Exploring Art & Science: Open-Ended Bug Project

July 18th, 2014

Wool Felt Bug Habitat

Summer is a wonderful time to help kids learn about the natural world around them, especially small creatures that are easy to observe in our own backyards and parks, like butterflies, worms and bugs!

Here’s an idea to stoke your child’s interest in nature and art at the same time.

DIY Insect Observation Art Project

dragonfly diy craft project

Optional preparation: Go to the library together to check out a book about bugs.  Here’s a list from the Frogs, Snails and Puppy Dog Tails blog to get you started: Children’s Books About Bugs.  Try to find the answers to these questions together: What makes insects different from other animals?  How big is the biggest insect?  What about the smallest?  Which one is your favorite?

summer insect activity DIY

  1. Take a nature walk and do some close observation of bugs, using a magnifying glass if you have one, or just getting close to the ground.  Let them be the scientist, and you can be the assistant!  Ask your child what they notice about the bugs they find (color, shape, body parts etc.).
  2. Write down notes or make quick sketches of your favorites.
  3. Get out your paints, modeling clay, colored pencils or Wool Felt Bug Kit, and make your own creepy-crawly friends!  Your child might be interested in copying the real insects exactly, or maybe they want to invent their own species.  Either way, it will be a lot of fun!
  4. Make a habitat for your bugs.  In the photos above and below, we decorated our packaging with Artterro paper for grass, and glued on some real sticks.  You could also use a jar or a shoebox, or simply draw your own habitat.

Tip: Try to keep this project as open-ended as possible.  Your trip to the library may inspire interest about a different subject altogether.  Go with it!  Or maybe the flowers and trees will interest your child more than the bugs.  Great!  The important thing is for curiosity to lead the activity.

wool felt bugs

Artterro Bugs in the Wild!

For more fun bug crafts, check out our newest Pinterest board!

DIY bug art project

Bonus project: How many Artterro creatures can you spot in this photo?

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5 (Easy & Eco) Summer Art Projects For Kids

July 15th, 2014
Summer Art Projects

Copyright 2011 Jim Pennucci via Flickr

We’ve reached the middle of summer!  If filling up all the free time between now and September seems like a challenge, check out some of these wonderful art projects for kids and tweens gathered from some of our favorite blogs.  We chose simple projects families can do together, with finished products that make kids want to get outside and play!  We also have some wonderful options in our Artterro Store–always a convenient option for busy families.  Be sure to sign up for our mailing list to hear about upcoming specials and promotions.

1. Make Giant Paper Airplanes

Summer Art Project  giant paper airplanes

From the Fireflies and Mudpies blog

This project from Fireflies and Mudpies is great for summer, because it requires a minimal amount of prep and supplies, and afterwards you have a fun outdoor activity boys and girls alike will love!  We would add one tip: encourage your kids to find a big piece of poster board they’ve already used, and paint right over it!  Durable paper like that can easily be used more than once.

2. DIY Upcycled Bucket

Here’s another great project that leads to even more fun outside!  Who doesn’t have empty yogurt or sour cream containers filling up their recycling bin?  Why not give it one more purpose, and inspire some summer fun at the same time?  Follow the simple directions from Creative With Kids.  All you need are scissors and a hole punch, plus two plastic containers (one is for the handle).  Perfect for a beach day or a trip to the sandbox at the park.  Little ones often enjoy just moving toys and dolls from one place to another, and they’ll be so proud to help make their own container.

3. Paper Plate Frisbees

Summer Art Projects DIY paper plate frisbees

Copyright Amanda Formaro 2014

A great way to reuse paper plates, as long as they didn’t get soggy–maybe right after a summertime picnic!  With these easy instructions from Crafts by Amanda, you might think of even more objects that could be transformed into frisbees.

4. Water Bottle Fountain

Summer Art Project water bottle fountain

Copyright 2011 Christine Gross-Loh

This project from Origami Mommy definitely requires a parent’s help (for the hole-poking part), but it makes for a fun science experiment and a fabulous way to stay cool on a hot day!

5. DIY Bubble Wands

Summer Art Project diy bubble wands

COPYRIGHT © 2014 THE ARTFUL PARENT

The ultimate summer art project as far as we’re concerned!  Who doesn’t love bubbles?  They’re always a hit with the 10 and under set for sure.  And making your very own homemade bubble wand makes it even more fun!  Check out this post at The Artful Parent for some fabulous DIY options, or just pick up an Artterro Deluxe Bubble Wand Kit to make two sturdy, beautiful wands your kids can play with all summer!  Be sure to also check out Jean’s follow-up post on making perfect homemade bubble solution.

Do you have some more summer art project ideas to share?  Please include links or directions in the comments!  And if you want more ideas, check out our DIY Eco Art Project and Summertime = Craft Time Pinterest boards.

