Oct 4

Make a Peg Family

by Heather Mann, Dollar Store Crafts

I wanted to make peg people for SO long before I made these ones — I had the pegs in my stash for at least two years!  My kids love playing with these little peg versions of our family members – and I think they’re so cute, I want to make a set of them to keep all to myself.

You can use old-fashioned wooden clothespins (find them in the craft or laundry section at your local dollar store), or buy peg doll blanks from your local craft store or on Etsy. . There are different shapes and sizes for males and females, adults, children, toddlers, and babies. I just used the male shape because that’s all my craft store had. If you want more selection, definitely go the Etsy route.

Don’t worry if your drawing/painting skills aren’t as refined as you wish they were. Your children can recognize family members with just the barest suggestion of reality.

You Need:

  • A blank peg doll for each family member
  • Acrylic craft paint
  • Fine paintbrushes (at least one super fine brush is helpful)
  • Clear acrylic spray sealant
  • (optional) Primer

To Make:

1. Prime: If desired, paint pegs with primer before you begin. Allow to dry.

2. Sketch: If you want, while you are waiting for your primer to dry, you can sketch out ideas for how you will dress your people. I decided to paint clothes that we wear regularly. My sons were really excited when they saw little peg versions of themselves wearing clothes they recognized. You can sketch features lightly with pencil on the pegs.

3. Paint skin: Paint the heads and necks with skin colored paint. (Tip: It can be tricky to mix up a good skin color, so you might want to buy a bottle of paint that most closely resembles your skin color. Or not, if you don’t care!)

4. Paint clothing: Paint bottom half of dolls (pants, shorts, skirts, etc.). Allow to dry, then paint shirts. To get a t-shirt collar look, paint all the way up to where the neck narrows. Allow to dry.

5. Paint hair. Paint hair base color and then allow to dry. Add highlights, parts, curls, etc. if desired.

6. Paint eyes: paint white dots for eyes. Allow to dry, then using the appropriate eye color, dot a teeny bit of paint on the white dots to make irises. When that is dry, dot an even smaller black dot in the middle of the iris. When the eyes are completely dry, add a white highlight dot (the smallest one yet) near the top of the irises.

7. Add detail: Now you can add detail to the clothing, hair, and faces. I added an upside-down ‘V’ on the front for pant legs in white, sleeves and arms on the sides of the body, and glasses on the people who wear them. I also painted a tractor on one boy-peg’s shirt, and jammies for the other boy-peg’s shirt. Oh, and don’t forget the mouths!

Don’t worry, if it doesn’t come out the way you want, you can always re-paint it!

8. Seal it: When you’re happy with your peg, spray it with clear acrylic sealer to keep the paint from rubbing off (as it inevitably will when kids play with it). You might want to skip this step if your kids are still young enough to put things in their mouths. Oh, and these are small enough that they could be choking hazards for those kids, too, so better just keep them away from the really-littles.

Alternately: Instead of paint, you can use fine-tipped markers to draw on your pegs. This is a great option for kids, since it’s not quite as messy as paint.

Additional Resources:

Heather Mann is the mom of three boys under 4, and is the founder of DollarStoreCrafts.com, a daily blog about crafting on the cheap, and CraftFail.com, a community blog devoted to sharing our own crafting blunders.

Jun 17

Here’s a fun idea for a summer activity: Bring your art supplies outside and paint rocks!

This project is versatile. Art can be temporary or permanent,
depending on your desire. If you use washable paint to decorate rocks
(or sticks, planters, bricks, etc.), the art can be washed off of
things that you might not want permanently decorated (for me, most
notably, my children!). You can just allow painted rocks to sit out in
the elements and take their chances, or if you want to preserve the
art, you can seal it with an acrylic clearcoat spray.

For my children, who are under 3, the fun was all in just applying
paintbrush to rocks, but older kids will enjoy painting specific
pictures on rocks, or entirely covering rocks with colorful designs. If
you get a good collection of rocks going, painted rocks are great for
stacking and playing with.
This is even an activity you can join in on. I know it’s simple, but
rock painting is something I can imagine whiling a whole afternoon away
on!

