My very first fairy house! I’m pleased with how it turned out. Made with naturally found materials, hens and chicks, and an upcycled pot.
Posts Tagged ‘arts and crafts’
Along with honoring the change of seasons with Northern Rivers Protogrove, my little family and I observed it in our own way. For dinner, we had some lovely omelets with asparagus. We also gave Bee a basket of goodies. I’m still not sure if this is something we’ll do every year or not. I crocheted her a basket using scrap fabric, thus making it baby-safe. I filled it with the Spring gnome I made, some purple socks, some organic baby food, a board book all about spring, and a beautiful wooden bowl and spoon set from Nova Natural. We read the book just about every day, and she enjoys touching the textured images. I plan to get her the other seasonal books in the series for those high days too.
I got into the spirit by finally placing my seed order. There are still a few things I’m thinking of buying (like a potato grow bag and a container blueberry plant), but ordering seeds is a start. I selected some tomato plants, eggplants, zucchini, cucumber, basil, chard, and scarlet runner beans. I’m really excited to try those last seeds. They produce beautiful, red flowers! Oh, do I have plans for my little patio…
We ended the evening with a small family ritual. My husband held Bee while I lead the rite. We let her choose a dyed egg to offer the Nature Sprits, which was adorable. Our omen for the season was the salmon. Wisdom instantly came to mind upon seeing the card. Truly, Weretoad and I are gaining a lot as Bee becomes more mobile. We are growing as parents. We thought we had childproofed the home a lot but, as soon as she started to properly crawl, we realized how wrong we were. As a result, I’ve decided that my altar must go upstairs in the bedroom in order to prevent anything from falling onto her little head…
For years, it has been my ambition to naturally dye eggs for the Spring Equinox. Last year, I attempted to use some green tea (which I’ve successfully used to dye fabric), but the eggs were not a good color for dying. I make a point to buy eggs that are either organic or local. Since the Spring Equinox in the North Country is hardly the start of spring other regions experience, there aren’t a lot of local folks selling eggs. It’s not farmer’s market season. And of course, most people I know have chickens who lay brown eggs. All of the organic eggs available at the stores are also brown. Brown is a lovely color! I also know folks whose chickens lay gorgeous blues and greens! But the point is, I wanted to try my hand at dying eggs without red dye number 40.
This year I asked one of my favorite local farmers if they had any white eggs and they did! They set the whites aside just for me. We hard boiled and dyed a dozen of them using things we had in our cupboards: frozen strawberries, frozen blueberries, and yellow onion skins. My hypothesis was that the onion skins would be the least vibrant, but that was actually the opposite! Left to soak the eggs overnight, they produced a vibrant orange. The strawberries created a very soft pinkish tan and the blueberries made a cozy sort of indigo.
The eggs developed an odd but interesting texture in the form of little bubbles. These could be brushed away to reveal a lighter coating underneath. This was either the result of me forgetting to thoroughly wash the boiled eggs before submersing them in the dye, or because I added an extra bit of vinegar to the dye after boiling.
Next year, I would like to be better prepared and try some different colors. I need to plan my meals just right so that we have beets and red cabbage around. I would have tried turmeric but we need to get some more. We’ll do more experimentation next year! Hopefully Bee will be old enough to enjoy it some! I imagine trying different foods and guessing the eventual colors would be very fun for a wee one. Part science, part art, and all magic!
With spring right right around the corner, I thought it was time to make Bee another gnome! I decided to make a tutorial so you could make your own gnomes for the little ones in your life. Follow along or get creative and follow your own whimsy!
- Grey Catsidhe’s gnome pattern
- felt in the desired color
- thread or embroidery floss
- a sewing needle
The pattern may be enlarged, and should be for a baby. I make mine so that they are small but not a choking hazard. Using the pattern, cut out the shapes in your felt. You’ll want to cut out one face and two bodies. At this point, I find it best to stitch on the face and add any desired details to one side of the body. You can be as simple or complex as you wish. I decided to make this gnome very girlish and even gave her some hair.
