Friday, September 12, 2008

Paper and Wood and Felt

The girls spent the entire morning together playing, coloring horse pictures, and guzzling yogurt, leaving me with no other excuse than to spend all morning doing some really nasty, disgusting cleaning. I excavated out a few layers of dishes in the sink, organized the basement playroom, did a million loads of laundry, vacuumed, repaired the vacuum cleaner, cleaned out the refrigerator, found the missing library CD, picked up clutter, etc., while the girls just carried on taking turns and sharing and entertaining themselves, cruelly not rescuing me from such misery. Unfortunately, unless you had a "before" photo to compare the house to, it's still so messy that you wouldn't actually be able to tell I'd done anything at all. But I feel all gross and depressed now, so I guess that's something accomplished!

I'm not one to collect a ton of stash--honestly!--but when a craft store does offer a big sale on an item that I know I use a lot, I do like to stock up. Thus, Joann's 40%-off sale on felt-by-the-yard has had me going there TWICE to buy basically a yard in every color. It's not wool felt, but made entirely from recycled plastic bottles, which I think is absolutely terrific. Sure, wool felt is natural, and it does shape a little better, especially with a steam iron, but I'm opposed to factory farming, and organic wool felt is WAY out of my price range. Anyway...felt made from recycled plastic bottles? Awesome!

I've written before about making felt food with the girls, and next week we're going to make our felt board for the big playroom with lots of felt cut-outs for it. I mostly want to make geometrics and math symbols for them, but I've got enough white felt that the girls can draw on it with markers and cut out their own felt pieces, and I'm thinking about experimenting with my Bubble Jet Set to try to run some felt through the printer--I could print scanned characters from their favorite picture books, perhaps...

Another project the girls and I have been into this week is making animals from these FormWild CD-Roms. It's a set of 5 CD-Roms with pdf images of animals--you (not the kiddos--this is one of those projects you do out of their sight because it's way too fiddly and exacting) print them onto cardstock, fold and glue them according to the instructions, and you have three-dimensional stand-up full-color realistic-looking animals to play with! The best part is that there is about any animal that your kids would be interested in, from insects to dinosaurs. We're systematically checking the disks out of the library, and so far we've made every single fish stand-up, two of the horse, and the dinosaurs are in the works. I like to use them to tie into whatever subjects the girls are interested in exploring at a certain time, so I haven't shown them the insects, farm animals, or endangered species yet, and we haven't yet checked out the birds or mammals--but we will! The super-coolest thing, though, is that since the images are pdfs, they expand to scale. The web site says you can print these babies up to eight feet wide and they'll still look good and be constructable. It's been years since I've been to Kinko's, but it's got me thinking--how cool would a set of eight-foot dinosaurs made out of foamcore board be? So cool.

Another so-cool thing? This Web shop, Casey's Wood Products--I've seen it mentioned on more than one blog, and yes, it is so, so cool. The whole site just consists of little wood thingies to buy--die-cuts in a million shapes, pegs and spindles and spools and blocks, game pieces, beads, buttons, wooden fruits. Seriously! Unfortunately, the die-cuts are just made from "plywood" (whatever that REALLY is) and most of the turnings just say "wood"--I would have preferred a definitively eco-conscious material--but the options are really awesome. I could possibly splurge on some of these dinosaur die-cuts for the girls for Christmas--they'd love to color and play with them. But how awesome would these game pieces be for making up your own board game? And bowling pins? And these are turnings you can paint as little people!

Finally, my mother wants to know what she can buy Sydney that will equal the non-gendered, non-commercial-media-oriented bicycle (something like this one, ideally?) that she wants to buy Willow. Frankly, I don't think she needs to buy Sydney or Willow anything--at the most, maybe she could cross-stitch her something--but Southerners do love their consumer culture, so here are a couple of ideas for Sydney:

Or, you know, 90% of the stuff in my wists or my etsy favorites are stuff I really want for my kiddos. It's weird--I don't even remember what kind of stupid junk I wanted before I had kids. Plastic 1980s-era action figures, probably.


Anonymous said...

Hi there, I just noticed you were following my blog...thanks! I'm flattered. :>

Your description of yourself sounds a lot like me, or what I'd like to do if there were more hours in the day: drink coffee, make junk out of other junk. Our art projects, alas, aren't as elaborate as I'd like though.

You have some incredibly cool resources in your blog. If we lived near a Joann's, I'd run over there right now for the felt. I think my husband is grateful we don't live very close to any craft stores. ;)

And one last note: I LOVE your Scooby-Doo mini t-shirt quilt! My kids were soooo into Scooby for years that anything Scooby can still bring a smile to my face.

Abby said...

hey julie,
i was thinking you and teresa might hit it off. she's a homeschool mom and lives near laura's (old) house.

you both are so crafty. me, not so much. :(

julie said...

You are crafty! You make delicious quickbreads--that's a craft. You keep your house spotless--that's absolutely a craft, and also, by the way, makes me totally jealous.

Here's the question, though: What do you do to relax? I started making stuff as a hobby after Willow was born because my mommy-brain made made it impossible for me to continue for a while in my academic pursuits (I vividly remember walking Willow up to campus one day to chat with some grad student buddies, and being utterly mortified that I literally could not even consistently string words together accurately anymore, like I suddenly had a mommy-brain speech impediment!). After a while I found the intellectual challenge that comes with crafting, making new patterns and constructing new ideas, etc., and I've been able to expand it into other activities I find fulfilling, like writing and photography--if I could ever find a way to turn a profit, too, I'd be set. And I don't even find my former academic work all that engaging anymore--sure, it's interesting, but so unconnected!

Anyway, do you have a hobby? Celebrity gossip web sites count.

Abby said...

hmmm....hobby. well let's see. i used to sing (in choirs & in a band), do some theatre, going out to watch live music, and be obsessed with watching independent films.

now...i sing in the car, act like a drama queen in real life, and who the hell feels like watching a movie after the kids are asleep at 9:30?! oh, and live music - not so much.

so. i guess no. i do shit for the shop - research products, bug scott about ordering stuff, send out emails, etc. i'm big into planning things. i'm a planning maniac. i like planning my kids birthday parties. my favorite was avery's 1st - a beatles party - made the invitations, themed food (yellow submarine sandwiches, strawberry fields salad, eggman deviled eggs). too bad they only have 1 birthday a year. :)

and of course...i read

and i like to blog. and waste time on the computer. see, i'm not cool at all. i'm a total uncrafty looser. with a clean house. :)

Abby said...

oh, and you'll love this. i DIG holidays. so i do cheesy things like messing around with centerpieces, decorating inside my house, collecting things to use for displays in the shop, finding books about seasons/holidays to share with avery.

i like purty thangs.

julie said...

Oooh, I totally want to decorate for holidays, too! That's seriously on my "Things to be Better At" list.

Um, everybody has a "Things to be Better At" list, right? Or was that too much information?