Paint Palettes: I used to-go coffee lids for our palettes (if
you go this route, put a small piece of tape over the hole BEFORE you
pour paint!). Yogurt lids, plastic or paper plates, or even cardboard
squares will also make great palettes.

Paint: Use washable acrylic paint (or if you don’t have
washable, mix a bit of dish soap in with each color of paint to make it
washable!) or if you have older kids, regular acrylic paint is fine,
too.

Choosing Rocks: Really, anything you can find will work. If
you want to keep these rocks around as works of art, it’s a good idea
to wash them with dish soap and water first to remove dirt. Washing
rocks can be its own activity for little kids! Do it the day before, or
in the morning. Be sure to let your kids know if any rocks are off
limits (flagstones, big rock features in your yard, etc.).

If desired, when the paint is dry, seal it with a clear acrylic spray.

If kids want more instruction than “Hey, go paint rocks!” you can give them a jumping off point like:

  • Paint your favorite animal
  • Paint the first letter of your name
  • Paint Daddy’s face on this rock
  • Paint this whole rock pink, and don’t leave any spots uncovered!
  • Paint three rocks blue and two rocks yellow*
  • Any other silly/fun/serious/learning cue you can think of

*You can use this activity as an opportunity for learning (in the
starred example, numbers and colors), but I think there is also value
in just letting your child paint the rocks for fun with no other
agenda. You decide for yourself!

Other Ideas:

  • Use sidewalk chalk to completely cover rocks (instead of paint) – this is really pretty!
  • Paint pieces of wood or terra cotta pots, other assorted stuff from your yard
  • At the beach? Paint driftwood or shells
  • Go on a nature walk first and pick fun stuff up, then come home and paint it
May 26

Here’s a way to mix art time with playtime: use a (washable) toy to apply paint to paper. We used some old toy cars to roll in paint and then make a fun painting. My sons enjoyed using this unusual paint brush to make unique paintings.

Project Materials:
  • A car, or other washable toy
  • Washable paint
  • Paper
  • Paint brush (optional)
  • Palette of some sort (we used a plate)

To do:

Apply paint (or let child do it! My 2 year old loves this part) to palette. Roll, dip, or otherwise put toy in paint. Let kid use toy on paper!

Mar 2

evander-berrypainting-209-small

Have you painted with your kid lately? Maybe he or she doesn’t enjoy painting with a brush (or even with fingers), but there are lots of other ways to apply strokes to paper! You don’t even have to use paint.

My 14 month-old made this awesome painting while eating blueberries! I just put some cardstock on his high chair tray while he was eating, and the juice of the berries combined with his little fingers made this beautiful painting. It reminds me of ink on parchment.

Edible “paint” is a great item for really small kids because then you don’t have to stress out about whether or not they get it into their mouths (in fact, it might just be better that way!). You can even combine craft time with snack time! Painting yogurt on grapes is a fun snack, for example.

Paint Alternatives:

I’m sure you can come up with a lot more good ideas for paint alternatives.

lewis-cottonballs-209-small

Instead of brushes, try other kinds of applicators. My 2 year old son rolled cotton balls in some paint and made this pretty painting. The width of the cotton balls made it possible to get a lot more color on the paper much quicker than a paint brush, which seemed to keep my son interested. Try to vary the tactile experience from using a brush. For example, get away from something that is attached to the end of a stick like a paint brush! Try something that you pinch with your fingers.

Paintbrush alternatives:

  • Cotton balls
  • Toothbrush
  • Sponge (kitchen, cosmetic, etc.)
  • Tissue
  • Flowers or leaves
  • Veggies (try lettuce, broccoli, or even carrots)
  • Popsicle sticks
paint-kernal

This painting was made with popcorn kernels. It reminds me of a Pollock!

Barrel Painting

potatopainting

This painting was made with a potato.

