Notes from Camp Caz 2013


Welcome sign by me.

I returned last week from an amazing time at Cazadero Performing Arts Family Camp in Cazadero, CA. It’s a camp full of Berkley music people, but there were also campers from as far as Texas and Japan. I was lucky to get recommended to teach art classes, and had the privilege of creating and naming them myself. It being my first year, I had no idea what to expect! All I knew was that I wanted my classes to be open to just about anyone, so I planned on having people competent in crafting and some who were trying something totally new.  Ages were 5-70 (maybe older), so it made for a very high energy, interesting class.

There are four class periods, and I taught all four! (I found out that was a bit excessive, so next year I’m going to *take* a class). The first class I want to write about was “Pens and Plants”, which in the literature purported itself to be a mixed media nature class where we’d draw, sculpt, papercraft and felt. This was the largest class, since the description had a little something for everyone.

The first day I introduced the class to quilling. Here’s a tip– younger kids are not going to like quilling, as it requires manual dexterity that is simply beyond them, something I’ll remember for next year. Quilling was to be a one-day project, where we would make a simple design we could hang or use as a card. Several people decided that they wanted nothing more than to quill, and spent all 5 days on their projects. It being only a one-day project, my own expertise was not, well, expertise. By the end of the week, these campers had come up with things I’ve never done, or seen, before. Next year– week-long quilling class!

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For more awesome quilling visuals, check out Lyn Chapman’s quilling board on Pinterest, or pick out something amazing for yourself on Etsy.

Teaching was a blast, but I will admit I was a little scared of going hours from home by myself and sleeping in a tent for a week (in a tent, on the ground, 7 days), apart from not knowing what camp was like. I went expecting to do a job, and I came back with a lot of great experience and as a member of the Caz community. I can’t wait for next year!



Shaving Cream Painting for Marbled Paper!

I had so much fun with this in the past few weeks.  I had been dying to try it after reading several how-tos, and I’d say it’s a blast even if you don’t have kids to do it with.


First off, this project can be done with acrylics or fingerpaints.  If you are not afraid of art being messy (and staining) I would go with acrylics.  The results are much brighter.  Fingerpaints, while totally safe for surfaces, come out very weak and not as “TA-DA!”


The supplies list is simple, and cheap:

-really foamy shaving cream (I used Barbasol)

-a variety of paint colors (acrylic, fingerpaints)

-cardstock (large pieces for agile hands, or index cards for tiny ones) or paper plates

-a shallow container (I used plastic plates with the kids, uses less cream)

-forks, popsicle sticks for “brushes”

The tutorials I read called for a squeegee for removing the shaving cream, but since that was not in my craft arsenal, I simply used a plastic ruler.


Spray the shaving cream into the container, enough that you can use a popsicle stick to smooth it out, like icing on a cake.  It doesn’t need to be perfect, and you don’t even have to do that step.  It is fun for the kids to play in, so that can be just one more fun activity for them.

When the cream is ready as your “canvas”, squeeze a few different colored streaks of paint on top.  Do you work with kids who just love squeezing paint bottles?  Then maybe you should do the paint for them.

Rake the popsicle stick or fork around the cream and paint to make swirls and streaks.  Mix paint colors in the cream and see what you get.  Once you see a particularly beautiful swirl, cover it with a piece of paper, card or paper plate and gently press over the whole surface.  Peel it back and let it dry for a few minutes.  Multiple prints can be made from the same canvas, so make sure you show them they can keep painting.

To clear the shaving cream and reveal the print, use a squeegee or ruler over the sink to scrape off the shaving cream.  I found putting the paper on an hard surface (like the bottom of a plate or a cutting board) make it easier, and prevented the paper from tearing.  Let these prints dry for an hour or more.


The index cards are quickly turned into valentines for the whole class, or you can cut them up into shapes.  Make a collage of balloons, or string shapes together to make a beautiful marbled garland.  It makes a gorgeous background for your desktop or Twitter page!

Make a Scrap-topus

What’s an octopus made of scrap fabric and thread that you’ve got all over your sewing room floor?  A scrap-topus!  This is a little project I did this summer at camp, on the days we designated “scrap days”.  With 100 kids coming and going through the sewing studio, our scrap bins got really fun.  I wish I had a picture to explain how much stuff was exploding out of them.

Now, you are probably saying to yourself– why not just throw it away!  That seemed like a bad lesson for kids, and scrap day had another meaning– it was a day to get creative with the little things, or figure out how to make lots of little things one big thing.  Enter the scrap-topus.  It’s more of an octopus-jellyfish, because the sheer material lets you see all the guts inside.

We had lots (I mean LOTS) of googly eyes on hand, but you can use buttons, paint, embroidery, what have you.  What you’ll need:

  • Sheer fabric (tulle, organza, chiffon, pantyhose)
  • Fabric and thread scraps (the smaller the better)
  • Ribbon, string or rick-rack
  • Googly eyes
  • glue (hot or fabric glue is  best)
  • scissors

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What We’re Making Today: Spaghetti Art!

I got this idea from the folks over at Busy Bee Kids Crafts.  The idea is ever so simple: cook spaghetti, mix it with equal parts paint and glue, make a sculpture!  I always test crafts before I go to work, and I’ve been having a blast with this one.

