, and it emits a startlingly loud squawk or gobble. A stack of plastic cups needs to be pierced, sponges cut into little pieces, strings cut, tissue paper cut in strips for feathers, & beaks cut. That night, the kids can glue on feathers and beak & draw on eyes. Some will need help threading their strings. (leader via e-mail, helper still needed)
7) finger puppets: already being done by a parent (something similar; I just posted a pic of one of ours), in conjunction with a puppet theatre for spontaneous kid shows during the festival. If you would like to help that night, some helpers would be welcome!

The following are games that we thought would go well with the fall theme and/or we had at least part of the supplies for. We are providing all of the prizes. Unless otherwise noted, the supplies for the game will need to be gathered and the game set up the afternoon of the 2nd. Some already have a sign from previous (long ago) fall festivals. If not, I'll note that in the description, and one still needs to be made.

8) treasure hunt: fill a kiddie pool with autumn leaves & hide prizes among them (I'll provide). That night, take tickets and police the search.
(leader via e-mail)

9) clothespin drop: drop old-fashioned clothespins from a height into a vessel--difficulty dependent on age, ie, coke bottle, mason jar, or bowl. There is a set of stairs to a portable stage already at the Henderson Gym that we can use for the children to climb up and drop the clothespins from. I have clothespins you may use.

10) fairy photos: a grandparent has painted these awesome cut-out boards--the type you stand behind and your face shows through a hole and from the other side you look like whatever is pictured on the board. We'll need a couple of volunteers to help position kids, take their photos, and write down names. The current plan is just to take digital photos and deliver them at school on Monday. If they want them mailed, then charge another ticket or something like that. Sign needed.

11) pumpkin bowling: use a pumpkin "ball" to try to knock down butternut squash "pins". I love this idea. Buy the pumpkins and squash (we'll reimburse you), set up the lane, administer that night. Sign needed.

12) spray away: a game invented by one of our parents for a birthday party, it's ready to go (squirt ping pong balls off of golf tees), but needs volunteers to man it that night.

13) football toss: Hang a tire (I have one in my yard that may or may not someday be a swing) & let kids try to throw a football through it. Volunteers that might be able to catch wayward throws & avoid accidents are highly sought after ;). (covered)

14) hoop shoot: The hoop's already in the gym. This one is easy. Again, catch-worthy helpers a plus.