Starting at the base, stitch from bottom, to the top, and back to the bottom using the blanket stitch. Leave the bottom opened so that you can stuff the batting in before completing the blanket stitch all the way around.
As a finishing touch, I added a little leaf to the top of the gnome’s hat. I think it makes the Spring gnome look like a little seedling. Make sure you stitch that leaf very secure! As with all baby toys, inspect your gnomes frequently to make sure nothing is coming apart. My baby loves to gums her gnomes so they can get a bit worn looking. They are very easy to clean with some soap and water. Air dry, preferably in the sun.
Have fun making gnomes for wee ones or your own altars! Please share any that you make! I’d love to see.
As a pre-ritual workshop this Imbolc, Northern Rivers Protogrove made Brighid crosses and, also, mini Brighid mantles. In Ireland, it’s traditional to put out a bit of cloth (the brat or Brighid’s mantle), on Imbolc eve for it is believed that Brighid is visiting. She imbues her blessings upon the cloth and thus it becomes a healing tool. I thought it would be fun to make some “mini mantles” as a pre-ritual craft along with the crosses. Furthermore, although we didn’t have any children besides Bee at this celebration, I came up with the activity specifically with kids in mind.
fabric (we used a poly-cotton blend because that’s what I had, but pure cotton or linen would work well too)
fabric markers (preferably of a non-toxic nature for the kiddos involved)*
scissors or a rotary cutter
cutting board (optional)
a square ruler (optional)
I decided that white fabric would be best since people would be drawing on them with a variety of colors. Ahead of time, I ironed the fabric so that it would be flat and ready for cutting. Then I dug out my handy quilting tools. I used a 1×5″ omnigrid ruler to make perfect little squares, but you needn’t be a perfectionist or create such small pieces. I thought the size would be nice for little hands, but the completely adult group was just as happy with them!
Everyone shared fabric markers and drew whatever they felt was appropriate for Brighid, Imbolc, their spiritual path, and healing in general. There were many flames and representations of water. Several people tried their hand at triquetras too. The workshop went well and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Best of all, it’s an activity young and old can engage in with minimal mess!
* Prior to putting outside, treat the fabric according to the directions of your fabric markers. Most suggest ironing and washing to set. When I put my mantles out, I tie them to tough plants who give me permission, or under a rock.
I’m busy, busy, busy with all sorts of arts and crafts! Imbolc is definitely in the air. So many fiber crafts – including spinning! I’ve been enjoying theBritish show “Tudor Monastery Farm” and it put the spinning bug back in my head! It’s a wonderful way to engage with Brighid, my female ancestors, and the wooly nature spirits so symbolic of this time of year. Also in progress: a crocheted hat for hubby, an attempt to embroider a Brighid cros (sans a hoop… I didn’t have one small enough…), and an altar cloth. There’s little else to do in this chilly, snowy weather!
What are you crafting?
My time is limited and, as a result, I haven’t felt pulled to make the very detailed, large dolls I made prior to pregnancy. Those will come again, but I’ve recently found myself returning to my roots and making dolls with very simple shapes. Some may view that as backwards, but something Phillip Carr-Gomm said in the latest Druidcast really spoke to me. He compared the movement of people back to religions inspired by very ancient myths to salmon returning to their spawning ground and taking part in a cycle rebirth. Not only did it make sense to me in regards to Druidism’s place in the modern world, but it dawned on me that I was experiencing the same thing in my art. Motherhood has transformed my life in ways that I’m only just beginning to understand. It is impacting my art. Everything has to be reborn in this new phase of my life.
