Down the Rabbit Hole

Teaching this new arts and crafts class for a group of women has taken me down the rabbit hole. And I guess I mean that in a good way. The 1-1/2 hour class is every other Thursday, and I am doing it as a volunteer. Confidentiality rules prevent me from giving more specifics than that, but I wanted you to understand the parameters.

Some of the limitations are that we have two rooms, each with a large dining table, so the quarters are a little tight. Therefore, not a lot of room, or time, to really go wild and get messy as I typically like to do. Some of the women are artistically inclined, but for most of them it’s just a relaxing and fun time, and that’s also fine. I’ve noticed that they like making things that their family members will enjoy, and are proud of their accomplishments.

I have solicited from the community and received lots of free materials and supplies, and so I try to come up with projects that will put those to use.

For example, one friend went through her entire stash of ribbon and trims and gave me tons of them, and others have loaded me down with buttons, old jewelry parts, sequins, and bling.

From others, a collection of scrapbooking paper and stickers, used but good manila file folders, magazines and more magazines, and containers for washing brushes. I’ve received small donations of money to buy regular supplies such as glue, scissors, brushes, and paper. I’ve hauled out my own collection of pencils, pens, and markers, which I usually pack up and take with me. My big tote bag is getting heavy. The next thing I need is a cart.

But I thought I’d share some of the links I’ve bookmarked, and some of the projects we’ve done. If you’re like me, sometimes it’s fun to go down the rabbit hole. Warning! One video leads to another. You will find it necessary to step away periodically.

Session 1

We did a simple little 8×10 painting, in a negative painting style that I knew would be mistake-proof.

  • First we taped off the painting area and painted a colorful background and let that dry.
  • Then we painted over that with a pale color or white, allowing some of the color to peek through and leaving random circular openings where the background would completely show through.
  • Finally, using the resulting circular shapes, we created plant forms. (Exception: one person decided hers were balloons and drew spiral ribbons coming off them!)

Here is my demo:

And here is the video that gave me the idea. The results everyone came up with were amazingly diverse and exciting.

Session 2

At this point we were at peak leaf season, so I wanted an autumn-themed project. It took me forever to find the perfect one, but this was it. Every single finished piece was a work of art, and they thoroughly enjoyed doing it. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of any of their projects. But trust me, you would like doing this with a group.

Session 3

Yesterday we did tags or bookmarks. I had a small stack of big inventory tags on hand, but made more by cutting up manila folders and punching them at one end. I had enough for each person to make 4 to 6 tags. I took collage supplies, watercolors, pencils, and pens for this project. They had fun coming up with their own designs, embellishing them with the beautiful ribbons and trims. I didn’t photograph any of the actual pieces, but here is one video that got my wheels turning. A quick time-hop through this video will give you the idea.

And for future projects . . .

Here is a video for one I’m definitely going to do with them some time soon. Mistake proof, and beautiful.

And another one on the back burner, which doesn’t involve poring over videos or Pinterest. This one is a simple grouping of little nature studies. I have a big stash of blank art cards in a drawer, some with backgrounds already painted on them. And I’ve been collecting all kinds of things from nature and putting them in a plastic tub for subjects to draw and paint. This is what I envision for that project, although it might be a little intimidating for anyone who has never drawn much from nature. Still, no matter the skill level, I think this idea would work:

Have fun down the rabbit hole. If you see anything interesting that you’d like to share, let me know.

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