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Artterro Paper Cranes

July 11th, 2014

Have you ever used Artterro paper to make origami?  We find that the thick, sturdy pieces are perfect for folding intricate shapes, and you end up with something that looks like a special gift.  You’ll find the paper in our Bookmaking Kit, Art Dolls Kit and Creativity Kit.  Shari made these beautiful cranes recently.  We love how the subtle patterns on the papers she chose results in such unique little creatures.  And of course, it always feels great to use 100% recycled, handmade paper.

If we were to develop an Artterro Origami Kit, what kind of project ideas would you want to be included?  Cranes? Frogs? Gift boxes?  Something fairly challenging or relatively simple?  Let us know in the comments!

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DIY Needle-Felted Fish Project

July 9th, 2014
needle felted fish

A gorgeous rainbow anglerfish, very hard to spot in its natural habitat!

One of the most exciting parts of sending our kits out into the world is seeing all the different directions people take with our kits. One of our production assistants (who also happens to be a wonderful artist) recently took our Wool Felt Bug Kit in a fun new direction–she made an aquarium full of fish!

needle felted fish

This friendly orange-finned minnow doesn’t need a lot of fancy patterns, just some striking fins and fringe.

needle felted jellyfish

And here we have the very rare metallic fringed jelly fish–careful of its tentacles!

Last week’s post included a view of the whole aquarium, and some simple DIY tips for making your own needle-felted fish and an aquatic habitat.


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DIY Painted Aquarium with Needle-Felted Fish

July 5th, 2014

Yesterday we shared the incredible underwater creatures Sierra created.  Today we’ll take a look at the project as a whole.

DIY Aquarium and needle-felted fish

Isn’t this a fabulous, happy, no-maintenance aquarium?  What a perfect project to do after your family take a trip to a real aquarium.  You’ll probably take a few photos of the creatures you see there.  When you get home, use the photos as inspiration for your needle-felted art!  Of course you can also model your work on fish from children’s books, movies and songs.  Not to mention fish you see in real streams, lakes and oceans!  Isn’t summer great?  It’s so full of art inspiration.

Tips:

  • Sew on beautiful sequins and beads, and use the thread itself to add patterns to your fish bodies.
  • Add ribbons or fabric for fins and tentacles.
  • Use Artterro’s new packaging as your aquarium structure.  Sierra used the inner tray.
  • If you’re using cardboard, it can be helpful to paint it white first (with gesso or acrylic paint).  After that dries, paint it whatever color you want!
  • Glue on some fun green ribbons in curvy lines–easy seaweed!
  • Starting underneath each fish, sew a long piece of thread through the body of the fish, then poke the needle right through the top of your aquarium.
  • Attach the string with glue, and also make a big knot for extra hold.

DIY Painted Aquarium

You can use the tab at the top of the tray to hang it anywhere.  What other creatures can you imagine making with these wool felt shapes?

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We Love Needle Felting (& New Staff Members)!

June 27th, 2014

We recently attended the ASTRA (American Specialty Toy Retailing Association) show in Phoenix, AZ, where we debuted our new and improved line to some of our favorite store buyers.  It was so fun seeing everyone’s reaction to our new packaging and kit improvements.  We got a lot of big thumbs up!  We were able to participate in a Kit Session, where buyers could sit down and try out our Needle Felting Kit.  It was a huge hit!  But because of the limited time of the session, we were left with many half-finished canvases.

needle felted canvasesRather than let them go to waste, we decided to finish them up and provide them to stores as samples, so that people can see what you make with the kit.

needle felted canvases

So on Monday we had a big needle felting party with most of our production staff, plus our brand new Admin & Sales Assistant, Anna Lee!

needle felting party at artterro

Anna Lee will be providing some much needed office management and sales assistance as we continue to grow in 2014.  We’re thrilled to welcome her to our team.  Here she is with one of our outstanding production assistants, Juliana:

Juliana and Anna Lee

Have you tried needle felting yet?  It’s such a fun, satisfying project to work on!  Let us know what craft projects you have planned for your weekend in the comments.  Have a wonderful weekend!

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Art Is For Everyone (part 3): Art is Social

June 25th, 2014

Summer break is here!  It’s a great time to think about how you will incorporate art into your kids’ abundant free time.  For the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sharing some thoughts on why we create art (with kids and , and why art is such an important part of our lives.  We’re calling the series “Art Is For Everyone.”  Please share your thoughts with us in the comments!

When you think of an artist, what image pops into your head?  Perhaps a solitary figure painting on a canvas, deep in thought?  That’s certainly one example, but it’s not the only way to create art!  One of the things we encourage is art projects that involve the whole family, or a bunch of friends.  Whether you collaborate on a big project together, or each create something of your own while spending quality time in a group, you find that art can be wonderfully social.