You may have seen the Waldorf-inspired gnomes I’ve been making for my daughter. They are akin to my early exploration of doll making. Limbs are very complicated and so I’m not bothering with them so much right now. Recently I’ve been wanting to spend less time on constructing the form and more on adding soul. I decided to make a new Brighid doll for my altar. I’ve said this many times, but I’m a proponent of using your talents to make your own ritual tools. For me, the desire to create representations of deities for my altars is what brought me to doll making in the first place. I retired my original Brighid doll. She was very top-heavy and required a metal and wooden stand. With baby just months away from walking, it seemed like a safety hazard. Brighid has a new home upon my altar and in a form that matches my evolving understanding of her. She is more voluptuous, draped in a tartan cloak “pined” with a Celtic knot button to represent her smithcraft and art in general. Although I did not make limbs in the usual sense, her hand peeks out from her cloak to magically hold her sacred flame, something I needle felted using dyed sheep wool (also very appropriate for this Goddess).
I’m rather happy with how she turned out. As I worked on this Brighid doll, the Goddess sent her inspiration to me and I’ve already started to dream up another doll to represent another Goddess I’ve been working with. In the meantime, I’m planning to ritually consecrate this doll in Brighid’s name to create a “home away from home” for her, thus facilitating communication.
I learned about Waldorf education when I was in college and studying teaching methods and history. It fascinated me immediately and, for a brief moment in time, I toyed with the idea of becoming a certified Waldorf teacher. That didn’t work out for a variety of reasons, and in retrospect I’m happy for that. Although my experience with Waldorf education remains limited, I found that I didn’t fully agree with some of what I read or saw. Be that as it may, I find integrating creativity and whimsy into educating children a valuable pursuit, challenging as it can be at times. I also agree with the emphasis placed on nature – something that comes out in nature tables or play altars. They are excellent ways for children to engage in the changing seasons and their budding spirituality while also having fun on their terms.
I am working on ways to integrate this into raising Bee in a Druidic home. One thing many nature tables have in common is the inclusion of gnomes. What are these little creatures and why are they part of Waldorf culture? (You can read about that here and here.) Some critics worry as Waldorf educators apparently blame the gnomes for problems which could potentially derail a child’s ability to take responsibility for him or herself. Others feel that they introduces too much pseudoscience – something that, to me, is not bothersome at all since I have been able to believe in Nature Spirits while also understanding, respecting, and learning “hard science.” Taking responsibility is also emphasized in Druidism through our Nine Virtues. Integrity is part of one’s honor after all! If nobody knows why something happened, though, I often say things have been “fairied away.” There’s a time and a place for that… In my opinion, it’s completely possible to balance each perspective. I can see the gnomes as a way to introduce Bee to the unseen aspects of Nature Awareness – that ineffable feeling you get when you are being watched in the woods, for example, could be explained on the forest spirit which, to a child, may be conceived of as a fairy or gnome. As a child grows, these can be fleshed out into a more “mature” understanding of animism – even if the child decides he or she does not embrace that worldview*.
I started to make some gnomes for my little one and she already enjoys them immensely! The first was a little red gnome to commemorate the Winter Solstice. I refer to it as a nisser to give respect to my husband’s Norwegian heritage. I put the nisser in Bee’s Winter Solstice treasure basket and she repeatedly wanted him more than anything else. This gave me the idea to make more which, like many Waldorf gnomes, correspond to the seasons and various High Days. So our second gnome was born for Imbolc! She is holding a green candle to celebrate Brighid’s light and warmth.
Rest assured, I will share future gnomes as they appear in my home!
* Remember, I am writing about raising my own child and not others. Even though I am a spiritual, Earth-centered person, I understand the concerns of the critics who have enrolled their children in Waldrof schools thinking they are very secular only to realize that they do teach spiritual concepts (which may vary depending on the individual schools). Also, I hesitated to say I have a more “mature” understanding of animism. I don’t mean to say that there is a right and wrong way to believe, but I know for a fact that I wasn’t able to think about animism abstractly or philosophically like I am as an adult. I am in no way trying to say that certain cultures have a less mature animism than modern Druidism, for example.
Posted in Druidism, tagged 2013, An Cailleach, An Dagda, arts and crafts, Christianity, Christmas, hearth and home, Nature Spirits, tribe, Winter Solstice, Yule, Yule Along on December 26, 2013 | 2 Comments »
I hope everyone has been enjoying their Yuletide season! We just returned from a lovely visit with family. It is always difficult for me to keep up with rituals when I return home, but I did my best to be mindful of the days.