What you need:

  • Glue (I used Modge-Podge)
  • Cooked spaghetti (let it cool, ok?)
  • Wax paper
  • Various colors of paint

Mix equal parts paint and glue.  I just plopped a small pile of spaghetti straight into it and mixed with my hands, because it feels great!  I tried to use poster paints first, since they are washable, but I didn’t get vivid colors.  I used acrylics, and everything popped (also stained my new dress).

Lay the noodles on one by one, and make sure every noodle touches another one, and there aren’t too many stray noodles that gravity won’t be able to hold up.  Let everything dry overnight on a flat and safe surface, and hang it in a window.  The wax paper should peel off easily.

It's a spaghetti sculpture made of spaghetti. So.. it's spaghetti.

Another good thing about this craft is that if the child gets bored or isn’t interested in making the shapes, she can skip the glue and use the noodles as paint brushes.  Here’s my Jackson Pollack rip-off:

Make sure you have plenty of plates to mix the noodles and paint on, and lots of paper towels handy.  This is a craft that absolutely hinges on the ability to get messy, so don’t fight it.

Now THAT is what I call nail art.

How-to: Make an Arctic Hare (Rabbit) and Scenery

What We’re Making Today is a series of posts about the Arts and Crafts projects I do with my young clients.  Every week I’ll post pictures and tutorials of lovely stuff to do with kids that use the simplest supplies.  Yesterday, I showed you how to make an adorable penguin out of a toilet paper roll, and the entire scene with penguin, mountains, clouds and a rabbit.  Today, we focus on the rabbit and the mountains.

Technically what we’re making in an Arctic Hare, but explaining the difference between rabbits and hares* may be too much for a four year old.  I had to look it up myself! A good lesson would be to talk about what color most Arctic creatures are, and why they are that way.

Today’s hare can easily be converted to a rabbit by just calling it that, unless your child is an expert in the Lagomorpha order of mammals… moving on.  Easter is just around the corner if you want to go that direction with it.  This craft lends itself well to Easter since the rabbits are made from egg cartons.  You can make a dozen out of one carton, and then use the rabbits to cover eggs in a hunt.  Here’s what you need:

  • Egg carton
  • White cardstock
  • crayons (any color, though Arctic hares wouldn’t do so well with bright green noses)
  • Scissors
  • Black market

Cutting the cups from the egg carton may be a big person’s job.  You will not be able to get a perfect cup, but as long as you have room for a face it will work.  Cut the cups out and set the child to decoration the faces and coloring the fur.  If you want to go full-Arctic, try some white paint.  For smaller children, you can go ahead and use the black marker to outline some facial features they can color in.

Cut out two ear shapes from the cardstock, making sure the base of the ears is less than 1/2 in across.  Bend these in half longways and unbend to give the ear a more cupped appearance.  The inside of the ear can be colored in.

More big person work: use your scissors to stab two slits in the top of the cup, making sure the slits are thick enough for the child to insert the ears.  Voila!

*Hares are larger, have longer feet and ears and are faster than rabbits.  So, hares are super tough, speedy champions and rabbits are cuddlier, tastier snuggle bunnies.

The mountains are very easy– have the child draw a series of triangles or a line with lots of up and down points.  Just make sure the mountain is longer than it is tall, so it won’t fall over.  Cut a slit about an in from both ends.  Cut out two small rectangles (tabs) from the cardstock and cut a slit in each middle.  Not all the way through!  Insert the tab into the slits on the mountain piece until they fit snugly.  Mountain time!

These can also be glaciers!  Try a little glue and glitter, or a light wash of blue watercolor.  You can make a large mountain range out of one piece of cardstock, or a huge glacier!  Did you know that the North and South pole are classified as deserts?  There’s something to talk about!

What We’re Making Today: Arctic Scenes!

Four projects in one!  Today we set out to make an arctic scene with landscapes, weather and of course, inhabitants.  This was inspired by a toilet roll penguin craft in Make and Do Crafts, but you can find  how-tos all over the internet.  We made a penguin, arctic hare (rabbit), mountains (or glaciers) and a mobile of clouds, snow and sunlight.  Over the next few posts, I’ll go into detail about each one.  For now, feast your eyes.

Arctic hare and mountains.

Close up of penguin.

Weather mobile.

San Jose Showcase

I LOVE the “Shop Local” search on Etsy.  It’s how I met some people in my new town and got a feel for the craft community.  I’d like to showcase a few things I’ve seen each week in my adopted home.  Maybe I’ll meet some of these folks at the next SJ Made!

This sewing pattern from Amy Herbst is the kind of color splash that attracts me immediately, and they are so multifunctional:

Image from Herbst on Etsy


Nicole Steward’s Dry Erase Pillow was my Christmas gift to my mom– she loved it.  They’re sold out in her Etsy shop, but I believe The Usuals boutique carries her ASL (American Sign Language) fridge magnets.

Image from Nicole Steward on Etsy

The Girly Spazms shop had several items I wanted to check out: cassette-inpsired iPod cases, sleek and simple earrings, and Sriracha t-shirts! It was invented in Cali, you know.

Image from Girly Spazms on Etsy


Jazz heartily approves of this apparel.

Jazz the Water Bug loves Sriracha!