We also tried this fun activity found on A Bit of This and A Bit of That: Barrel Painting. You take a cylinder of some sort (oatmeal container, as in the instructions, or we used a big plastic ice cream bucket), add paper, paint, and some sort of tumbling material. We tried cotton balls, goldfish crackers, unpopped popcorn kernels, and a potato (all separately, of course). Each item made a different type of pattern on the paper. My son enjoyed adding the tumbling material and the paint to the cylinder.

paint-goldfishcrackers

This painting was made with goldfish crackers.

This is a fun activity for kids who are more interested in moving around than in sitting still and painting. You can shake, dance, and jiggle the barrel, or make it into a game. My son and I tossed it, rolled it, and kicked it to each other. He couldn’t get enough of it, and I lost interest in the activity before he did!

This painting was made with cotton balls.

This painting was made with cotton balls.

Jan 16

Inspired by a post at Fresh Picked Whimsy, my sister and I organized a “secret” activity for the family on Christmas Eve. We had some hardwood blocks for another project* that we prepared by painting a plain color with acrylic paint.

We then gathered acrylic paints, paint brushes, paper plates (to use as individual palettes), and set up tables to give each person in the family a workspace. We also had a couple of big mirrors for people to use for reference.

We let people choose their blocks one by one, then everyone got down to work. Some people used the computer to take a picture of themselves to refer to. Everyone was pretty into it as soon as they found out what we were doing. The guys ended up taking the longest on their portraits.

I love seeing how people interpret their own appearance – the features they choose to emphasize, the details they have to include to make an authentic portrait.

(2nd from the left): For me, I had to include my white eyebrows (how do you paint that?) and the multiple colors I used on my hair draw attention to it to symbolize the way I see my real hair – I love my hair color and I feel like it’s my signature feature. Of course, I didn’t think of that when I was painting it, but once it was painted, I realized why it came out that way!

It was a really fantastic family activity, and we all had a great time! I highly recommend it!

*encaustic wax painting

Nov 16

Kids of all sizes will enjoy making a pretty fall tree art project using a tracing of their hands as a tree trunk and branches, and finger painting the fall leaves. This is a quick and simple toddler art project, but older kids will also enjoy finger painting again! Use washable paint for easy clean up.

Materials:

  • Paper
  • Crayon or marker
  • Paint

Instructions:

1. Trace the hand using a crayon or marker

2. Allow child to dip fingers in paint and smear, smudge, or dot in some fall leaves.

3. Admire!

Oct 31

Happy halloween! I looooove these argyle pumpkins by georgie, my love. Found via Handmade Parade. I am a fool for argyle.

Also, happy birthday to Sister Diane!

Oct 23

Yesterday I thought it would be fun to put tiny dots of food coloring in an ice cube tray and let my son pour water into it.

He’s now able to control the little water pitcher enough to pour into individual ice reservoirs.

I put single dots of blue, green, yellow, and red, and I also doubled some dots up (red-yellow, blue-red, etc) to make different shades when the water hit them.

The colors mixed together as the water hit them, but continued to deepen as the minutes passed.

When the water was all poured, I gave him a paintbrush and scrap paper to “paint” on.

Total entertainment value: about 15 minutes. It would be more if you re-colored the ice cube trays and got more water. It made pretty water, though!

Jun 15

Heather in the style of Vincent Van Gogh, ATC 2004

I was just bemoaning the lack of art in my life currently (in any form), and practically the moment I posted about it on Facebook, I received an invitation from Milla to join Miss Stacey’s Summer Art School. Sounds like just what the headmistress ordered!

The class, based online and to take place right in your own space, is now registering new students. Assignments will be rigorous, yet forgiving. You can do what you have time to do, and don’t worry about what you can’t do. Class runs from June 22-Sept 7 (with a possible extension if the summer session proves successful). There is a pre-assignment going on currently, that includes two parts:

1. get out your paints and play around, experiment with painting on different textures, using different tools to paint

2. paint (and only paint) a self-portrait

Here’s a self portrait ATC I did back in like 2004 or something…

I’m gonna get out in my garage and start painting! Come join us!