Friday, November 28, 2008

a play clay day

A couple of months ago I became interested in hosting toddler art classes at our neighbourhood community room. Really, my interest in this has a lot to do with myself having some creative play time, and, oh yeah, my kid and her friends are welcome to tag along, too!

When I was a student working towards my BA in design at Emily Carr, I would often volunteer to teach children's art camps. I found this incredibly fulfilling and I enjoyed making art with the kids immensely, so I looked forward to making with my own little ones some day. However, I have found that creating with older children is a very different experience than creating with toddlers (for one, toddlers have very little attention span) and so I wasn't quite sure really where to begin.

With a little bit of research I came across the wonderful blog The Artful Parent and Jean's article of how to start a children's art group, all of which I found to be a wonderful resource for making art with little ones. I also ordered the two books that she recommended on the subject: Young at Art by Susan Striker, and First Art by MaryAnn F. Kohl.

What I learned is really quite simple: that creating art with toddlers is not about any final product, but about the process - It is with the process of experimentation and play that little ones learn about their world. With toddlers, it is important that art time be open-ended and process orientated, easy-going and just fun! 

And, I love this quote from Young at Art: 

"With the exception of baby's first steps, there is no more significant milestone in your child's development that the first mark he or she makes on paper. These squiggles herald the start of a lifetime of writing and drawing... do much more than just hand a child a crayon; your enthusiasm helps encourage future exploration."

allison and the playclay by you.

While me hosting an official toddler art time is still held up in some odd community association red tape. And, to be honest I am not sure right now if I am ready to commit to a regular class schedule and the project planning this would take. But I am free to book the room anytime and host some making time at my whim. So the other day I decided to make up loads of soft homemade playclay and invite the neighbourhood little ones to come and play with Adelaide and I. 

Rather than purchasing expensive (yet cheap) commercial playdoh toys, I simply went through my household cabinets and selected out a bucketful of tools: mallets, rollers, cookie cutters, spatulas, scoops, mashers, hair combs, empty thread spools, all sorts of treasures. For "adult" tools are really what little ones want to play with, anyways!

eden_playclay by you.

I was quite pleased with the result: about half a dozen toddlers, moms and dads, and me hanging out with a big old bunch of dough. Some kids got really into it - some didn't really - and that's fine by me! 

But I have found that giving each child only two or three tools to experiment with at a time is much more effective than the whole lot at once - for little children get overwhelmed and overstimulated easily. And to play alongside of them simultaneously, but not directly interfering with their play process. I have found that if I am interested and give some of my energy into playing with the dough, then most times they will, too.

We still have a large container of the playclay here at home, and almost every day Adelaide wants me to lug it out for us to play together. I pull up her little chair to the kitchen table and we go at it - making our sweet sweet nothings. Yet she loves this creating time and she loves that she can do whatever she wants with the dough! And one batch of this playclay has lasted us for months. 

play clay day by you.


Squeeze, roll, cut, press, model, and play with this super soft homemade playclay that is a delight to touch. There are many commercial playdoughs and homemade recipes that are too hard and stiff for the smallest hands to manipulate, but this one is great!


2 cups water

1 cup salt

food colouring*

4 tsp. cream of tartar

4 tbsp. oil

2 cups flour*


- Combine water, salt, cream of tartar and food colouring (.5 tsp for pastel colour and 1.5 tbsp for vivid colour) in a large saucepan. 

- Cook on low heat and stir. As the mixture heats up, stir in the oil and then the flour slowly.

- Keep Stirring the mixture until it starts looking dry and pulling away from the pan. Remove from heat and pinch a piece between two fingers. If it is not sticky, it is done. Otherwise, continue stirring over low heat.

- Place the dough on counter and knead until smooth. Children will enjoy kneading the warm dough when it cools enough for them, too!

- When finished playing, store playclay in an airtight container or plastic bag to re-use again and again. Do not refrigerate.

* For children who cannot tolerate gluten or food colouring, you may subsitute rice flour for flour and use natural beet (red), spinach (green) or carrot (orange) juice for colour.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


A huge thank-you to everyone who ordered a journey book (or 2, or 3, or 4!). I have now made and sold 730 of my journey books since I opened my little online shop almost 8 years ago now, and so often I feel as though I have the most wonderful customers in the world. Thank you all so much for being so supportive of me and my work over the years.

journey books by you.

