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Honour the Child

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BTRT Patterns (on Etsy)

Monday, 30 August 2010
Our front tree played host on Saturday to a family of fledgling baby goldfinches. It seems likely that their nest had been blown out of their tree by the wind and the poor little ones were gathering in our tree and calling plaintively for one another and the security of their nest.  By evening, they had tucked their heads under their wings to wait out the night and in the morning they were gone.  Our best hope is that they had strength and skill enough to survive their unexpected push into the big bad world.
Can you spot the baby in this picture?
Sunday, 29 August 2010
It is hard to imagine summer is coming to a close!

To help us remember our summer days, we have been collecting shells and pebbles and interesting bits of driftwood throughout, and adding them to our seasonal nature table.  As we prepare to set our table for autumn, we have some summer treasures we want to keep.  With this in mind ( and a 5 year old birthday party to plan!) I went hunting for craft.

This is the result~ Summer Memory Jars with Rainbow Sand.

  • Glass jar (with lid) in the size of your choice. As we were doing a party craft AND space is at a premium on our nature table, we opted for small glass jars as pictured.
  • Sand ~ craft/ play sand is perfect! Our local beach sand has too much stone to colour effectively.
  • Food colouring/ cake dyes/ kool-aid ~ food dyes of your choice makes this non-toxic and kid safe.
  • Glass or metal containers, measuring cup, metal spoon or stirrer. Plastics and wood may absorb the dye.  Another option is the Ziploc type plastic containers as you can put lids on them when you are finished and save the rest of your sand (and later re-use the containers).
Plan to colour your sand at least 24 hours in advance of the craft time.
Pour as much sand as you desire into as many dishes as you need (one per colour).
At the sink, or outside near the hose, saturate the sand in the dish, pouring off any excass water so that the sand is wet, but there is no standing water.  Using approx. 1/2 c. of warm water, dissolve your food colouring (you will need to make the dye batch fairly dark to create rich colours in average sand ~ start with a teaspoon of dye and mix until you are about 25% darker than you want the finished sand to appear), stir thoroughly and then pour into the sand, stirring until well mixed. Set this sand dish aside.
Repeat for each colour.
Once the sand is all coloured, pour off any excess water from the dishes, stir well, and place in the sun to dry. stirring occassionally.  If you are in a rush, you can spread the sand out to dry.
When your sand is dry, it is time to fill your jar.

Make sure your jar is dry and clean.  Using hands or spoons, layer the sand as you wish... you can use popsicle sticks, straws or other items to push colours deeper into one another... experiment!  Tap or press down each layer before adding the next for clear lines of colour.
 Some colour may end up on your hands, so wear old clothes, gloves (or bathing suits!) as needed and preferred. The colour will wear off of skin quickly (trust me, I know!).
Add your special summer treasures on top (or for a neat look, layer them within the sand, against the glass so they will be seen). Close the lid and enjoy!  Jars could also be decorated.
Have fun ♥
Thursday, 26 August 2010
OK, you caught me. I don't really have almost 7 000 reasons, or at least not that I have blogged about!
But close!

I just had a note from a mom who is new to open-ended and natural toys, and she was delighted to find out how much imagination was blooming in her children as they played with their playsilks together.  It is one of those things that you can't tell people, they just have to see it happen~ to experience it in a child they know and love.  'Cause playsilks are just something that most grownups don't 'get'.  But give one to a child... and magic happens.

Having spent the day cleaning out closets and toys and books, I was once again impressed with the value of our natural toys (some mama made, many purchased from other artisans).  As my daughter turns 5 and heads to school full time this fall, it seemed appropriate to clean up and out many of the beloved-but-outgrown toys and the board books (Snuggle Puppy gets to stay on the shelf, however, as she'll never be too big for that one!) no longer suited to a blossoming reader. 

It is amazing how many little things sneak into the toys (and how many little toys sneak out~ I found marbles every where!) that were ripe for passing on to the church rummage sale!  But as I have, year after year, I find myself simply tidying up and replacing in their places the wooden tree blocks, the stacking arches, the felted gnomes and bendy fairies.  The playsilks of every size and colour go back in their basket, where they have lived, some of them, for four years.  And from which they are drawn daily for imaginative play.
 Other toys pass in their season, but the natural and open ended ones are perennial. When artisans say 'heirloom quality' they really mean it!  But more than this, these toys span a wide age range.  An infant playing peekaboo is very different developmentally than a five year old walking a playsilk swinging bridge over a canyon on a unicorn ~ but both use their silkies for play, and in multi-age families, the same ones!  The blocks an infant mouths and bangs are the same one the four year old stacks and counts. 