Kids Making Art Together

Social art can take many forms: family art night, kids’ birthday party, ladies’ wine & crafting event, impromptu play dates, baby shower activities, and more.  Here’s the finished art that came out of a baby shower here at the Artterro office last summer:

Onesies Decorated with Fabric Markers

For some, art might feel like a private pursuit, and creativity might feel stronger in solitude, and there’s nothing wrong with that!  But we hope you will give social art a try, and encourage kids to enjoy art with others.  Especially for kids, art provides an opportunity to learn to collaborate with others, and to appreciate different styles and gifts that each person brings to a project.

Join us in the comments to share your favorite setting or project idea for social art!  And you can always check out our Pinterest boards for lots of inspiration!

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New Paper Patterns!

June 13th, 2014

Handmade recycled paper - new patterns - Bookmaking Kit

It is always a thrill to get a big pallet full of new paper from our friends at Shizen Designs.  The luscious texture and quality is the same every time, but the patterns are exciting and new.  And impressively on trend!  Everything from mod geometric prints to offbeat chevron, plus some classic paisley and floral and always-vibrant solids.

Handmade Recycled Paper

Does it get your art imagination going?  It would be impossible to pick just one for a card-making or paper art project!  Luckily we put a big, beautiful, unique assortment in each Bookmaking Kit.  You’ll also find several pieces in the Creativity Kit, Art Journal Kit, and the Art Dolls Kit.

What’s your favorite kind of paper art project?  Share in the comments!

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Art Is For Everyone (part 2): Art is Relaxing

June 10th, 2014

Summer break is coming up fast!  It’s a great time to think about how you will incorporate art into your kids’ summer break.  For the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sharing some thoughts on why we create art (with kids and , and why art is such an important part of our lives.  We’re calling the series “Art Is For Everyone.”  Please share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Matisse

“Art should be something like a good armchair,

in which to rest from physical fatigue.”

-Henri Matisse

Last week we talked about the healing powers of art.  This week, we want to highlight how relaxing it can be to create something with your own two hands.  It is so lovely to slow down and focus one one project, whether it’s a huge painting, a tiny doodle, a knitted scarf or anything that starts off as raw material and ends up something else.

Needle Felting Kit by Artterro

Here’s a great project idea from a licensed family therapist, to help kids and adults alike relax through art: Scribble Drawing.  From the blog’s author, :

“One of the benefits of this activity is that it helps to focus your mind on the here and now. By turning away from worries, planning, overanalyzing, negative thoughts, etc. and focusing on the drawing, you can take a break from stress and allow yourself to relax. Another benefit of the scribble, as opposed to another approach to drawing, is that it helps to remove anxiety or perfectionism in your creative process. A scribble cannot be good or bad, so you do not need to worry about the result.”

So take a few minutes to enjoy some calm and relaxation with art.  Whether you do it with your children, or alone before everyone else wakes up in the morning, it will have  a huge impact on your state of mind.

What kind of art or craft project relaxes you most?  Feel free to share in the comments!

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Art Is For Everyone (Part 1): Art is Healing

June 3rd, 2014

Summer break is coming up fast!  It’s a great time to think about how you will incorporate art into your kids’ summer break.  For the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sharing some thoughts on why we create art (with kids and , and why art is such an important part of our lives.  We’re calling the series “Art Is For Everyone.”  Please share your thoughts with us in the comments!

Art Journal Collage

We create art for so many reasons: to have fun, to relax, to learn, to socialize, to teach and to simply create.  But we also believe in the healing power of art.  Self-expression is a powerful thing.  Letting your emotions come out in your art can make you feel lighter, happier and more balanced.  Which is true for kids as well!  Art can be a great tool for helping kids deal with change and loss, along with just being a fun, unplugged activity.

Art Journal Face Collage

Art may also heal in a very literal, physical sense, lessening pain and speeding recovery for people with serious conditions.  According to The Greater Good Center at the University of California Berkeley, “the artistic processes restore a sense of identity and agency that hospitalization takes away. Barb Esrig, once attended by AIM artists after a car wreck broke 164 bones in her body, now interviews Shands patients for oral histories. She says AIM (the Arts in Medicine program) ‘reminds people they’re a whole lot more than just a disease process or a diagnosis. We find out who they are outside of the hospital gown.”

Art Collage Peace Love Joy

Art therapy is a powerful tool for recovery from emotional trauma as well, as explored by the National Institute for Health.  Megan Robb, a certified art therapist at NIH’s Clinical Center, says, “When traumatic memories are stored in the brain, they’re not stored as words but as images. Art therapy is uniquely suited to access these memories.”

We believe art journaling is a powerful tool for healing through art.  It combines drawing, painting, collage, poetry, journaling, sketching and more, for a one-of-a-kind creative project.

Have you ever experienced the healing power of art?  Please share in the comments!  You could inspire someone else to explore healing through art.

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