Eating Out Of Our Hands

Last year Shawn made a ghillie suit. It took him about 6 months to make the whole thing. He began with a camouflage jacket and hat and an old pair of corduroys. There were buckets of various colors of green and brown dye in the garage all summer and fall. He visited Walmart's fabric department over and over again buying yardage of burlap which he would then cut into lengths and unweave into piles of separate threads which he would dye and then in turn tie to the mesh he had sewn to the various articles of clothing. The last steps were trimming, sewing heavier material on the front to protect the fabric while crawling, and dyeing the gloves and shoes. It was quite a time consuming process! The suit is really amazing.
So, what does one do with a ghillie suit if one is not a sniper? One feeds the birds of course! Shawn and Julia put his suit to the test during Christmas break.

It was hard to snap pics because the birds landed so quickly and sometimes in such a great multitude. Shawn often had several birds on and around him at one time. The chickadees and the titmice were not shy at all and landed with amazing frequency on his hands, legs, shoes, head, and back. Then, they would hop into his outspread hands to nibble a safflower seed or two. To them he was some tree or bush. The cardinals were a bit more skittish as usual and would fly in and almost land, but at the last minute they would veer away.

Julia gave it a go too. The only way to tell it is her now is that bunch of hair sticking out the bottom of the head covering.

Getting up-close and personal with so many little feathered friends at one time makes a guy hungry!

It was really a special day.

Just in case you're itching to make one, here are some instructions to get you started. You'd better have a lot of time to kill!!


A Star for Christmas

I made some lovely 3-D paper barn stars with one of the classes at school and I liked them so much I made one for home too. This craft is fairly simple, so I thought I'd share in case some of you are looking for an easy, last-minute craft to keep or give.

Start by printing a star from the internet. I made mine almost as wide as a piece of printer paper. Cut the star out. This one will be your pattern. Precision is important in your tracing and cutting for this craft, but if things are a little off it will still turn out nicely.

Next, use a sharp pencil and a ruler to draw lines from each "point" of the star to the "valley" of the star across from it. All of the lines will intersect in the middle.

You will need to use the two parts that make up one of the points. Label one "L" for light and the other "D" for dark.

Trace the star pattern onto a piece of thick paper. This will be the base of your finished star, so pick a color that will coordinate with the colors you will use for the star. I used a piece of white card stock. The paper should still be thin enough to bend.

Now, cut out the two triangles that you labeled light and dark. Choose two colors of patterned craft paper, one that is lighter in value and one that is darker in value. Trace the "L" triangle five times on the lighter paper and the "D" triangle five times on the darker paper. Do not turn the triangle patterns over. The letter you wrote on it should always face up. Carefully cut them out. Cut them inside the pencil line that you traced so that you cut the line off. That way it won't show and the triangles won't be too large.

Now, it's time to start assembling your star. You will glue a light and a dark triangle on each point of the thicker star you cut out of card stock. The whole thing will fit together like a puzzle. If there is a little extra space in between each triangle that is fine. It will help when it is time to fold. It is important that none of your triangles overlaps another one. That will impede folding the star.

Mine are all glued. You can see that it is not perfect and that there is a small gap between the pieces.

It is time to fold. The alternating light and dark triangles will add to the 3-D look. Fold each point individually so that the ridges running to the points stick up and the ridges running to the valleys stick down. All of the folds meet in the middle. The small gaps between the triangles should make folding very easy. The paper will want to bend at the gap. Voila! Your barn star is complete.

I hung mine by a little loop of ribbon on the bathroom wall. Where will you hang yours?
If you have more time and want to be even more creative you can do what we did in school. Each kid painted their own paper first. They painted colors and patters and used stamps. One area of the paper they made dark and one light. They made sure each of their areas were big enough to cut five or more triangles out of it. They used reds and greens, burgundies and metallic golds. They painted with craft acrylics on drawing paper that was about the weight of card stock or just a little lighter. It was thick enough not to buckle when they painted on it. They were lovely!
Experiment and see what you can come up with.
Happy creating!


