Archive for the ‘Mindful Living’ Category

Eco Art Birthday Party Inspiration! – part three

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

A selection of eco-friendly materials, plus glue, scissors, colored pencils and crayons

So many birthday activity ideas you see online are very specific about how to make a certain craft so it fits in with the theme of the party.  The great part about having an art-themed party is that you can make whatever you want!

Artterro’s open-ended, totally creative birthday art activity:

  1. Cover a big table with newspaper or kraft paper.
  2. Put plenty of art supplies in the middle.
  3. Watch naturally creative kids make amazing art!

Not sure what to provide?  You could always get a few art kits.  Our Wire & Bead Art KitCreativity Kit and Bookmaking Kit would provide a nice selection of materials and project ideas.

Covering the table with kraft paper not only protects your furniture, but it creates a great big canvas for art!

Kraft paper + colored pencils = happy kids!

Here’s a good checklist of supplies to consider:

  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Paper
  • Pencils
  • Crayons
  • Materials you have around the house (old magazines and wrapping paper for collage, cardboard containers, yarn and fabric scraps for 3D art, etc.
Tip: Keep beads in a jar to keep things relatively tidy.

Just in case you have some kids who are less confident about their artistic abilities, it’s a great idea to have a few sample pieces or art for them to check out, like a paper bookmark or card, a simple wire sculpture, or a felt ornament with beads sewn on.

Small works of art made from beads, wire, paper & felt.

But we can assure you, once you step back and let them get started, their imaginations will take over!


Art supplies make wonderful favors!  You could make little bundles of crayons or colored pencils, or little stacks of paper or felt.  The easiest idea would be to let each kid grab a handful of the leftover materials from your activity table (a great favor, plus there’s less to clean up!).

Goody bags found at a thrift store!

All you need for this favor is a cute bag.  Along with the supplies, they can take finished artwork home in style.  The birthday boy or girl can decorate paper lunch bags with each kid’s name and a drawing.  You can also pick out some cute recycled-paper bags online (like a recycled gingham bag from Layer Cake Shop), or browse a thrift store.

We hope these Eco Art Birthday Party ideas have been helpful and inspiring!  Feel free to share your own ideas in the comments!

Eco Art Birthday Party Inspiration! – part two

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

As we shared in last week’s post, decorations can be very easy and cheap, if not free, to make.  Here’s our favorite birthday decoration:

Artterro’s Eco Paper Bunting


Some combination of:

Recycled paper (magazines covers, wrapping paper, greeting cards)

Fancy paper (preferably with glitter!)

Construction paper

Twine, string or ribbon

Stapler, glue, hot glue gun or strong tape

  1. Gather a collection of paper.
  2. Cut out big and little triangles (whatever sizes you want, but at least a few inches long so you have room to fold over the top).
  3. Cut a piece of sturdy twine, string or ribbon.
  4. Fold the top inch of a triangle over the string and use glue, staples or tape to secure.
  5. Hang on the wall.

fabric bunting and paper bunting
A small paper bunting underneath a big fabric Happy Birthday bunting!

Easy, fast, and kid-friendly!  For a bigger decoration with more impact, check out the fabric bunting above that spells out Happy Birthday.  It takes a bit more time and effort, but it’s easy enough for anyone to make!  Our you could make several big posters with birthday messages.  Kids love making signs!  And you probably have markers, crayons, paper and glue already on hand.  No directions necessary—just have fun!

Now for the Birthday Treats.  Again, we love to keep it simple.  Pick one or two things that are easy to make or pick up from the store.  We love to start with a search on Pinterest.  Try searching for easy sugar cookie and/or cupcake recipes.  Here’s a nice, simple recipe for Gluten-Free Sugar Cookies and a slightly more complicated (but gorgeous) Strawberry-Beet Cupcake recipe from the Minimalist Baker.  If you are up for a bit of a fun mess, decorating the cookies or cupcakes can be another party activity.  Just set out some frosting (perhaps a few bowls with different, naturally-colored frosting options) and sprinkles from Maggie’s Naturals, and let the kids have at it!

Once all the treats are decorated, out come the best party plates around, from Susty Party! How cute are these?  They have cups, bowls and straws, and special themed sets to choose from.

susty party

Be sure to come back tomorrow for Part Three!  We’ll show you exactly how to set up a birthday art activity table, and give you a handy supply checklist!

Eco Art Birthday Party Inspiration!

Friday, January 31st, 2014

All the moms that work here at Artterro have kids with winter birthdays, so there has been a lot of party planning going on lately!  Since we all love to incorporate art into our lives whenever possible, most of the parties had at least one art-related element, whether it was a crafty party favor, homemade invitation or DIY decorations and treats.  And because we love to be green (and frugal!), the parties were pretty eco-friendly affairs.  It got us thinking, what would a totally eco, art-themed party look like?