Here are some of them now, all stacked up and ready to be sent out to their new homes over this week. These journey books are now all sold out, although I will have a few pocket books ready for sale in a couple of weeks or so, and I will be working on another edition of both books in the coming month or so.

If you are interested please let me know as these books usually sell out before I get a chance to offer them for sale to customers not on my wait list.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Well, I am now in recovery from over 2 weeks of step throat and bronchitus. Being very sick when you're a mother is not a good thing - and I am quite certain that all of you mamas out there know exactly what I'm talking about! It is really difficult to get better when "get plenty of rest" cannot and will not apply to you! 

The only good thing about being sick when you're a mother is knowing full force just how important you are. Our place pretty much falls apart when I get sick. But I'm discovering more and more in life that one of the secrets to happiness is a positive attitude, and so while I lay dying on the floor with my child moaning on top of me, I had time to look around and find nice things in my world that make me happy. Here are just a few!

adelaide's rocks by you.

Adelaide's growing rock collection. Most times when we're out wandering about she will pick up a rock and stick it in her pocket. Sometimes when they're all rough and nasty I'll give them back to the world later on, but the pretty ones, oh they are keepers! 

She keeps them all arranged on our kitchen window sill and every so often she'll move them from one sill to another and re-arrange them all again:

rock collection sorting by you.

Another growing collection: our family history in silver frames over our fireplace mantel (so much better than a TV - I wouldn't allow it) Adelaide loves these framed family photos and she will point all up at them moaning all excitedly...

over our mantel by you.

I've collected these framed family photographs, new, and old, over all over many years. I used to keep them all arranged together standing on top of a sideboard, but these days with greasy little fingers everywhere they work much better on the wall. I am always looking to find more little silver frames to add to our family collection.

birds by you.

The mailman dropped at our door a package from Italy the other day, in it were these two beautiful original antique bird prints, and I love them! I found them on ebay here. Now, I just have to find frames and a home for them, I think maybe next to our bed so I can see them when I wake up every morning.

reading corner by you.

And, being healthy again and reading with my girl! We made this cozy nook in our living room and filled it with soft lamps, pillows, artworks and books, and it is one of my favourite places to be. 

Adelaide is a book maniac. I always wanted to 'raise a reader' but - and I am ashamed to admit this - she is so into books that she annoys me sometimes! She moans and moans, and moans and moans, to have me read to her. And even though I began collecting books for her even before she was growing inside of me, I have been growing bored of ours already, and she's not even two years old yet! A weekly trip to the library may be needed... for me!!! 

p.s. The book we are reading here is Goodnight Owl by Pat Hutchins. Recommended for any toddlers who are really interested in Owls, just like my girl!

p.p.s. My Girlfriend Becky, who lives in San Francisco and is also a mama, designed the alphabet poster on the wall and sent it to me. I love it! I don't think she is selling prints, but you can visit her here.

p.p.p.s. I believe that the colour of our living room walls is Gaussian Blue by Benjamin Moore.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


book colours by you.
I have foraged, selected, trimmed and sorted thousands of pages, and now I am in the middle of binding up dozens of journey books. They will be available for sale in the coming week or so. I will also have pocket books ready soon, too. If you'd like to order one and haven't already contacted me with your information, please let me know!

Here are the colours of bookcloth that I currently have. Which would you choose? 

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


And the winner is.... pebbledash!

pebbledash said...
I've been waiting and waiting the chance to win one is extra special. Thank you!
1:58 AM

oh, it sounds like the address file has found a wonderful home. Thankyou to everyone who entered my giveaway, truly I wish that I had a little something to send to each and everyone of you. But I will be having more giveaways soon, for "extra" address files and some other items as well, so keep in touch!

Pebbledash, I will try now to track you down, but if you read this before I reach you, please contact me with your mailing address information!

Thanks again, everyone!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

a giveaway update

Sorry, everyone. This week has flown by (I know you know the feeling) and I haven't had a moment to find a winner for my address file giveaway. I will try to pick a winner after this weekend. So yes, this giveaway is still open, so if you are interested in giving this dejected little file a good home please leave a comment on here!