Posts Tagged ‘tutorials’


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.


Gathering materials.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.


  • 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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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.


  • 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


  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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Original pattern and photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Autumn’s arrival means I have to prepare my garden for the colder temperatures. I realized that I had the same garden flag out since the Spring Equinox. I’ve grown fond of having a splash of color flying in my garden, but tulips and bees just won’t cut it for this time of year. Rather than buy something cheap and made in a factory, I decided to make something myself. I’m really proud of how it turned out, and wanted to share it with my readers!  What’s more, I decided to share my Goddess pattern in case you want to try making one yourself.

To make a flag, choose what fabric you’d like.  I used a stiff canvas for the background and some Autumn colored quilting fabric for the Goddess herself.  Trace the Goddess pattern onto the quilting fabric and cut out exactly.  For the flag, use the Goddess to determine the size and shape you’d like.  You can be fancy like myself, make a long triangle, or stick with a basic rectangle.  Cut two.  Pin the fabric Goddess, right side out, onto one of the flag pieces.  Applique stitch all the way around.  Pin the two flag sides together, right sides in, and stitch around all but the top edge.  Turn it right side out and iron.  Fold the top down, creating a wide enough entrance for your flagpole, and stitch.

Now you have a lovely, homemade flag to welcome the Autumn season!

If you make a flag using my Goddess pattern, I would love to see it.  I’m thinking about making another one winter, spring, and summer, since the Solstices and Equinoxes feel more about the Earth, Nature, and their changes.  For Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine, and Lughnasadh, I see myself utilizing more cultural symbols.

Happy sewing, happy harvest, and blessed Autumn Equinox!

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Brighid crosses and mini mantles made by Northern Rivers Protogrove at our recent Imbolc ritual. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

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
an iron
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!

Holda working on her mini mantle. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

* 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.

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One of Northern Rivers Protogrove’s group offering at our recent Winter Solstice event were dehydrated orange sun wheel ornaments.  I made them ahead of time and carried the basket around the circle for everyone to put their gratitude into.  We then hung them from trees and bushes outside the Yoga Center and our homes.  They are very easy to make and are sure to be a Solstice tradition that even little ones can enjoy.  Perhaps next year I’ll have guests string them on their own prior to the rite.  Choosing your own colored string could add even more to it!


Dehydrated sun wheel ornaments. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2013.


  • one or more oranges
  • a knife
  • an embroidery needle – metal or plastic will do
  • yarn or twine made of natural fibers (cotton, wool, hemp)
  • scissors
  • a dehydrator (optional)

Slice the orange into circles.  Oranges are very, very moist so, the thicker the circle, the longer it will take to dry.  I use an electric dehydrator which is very easy and safe.  I lay the slices on the trays and leave it on overnight. Depending on how thick the slices are, they may require longer.  If you don’t have a dehydrator you could use your oven.  Place them on a baking sheet and cook them at 200 degrees for a couple hours or until they are dry.  Check your oven frequently to make sure they aren’t burning.

Once your slices are dry, you will thread an embroidery needle with yarn or twine.  I choose natural fibers because, once the oranges have been eaten by animals, the fiber will make great nesting material.  If you have a blunt embroidery needle, older children may enjoy helping you  insert the yearn into each orange slice.  Cut the yarn to the desired length, knot, and voila!  A sun wheel ornament!

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Our turnips for Samhain this year!  Photo by Weretoad, 2012.

Carved pumpkins are a ubiquitous tradition here in America.  It’s no wonder really – pumpkins have been growing here for generations!  In Ireland, turnips were mostly used as Samhain decorations.  There’s not a lot of evidence that this is an ancient practice.  Writings on the subject of ancient Samhain in general are actually surprisingly scarce.  Much of what we know is based on Medieval manuscripts, the modern Catholic festival of All Hallows Eve, and conjecture.  There are several theories about the purpose of the Jack-o-Lantern.  Much of it seems to revolve around protecting a home from the more nasty spirits that are wandering this realm – both fairies, a goblin-like creature called the Puca, and violent, angry dead.  Mara Freeman suggest it may have something to do with “the early Celts’ veneration of the head, which they considered the seat of the soul” (312).  This tradition came to America thanks to the Irish immigrants who, despite moving to a new land, could not give up their favorite holiday customs.  (It’s actually quite amazing how much of an impact Irish immigrants have had on America!)  Turnips were, of course, set aside for the pumpkin.  In reality, it’s much easier to carve a pumpkin than a turnip.  What’s more, they grow to large sizes so designs can become quite complex and visible from far away!

Although Weretoad and I continue to carve pumpkins each year, turnips entered our tradition a few Samhains ago.  It was important to me to try my hand at this traditional practice and recall the old customs of my Irish ancestors.    I encourage my readers to give it a try as well!

