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Posts Tagged ‘arts and crafts’

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My daughter chose the colors and then wanted to add extra features with a marker.  She also poked it on the top of its head, but it still works!  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

When Samhain / Halloween decorations and materials started showing up at the craft stores, I snatched up one of those small, papier mâché skulls.  At the time, I didn’t have a project in mind, but I knew something would come to me.  It wasn’t until my daughter was playing with it that we stumbled upon its purpose, which makes sense given the (very informal) research I’ve been doing on rattles.  She put some toys inside the skull and shook it.  She said she wanted to make a rattle like her egg shaker.  I thought that was a brilliant idea.

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Gathering materials.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Materials:

  • A papier mâché skull
  • tissue paper cut or torn into small pieces (a toddler will happily help you tear)
  • dry beans, beads, small stones, or other filling to create the rattle sound
  • modge podge or tacky glue
  • a paint brush or two
  • an old plate or tray
  • markers for additional decoration

Pour some glue or modge podge into your old plate or tray.  Using the paintbrush, work a layer of adhesive onto the skull.  Bee wanted a paintbrush too, so we worked together.  As you paint, smooth pieces of tissue paper over the glue. Make sure you put your dry beans (or other filling) into the skull.  Gradually cover the openings in the skull with several layers, taking care not to puncture the wet tissue paper. You may want to do the top first, let that dry, and then do the bottom for easier handling.  Once the whole piece is dry, you may want to decorate the skull to bring out its features. We did not add a final layer of gloss, but I think it would be a good idea to preserve your piece.

I enjoyed making this instrument for a variety of reasons.  It was a fun, easy project to complete with my daughter.  At three, she’s learning to cut, so she had fun practicing with scissors and tearing tissue paper of her choosing.  It’s a great use for wrinkled, torn tissue paper  if you’re like me and try to reuse everything until it’s falling apart.  I would like to make more rattles year in different colors – white and black, perhaps.  It could be a fun grove craft project.

The skull rattle joined us at my grove’s Samhain celebration.  Bee and I played it while we chanted.  It doubles as a seasonal decoration.  We’ll have to keep our eyes open for more papier mâché shapes appropriate for other celebrations.

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As Lughnasadh starts to turn us towards the Autumn Equinox, and as it is the beginning of the major harvests, I find myself reflecting on the successes and failures of our little container garden. Each year, we learn more about our plant allies. Each year, through a mixture of experience and research, we recognize opportunities for growth and improvement.

I harvested several red potatoes this year. This is a better yield compared to last year! Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016

I also picked our onions and hung them to dry out a little. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

We gave offerings to the local spirits in gratitude for our bounty. Photo by Grey Catsidhe 2016.

Not pictured is the basket of tomatoes we gathered, mostly from my husband’s hydroponic buckets. In addition, I also gathered some basil and sage which I hung to dry. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to contribute to our own cupboards. 

I’m also thinking on my metaphorical harvest. I’ve had a fairly productive and joyful summer. My family hasn’t faced as many struggles this season. I have had more opportunities to do things that make my soul sing. I have room to improve, but the harvest is stil good. As we move toward Autumn, I’m already preparing a fall garden. I’m also making new goals – things to sew, books to finish, essays to write… May my next harvest be just as, or more, successful! 

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Wild 
Grain – Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016

Each Lughnasadh, I strive to harvest some of the wild grain from the hedges. Not only is harvesting grain traditional at this time of year, but I save it so my protogrove has something with which to weave Brighid crosses during Imbolc, six months later.  With the amount of snow we get in January and February, we won’t have any access to the nice green reeds traditionally used in Ireland!   So preparing for Imbolc is part of my Lughnasadh.  It makes sense – we harvest so that we are prepared for the coming months, after all!

My daughter was such a big help this year.  She’s learning to use scissors, so I let her use a child’s pair to cut the grass.  Bee enthusiastically embraced the task. It’s so nice to share seasonal traditions with her.  (I also found some blue vervain while we were out – a happy find!)

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An experimental quilt and applique piece I made for a friend and grovie, April, while she was going through a difficult time.  She had lost access to her altars, and I made this to represent the Three Hallows until she regained access.  Craft and Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

I sometimes fret that I’m not as prolific as I used to be. My Druid studies have slowed down, for sure, but my crafting has as well! I often lament how I don’t get to flex my artisan muscles the way I used to now that I’m so often occupied with a little one. I used to sell my one of a kind art dolls at local shows. I never made a ton of money, but it was enough to keep up with my hobby. The positive feedback from customers really raised my spirits and kept me going, pushing me to work harder at expressing my vision of the Three Kindreds.

I recently vented about just that, more or less, to another talented mama.  When I got home, after having dinner, I got to work on a going-away gift for a grovie.  It was a simple craft, one that would not take days to complete.  Most of my work is like that these days, with the exception of the quilt I made for the recent baby saining.  I realized that most of my work these days become gifts to family members, ritual objects for myself or my protogrove, or gifts for grovies – my spiritual family.  The later is just another way that I give of myself to uplift my community.  My grovies give so much of themselves to help our protogrove flourish – I love to give back to them.  Until I started to think about this topic, I didn’t realize how much effort I put into perfecting my crafts to benefit my spiritual family.  Here are some of the recent pieces I’ve made for my tribe.