The Sixth Day of Yule
This day was dedicated to the house spirits which was apt because we prepared to leave home. I did my best to tidy up a little and made offerings to the house spirits and prayed that they protect everything while we were away. Upon returning, we gave another offering in thanks for that protection.
The Seventh Day of Yule
My family celebrates Christmas. Some are Christian and attend mass, while others are agnostic or atheist and embrace it as a secular holiday. Observing the Twelve Days of Yule has helped me better reintegrate the day into my own practices. As so many have already said, gift giving is an ancient winter custom and, when you have family who celebrate Christmas, it’s difficult to avoid doing it ont he 25th of December! This was a day to honor the spirits of generosity and abundance. For me, that would include the modern amalgamation that is Santa and An Dagda of the Tuatha dé Danann. While I did not get to make an offering until returning home, the spirits of generosity were very much present. We received many lovely gifts and I had fun giving my family some handmade items such as this table runner I quilted for my mother.
The Eighth Day of Yule
A time to honor the spirits of snow and ice! Driving home from our visit, lake effect snow started to hit our region. Big fluffy flakes have been falling upon the land, covering the crusty layer of ice from earlier in the week. The North Country hasn’t fully thawed out. The ice still clings to buildings and trees. Many of the later are still bent over and, in some cases, broken. I looked out the car window and thought about An Cailleach and all of her power. The snow and ice is all at once beautiful and destructive. These weather conditions are good reminders for the many seemingly opposite qualities of magic, myth, and nature.
I had hoped to go for a walk in the snow today, but scheduling, slippery ice, and baby care made that difficult. We poured offerings for An Cailleach inside and spoke words of praise.
A blessed Winter Solstice to my readers! The sun is reborn and we rejoice in the lengthening days!
Yesterday was a hard day for us because of Potion’s passing. But we persevered and, after a long day of work, delved into preparations for today. There were gifts to finish, floors to clean, and evergreens to be collected. Although an ice storm was on the way, and the ground was already starting to freeze, Potion’s death made me want to take a walk in the woods even more. As I told my father, who offered to come with me, sometimes I like to go alone. Getting away from other people and spending some silent time with the trees can be very meditative. It also allowed me to get in touch with my spirit guide. The snow was crusted over and hard, but I followed the deer tracks in and around the woods. I made offerings to my spirit guide and the local Nature kin. I collected the evergreens from the ground, considering them gifts from the deer who pull the branches down to feed. I have no need to cut from the actual trees.
I added the greenery to my altar and over my hutch where my Yule goat and wooden sun hang out. In the future, when I have more time, energy, and Bee is old enough to help, I would love to gather enough to make big garlands to drape over the dining room window and along the stairway.
Following Three Crane Grove’s Twelve Days of Yule, yesterday was for remembering mothers. I put some special mementos and photos on my altar to pay homage to my ancestral mothers and the spirit of motherhood. I also took some me-time and had a warm, relaxing shower. Offerings were poured and words were said.
I was very excited to stay up and keep vigil for the sun, but between the emotional exhaustion, all the prep for today, and general infant care, I found myself increasingly exhausted. I went to bed but set an alarm and was able to greet the sun in my own way – singing “Here Comes the Sun” by George Harrison with Bee grinning ear to ear! This was followed by some more napping, a breakfast of waffles, our gift exchange, watching “Love Actually,” and our Winter Solstice feast! My wonderful husband, who is an amazing baker, made me a pecan pie as a gift. I made a spinach and mushroom quiche. Not pictured are the roasted potatoes I made or the salad my father put together!
Now we’re relaxing and hoping not to lose power from the big ice storm. It gives me a lot of extra time to finish crafting gifts for family. Speaking of that, if you’re looking for some last minute gift ideas or activities to do with little ones, take a peek at these great suggestions: