Monday, February 20, 2017

Waldorf-inspired art classes with kids

We've had some busy, fun weeks with our Waldorf-inspired art classes!  The kids have been trying their hands at felting wool, pottery and peg dolls - the more tactile and messy, the better! Here are a few photos of what has been taking place in the weekly sessions, and the many busy hands that have been at work: 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Waldorf art classes for kids: Watercolour painting & crochet

We started our second round of Waldorf-inspired art classes for kids today.  We have been looking forward to meeting all the new children, and reacquainting with the returning ones.  These classes allow the children to explore a variety of art mediums and techniques, using simple classic handcrafting processes, and natural materials.  Today's session for the Young Acorns (ages 4-6) was wet-on-wet watercolour painting, the classic Waldorf tradition of exploring simple colours using wide brushes, simple lines, and wet paper as the base.  The colours run unexpectedly, and blend beautifully. We explored spring themes (even though we are only at the tail end of January), since there is grass showing outside and all our snow has melted (for now) - so yellow and green were our colours today.  The children talked about what those colours represented to them (e.g. sun, dandelions, joyfulness).

The Green Saplings (ages 7-12) also had the chance to try out crochet.  We started with "finger crochet", a basic cord without using crochet hooks, so that everyone could get familiar with the pattern of repeated loops.  Then those who felt ready moved on to using the crochet hooks to create long chains, headbands, bracelets.  The repeated pattern of crochet is simple enough for kids to learn in a few minutes.  Crochet can even feel meditative, and the room felt very peaceful as everyone worked steadily at their creations.  We also love knowing that these classes offer kids practical skills for their life - for example using crochet or knitting to make a warm scarf, wool felting slippers or toys, sewing clothing for themselves, wood working skills to use toward building a house someday, and so on.

Simple herbal throat lozenges

The freeze and thaw of this year's unusually warm January seems to bring about more colds, as our bodies are having trouble adjusting to the weather properly.  Here is a quick herbal throat lozenge recipe that we love to make, perfect for treating those sore aching throats with soothing, healing herbs.  These lozenges are so delicious, and very simple to make.  They are a soft lozenge which does not require heating (hard lozenges are made like candy, heating the liquid and honey/sugar up to a high temperature so they harden properly).  These soft lozenges are simply rolled by hand, and kids love to help with this sticky process of making homemade folk medicine.  They are best stored in the freezer, so their shelf life is prolonged - and popping an icy cold herbal lozenge into a sore throat is intensely soothing.

Simple herbal throat lozenges

You will need:
2 Tbsp raw honey
2-6 Tbsp powdered slippery elm
1-2 Tbsp powdered herbs such as fennel seed, marshmallow root, or licorice root (or a combination)

1) Mix raw honey and half the powdered slippery elm on a small plate.  Mix well until you have a paste-like "dough".  Add enough powdered slippery elm to make this a consistency that can be rolled into balls.  Depending on the consistency of the honey you will need more or less slippery elm powder.  Work with your hands (or small spoons), but you may need to wash your hands occasionally if the honey gets too sticky.

2) Roll this "dough" into small balls.  This recipe yields about 15-20 small lozenge sized balls.  Then roll the balls in powdered fennel seed, marshmallow root, or licorice root to coat the balls.  Place on parchment paper. 

3) Place the parchment paper with the lozenges in the freezer for about 15 minutes.  Once frozen, the balls can be stored in a glass mason jar with lid, and left in the freezer until you need them.  Label and date the jar.  These keep almost indefinitely in the freezer (at room temperature they will not hold their shape for long).

4) Use 1-2 lozenges at a time, as needed.  Please note that children under the age of 2 should not be given raw honey.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Making felted soap & wool dryer balls

How we love wool in this house!  This weekend we held a favourite workshop here - all about wet felting wool.  Participants made wool felted soaps and wool dryer balls, and we talked about all the ways that wet felted wool can be used - to make clothing (hats, slippers, jackets), three-dimensional items by felting over a form, artwork pieces, and even larger pieces like tents and yurts.  Traditionally the yurts in Mongolia are made of felted wool.  The fleece is made wet, then rolled into huge long tight rolls and pulled by horse rolling along the ground behind in order to felt!  Amazing!  Other large pieces can be wet felted by walking on the wet wool, which felts up a large mat in no time at all!  Felted wool is very dense and water-proof, wind-tight, warm and durable, which is why it's so versatile for all these types of uses.

In our workshop participants learned the basics of wet felting while working on small projects, but this technique can be applied in many other ways.

Why make felted soap?
It is a great way to use of small ends and pieces of soap (for soap makers this is a perfect recycling project as we always have small pieces and odd-cut bars lying around); and felted soap is like a wash cloth and soap all in one; plus teh wool felting helps make soap bar more long lasting as you use it - these felted soap bars seem to go on for ever!

How to felt soap:
1) take small bar of soap, wrap in your choice of wool roving (best done in thin layers, to fully cover the soap bar)
2) wrap soap and roving in a piece of cotton jersey cloth (stretchy cloth) and secure with rubber bands
3) dip this soap "package" into hot water that has dish soap added, let it get fully wet and soapy
4) rub soap bar on a piece of bubble wrap or a sushi mat or anything else abrasive, and continue to scrub for about 5-15 minutes (dipping soap bar into hot water occasionally)
5) unwrap soap, check if wool is felting, add more wool or continue to felt it until you are happy
6) let soap dry for 24-48 hours, wool will continue to tighten and shrink around the bar as it dries

Why make felted wool dryer balls?
Wool dryer balls are so simple to make, and if used in the dryer can save energy by cutting down on drying time (they absorb water from your wet clothes) and eliminate static naturally.  For those who use a clothesline and don't need dryer balls, these balls can also be used as cat toys (add a little bell in the middle before felting), or as soft natural toys for babies and toddlers, or juggling balls for older kids, etc.  

Wool dryer balls are great recycling projects too.  Use scraps of old wool sweaters, scraps of 100% wool yarn, and odd bits of wool roving, and you are done!

How to make your own wool dryer balls / wool ball toys:
1) Layer one: Roll yarn or wool sweater bits (100% wool only) into a small ball.
2) Layer two: Secure with more wool yarn and keep wrapping in a ball shape. 
3) Layer three: Add colourful wool roving over top layer.  Make the rolled up wool ball slightly larger than you want your finished felted ball to be, as felting will shrink the ball.
4) Secure this ball in an old nylon stocking, tie up the nylon tightly around the ball, and then make your next wool ball until the entire nylon is full. 
5) Throw your nylon "string" of wool balls into your washing machine with a load of towels and wash on hot at least twice.  Balls will felt perfectly every time!  Let dry well between uses.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Handmade holiday sale - snowy festive night!

What a beautiful festive night, with our first real snowfall making it all feel so wintery and magical.  Thanks to all of you who dropped by our sale, and the talented artisans who provided such lovely thoughtfully handmade goods to purchase and who braved the cold weather at our outdoor sale!  We wish you all a warm and happy December!