Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Teriffic Tutus!

I know, I know. You're sick of hearing about the dance recital, right?

Well... now that it's over and I've had chance to process, I had the time and energy to go through all of the costume boxes to organize and store them. They will be kept by the dance department and used again for future performances.

I took the opportunity, while I had it, to snap some shots of the completed costumes - and thought you might like to see? They look even better on bodies, believe me, but this should give you a good idea at least!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pincushion - a la Samster Mommy

If you're anything like me, you get inspired by all of the craft blogs and projects out there, floating around the web. I keep both e-files and paper files FULL of projects I see and like - they sit in piles in my craft room just waiting for a rainy day...

... like today!

It's a cool, rainy summer evening - a perfect night for crafting. I pulled out THIS TUTORIAL by Natasha at Samster Mommy for a keepsake pincushion box. A super-cute, quick, easy, eco-friendly idea to make your own pincushion out of an old jewelry box.

The only thing I did differently was to cover the bottom of my box as well - I didn't like the color, and the box didn't have sentimental value to me.

It's going to look so cute next to the sewing machine I'm hoping is coming my way on my birthday in a little over a month... nudge, nudge, wink, wink!!!

Thanks Natasha, and all of you other wonderful crafty ladies (and gents!) out there - for sharing your talents and ideas!


Happy Monday! I hope that you all had a lovely summery weekend filled with sunny days and lazy evenings. We had a wonderful one ourselves! I've got some new stuff coming this way tonight, but until then, I've got some bits and pieces to share with you.

First off, Saucy over at Saucy's Sprinkles is having another fabulous giveaway! She's giving away a beautiful area rug and there are plenty of ways to enter! Click on the button below to head over there and check it out!

Saucy's blog is a great read - I love her creativity. And her generous giveaway got me thinking... don't you think it's about time that Ready, Set, Craft had its first blog contest? I'm thinking it would be fun! PLUS - I'm drawing near to my 100th blog post - so there are many reasons to celebrate!

Here's the deal though - I KNOW there are lots of "lurkers" out there - you know who you are! All you folks who pop by from time to time but for one reason or another resist the urge to leave a comment or become a follower - it's time to come out!

Sooo... here's what I propose. If by the end of the week I get up to 25 followers - we'll do a GIVEAWAY! And... if I get up to 30? Well... we'll do TWO!

You don't want to miss out - so come play with us!

PS) Miss yesterday's recipe share? Check it out HERE.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Recipe Share - Strawberry Margarita Pie

I meant to take a photo BEFORE people starting eating this yummy dessert... oops!

This recipe was found in a "Cool Whip" recipe book and I've made it over and over again. It's quick, easy, and tasty on a warm summers day!

I use either a store bought pie crust, or make my own from crushed pretzels.

The filling is one can on sweetened condensed milk, 1/2 cup of lime juice (fresh squeezed), 2 cups of pureed strawberries, and a container of cool whip.

Mix together the strawberries, lime juice, and condensed milk until well combined.

Fold in cool whip, pour into pie crust, and pop in the freezer!

You can eat it frozen like an ice cream cake - but I like it best when it has sat out a little while and the filling is more like a mousse than an ice cream.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Twilight Cupcakes

A co-worker is having a Twilight party for some of the kids we work with, and asked me to make some red velvet cupcakes. I had little time, my cupcake cohort Heather was out of town, and had never made red velvet anything before, so this was all an experiment!

Not bad for a first try! I definitely need to work on piping frosting though - yikes! I'm having a tough time with consistency!

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Coffee Can Drums

I guess I am full of kid-friendly projects this week! Large coffee tins or fruit tins are the perfect shape and size for little ones to create their own drums! Here's how...


Here's a super fun project for elementary school age students. I did this with two mixed age groups - and the outcomes varied dependent on age. Older kids took more time, meticulously drawing their patterns and filling them in with set color combination's, while younger kids just wanted to free draw and color without much structure.

We talked about drums, specifically those indigenous to Africa like the Djembe (we're following a "Celebration of Culture" theme) and looked at photos. Then, we looked at examples of African textile patterns. The goal was to emulate that style of pattern on the decor of the students' drums.

- One large coffee, fruit, etc. can
- Masking tape
- Construction paper
- Crayons
- Clear tape
- Pencil
- Crayons
- Wax paper

Step One:
If you're using a can that has had the top cut off with a can opener, tape masking tape around the edge just in case there are any slivers of metal lurking!

Step Two:
Cut a piece of constuction paper the size of your coffee can. Make sure it is long enough to overlap at least a little.

Step Three:
Ask students to draw their own recurring pattern on one side of the construction paper using a pencil. You'll find that some students instinctively take their time and put lots of detail into it - and some don't! : )

Step Four:
Next, ask students to trace over all of their pencil lines with a black crayon (you could also use a black sharpie for this part). I told students to press hard with their crayons to get a good solid line. Note: the tracing aspect of this is great coordination practice for younger kids...