Choose some large turnips that sit on a flat surface.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.
Turnips are tough root vegetables so you’ll need a sharp knife to cut the top off.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.


The trickiest part by far is scooping out the insides.  Indeed, the density of turnips is what keeps most people from attempting this at all!  Although the vegetable matter is tougher than a pumpkin, carving a turnip only requires a little extra elbow grease.  The easiest way to do it is to use a sturdy, thick spoon that has no danger of bending.  Scoop it out bit by bit!  Photo by Weretoad, 2012.
Don’t forget to scoop some of the lid.  Even large turnips are still small compared to most pumpkins.  A tea light can quickly burn the turnip lid so you want to try your best to prevent that.  Also note the tub in the background.  Not wanting to be wasteful, we kept the turnip guts to add to a dinner.  They mix well with mashed potatoes.

Finally, use a small but sharp knife to carve a face or other design into your turnip.  I’ve found that traditional skull designs work well.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2012.


Each one has its own personality!  Photo by Weretoad, 2012.

As always, don’t leave your turnip lanterns unattended unless sing LED lights.  Once more, due to their small size, these turnips can cook from the inside!  I find they work best lit for small periods of time – during your Samhain ritual or dinner, for example.   Happy carving!


Freeman, Mara.  Kindling the Celtic Spirit.  Harper Collins, San Francisco: 2001.

Hutton, Ronald.  The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain.  Oxford University Press, Oxford: 1996.


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I’m always trying to think of easy tutorials for Pagan families to do together, especially projects that help people learn and perfect useful skills like sewing.  This one is to celebrate Beltaine.   During this season we delight in the new life bursting forth everywhere.  It is also a time to be flirty and sensuous.  The ancient Celts were described by historians as wearing colorful clothing and a lot of jewelry.  They were a people who appreciated art and wore it proudly. In the spirit of their showy nature, the lusty month of May, and the blossoms outside, I came up with this floral garland hair clip.

The finished piece worn in the back of my hair.

The Process:

Step 1: Gather your materials.  Pictured are scissors, three equal strands of slender green ribbon, three different colors of felt scraps,  buttons, corresponding thread, and a needle.  Not photographed is the hair clip.  These were all materials I had laying around.  The felt was made from recycled products.  I highly suggest using a hair clip that you can stitch on rather than glue.  While some glues are very sturdy, I’ve found that good stitching gets the  job done just as well and without the fumes or high temperatures.    As far as children go, the most dangerous aspect of this project is the needle.  If you make this with children, make sure they’re dexterous enough to handle it.
Step 2: Gather your ribbons and make sure they’re equal.  I don’t suggest making it very long unless you have exceptionally long hair.  You’ll be folding the garland in half and attaching the clip midway.  Test the length against your hair.  Doyle just loved this activity.
Step 3:  Knot and somehow secure that end of the ribbons to something so that you can easily braid.  If you’re anything like me, you have tons of art supplies in boxes and crates.  I  used this tub of colored pencils to keep my ribbons in place. Knot the other end. When your’e done, you’ll have a nice garland!
Step 4: Cut out teardrop shapes from the felt.  They can be small, medium, or large.  I eyeballed them.  They don’t have to be perfect – just similar.  If you are a perfectionist, you can make a little pattern but for something so small that will be clustered, I find the process tedious and unnecessary. Another option is to buy precut felt flowers at the store but that’s not as fun for me.
Step 5:  Stitch your petals onto the braided ribbon garland.  I suggest doing this first rather than adding the button at the same time.  Doing it together becomes cumbersome and you might not adequately secure all the petals.  This is especially important for wee ones learning how to sew.
Step 6: Add your buttons.  Make sure they’re fully secured by stitching through the holes several times.  Little ones might benefit from two holed buttons to simplify the process.

Step 7: Repeat steps 4-6 for as many times is necessary.  Attach the flowers at desired intervals.  My garland ended up having 5 flowers but this will vary depending on the size of your flowers, the number you make, the space you utilize, and the length of your ribbon.  To make them even, I suggest using an odd number of flowers.

Step 8: Securely stitch the hair clip to the most central flower.  As with the button, pass the needle and thread through the openings several times.

Step 9: Wear and enjoy!  You can pull strands of hair to the back of your head and wear it as I did, or you can clip some hair on the side of your head and wear it so the ribbons hang closer to your face.

I think this project is a fun way to get into the spirit of the warm season.  Most of the time, you see ladies and girls wearing floral circlets.  For work and school, where you might not want to stand out so much, a clip like this is just the ticket to add some floral flair to your look while celebrating Beltaine.  Besides changing the colors of the felt, thread, and buttons, other possible variations include: shorter ribbons for people with shorter hair or who don’t want something quite as showy; leaves rather than flowers; one leaf or flower with a garland of bells.

Have fun!

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