Monday, March 30, 2015

creating with a kid- playing with clay

If you follow me on Instagram or frequent my blog you will know that we spend A LOT of time making art as a family and I get asked lots of questions about our process. Once in a while I like to share my thoughts on "creating with a kid" here on the blog. (Please note that I am not a childhood development expert or a kids' art teacher- I am simply a mom who is an artist!)


While I have been drawing and painting since childhood, the earliest memories I have of creating are playing with clay. My parents are potters who have always worked from their home studio and I've spent my entire life around clay. I have very vivid memories of molding and sculpting pinch pots, I can remember my brother and I buzzing with excitement to open the kiln to see our fired projects, I remember sitting on my dad's lap while he taught me how to throw on the wheel and spent hours in the studio while my he made pots. While I never became a potter (not yet), the entire process of taking a lump of clay and turning it into something beautiful is something so familiar and entwined into my memories and creative identity. I am convinced that it played a big role in my development as an artist and a creative person.


As I have shared in past posts, it is important for us to incorporate Lucy into as many creative projects as possible. And while it makes no difference if Lucy grows up to be an artist, we do want her to be a creative thinker. I believe creativity and the ability to think in a creative way it one of the greatest gifts we can give our children. 

Lately, we have been introducing new things to her and one of her favorites is working with clay. I shared a few weeks back, Lucy has been asking for and LOVING new challenges/techniques and clay seems to be right up her ally! Gone is her fear of getting clay on her hands and in it's place is a curiosity and joy that comes with the process. With my parents down the street, we have access to a lot of materials that she can experiment with and get creative in new and different ways.



While I believe that just about any creative process (drawing, painting, crafting, etc) is wonderful for kids- playing with clay is magic! Today I am sharing some of my thoughts, insight and tips for introducing clay to kids (or anyone of any age).


SENSORY PLAY:
Clay is a wonderful sensory development activity for kids (and adults). From rolling and squeezing to forming and sculpting the clay, it can be a really great activity for young kids to grow and development their dexterity and sense of touch. Lucy started playing with PlayDoh and initially just loved the way it felt to squeeze handfuls of it through her fingers. While she really enjoys building things from clay, at three she still loves the way it feels to squish, roll and smash that clay, heck, at 40 years old I still love the ways it feels! 

TIP: You don't need access to a fancy pottery studio to get your kids playing with clay! Play-Doh, air dry clay, homemade dough, modeling clay, EVEN MUD are all materials that work great for sensory play.

GROW THAT IMAGINATION:
Lucy loves to create a story around the things that she makes and using clay to create a narrative has been a really fun way for her to express herself. When working with clay you can make things that are not possible with drawing, painting and 2-D techniques- you are able to create dimensional objects. Though this process a child can actually create things from their experiences or imagination that become real! Right now this seems to be Lucy's favorite part of clay play- she spends a lot of time creating objects that interest her (lizards, pizza, worms, shoes, people) and then has fun playing and acting out a story with her creations. Clay has been a really amazing way to cultivate imagination and her passion for story telling. 

TIPSI treat the clay process much like we do the rest of our art projects- I give very little direction or input about what to do. My goal is encourage Lucy to explore the materials on her own. I let her use her imagination to make discoveries through experimentation and play.

When we are creating alongside each other we spend a lot of time talking about her stories and the characters that she is creating. Instead of telling her what to do and how to create something, I spend a lot of time asking open ended questions to help her develop and grow her creations.



CALM AND THERAPEUTIC:
I don't know if any of you have ever pounded, squeezed or molded clay but it is incredibly soothing and therapeutic. Lucy has loved playing with clay since she was tiny and is one of the few activities where she is ALWAYS focussed and calm for a LONG time. Working with clay, especially hand building, is such an engaging process. I have found that it is a great activity when we want things to transition or quiet down. At three years old, life can be overwhelming and Lucy can struggle with coming down after a big day, relaxing after a meltdown and challenged at times with the ability to focus. I know that pulling out clay will instantly create a quiet, peaceful environment and provide an outlet for her to relieve some stress.


LEARN TO EMBRACE MISTAKES:
If there was ever a medium that teaches you that mistakes are ok it is clay! Clay is one of the few materials that you have a lot of control and influence over. In a moment your clay creations can get ruined- a hole, a rip, a collapse can all happen but you can also repair and build things back up quickly and easily. Unlike drawing and painting, there is a little more forgiveness and flexibility in working with clay. As an artist I know that this is an AMAZING lesson to learn! Often when making art, we get so wrapped up in perfection and fear of making a mistake. Working with clay has the ability to teach you that mistakes can be repaired and you have the power to fix them. Lucy, whether she knows it or not, is learning to problem solve and embrace mistakes when she is playing with clay. When her pot crumbles on the wheel from too much water, she is able (with some help) to build it back up again and form it back into a new pot.


THROWING ON THE WHEEL:
In my opinion everyone should try to throw a pot on the wheel at least once in their life! It is an incredibly thrilling (and humbling) experience that will change your view of the creative process forever. For a child it is FUN, like A TON OF FUN activity that combines sensory play with creativity. Getting to form a lump of clay into something functional with your hands is incredibly empowering and is a wonderful way to create an experience for a kid to feel proud of their accomplishment. Throwing on a wheel can be challenging with a toddler-  Lucy started out very unsure and nervous about the process but with a little time and help from my dad she is now comfortable and loves the process. Her big brown eyes light up when that lump of clay turns into a pot. Currently she loves changing the shape of a pot with her hands and gets a big kick out of using a sponge and different tools to manipulate the pot.