Step Five:
Now students may color their designs. I encouraged them to use bright colors and press hard with the crayons to create bold patterns, and consider using specific color combinations and orders.

Step Six:
I taped a circle of wax paper just bigger than the coffee can over the open end. Be sure to tape it as taught as possible so that the best sound possible can be achieved when hit. Then tape the construction paper with finished designs around the can with clear tape.

Be sure to emphasize to your little drummers that their drums are meant to be played gently with their hands - anything else will break the wax paper! Also encourage them to alternate striking the wax paper (skin) top and the metal bottom to hear the differences in timbre.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Flower Pen Workshop

It's proving to be the summer of the Flower Pen! I led a workshop with a small group of children last night and we had a wonderful time making flower pens (tutorial HERE) together.

What I've noticed from doing this project so many times is that more often than not, the boys enjoy it just as much as or more so than the girls! I had tons of supplies this time so I let each student make four pens to keep or give as gifts.

Supplies ready to go

Students focused on how to correctly use the floral tape to create the best effect and most long lasting product by using a "pull and wrap" technique.

"Can I make another?!"

Finished pens

Monday, June 22, 2009

Photo Share - Mackinac Island

Dear Poor Neglected Blog...

I could give a hundred reasons why I have been absent so much lately -- I've had family engagements, a long weekend out of town, and my biggest event of the year at work for starters, but I know that you don't care about that.

What we both care about is the fact that not only have I been neglecting you, but I've been neglecting that lovely space in my basement known as the craft room - where hundreds of project ideas are strewn around just dying to be completed -- or even started...

I promise to be better. I promise to try harder. Not for you, but for me, because I need to take artistic time for myself - now matter how busy my schedule gets.

Thank you blog, for understanding.

Love, Joanne

Hubby and I celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary on Mackinac Island, MI this weekend. I just have a point and shoot camera, but I'm hugely interested in photography.

I'm looking forward to getting a digital SLR and enrolling in some classes by the end of the year. Here are some scenic shots from our weekend...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dance Recital Photos!

Curious as to how the dance recital costumes came out and how darling the little girls looked in them?

Head HERE and enter the password: VisserYMCA

While you're there - check out local West Michigan photographer Elizabeth Krol's site - she has some lovely images!

Let me know what you think!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Little Old Lady Land

My mother (Mum) is a costume designer and seamstress. She freelances throughout the state designing and building costumes for plays and musicals. She's currently working on a production of the Mel Brook's musical, The Producers.

Mum was unbelieveably helpful and amazing helping me get the dance recital costumes all ready to go - so in return I'm helping her with a small piece of this really big show. There's a scene set in "Little Old Lady Land" where twenty two chorus members are dressed as identical old ladies!

Crazy, right? So while Mum set about making 22 identical dresses, I helped out with the headpieces. Hats and hat forms are expensive, so we had to create hats that weren't actually hats. Plus, Mum wanted something a little more whimsical and even sillier looking than the original production. I used dark blue tulle and some fake flowers... and here's what I came up with...

I built 22 of them last night and now I'm passing them on to Mum at the theatre, where they will be sewn onto the wigs.

You end up with some crazy projects when you're a costumer - or a costumer's daughter for that matter!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It's been waaaay too long!

I'm back! It's been far too long, I know. The good news is that I've wrapped up some big projects and time-consuming commitments and am ready to take some time for me - and some time for my poor neglected blog!

I look forward to getting you all up to speed on projects I've been working on, and projects that are coming up soon. I'm also going to be continuing to play around with the format of this blog. I'm much happier with a three column template - but as my mother noted (and mother's are *almost* always right - it feels a lot less intimate now... and I don't want that!)

So thank you for hanging in there with me while I've been gone, and for continuing to be patient as I play around with formatting. I appreciate all of your comments, e-mails, and visits so much!

I'm doing a lot of teaching this summer, and am very much looking forward to it. This afternoon I taught my first of a series of art projects based on picture books to a mixed age group of elementary students. Today's project was based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, and was based on a lesson from Art Projects for Kids.

Children drew eight lines of any length in the middle of their paper with a pencil, then joined the tops and bottoms of the lines to create a caterpillar body. They then added a head, tail and some feet.

Then they went over all of their pencil lines with a dark crayon...

Then they painted with watercolors, experimenting with using different amounts of water and paint to create lighter and dark shades. They were encouraged to leave no white space (some of them did this, some did not) and create a really colorful piece. We discussed the way that the crayon resisted the watercolor paints, and showed through even when painted over.

Here are some of the finished products...


It's been awhile since I taught, so this was a bit of a brush up lesson for me. I wasn't thrilled with using palette watercolors - I much prefer liquid - but they are much more expensive. I would also prefer a heavier paper - so the next time we do watercolors I will splurge on some watercolor paper that can handle the moisture a little bit better.

Working in nonprofit you work with what you have - and this is what I had. I think the students did a nice job on this project, and I can't wait to work with them some more!