Holiday Craftiness - Simple Gifts

This weekend I had the pleasure of crafting with some wonderful teens at our local library. I planned three quick and easy projects that used materials I had on hand to keep costs down. We made wreath ornaments, lavender sachets and beaded choker pendants. The girls were thrilled with their creations and had friends and family in mind for each gift.

Crafting wreath ornaments was a great way to work through my giant bag of scraps. You'll also need to gather: 18 gauge galvanized steel wire (hardware store), jingle bells, scissors, pliers and wire cutters. Start by cutting the scraps into 'uniform' one inch square pieces. Fold each piece in half and clip a small slit along the fold line.

Once you've prepared enough pieces String them onto a 14" length of wire. Continue stringing until you have enough felt to encircle a wreath. String a jingle bell and/or two felt holly leaves onto one of the wires.

Bend the wires at a ninety degree angle where they meet at the top of the wreath. Coil one wire end around the other, use wire cutters to trim the coiled wire end. Use pliers to form the other end into a large open spiral hanger. Give your wreath a hair cut, use scissors to trim away stray felt ends.

This simple beaded choker pendant was a very successful group beading project. Making a beaded pendant is just like making one half of an earring set. It also allows you to showcase one of a kind beads. Rubber Silkies necklace cords are my favorite new beading supply. They're manufactured by Pepperrell and are sold at our local JoAnn's fabric store. The smooth rubber clasp is built into the cord and is very comfortable to wear.

I purchased a bulk bag of glass beads and divided them in bowls for easy selection. You'll also need small bead caps, head pins, round nose pliers, and wire cutters.

Simply string three beads onto the head pin, add a bead cap into the mix if you want to highlight a bead or narrow the opening of a large bead. Use round nose pliers to turn the end of the head pin into a loop. Open the loop laterally and then slide it onto the center of the cord. Be careful you don't pinch the rubber in your pliers as it breaks apart when squeezed with metal. Use the pliers to carefully close the loop back to it's original shape.

These sweet little lavender sachets scented the room as we crafted. You could easily substitute great smelling Balsam or make use the fabric pouch as a small gift bag. You'll need two different colors of purple fabric, straight pins, lavender buds (San Francisco Herb Company), thread, hemp cord, card stock labels (I cut my with my Sizzix Big Kick), stamps, chalk ink pad, black pen.

Cut the fabric into 4" x 7" rectangles, placing right sides together stack one color over. Pin the two layers of fabric together. Because I had a nice small group I was able to help each girl machine stitch three sides of the fabric together. For many of the girls it was the first time they'd used a sewing machine. Trim the top off the bag with pinking sheers then clip the extra fabric off the corners with regular scissors.

Turn the fabric right side out and used a pencil point to push out the corners. Pour a half cup of lavender buds into the sachet.

Stamp and write messages onto the tags before tying them around the top of the sachet with a section of hemp cord.

Fa la la la la ...Crafty girls with their creations!

Painted Pebbles are Pet Rocks with Personality!

I've decided to bring a new breed of pet rock to the Brunswick, Maine this summer. I'm loading up buckets of beach rocks to bring into the library so that creative youngsters can transform them into in vibrant sea creatures. If you're unable to join us at the library there's no reason that you can't have a rock painting party of your own!

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Creativity that sticks - Childrens Plant Pot Workshop

Proud artists with their plant pot creations!

Have I told you lately how much I love our library? When we moved to Brunswick, Maine from Des Moines six years ago Curtis Memorial Library was the very first place that made us feel part of the community. My older boys loved both the children's and teen programs. Four years ago when Celia joined our family I began taking her to 'baby lapsit', many of her preschool friendships started at the library. Last summer my husband Jon and I were delighted to donate our time to help them revamp the childrens play area, I promise to post shots of my murals soon. Recently I've been fortunate to be part of both the children and teen library art and craft events.

Parents and children making one of kind plant pots at library Earthday library event.

Today's craft was inspired for a design I developed for the summer issue of Crafts 'n Things.

I created a trio of mixed media plant pots that incorporated 'junk' everything from odd game pieces to hardware. I loved the 'in process' pots almost as much as the finished grouted pots. I realized that using adhesive alone would be the perfect way to introduce kids to the concept of mosaics and tiling. One of the biggest challenges in preparing for this event was collecting enough recycled materials.

This is me intently helping someone decide which pieces will 'stick' to their pot.

A girl after my own heart, she was intent in filling the entire surface of her pot.

To make this project at home, begin by sealing the inside of the pot with a weatherproof sealer. Purchase a small container of tile adhesive at your local hardware store. Use a plastic knife to spread a 1/4" layer of adhesive onto the outside of your pot. Press found objects into the adhesive, filling the small spaces with plastic beads and buttons. Let adhesive cure 24 hours before planting your funky pot. 

Another superb original creation!

Today's plant pot activity quickly reached eighty pre-registered children, unfortunately the librarians were forced to turn many people away. At a time when library budgets are being cut nationwide, the outstanding attendance for these kinds of events is a strong indicator how important libraries are to our community!

These young men found a way to personalize their pots with letter beads.

Over the next couple of weeks I'll be working with the librarians to plan more creative summer activities for both children and teens. I can't wait to get messy and share more smiles!