Here’s our vision of an Eco Art Birthday Party!  Hopefully it will give you some inspiration for your own birthday planning process.

Invitations: Some kids will take up this project with gusto, designing and creating their own invitations (like Sasha, age 5, below), while some might need some help and guidance. Let the child lead the way!  You can make each one by hand or create a design on the computer and print them out (or a combo).

homemade birthday invitation

Birthday Art Activity: Rather than have one specific project every kid must do, why not have a collection of materials (new and recycled) and a few examples of finished samples, like bookmarks, cards, ornaments, etc.?  That way each kid can choose what would be fun to create.


Creative Eco Décor: Some of the easiest decorations to DIY are paper or fabric bunting and Happy Birthday signs, and you don’t need to buy anything new!

Treats: Get the kids involved in another creative way—set out sugar cookies or cupcakes, and let kids decorate them with frosting, sprinkles, candy, etc.  Caution: this could get messy!  But it’s guaranteed to be fun.

Favor: A pretty bag to hold their finished art projects, perhaps with some extra art materials to take home.

Remember, planning a party can easily snowball into an epic Pinterest-fueled project (which is fun!), but it is possible to keep it simple.  Be sure to ask yourself how much time and/or money you’re okay with spending.  Some people love to DIY it all, but if that stresses you out too much, consider buying a few elements that will really lighten your workload.

Here’s our Eco Art Birthday Party Shopping List:

Stay tuned for Part Two on Monday!  We’ll share our tips for simple, eco-friendly decorating, plus some great recipes for birthday treats.

Guest Blogging with Fair Indigo

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

We are so thrilled to be selling our kits through Fair Indigo, a wonderful fair trade catalog and web store.  They only sell beautiful items that are fair trade or made ethically in the US, and we’re proud to be part of their catalog and movement to make fair trade fashionable and accessible.

This week they asked Forrest to share some thoughts on holiday giving.  You can also read the original post here on the Fair Indigo blog, which we highly recommend.  The previous post is on how to make your very own Peace wreath–what a fun project!

Stuff, Stuff, and More Stuff

Every year when the holidays roll around I start to think about the all the Stuff. I start to feel a little sad, and I’m reminded of the movie The Story of Stuff.  If you haven’t watched it, it’s about how our stuff is made out of raw materials from the earth and how most of it ends up in a landfill only six months after it’s made.  Just when I’m resolving not to contribute to this huge problem, one of my young sons runs up to me with a list in his hands and a big smile on his face and says, “Here Mom, this is what I want for my birthday and Christmas.”  Both my sons have birthdays the week before Christmas, so that means we tend to get twice the amount of Stuff this time of year.  At that point, I snap out of my anti-Stuff mindset and tell myself that I need to start thinking about it in a different way.  We don’t have to buy disposable Stuff.  We can buy truly meaningful, even life-changing gifts for the people we love, plus we can make some special gifts by hand.

One of my favorite ways to make a difference with my dollar is to buy Fair Trade, which means an artisan has been paid a fair wage for their work.  It feels like buying a gift for three people: the recipient who gets to enjoy it, the artisan who is strengthening her community and family, and yourself, because it just feels good to give Fair Trade!

I’m also partial to giving a gift that offers a hands-on experience, like art materials or my own Artterro Eco Art Kits.  When you give a child the gift of art, you offer them a chance to unplug and tap into their creativity.

Finally, we can also make very special gifts ourselves.  It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.  Try finding a project idea online that you can complete with new and used materials.  It’s a great way to upcycle supplies you may have lying around your house, and you end up with a totally unique finished product.

For many years now I have been doing all three of these things.  I feel so good knowing that I gave my money to good companies, I’m giving my kids gifts that are educational, and I’m giving things I already own a new life and home.  It helps me feel better about all this Stuff not ending up in a landfill in six months.  Okay, I’m off to make some handmade gifts—wish me luck that I will get them done on time!

5 Ways to Go (Creatively) Green with Art on Earth Day

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

There are hundreds of websites devoted to going green in your everyday life, and many of them write special Earth Day posts, inspiring their readers to take new steps towards sustainability.  Treehugger has a great primer if you’ve never come across this type of post.

This particular list is a little different.  Since our specialty is art of the eco-friendly variety, we decided to share some of creative ways to go green as you make beautiful works of art.  All of these ideas are designed to keep materials out of the waste stream in a useful, aesthetically-pleasing way—in other words, upcycling!

Garden Art

Garden Art for Earth Day!