Wordless Wednesday

Paper Mosaics

A sampling of coil pots

Student photo for the cover of the Christmas program

See, I haven't actually deserted you all! I decided it was time to check in and share what the students have been up to in my art room. Now, I'm off to bake Thanksgiving pies and work on Christmas crafts.


School's In

From my desk. The mural was painted at the end of last year by five high school students.

It looks like a sufficient amount of space until you try to cram 21 little first grade bodies in there at one time!

Looking toward my desk from the doorway.

The supply corner. The box in front of the shelves is a cave in the making. The middle school is studying art of the stone age and is making the cave to hang their "cave art" in. More pics of this project to follow later.

School began last Wednesday. I am enjoying being back in the classroom again. Since the school is on the small side, I teach art to all of the grade levels, k-12. Also, since the school is small and yet growing, other classes besides art are held in the art room certain days and periods throughout the week. On any given day I may share my small space with Spanish III, 8th grade math, Health, or high school Bible. These few breaks during the week afford me the time needed to put up displays of art work in the hallways and work on organizing the yearbook staff.

The upside to working in a small Christian school is definitely the kids and the Christian environment. They are a nice group of students and they have very active parental support. The downside is the lack of space. My room is small and my supply budget is limited. The nearest sink is across the hall in the girls' bathroom. Also, the days are long with 9 periods plus yearbook after school hours. We won't go there with the pay situation...but suffice it to say that I have taken a pay cut from my public school teaching job of twenty years ago. All that said, I am enjoying it and look forward to each new day. My head is full of project ideas and my heart is full of caring for these wonderful kids and their families.

While I am enjoying focusing on art alone, I am finding I miss teaching all of the different subjects a homeschool mom has to cover. Where is literature and science, history and math? I am certainly glad I had the opportunity to learn right along with my kids as they worked their way through our homeschool. Shawn is homeschooling history still this year, but he is doing it independently. I may sit down to watch a lecture or two with him, but he has ownership of the course. It is not "mom lead". I have always loved learning and the homeschooling environment suited me. I will always be a learner, always curious about that which I don't already know. Now I can look back on homeschooling with nostalgia, but forge ahead towards recapturing my true vocation of teaching art. How wonderful to have been blessed with both.

Shawn and Julia are both doing really well in their courses at the community college. I am so proud of them. Julia is working on a transfer application now. She is looking at Cornell as a transfer school and wants to apply early for next year. It's a good thing I went back to work when I did. Although it will be significantly smaller than Earle's paycheck, mine will become quite necessary soon.


Summer's Best

Lazy days spent paddling up an inlet of a lake, these are the times Earle and I look forward to in the summer. We strap on the canoe and head out for the day.

Paddling up an algae-covered inlet. Our clear path left in the wake soon closed up behind us until we were surrounded by a carpet of green.

The yellow water lillies were all in buds, waiting to open.

A flotilla of turtles hovers near the bank of another inlet.

A stray bobber attracts a passenger.


First Day of School

Remember when you first went to kindergarten and mom and dad had you smile and pose while you stood at the bus stop in your new school clothes and name tag? For us homeschoolers, sometimes leaving the house for the first day of school comes a little later.

I couldn't help but snap this pic of Shawn this morning as he sat waiting for Julia to finish doing her hair so they could leave together for the first day of classes at the community college. I also couldn't help but be a little anxious for them. It is Shawn's first classroom experience since third grade when we decided to homeschool, and it is Julia's hardest year yet with all upper level classes with scary names like Organic Chemistry and tutor and lab assistant responsibilities. Yikes. It's enough to make a mom's skin crawl.

I know they'll do well. They are such good kids. I am proud of them both and wish them well today. This momma can't wait until they come home from the first day of school to tell her all about it.