Archive for January, 2014

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.

Artterro Artist Profile: Shari

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Meet Shari, Artterro’s new Shipping & Production Manager! Along with keeping our warehouse organized and running smoothly, Shari is also an accomplished crafter with her own Etsy shop.  She has been helping us make some beautiful new product samples to display on our packaging, marketing materials and social media pages.

Shari crafting with decoupage

Q: What’s your art background?  How long have you been crafting?

A: I am pretty sure I started crafting as soon as I was born, haha.  Art, and creating/crafting has been a part of my life as long as I can remember.  I took as many art classes as I could in school, including summer school.  I have always made presents for friends and family members.  I have always saved materials that would otherwise be thrown out to make new things with — what I save has just changed over the years.  I had an Illustration minor in college, but I feel like my everyday experiences have taught me more than I ever learned in a classroom.

Q: How do you incorporate art in your daily life?

A: I see everything as a material or tool that can be used to make something else.  I am constantly coming up with new ideas, even if I know I’ll never get to all of them.  I have an etsy shop and vendor at craft shows, so I am usually testing out new ideas, making products to sell, checking out all the cool things (online and in shops and galleries around town) that other people have made, or selling the final product.  I also like bartering with my friends who craft!  And in October 2013, I joined Artterro, so crafting is actually a part of my work!  This is something I am very excited about.

Q: What was it like making samples with our kits?

A: The kits are generally geared towards kids, but I think they are also a good product for crafty adults to buy.  It was harder for me to see the materials with a child’s eye, as in, I wanted everything to match and look perfect.  But kids just want to incorporate every style and color, and for it to be fun.  Sometimes I wish I could just go back to that and stop worrying about what goes where and why.  But I did still have a good time with it, and think that I came up with some cool samples.   It’s no paint-by-number, and allows you to really use your imagination.

Q: What is your favorite handmade gift to give away?

A: I really like giving away the tiny, origami, paper crane earrings that I make.  I fold the cranes out of a 1 inch by 1 inch square of paper, set them on sterling silver findings, and coat them for durability.  They are very delicate (yet sturdy), and everyone is always amazed I could fold something that small with my fingers.  They are very unique, so I am generally not afraid that they already have something like it.

Q: Describe your perfect craft night.

A: Having friends over for dinner, drinking wine, and crafting in my cozy living room.  Then taking a break to blow frozen bubbles!  And did I mention wine?  This totally happened a couple weeks ago.  I often craft by myself, and I love getting together to do it with friends.

Frida the Cat Loves our Fancy Handmade Felt!

Friday, January 24th, 2014

It seems even cats appreciate good quality art materials!  Forrest recently discovered that our natural wool felt was a big hit with Frida the cat.  Have you ever made your own pet toys?  Keep an eye out for a DIY cat toy post coming up in February!

cat playing with handmade wool felt toy

Make Art Happen! Setting Up a Family Art Station

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

One of our goals for this blog is to help you incorporate arts and crafts into your family’s daily rhythm, no matter how short on time, space and experience you may be.  It really can be easy!  You don’t need a gorgeous family art studio right out of Dwell Magazine, or a walk-in closet full of high-end materials.  Just a couple of shelves or drawers, a place to sit, and a few essential, affordable supplies.  Here are some simple steps to get started:

1. Stocking Up on Art Supplies for Kids

Kids really don’t need fancy art materials when they are first learning to draw, color, and create, but they do need sturdy, quality tools that work well.  Here’s a shopping list to use as a guide.

  • plain paper
  • construction paper
  • plain journals or mixed media paper pads
  • glue sticks or white paper glue
  • coloring tools (crayons for younger kids, colored pencils and markers for older kids)
  • kids scissors (with rounded edge) for younger kids and quality scissors for older kids (make sure they are the right size)
  • storage container for paper and tools
  • recycled materials from around the house (magazines, newspaper, empty plastic containers, ribbons, wrapping paper, etc.)

2. Family Art Supply Storage

Set up a small family art station at or near a large table or in the kitchen (we find that most kids like to be near adults or other family members when they create).  This could be a freestanding cabinet, some shelves in your pantry, or a desk or end table with a drawer or two.  Here’s Forrest’s art cabinet, which is fairly large because it includes homeschooling materials as well.  Note the baskets, magazine holders and cups– feel free to be creative when you look for containers.  And don’t worry too much about being perfectly organized.  They’re art supplies, not library books!

Art supply cabinet organization

3. Make Art Happen!

Have the station where your child can easily reach it, and teach him or her how to get materials and how to put stuff away. Young kids love being independent, and it’s great to build on that skill at an early age. Drawing can be a fun and relaxing thing for kids to do in the evening when they are waiting for dinner. It’s also a great time to spend together at the end of a long day. And any time you can sit down and do a family art project with an older child or tween, it’s such a great opportunity to talk.

Let us know if you have questions about what to buy or how to organize your family art station!

More resources:

Check out all the recycled containers utilized in this organized art cabinet, from The Art of Simple blog.

Last year on the blog we talked about the convenience of having a mobile art station (for kids or adults).

A fun selection of supplies to jazz up your stock of basic essentials, on the Design Mom blog.

Crafting with Four- and Five-Year-Olds

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

Our kits are designed for kids age seven and up, but we have quite a few younger customers who enjoy the kits with a parent’s help.  But how much help is appropriate? Recently Forrest was talking to the mother of a five-year-old about her experience using our kits.  She mentioned being unsure of how much to physically assist her child with the process vs. encouraging her to explore on her own.

Of course, it all depends on the child’s experience and abilities.  We know some preschoolers and kindergarteners who have the patience and dexterity for all sorts of intricate art projects!  But if your child’s fingers are just not ready for some of the trickier parts of a craft like sewing or decoupage, one great way to experience our kits is to say, “You can be the designer, and I’ll be your assistant!”

A 4- to 5-year old crafter.

How to Help

- Show & Tell: While you thread a needle, tie a knot, sew a stitch, or brush on the glue, make sure your child can see what you’re doing, and try to explain how you did it.

- Ask Questions!

What would you like to make?

What color felt or paper do you want to start with?

What beads would you like to add to make it fancy?

What color thread would you like to use?

Do you want to make an ornament to hang in your room?

I can start sewing and you can watch me, then if I thread the needle, would you like to sew a few stitches?

- Step Back: Make sure that you don’t tell the child he/she is doing something wrong.  Just keep asking questions to help the child figure out how to make their idea come to life. Creativity is problem solving, and making mistakes is part of the creative process. Frustration is a normal emotion!  Help the child move through and past these feelings. Something fun can turn into something frustrating, then turn into an important life lesson. You will find that when they complete the project they will feel great pride.

Hopefully this will help you the next time you’re crafting or sewing with a four- or five-year old.  Here are a few blog posts to check out as well: The Artful Parent and Sew Mama Sew.  Can you think of other tips that would be helpful?