These toys last. And when they have finished their time, many will be suitable to pack away for the next generation, and those that are not will gently return to the earth.

This is what I mean by value.  There is no doubt that quality toys are an investment (but play is a child's work and deserves great tools!).  But they last throughout a child's childhood, meeting them at every age and stage with the invitation to dream and imagine and become... they are faithful playmates that are warm and soft, beautiful and natural.

And if you don't believe me, ask a kid!
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
In Waldorf education, each day of the week has an associated colour, planet and grain.

Over the next while I am going to feature handmade, natural items that would be wonderful to help mark the rhythm of the week at home with your little ones.  Many of the items come from members of Etsy's Natural Kids Team (search: naturalkids).

August is my daughter Rowan's birthday month. It is also the month when the rowan trees are in fruit (the Mountain Ash in North America), so this Waldorf Tuesday, being marked by red, I am offering some bright red fruit of the season!

For inspiration, this is our rowan tree last fall:
Let's start with a wooden apple from Just Hatched:
And to keep your apple warm, a cozy by Fair Trade Family:

How about a yummy Boysenberry Beanie from Boston Beanies?
Ok, it is a veggie, but I love this little Turnip Child by woodmouse:
How amazing is this rowan tree lampwork bead?! From a new fave of mine Rowanberry Glass:
And finally, one of my favourite prints (it hangs in daughter Rowan's room), by Krisblues:
 Have a great red Tuesday ♥
Monday, 23 August 2010
I am on a roll this week!  I won't mention the mountain of laundry from our camping trip with the 'moms and girls' or the other unfinished tasks. Nope. I am going to focus on the positive, what I *have* accomplished as my holidays wind down!

Rowan's room has been cleaned up and out.
I have two exhausted dogs asleep.
No dishes in the sink.
And I have finished and photgraphed almost all my sewing backlog and I *may* just surge ahead (or 'serge' as the case may be! I have twirl skirts in process for the shop!).
I itemized my projects in THIS POST.

And with the exception of finishing the waistband on Rowan's new Party Skirt, I have caught up!

The Modkid 'Sydney' (short sleeve/ round hood version):
Fabric is denim + David Walker's retro 'Robots' space themed cotton.
 The Modkid Kyoko in Lizzy House's 'Castle Peeps' in green:

And, a simple reversible pinafore (several patterns drafted together and I am not entirely happy with the result, yet!) with Ikea 'Hearts' and Alexander Henry Alphonse's Rainbow Stripe (on the inside, hungry model refused to flip it!):

Thanks for looking ♥
We are currently running our last coops for the year~ once September hits the holiday madness begins!
So buy early for those fall birthdays and holiday gifts!

FB Fan Sale (Silk Toys & Dressup):
Become a fan and save! Details here.
Daydream Believers Group Buy (Save 30%):
Offered at Cloth Diaper Nation, includes long sleeves and fleece, details here.
Saturday, 21 August 2010
I wanted to share the finished piece from my 'Creative Process' post.
This is 'Pearl of The Sea'.
35" habotai silk.
Monday, 16 August 2010
Ever have one of those moments that could have passed you by, but you grabbed it and life changed in an unexpected way as a result?

Saturday our town held its annual festival.  As Rowan and I were on a mission to get balloons for the shop table I spotted a flash of orange and white out of the corner of my eye.  It was a lady walking a Brittany and they were heading down a street away from us. I hesitated, but then sent Rowan off at a run to see it, as we are still sadly missing our old Briar the Britt (pictured below, in May at age 11.5, with Archie).

Well, this sweet little female could have been Briar's sister, they looked so similar. Turns out she was, in fact, a neice. And that she had puppies in the spring. And that one buyer fell through and the remaining puppy was at the breeder's home. See where this is headed?

I have been staunchly insisting that one dog (Archie the Sheltie) was plenty. And Arch just turned one.  I casually mentioned the puppy to Andy, who said, to my shock, 'sure, why not?'.

