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!



What We’re Making Today: Watercolor Hearts

I always practice whatever project I’ll be teaching, and I got this lovely idea from Art Projects for Kids.  We haven’t worked much with paint, so I’m crossing my fingers this will go over.    At least I had a great time with it!

From the same blog I found this ice cream activity, where the child brainstorms ice cream flavors, then decides what color they would be.  This time, I’ll be drawing the cones and scoops.  I’m not sure what I was doing there at the top…  And what are my flavors, exactly? Top to bottom: That’ll Stain Your Lips, Raspbery Jam and Looks Better Than It Tastes.

Bubbles!  No reason.

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What We’re Making Today: Embroidery

My new job requires me to spend hours of one-on-one time with a child doing crafts.  It is, for me, the best thing ever.  I can’t write too much about it, but I will put up an occasional post about cool things we’ve done.  Today was a good day for embroidery.

I have no child experience– don’t got ’em, haven’t hung with them.  I was a kid once, and that’s about all I have to go on.  But I think I’m doing ok, and together we’re doing all sorts of different activities.  She is learning how to needle felt, do various papercrafts, puppets, paper mache and embroidery.  Every day, I try to introduce a new skill.  Maybe I’m imagining things, but I think I already notice an improvement in her ability to handle/manipulate small pieces when crafting.  My sister used to tell me I was weird around kids, and I think I know what– I approach them as a zoologist approaches an unknown species.  I’m perfectly genial, but always making sure I don’t make a wrong step (and sometimes I say/do something that is probably completely weird).

So, embroidery.  Every day, I realize that after 29 years, I take my skills for granted.  Everything I do now, I had to build up.  I had to make tons of mistakes and form good habits, break bad ones.  Today, at 29, I get frustrated when ripping stitches from a messed up hem, when my bobbin runs out around a tough corner or when I can’t find my favorite Sharpie.  So, of course a small child doing embroidery for the first time might actually HATE it.  That was early on, and I was bummed that she seemed so disgusted by the repetitive act of stitching and teasing out knots.  So, after learning about Rule #1 (patience) I figured out Rule #2: put it down, try it again tomorrow.
We tried it today with a piece of muslin that I pre-decorated with her name and a few easy shapes.  What also helps is telling a kid what activity they will do, not hem and haw and give them lots of choices.  Also, if you’ve got more than one trick up your sleeve, well, they can’t see up your sleeve.  Give them what they need, and don’t tell them anything else.  I’m not trying to be tricky, but if I seriously told her everything I could possibly come up with, little brains might explode.  I showed her all the colors of embroidery floss I brought, showed her how to use a disc of beeswax to prevent tangles (the word “bees” got her attention).  She got started, and after about an hour she had it finished.  I only helped a bit with de-tangling.

I wish I could post the whole picture.  I took these because I’ve got her little embroidery at my house to frame it.  I got a frame and sparkly paper for the mat so she can give it to her mom for Christmas.  It feels nice that one day when she’s older, she might look at that little frame and remember when she learned how to draw with a needle and thread.   It was a good day to be at work on my birthday.