TIPS: Finding a space and a place to throw on a wheel can be tricky. Often bigger cities have community craft space, pottery studios and classes where you can learn and use a wheel and fire pottery in a kiln.

Finding resources for kids, especially toddlers can be a little tricky. I recommend doing some research to see if you have any local potters in your area. Try reaching out to see if they ever open up their studio space for a demo, firing pottery, teaching classes or volunteer their time. Growing up my parents would were always doing pottery demos at Sunday school, birthday parties and community gatherings.

Another option is to actually purchase your own materials and supplies. There are all kinds of pottery materials, even simple wheels made for kids to experience the process in a smaller way.


You can read all of my "creating with a kid" series HERE
You can read more about my family and pottery HERE, HERE and HERE


Friday, March 27, 2015

lucy the photographer

If you want to see the world through your child's eyes, give them a camera and let them go to town! For the last month or two Lucy has been stealing my DSLR camera and taking photos of anything and everything. 

Her technique is to walk around looking for subject matter and then she glues her eye to the view finder while pressing the shutter button non stop, taking tons of photos.
Sometimes they are blurry, over exposed and strange (we have an entire series of photos of the cover each of her books) and sometimes we have to bring ourselves down to her level to actually make it into the frame. And while there are hundreds of really random photos, there are some really great ones that capture life from her perspective. It is actually amazing and inspiring to see the world through her eyes! Today I thought it would be fun to share a handful of my favorites photos taken by Lucy.

this is my bossy face, it's never been captured on camera until now!


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

NEW art journals in the shop

We've been hard at work over here creating a new big batch of handmade art journals. I am blown away by the response to these journals- we literally cannot keep up with the demand! 

This time around we have added a few different journal styles-

Printed Journals:
Hand carved and printed cover (and back cover) with my drawings. These journals measure 6 x 6 inches or 4 x 6 inches and have 24 pages- 20 blank and 4 painted. I've gotten a lot of feedback where I've been told that customers were afraid to paint over my colorful painted paper! So if you are looking for more of a blank art journal with a fancy handmade cover that includes hand painted paper sprinkled throughout this is the journal for you!


Painted Journals:
These one of a kind art journals have a messy painted cover and back cover and have 24 pages- 12 painted and 12 blank. These also measure 6 x 6 inches and 4 x 6 inches.

All journals are handmade and bound with a spiral binding. The paper inside is my personal favorite paper- Fabriano cold press 140 lb watercolor paper- perfect for all kinds of mixed media layers and techniques!

Head on over to the shop to see everything HERE





Tuesday, March 24, 2015

stamped cupcake toppers

Want to add a little creativity to a cupcake? Grab a stamp and make your own cupcake toppers! I used my flower stamps (made from my flower drawings) to create some spring inspired toppers- perfect for an Easter gathering or a spring party.

I couldn't resist making my own cupcake wrapper from stamped paper!


LOOKING FOR MORE STAMPING INSPIRATION?

Check out how I mount my stamps and the different ways that I use them HERE

More ways that I use my rubber stamps HERE

You can see a few different ways that I create and use handmade stamps HERE

How to use stamps with clay HERE

Use rubber stamps to make rubbings HERE

Make unique leather cuffs with stamps HERE

Monday, March 23, 2015

mermaid easter eggs

The best thing that happened to my creative process has been becoming a mom! Lucy and her interests and ideas have become a big part of my inspiration. For the past 5 years, I have a little tradition of decorating Easter eggs in creative and unique ways and this year when I sat down to brainstorm ideas, I found myself totally inspired by Lucy and her current obsession with mermaids. I couldn't resist transforming eggs into mermaids!

A project like this calls for a little practice and planning so I started out drawing some simple whimsical faces. A face is actually much easier than most people thing, especially a simple one. Here are a few tips:
There are all kinds of ways to draw a face and the best part about drawing in a whimsical style is that pretty much anything goes! You can keep it VERY simple with just dots and lines for eyes, nose and mouth OR you can get more detailed and stylized with the features.
Drawing a face is really like a formula and once you get that formula down you can mix it up and get really creative. Start by dividing the face with a line down the middle, a line at the top for eyes, a line for the bottom of the nose and a line for the mouth. 
Play with different shapes and sizes of eyes, nose and mouth.
Use unexpected color in different places to add extra whimsy.

Once I warmed up with drawing faces, I jumped into painting my eggs. 

FYI- I like using real eggs that I blow out (I remove the yolk by poking a hole in each end and then blow the yolk out). 

First I painted a quick layer of solid color- I used different shades of pink.

Next, I lightly drew the mermaid's features then I filled them in with paint.

After the paint was dry, I used a permanent pen to outline everything.

Last, I used scraps of paper to make a crown and mermaid tail that I glued to the eggs.

The result are whimsical mermaids perfect for any Easter celebration that involves a mermaid obsessed three- year old!

Looking for more egg decorating inspiration? 
Have a look at all the tutorials I've shared over the years!


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