There are a million why nots.
But then,  life is too short to worry about a little more dog and hair, and besides, I am a big believer in the power of connections... and when one falls in your lap, you had best pay attention and follow the thread.  A call to the breeder, a 300 km trip to her home and back on Sunday and we brought home our busy ball of Brittany enthusiasm.
 We have named him Hooligan.  Or rather, we had a list of names and they all fell away when we met him. He is Hoolie the Hooligan. Interestingly enough, a 'hoolie' is defined as a big party in a small space~ the best definition of a Brittany that I have ever heard!

This pup can cause more mischief in a 5 minute span (that is, his first five minutes home he ate a toadstool, a feather, a stick and jumped in the lake and then the mud) than Archie has in his whole 15 months, but our house feels 'right' again, the spirit is restored by one silly, freckle faced, floppy eared pup.  I know his great-uncle Briar would approve.
Friday, 13 August 2010
I thought I would share some of the process for creating my painted silks~ since I had a camera + camera card, together in the same room (a rare treat!).

I begin by stretching the silk on the frame.  The claws are placed in the hem/ selvege area and the frame is stretched to the desired tautness for painting.  As the silk gets wet, some tightening is required to keep it stretched.  In this case it is a 35" square habotai piece.
 Exciting picture, huh?
Actually, it is! Really (yes, I am a geek)~ it is all POSSIBILITY at this point.
I generally stretch the silk once I have a concept in mind.
I have always been a poor draw-er, I am far better with a paintbrush (or a bottle of gutta) than with a pencil, but the concept drawing lets me get my proportions and spacing in mind (the hardest part of drawing/ painting for me). 
This design is what I would consider to be an 'art piece' ~perfectly fine for play, but more likely for display or decor.  When a piece is made for play, I use the same principles as I use with wool playscapes: lots of open space for play and simple, thematic illustrations to spark the imagination but still allow the child to lead (as below).
Once the silk is stretched and the concept is live, I prepare my resist.  With the intention of avoiding both the chemical nature of true gutta AND the need to dry clean each finished piece (more chemicals!), I choose to use a water based resist.  The purpose of the resist is just that~ to resist the flow of the ink/dye/paint and keep it where you want it to be. This resist comes out with soap and water.

One of the challenges of working in this medium is plotting out the placement of each element so that you draw your resist lines appropriately to allow the foreground bits to take their place without interference from the background~ the resist lines will remain after the piece is finished, so they must be placed carefully (or artfully hidden!).  Here is the resist rendering of the concept:
Getting all that hair and body parts in the same place can be tricky.  I remember a critic saying that Disney's Pocahontas should have included star billing for Pocahontas' hair which was quite a work of animation, and this mermaid reminded me of that comment!

Once the resistis completely dry, it is time to paint!  I love the flow and blending of colour on silk~ it is really lovely to see.  And while it obeys all the usual rules of blending and mixing, it also moves so freely that it still holds many surprises! Rather than the silk just being that which is 'done to' it is an organic part of the doing. Geek. I know!

I choose to use the 'open' face style found in Waldorf dolls and toys.  I am used to it, although I know it sometimes throws people for a loop.   I findfaces daunting.  And whether in paint, wool or on silk, I find that the mind's eye will do a better job of picturing the face than my brush or needle.  The Waldorf tradition uses open faces to allow the child to imagine the emotion and expression as they play.

Each area is filled in, using various techniques to colour and shade as needed. I always leave final colour decisions to be made as the work unfolds and I can look for balance and focus and so on.

Once the piece is finished I leave it to dry completely.  As ou can see on this piece (still in the frame) the general finished appearance is apparent, but the final details will show once the piece is heat set and the resist is removed, leaving negative space which in some cases here pictured, is covered in paint.
 So... heat set, wash with soap and warm water, press. And then I can take some final photographs. ♥
It's true!
From August 15 - September 15, anyone can take advantage of bulk pricing on any of our playsilks and silk toys at BTRT . If you want to become a 'fan' (or 'like') our Facebook page, so much the better, but not required!
Just visit our FB page and the 'Note' about the sale for all the details (and bring a friend!)~ perfect for stocking up for the holidays before our holiday crunch begins!
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