Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Beachside Kids Explorer Club

I forgot to introduce the Beachside Kid Explorers Club!   

A lot of the homeschool group activities are on the other side of the river, which isn't that far away, but still, its nice to have something close to home.   So we have a group that meets Beachside, and so far, its been lots of fun!  The focus is on kid-led exploration and learning, with the kids learning by getting their hands in things and being out in nature.   The "club" belongs to the kids, so they got to name it too.

Last week, we did a group project where we laid out a couple of sheets, handed the kids a whole bunch of permanent fabric paints, permanent markers, brushes, and other tools, and let them have at it.  Yes, everyone was told to dress for a mess! 

Then we had to decide what on earth to do with two big sheets covered in a crazy assortment of paint blobs, hand prints, little drawings, and a sprinkling of dirt.

Shirts!   The sheets were handed over to me, and I used the group masterpieces to create club shirts for all of the kids.  

The process:


Then climb a tree. 

Let dry.

Heat set in the dryer, then wash and dry.

Then the appliques, here is a quick rundown on how I made them:

  1. Use a circle template to cut out circles of sheet where the coolest looking blobs are located.   I used an 8" circle quilting ruler.
  2. Cut  pieces of iron on interfacing the size of the circles, I just roughly cut these out. 
  3. With the right side of the fabric to the iron-on side of the interfacing, stitch all the way around the circles. 
  4. Use pinking shears to trim all the way around.  
  5. Cut a slit in the middle of the interfacing, doesn't have to be pretty, you won't see it in the end.  Turn right side out and finger press it flat (no iron!)
  6. Now put it on the shirt, iron it down
  7. Stitch all the way around, you can use any stitch, I usually use a "blanket stitch" on my machine, but on these I chose a zig-zag. 
That's it!  I've made 16 for all the shirts I got, but some people will be giving me theirs too so I have some more to do.     This technique is great for odd shapes where you want the edges turned under instead of a satin stitch.  You can even make these appliques "puffy" which is even more fun.  

Then, for the backs I used puff paint to put the club name.   I made a template by printing out the text, laminating it, and then cutting out the letters.  Then laid that on the shirt and drew the text inside the cut outs, to make them all look the same. 

Backs:  (not all of the shirts are here, I had the rest on another table)

Fronts, all of the shirts:

My friend Tammy pointed out that they look "Earth Shaped" which is fitting for the club anyways.   I hadn't thought of that, I just chose circles because I thought it would work best with the "blob" designs on the sheets, and because I like circles! 

The bottom right one I made into a dress, because that particular kiddo will only wear dresses, not shirts, and I wanted her to wear it!   Its a simple t-shirt dress, easy to make and super cute. 

Kid approved!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Oyster Mat Making

Today, the Beachside Kid Explorer Club went to Riverwalk Park to make some oyster mats.

The mats are a piece of ocean-safe mesh, with a bunch of oyster shells zip-tied to them.  Once they are finished, they are placed in the river (its not actually a river, its the strip of water between the Barrier islands and the mainland, but it looks like a river!).    They are arranged in grids, like a big quilt, and weighted down in the corners by those round cement things that they put around sprinkler heads.   Baby oysters attach to these and it helps restore the oyster beds. 

Each oyster filters up to 50 gallons a day, so this really helps keep the river clean.   

Here is how the mats are made.

The kids learned a bit about what we were trying to accomplish, got some instructions, and saw a slide show of what the finished mats are used for.

First, they drill holes in a whole bunch of shells using a big drill press:

Then, you take a mesh square and a pack of 36 zip-ties, and attach them all on.  The "tails" of the zip ties are cut off. 

Hard at work!

And then they look like this when you flip them over:


When the kids were done, they did some exploring.

Beauty Berries (these are edible, but icky tasting, pretty though!)

And a big black snake:

And this is the river at the end of the boardwalk!  Sometimes there is no beach here at all, depends on the tides. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Paint Your Own Pottery

I arranged for our homeschool group to go to one of our favorite places, Mimi's Crafts.   They have paint-your-own pottery, glass work, and other creative activities.   For the field trip, the kids each got to paint a 6" ceramic tile, and they got a tour of the back room.

Mimi's is kid friendly - booster seats and high chairs for the little's, and it was a lot of fun, because all ages could participate, including little 3month old E, who got her footprint on a tile!   Mimi will touch up the kids artwork with some additional outlining and their names and the date added, which will really bring the tiles to life. 

The kids drew their designs right on the tiles first using pencil which burns off in the kiln.  Then they collected their paints, and went to work!

Those who wanted hand or footprints got some help from Mimi.  

 Some cute little baby footprints!

Then, Mimi gave the tour.  We ended up having 2 groups go through, but some of the kids had so much fun checking out the back room, that they went through twice.  

Everything has to be sanded and smoothed off after coming out of the mold.  

Some molds: 

These came out of the molds recently.  

One of the kilns. 

These bits are used under the glazed pieces, to keep them from sticking to the kiln.  

Some finished pieces, these ones were hand carved by a local artist.  

Lots of color choices

Tiles on the wall show what the glazes look like after they are fired.  They look dull and dusty when they are painted on, but once they are fired, they become bright, colorful and shiny!   

And some of the finished tiles, ready to have some detail added and then put in the kiln!   I'm excited to see how they look once they are finished, but we will have to wait a few days for that.   

Levi's is at the bottom left, its a "bow and arrow and target".  

Thank you to Mimi's Crafts for a fun field trip!   Mimi made it easy for me to organize, and lots of fun for everyone.    And thanks to a Groupon offer, we will be painting again pretty soon.