 

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A needlepoint experiment that came out very well!  I made this for Tan to remind her that she has the strength of a battle Goddess!  Photo and craft by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

 

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My latest needlepoint – a gift for a grovie moving away after he retires from the army.  That’s honestly the hardest part of having a Pagan group near a military base… Jacob will be missed!  I included a very meaningful quote from one of our favorite chants.  I’m happy with the needlework but I think I could have done a better job gluing it into the frame.  I hope he doesn’t mind!  Photo and craft by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

 

 

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A felt Goddess ornament I made for our last Winter Solstice gift exchange.  She went home with Andrew.  She was a first foray into needlepoint.  Craft and Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016

 

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Although I haven’t had a chance to make the more complex dolls I used to sell at craft shows, I continue to make smaller, simpler versions for altars or children.  I made this girl gnome as a baby shower gift for Cassandra’s little one.  Very simple, mostly because she needed to be free of choking hazards, but also very satisfying!  Photo and craft by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

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Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

 

Although it’s started to feel like Spring in Northern NY, there aren’t any flowers yet. If you’d like to get your little ones excited about the coming season and want to add some color to your altars and nature tables, here’s a craft I came up with.  It will take a few hours or a couple of days depending on how long you let the stems dry, but that lesson in patience can easily relate to waiting for real flowers to sprout and bloom.  It also encourages hand-eye-coordination and practice with colors.  My daughter is almost three, and she really enjoyed this activity.  She loves seeing her art on our family altar!  It makes her feel part of the celebration.

Materials:

  • popsicle sticks
  • non-toxic green paint
  • brushes
  • lots of rags or paper towels to clean up (inevitable!)
  • a variety of colorful ribbons cut into small strips (older children practicing their cutting skills could help with this part)
  • tacky glue
  • a vase, flower pot, or basket for display

Process:

  1. Give your little one a few popsicle sticks, green paint, and a brush.  Encourage him or her to paint them, and talk about stems and their color.  Let these dry for a few hours or overnight.  Discuss patience and what that means.  Maybe use this time to plant some seeds for real flowers!
  2. Once the stems are dry, show your child all the pretty ribbon petals.  Maybe look at some photos of flowers for inspiration, and show how the petals look.
  3. Adults can put a small dot of glue at the top of each stick.  Toddlers can then place a petal.  Keep adding glue and petals until the child feels it’s done.  If your child is anything like mine, they will look a bit wabi-sabi.  That’s okay!
  4. Repeat for each stick and let dry for a few hours.
  5. Display on your altar or nature table, or give as seasonal gifts!

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The entrance of the exhibit challenges you to put aside what you think you know about Vikings.

At the end of February, I got a chance to visit the temporary  Vikings exhibit at the Canadian Museum of History.  It was a wonderful experience, and well worth traveling to if you’re in the region.  There are many permanent exhibits to check out when you’re done learning about Vikings, including a museum just for children and the iMax theater.

The Viking exhibit’s goal was to accurately portray this group of people and attempt to correct centuries old misconceptions.  Entering the dim room, you’re greeted by beautiful maps and photos of the land where the Vikings lived – the origin of the artifacts housed within.  Speakers softly played a very natural soundtrack – birdsong and trickling water.  While the purpose may have been to transport visitors to another time, the dim room also made it feel as if I were walking into a sacred space.

Glass cases housed numerous archaeological finds, and a few reconstructions.  As a parent, I greatly appreciated that they were low enough for my daughter to look into as well.  I didn’t expect her to be as fascinated as she was, and her interest truly delighted me!  Adding to the sense of reverence, one case held bones.  My daughter stared in awe at the skull.  My husband and I told her that that person may even be one of our ancestors.  We looked at a variety of weapons, yes, but of greater interest to me were the women’s artifacts – beads, pins, parts of drop spindles, and key talismans.  I hadn’t ever heard of the later before.  When I first saw one at the museum, I noticed that it looked like a skeleton key, but I couldn’t imagine it functioning!  Indeed, the descriptions described them as possible magical objects, offering protection and power.  They’re believed to have been carried by women of high status – those who ran the homes.  In other words, they may have been a symbol of power among women.  Since seeing them, I’ve been seeing keys, and dealing with interesting key-related scenarios, all over.  I’m still trying to sort through what this might mean to me…

There were various interactive elements in the exhibit.  A feasting table with a “true or false” game built in created an interesting communal area where young and old could learn more together and reflect on changing perceptions.  My daughter enjoyed learning about Viking clothing by pushing buttons to light up different articles and then dressing virtual dolls via a computer game.  Another computer game taught visitors how to play a favoriting Viking board game – Hnefatafl.  My husband and I attempted to play, but Bee insisted on moving all our pieces, much to our amusement!  It reminded me of the Japanese game, go, and I would like to try playing it again.

Other favorite areas in the exhibit highlighted the skilled artisans and craftsmen of the Viking age.  Once more, speakers added to the atmosphere by playing the sound of a hammer shaping a sword.  I got shivers looking at some of the metal deity figures.  Bee really enjoyed touching yarn, wool, and cow hide.  She moved puzzle pieces to see the colors created by different herbs in the dying process – an interesting interactive element that I hadn’t ever seen before in a museum.

Although a small exhibit, and only able to hold a toddler’s interest for so long, I enjoyed learning more about my Viking ancestors.  In particular, I feel that I have a better understanding of the women.  The key charms continue to haunt me, and we’ll see what that means for me in the future.

 

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I recently shared a list of some favorite Pagan-related movies, and “My Neighbor Totoro” was on there.  Creating that list reminded me that the movie was part of my collection.  My daughter watched it several months ago, before her attention span was ready for a feature-length film.  I took it out again and she’s obsessed with it.  Of course, she calls the titular forest spirit “Totyoh,” witch is adorable. We’ve probably watched it every day.  Once more, I think it’s a fabulous film for children.  It shows the childlike joy of exploring nature right outside your door, a deep respect for local spirits, and relishes in the everyday magic of growing plants.

I decided to put my talents to the test and make a little Totoro plush for my daughter.  I mixed crochet with sewing, and I think he came out really well!  Bee absolutely adores him.

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My first ever Totoro plush.  Photo by Weretoad, 2016.

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