Creative Toolbox: Wood


Today's creative tool is wood.  So simple, right?  It can bought or found, raw or finished, milled or fresh from the woods.  Pay attention to interesting shapes and textures as you walk through the woods, and watch for bags of scrap wood on deep discount at your hardware store.  It is a thrifty, and often beautiful, way to be creative and experimental. 

You can:
paint on wood
collage on wood
glue random things onto wood, like fabric

You can also make:
a hookboard out of wood
Story Blocks, a project from Show Me a Story
Altered Twigs and Driftwood

The possibilities are endless, really.  Just search Pinterest for wood + fabric or wood + felt or wood + paint.  You get the idea. 
 

Keep in mind that painting on wood can be a very different feeling than painting on canvas or paper.  It is porous and often textured, which means that your paintbrush needs to adjust for the bumps and ridges.

Happy hunting for wood!

Book Review: Tinkerlab


This book! Oh my! It is informative, inspiring, interesting, and gorgeous -- a winner on so many fronts.  When lovely Rachelle Doorley's new book, Tinkerlab: A Hands-On guide For Little Inventors, landed in my book bag, I found myself drawn (pun!) to the pages during the very few small pockets of time I have these days.  It whispered to me, asking to be perused. It is that good.

Since my specialty is words and pictures, I was drawn to the Drawing Games chapter where Rachelle offers fun, creative tinkering opportunities for those who love to draw.  The activities in that chapter (as well as in the book in its entirety) lend themselves beautifully to classroom and homeschool experimentation.  My kids and I happily gave them all a whirl.
One of my daughter's favorites is the group activity called Exquisite Corpse For Kids, where each player adds a body section to a creature without knowing what the other parts of the creature look like. We found ourselves around the table with some special family members, and my oldest decided to teach everyone how to play.  It was a wonderful multigenerational connection opportunity because everyone was laughing, and also because we found ourselves admiring our work. Like, seriously admiring! We were all so impressed with our joint creations. I'm quite fond of Mr. Blue Face Polka Dots with Webbed Feet (above) made by my husband, Aunt, and daughter.

Doesn't it look like this guy with pink wings laid an egg? Ha!  Remember, my daughter did not look at the other panels when she drew the bottom panel.
Everyone signed their names to their panels.
This tinkering was fun, fun, fun!
 
We've decided that the Connect The Dots tinkering activity is perfect for office room waits, restaurant table time, and airplane travel.  My daughter turned my dots (above) into The Lady in the Green Dress (below).
And, we loved all of the other drawing invitations too.  They are so thoughtfully creative and engaging. 

Thanks for writing a book that invites both children and adults to be creative explorers, Rachelle. We can't wait for our next Tinkerlab adventure. 

Friday Favorites


1. I bought these self-stick speech bubble note pads the other day.  I opened the package this morning, and encouraged the rocks on my desk to engage in a little chit chat.  I can't wait to see what the children do with them later.  These are a wonderful tool for creative writing!

2. My friend Ariana directed me to this article.  It is the story of a photographer, Nicholas Nixon, who took photographs of the same four sisters for forty years. It is a beautiful take on the journey of sisterhood.  Their faces change with time.  Each one seems to hold more of something. And yet -- we know nothing because there isn't a verbal story to go along with the photos.  The columnist writes: "This is what endurance looks like....With each passing year, the sisters seem to present more of a united front."  The mother-of-three in me shed some tears.

3. Yoga Joes! The classic green army men doing yoga.  My friend Melicia posted about these on her Facebook page.  Brilliant!  I'm going to back their Kickstarter campaign.

4. This gorgeous print of two fawns.  via Design Sponge.

5. Abby Glassenberg posted her 3rd Quarter Income Report (she has posted the other quarters as well) on her blog this week.  Her analysis helps her to do broader scale planning for her business, and by displaying it publicly, it helps other small business owners figure out the best way to nurture and grow their businesses.  It is a brave and generous.  Thank you, Abby!

Happy weekending!


Creative Toolbox: The Clipboard



Today's featured creative tool is a clipboard.  These handy hard surfaces make writing and drawing on-the-go a breeze.  Somehow, the purposefulness of the clip always makes me feel really clear that I am doing important, creative work.  Clip blank note cards or a stack of blank pieces of paper onto the board and give it to yourself or child as an invitation to write notes, draw, or doodle. 

A small clipboard is super affordable, but you can also find them in thrift stores or when family and friends have desk/office clean-outs.  You might even find 5+ in the office clean-out scenario (cough, cough).  I do love the plain, mute background of the standard masonite board because it makes colorful artwork pop.


My children like to display their work on clipboards.  In doing so, they become portable frames for showcasing the work they are most proud of.


I love to cozy up with a board on the couch, and then I can bring my drawing to my studio table for some finishing touches.  The visibility of the boards help me to keep my works in progress truly  works in progress.

You'll most likely find clipboards if you wander through your local office supply shop. Or, you can find them here (this is an Amazon Affiliate link).

Related:
I liked reading Austin Kleon's take on clipboards.
These DIY rustic clipboards on A Beautiful Mess.

Red Bird Crafts Write-Along

Today's three Write-Along words:

beneath, owls, and tears

See below for details, and remember this all about process, not product.  Feel free to tweak the tense of the word!


*******************************************************

The plan:
1.  I will choose three words from the jar.
2. I'll post the three words here and on the Red Bird Crafts Facebook page where I'll use #redbirdwritealong.
3. The challenge is to use the three randomly chosen words in some kind of short creative piece. It could be a sentence, riddle, poem, haiku, faux advertisement, slogan, blurb, love letter, fortune and more, more, more.  Anything. The words can be tweaked slightly (ie: you can change the tense or make it plural.)
4. We'll make our short pieces public.
5. You are welcome to read the comments on the Write-Along posts to see what others have shared.


I plan to share my writing and I'd love it if you'd share yours as well.  I also encourage you to share on Instagram or Facebook (or Twitter).  If you choose to share on social media, be sure to tag it with #redbirdwritealong, so we can all read.  If you choose to post on Facebook, would you consider posting on the Red Bird Crafts Facebook Page, so we can all read?  Of course, you can keep your creation private -- maybe in your journal or taped to your fridge? You know that is ok too.

Some of the writing might not be kid appropriate, so it is important to screen the content before letting children read directly from the blog.

Anyone is welcome to join: adults, kids, elders, teens, and even children who are pre-writers (you can write their words for them). 

A Summer Kids' Craft: Nature Bundles

While we were away on our vacation, the children invented a Nature Bundles game where they found lots of different tiny bits of nature and packaged them up with gorgeous, natural wrapping.
Each one was unique and interesting, and each had a story to go along with it.  Some were spells, some remedies, and some extremely thought-out gifts.
Like, this one, which had a note explaining what each part of the bundle represented in me:

2 shiny leaves because you are also shiny
Unripened holly because it grows together like our family
Pine because it grows wild like you
Pink flowers because it is unique like you
2 sea shell pieces because they are to make your roads to home
Yellow flowers because they are bright like you
Wheat because it stands tall like you
Four pebbles because YOU ROCK

Did I almost die because of how much I loved it? Yes. 
Why not send your children off into the backyard, woods, wherever in search of bits of nature to wrap up in small packages.  It is just the kind of freestyle play that leads to imaginative storytelling play.

If you take photographs, will you share with me?

Follow Red Bird Crafts on Facebook for lots of posts and creative ideas for art&story.

Have fun!

Home

On Friday night, we arrived home from a week at the ocean. Considering how frightening and worrisome the past month and a half has been for my family,  I was sure we were ready for a happy adventure. A visit to the sea seemed like just the thing to recharge our spirits.  Looking back, I should have known that driving away from my town, the place where my father fell ill and is now recovering, was going to be nearly impossible. Nearly, but I did it!  I was shaky and teary when it was time to leave, but after a few good conversations, I found my place in our stuffed car.  And, I'm so glad I did.
This kind of beauty was so good for my mind.  The thing about the ocean is that it reminds me to just be in the moment because of how quickly everything changes with the tides.  Just when I think we've found the perfect wading spot, it becomes an island, and then dry land.  And, when we want to find the same swimming spot the next day, we'll have to come at a different time of day.  The ever-changing ocean is a lesson in letting go of what is coming next, and being at peace with what is here now.


But, hey, some things are always the same:  the wet skirts, the drippy hats, the splashing in the waves.
The chocolate.  (This was dark chocolate dipped at the Hot Chocolate Sparrow in Orelans, MA. I HIGHLY recommend a trip if you are anywhere nearby)
Here is my oldest, scanning for turtles.
And, my youngest, asleep after a long day.
Sister yoga at the Wellfleet Bird Sanctuary.

There was also fried fish, clams, margaritas, miniature golfing, bicycling, playing in waves, etc. etc.

And, now, onto the next summer adventure: camp for the two oldest and projects in the house for me and the baby.  Onward.

Most photographs are from my Instagram: @redbirdcrafts.


Red Bird Crafts Write-Along


Today's three Write-Along words:

lunch, sparrow, and office supplies

See below for details, and remember this all about process, not product.  Feel free to tweak the tense of the word!

*******************************************************

The plan:
1. Each week, I will choose three words from the jar.
2. I'll post the three words here and on the Red Bird Crafts Facebook page where I'll use #redbirdwritealong.
3. The challenge is to use the three randomly chosen words in some kind of short creative piece. It could be a sentence, riddle, poem, haiku, faux advertisement, slogan, blurb, love letter, fortune and more, more, more.  Anything. The words can be tweaked slightly (ie: you can change the tense or make it plural.)
4. We'll make our short pieces public.
5. You are welcome to read the comments on the Write-Along posts to see what others have shared.



I plan to share my writing and I'd love it if you'd share yours as well.  I also encourage you to share on Instagram or Facebook (or Twitter).  If you choose to share on social media, be sure to tag it with #redbirdwritealong, so we can all read.  If you choose to post on Facebook, would you consider posting on the Red Bird Crafts Facebook Page, so we can all read?  Of course, you can keep your creation private -- maybe in your journal or taped to your fridge? You know that is ok too.

Some of the writing might not be kid appropriate, so it is important to screen the content before letting children read directly from the blog.

This will happen weekly or bi-weekly.  Anyone is welcome to join: adults, kids, elders, teens, and even children who are pre-writers (you can write their words for them).  

Red Bird Crafts Write-Along



Today's three Write-Along words:

flown
loop
celebrate

See below for details, and remember this all about process, not product.  Oh, and feel free to tweak the tense of the word.



My contribution:

Memory: My grandparent’s house in Mattapoisett, MA

It is a blur of Christmas lights, celebration dinners, trundle beds, Aim toothpaste (looks like a rainbow coming out of the tube), driving on crushed sea shells, the Frank Sinatra and Benny Goodman loop, strawberry patch on the side, elbows off the table, honey suckle in the circle at the end of the street. 

Flying in the tree swing: to the clouds.

Baked scrod for dinner. Tiny dish of lemons for squeezing.

A pantry stacked with everything you’d ever need.

Coffee cans turned into code transmitters. 

 *******************************************************

The plan:
1. Each week, I will choose three words from the jar.
2. I'll post the three words here and on the Red Bird Crafts Facebook page where I'll use #redbirdwritealong.
3. The challenge is to use the three randomly chosen words in some kind of short creative piece. It could be a sentence, riddle, poem, haiku, faux advertisement, slogan, blurb, love letter, fortune and more, more, more.  Anything. The words can be tweaked slightly (ie: you can change the tense or make it plural.)
4. We'll make our short pieces public.
5. You are welcome to read the comments on the Write-Along posts to see what others have shared.



I plan to share my writing and I'd love it if you'd share yours as well.  I also encourage you to share on Instagram or Facebook (or Twitter).  If you choose to share on social media, be sure to tag it with #redbirdwritealong, so we can all read.  If you choose to post on Facebook, would you consider posting on the Red Bird Crafts Facebook Page, so we can all read?  Of course, you can keep your creation private -- maybe in your journal or taped to your fridge? You know that is ok too.

Some of the writing might not be kid appropriate, so it is important to screen the content before letting children read directly from the blog.