1.       Mix the old with the new: Turning recycled junk into fabulous art is a great idea in theory, but it’s important to make sure you don’t end up with something that looks like recycled junk.  Try mixing some recycled supplies with some high-quality art materials.  You can transform an old plastic food container into a stylish pencil holder or vase if you cover it with beautiful, handmade paper or bright, eco-friendly paint.  Bottle caps, old wrapping paper, postcards and photographs can also be paired with new art supplies to make something unique.

2.       Nature makes life more beautiful—return the favor! Whether you have acres of land or a little studio apartment with a tiny potted plant on the window sill, your life is enriched by the beauty of the natural world.  Have you ever thought of bringing your artistic abilities into nature?  You can collect stones to make garden paths in unique designs (try Craigslist or Freecycle for free sources) or use fallen branches and tree trunks to make rustic fences and benches.  If your garden is limited to potted plants, try making your own decorative plant labels—cut up sturdy plastic containers or lids, then paint them (including the plant type if you choose).

3.       Clothes that keep on giving: When a beloved item of clothing gets a little holey, it’s easy to turn the pattern, color and material you love into something new.  Like to knit?  Cut a long piece of clothing (like pajama pants) into one thin, continuous strip of fabric “yarn,” and give your next scarf or hat a totally unique texture.  Almost any shirt or skirt can be turned into a pillowcase or tote bag with some scissors and simple sewing skills.

4.       Jewelry with a (re)purpose: You don’t have to throw out jewelry that’s gone out of style.  Lay out all the pieces you no longer wear, and pretend you’re at a bead store.  Poach individual beads and clasps from your collection, and use them to make new jewelry.  You can also transform them into ornaments, mixed-media art materials or hip clothing embellishments (think J.Crew, but much cheaper).

5.       Don’t forget your friends: If you have any artistic or crafty friends, host an art party or craft supply swap.  Chances are you have supplies that you’re just not interested in using anymore.  Maybe you have a friend who’s dying to try them!  Either ask people to simply swap items at the event, or make it into a hands-on art party, with everyone sharing their materials, know-how and inspiration.

The Day After Earth Day

Friday, April 23rd, 2010
Earth Day materials

Our beautiful natural materials on the Artterro project table (made of recycled doors!) We love having stacks of art supplies around our office to inspire us!

At Artterro, we love Earth Day. Gathering the world community to pay tribute to the planet and recognize our impact on it is significant! The fulfillment of sustainability and environmental stewardship, though, takes regular commitment and as a sustainable business, we feel empowered as we strive to make responsible choices everyday.

Our minimal packaging allows us to spend more on the amazing materials AND you get to see what you're buying!

Artterro kits are very intentionally packaged. We use sturdy reusable bags, print all inserts on 100% PCW recycled  paper with vegetable based inks at Green Solutions Printing in Eugene, OR. They are a terrific small business committed exclusively to environmentally responsible printing and use renewable energy to power their presses. When packed in shipping boxes, our kits take up a fraction of the space conventionally over-packaged craft kits do, reducing transportation resources.  Our kits are assembled in the US at Goodwill Industries in Milwaukee, WI to provide social services and job skills to those in need and to avoid the intense resource suck of overseas production. And best of all, customers are not left with a pile of wasteful boxes and molded plastic inserts that ultimately end up in the trash.

And then, there’s the materials… Who could thow these away?

Handmade 100% Post consumer waste recycled decorative papers. We have a terrific paper supplier who works as a husband and wife team. She designs all the patterns!

Handmade 100% wool felt

Glass and wooden beads

We have a lot of goals but one is to teach children and families to value quality materials. In our fast food culture, we have gotten so used to cheap, easy and disposable. We want kids not only growing up exploring their creativity but doing it with art supplies that inspire them. We want them to learn to take care of them, to care about what they’re made of, to reuse them when tired of an old project, and to add recycled items from around the house to personalize their artwork.

While at the recent NAMTA art materials trade show we heard a few buyers comment, “I love the concept. The materials and projects are great. I get the idea of the packaging but I just wish it had a box… my customers are used to thinking they get more if they buy a big box.” We have heard this before and learned educating our customers is key. It’s a huge cultural mind shift to believe you can actually get more value from a smaller package! And it’s exciting to see that more and more people get it. In fact, we’re thrilled to announce we were just named a “Top Green Toy for Earth Day 2010″ on the website!

So we continue on, trying our best to make sustainable choices, not because it’s a savvy marketing strategy or even because it’s good for the environment. When we focus on the big picture instead of just the bottom line, we become better people, better role models for our children, and lead more balanced lives. To truly make a difference on Earth Day and beyond, striving to create balance within ourselves and our workplaces translates into a healthier environment all around.

So happy Earth Day, and enjoy making lots of sustainable art with the people you love!

A lovely wire sculpture made with our Garden Art kit adorns a plant on our window sill.