• artsy fartsy,  Bug,  painting,  Tis the Season

    Homemade citrus paper!

    a lemon present for a new bride

    Here is something fun that Bug and I did together the other day. That’s my secret, you know. That’s how I get stuff done when she is awake. I force her to help me. Actually, it’s more like I rack my brain all day long for things that we can do together so that I can actually cross something off my list and not go insane at the same time. I get very bored of playing picnic and watching Dora all day long. I think boredom brings out the creativity in me. That might be a good explanation for why having kids can be so inspiring for creative moms and why we all feel like we are going insane because there is never enough time to do everything we want to do! But if we didn’t have the kids we’d never have all the ideas so it’s a catch-22!!

    all tied up with ribbon

    We made wrapping paper! We’ve done this lots of times before, with crayons and potato stamps…but this wrapping paper was made especially for some people on my gift-giving list who like lemons. It’s not exactly the most Christmas-y paper but it does fit the recipient. I really wish I had some bright yellow cheery ribbon to go with it but I refuse to go shop for any. I’m going to do as much of my holiday gift-making/shopping at home as possible. Long live Etsy!

    lemon stamp

    You can do this too if you are so inclined. I just carved two lemon shapes out of some apples we had (we didn’t have any potatoes so apples did just fine in a pinch). One of the shapes is a lemon slice and the other is an oval with those characteristic lemon bumps on both ends. (Though I think in real life lemons don’t actually come in that shape that often…but whatever, it’s all about recognition and I’m not going to get all Norman Rockwell while carving an apple.) It is sort of funny that no citrus fruits were harmed while making this paper. Just apples.

    stamp stamp stamp

    We stamped the crap out of those apples. Too bad poster paint isn’t edible because those apples were ready to be applesauce by the time we were done. It was pretty fun. The perfect craft a two-year-old attention span. After she was done slapping the paper with apples we hung it out to dry on our handy dandy patio lighting.

    lemon paper!

    And then, me being me, I had to add something. The paper was perfectly cute with just lemon stamps and the odd kid thumb print here and there but my black roller ball pen was calling my name and the next thing I knew I was scrawling silly phrases about lemons. I think it turned out cute. I gave one present to a friend already (her wedding was last week so it was a late wedding gift) and she wadded up the paper right away not even realizing it was homemade. Then when I told her, she shrieked and un-wadded it right away. So you could say that the paper looked so good it looked store-bought, or maybe you could say that it looked like something to throw away. Haha. I’m going with the former, of course.

    So there you have it. Homemade lemon paper.

    poke poke smudge smudge smudge

    We also made some Christmas paper from candy canes carved out of apples but by then Bug’s attention span had flitted off to something else and she started finger-printing my beautiful paper like some kind of murder happened. So I shooed her away and finished it up by myself.


    I tried to tell Toby that Bug made the paper but he was onto me. So I guess this 100% kid art was made by a 100% 36-year-old kid. I still like it and I think everyone getting a gift from me in this paper will like it too. I may or may not clarify who did the painting. We’ll just say that Bug helped in her own way. And she did! See that massacre of red fingerprints attacking my nice cinnamon bun swirls? That was all her.

    it's all about the packaging for me

    Wrapping paper with a story is always better anyway.

  • artsy fartsy,  Bug,  painting

    Meet Tweet.

    Meet Tweet

    Greetings from the sick desk. Funny how last week I couldn’t wait to write about all the fun we had with the alpha+mom projects but now that I’m slogged over the head with the snots, all I really want to write is, “Hi. See you next week. Pass the Kleenex.”

    But I wouldn’t do that. I’ll just drink my big cup of coffee and plow on through. Coffee is my answer to everything and yes, I know I would probably feel better if I stopped drinking it. But that’s not going to happen. At least not this week with the time change screwing with my head. If I ever stop drinking coffee you’ll know I’m either very sick or pregnant.

    So! Onwards!

    Last week we made a paper maché turkey. It was a blast. So sloppy and messy yet fulfilling. I took a sculpture class at our local community college a few years before Bug was born and I always forget how much I love working in 3D. You think you have it perfect and then you turn your sculpture a few degrees to the right or left and lo and behold there’s an arm where a belly button should be!

    It’s challenging but freeing at the same time. I think it works parts of your brain that wouldn’t normally be used. Sort of like that drawing-upside-down trick. If you can turn off the voices in your head that tell you a house should have a triangle roof and the sky should be blue, then your artwork comes out ten times better than you expect. Bla bla bla.

    Bug and Tweet

    This post is not about left brain vs. right brain, it’s about Bug’s turkey! Her turkey was green OF COURSE!!!! We named him Tweet. Cute, no?

    up to our mousy ears in paper maché

    I had to sort of “fix” her floppy strips of soggy newspaper when she wasn’t looking but she definitely got into it. In fact later in the day she kept referring to our “balloon newspaper” project over and over. I think it made a big impression on her. Kids really don’t care about the end result. It’s all about the process. And believe me, this process is about as hands-on dirty as you can get. I’m glad we didn’t have any permanent pigment thrown into the mix or it might have been a little too much mess even for me.

    The thing I didn’t realize is that when flour and water and salt combine and then dry they really do create glue. Glue that sticks to your patio and carpet until you get down on your hands and scrub it off with a fork and eight gallons of elbow grease! Shizer! I still have bits of white crud stuck in my carpet and I had company on Friday that I had to clean up for! It was bad.

    So, that is my warning to you: If you want to do paper maché, stay on top of the drips and drops and don’t let them harden and become tomorrow’s worst enemy. Maybe it’s not that bad. I just don’t like cleaning as much as I like making messes so I wish I had been more mindful as I was going along. I’m so used to just hosing paint off our patio with no effort that I didn’t really expect the hard labor scrubbing that came later.

    One other thing: Paint. We were on a deadline when we did this project so I didn’t really have enough days to let things completely dry and harden. Then on top of the birds not being completely 100% dry, I used cheap kid paint to paint them. I think the water content in the kid paint is higher than my regular acrylics and that didn’t work well for me. It actually weakened the paper structure and when I punctured my turkey with the wire for feet, the balloon inside contracted and sucked the turkey in with it. It was a panic moment.

    Thankfully, I was able to cut a large enough hole to fit my hand in and mold the turkey body back to it’s original un-dented form. But it was a close one. I think if I was working on something smaller, it would have been doomed. My second bit of advice, let it dry completely and use the good paint.

    painting... her hand

    Since we let Bug’s piñata sit for an extra day, it was fine. No crazy sunken-head birdy for her, good thing! We painted him up, glued on some googlie eyes, a paper beak and some feathers and he was done.

    adding detail

    I let her color on him with a Sharpie (I love living on the edge!) and she promptly punctured a hole in the poor bird with her pen. Then later when I was off doing dishes or something and the birds were sitting on the coffee table on display, she pulled off all Tweet’s feathers and stuffed them in that same hole.

    What can you do, right? Kids will be kids. All I can say is that it was a fun project and it used up several hours that would have otherwise been wasted watching tv.

Secret Agent Josephine
Creative Agency
© Brenda Ponnay