This will happen weekly or bi-weekly.  Anyone is welcome to join: adults, kids, elders, teens, and even children who are pre-writers (you can write their words for them).  

An update

Thank you for all of the love and support these past weeks.  I'm thrilled to report that my father is slowly recovering from his heart attack.  He has a long road ahead of him, but he is a determined guy with three grandchildren who need him back on the beach, digging in the sand.

Your emails and messages here, on Twitter, and on the Red Bird Crafts Facebook page have been a huge source of comfort. You are so dear.  Thank you!

Onward!


right now


Dear friends,

I will be missing from this place in the days ahead due to a very sad and difficult situation in my family.  Please send my father love and light.  Any bits of strength and love for me and my family are most welcome too. 

Love,
Emily


Red Bird Crafts Write-Along

This is my jar of words.  One of my current big projects has me spending a lot of time with my jar of words, which is a good thing because jars of words are fun.

All of my time spent with the jar made me think that it would be fun if we all spent time together.

The plan:
1. Each week, I will choose three words from the jar.
2. I'll post the three words here and on the Red Bird Crafts Facebook page where I'll use #redbirdwritealong.
3. The challenge is to use the three randomly chosen words in some kind of short creative piece. It could be a sentence, riddle, poem, haiku, faux advertisement, slogan, blurb, love letter, fortune and more, more, more.  Anything. The words can be tweaked slightly (ie: you can change the tense or make it plural.)
4. We'll make our short pieces public.
5. You are welcome to read the comments on the Write-Along posts to see what others have shared.


I plan to share my writing in the comments, and I'd love it if you'd share yours as well.  I also encourage you to share on Instagram or Facebook (or Twitter).  If you choose to share on social media, be sure to tag it with #redbirdwritealong, so we can all read.  If you choose to post on Facebook, would you consider posting on the Red Bird Crafts Facebook Page, so we can all read?  Of course, you can keep your creation private -- maybe in your journal or taped to your fridge? You know that is ok too.

Some of the writing might not be kid appropriate, so it is important to screen the content before letting children read directly from the blog.

This will happen weekly or bi-weekly.  Anyone is welcome to join: kids , elders, teens, and even children who are pre-writers (you can write their words for them).  Hey, family and friends! You too.

Will you join me?


Some thoughts:

1. Hand write or type the three words onto a page.  This will help your brain form ideas.
2. Do some free association writing based on the words (write what comes to mind without any changes)
3. There is no expectation that this is going to be great writing.  This is all about process and delving in.
4. It takes a bit of bravery to be willing to share, but I think it will end up feeling rewarding and fun. I’m especially interested in seeing all of the different ways the three words of the week can be crafted and interpreted.

Today's three random words are:



Oh, and if you are a friend who visits my house, will you please, please add some words to the jar? That would be the best.

Check out the comments to see what others have shared! Will you write-along with me?

-Emily

PS.  If you read my blog in a reader (like Feedly or bloglovin), you might want to pop over to the real deal to see my new logo.  I feel really proud of it.  More blog changes are on the way in the coming weeks/months.


Spring Story Stones


Spring is finally in full force in our Massachusetts valley, which means my family has been in search-for-signs-of spring mode. In the past, we've collected our signs of spring, traced our signs of spring, and made non-dominant drawings of our signs of spring. This year I decided we should make spring Story Stones!

First, find signs of spring! It is easy enough to close your eyes and image some, and this is fine, but I think it really helps if you go out searching.  You'll maybe surprise yourself?  I chose robin's egg (we found one in our yard!), magnolia blossom (my favorite backyard tree), maple keys (or helicopter seeds), and a cherished spring sprout. I don't think I would have remembered the magnolia blossom if I hadn't been outside mindfully observing. Once you've gathered stones and given them a quick rinse, use a pencil to draw spring shapes.


Use acrylic paint to fill in the pencil lines and allow plenty of dry time.


Display your stones in the center of a table or give stones as little token of friendship.  They would make nice end-of-year gifts for teachers and friends!

Story + Art Tip:  Consider using a thin Sharpie marker to write words on the back of each stone.  A poem, haiku, two word pairing, or even one simple word.

Have Fun!