14
Aug

Natural Earth Paints Review

by Tiffany in Crafts

School starts back up in just a couple weeks. This means that bed times need to come back down to a reasonable hour… aka no more Lego building until 1:00 in the morning. You hear that dear daughter????

It also means that I am getting antsy about sending my youngest to Kindergarten. I want the transition to be as easy as possible and that is a tall order for a child who doesn’t do well with change. He will be leaving his previous school (preschool) and going to the same school as his older sister. He will be riding the bus and will be expected to find his way to his classroom each day. He will also be in a classroom with “typical” children and I am petrified that his autism will make him the odd one out. We have been down that road already with our oldest and it is no fun. I am seriously tempted to go to his school the first day and grab someone by the shirt collar and demand they do right by this child since they so royally messed the job up last time. Sigh…

Anyway, to get him ready for school I have been doing some schoolish activities with him so that we can discuss what is coming. One of those activities has been a daily painting time. Since he loves to paint he is more receptive to all this talk about a new school. We have been using, and thoroughly enjoying, Earth Paint.

When I go to a craft store to buy paint I usually stick with ones that I know are safe bets, like Tempura. I just don’t know what is inside some of the other paints and I don’t want to risk bringing something toxic into the house. And yet even the “safe” paints are big fats failures on the sustainability front. This is why I have deferred to ordering plant based paints online. We have a brand that we have used for years and have been quite happy with it. Even so I was equally happy to try Earth Paint and give it a thorough test run.

What I like most about Earth Paint: The colors are rich and true to nature. They are not glossy, overly bright colors that scream “came from a bottle.” The red is not the screaming red you would see on finger nail polish but rather the darker, deeper red you would find in berries. It just bothers me to see paintings of trees where the green used to do the leaves looks like it is a shade away from neon. These are the real colors of nature because they actually come from nature.

The kit you see in the photos is comprised of organic, eco-friendly paint made from natural earth pigments (pure clay). The naturally colored clay is collected from the ground, dried, crushed and sifted into pure pigment. When you mix a bit of water with the six powdered colors you get a super creamy paint that is similar to tempera. Or you can thin it out with even more water to create watercolor like effects. We found it super easy to mix and use. Mixing was half the fun in fact.

You can use it on paper of course but also things like wood, rocks, fabric, etc. The other plant based paints we have used could not boast this because their paints were/are significantly thinner and more like watercolors. We may end painting some rocks and sticks again this week, using Earth Paints. That was lots of fun but the techno colors of that project bothered me. These natural colors would look gorgeous I think.

This Made in the USA kit contains:

  • Six colors of hand-crafted earth paints – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, brown (makes 120 oz. of paint when mixed!)
  • Six biodegradable mixing cups (bio-plastic)
  • An Earth Paints booklet with mixing instructions, nature-based art activities, information about the use of earth paints in ancient times, and more

*All reusable packaging that is 100% Post Consumer Recycled and biodegradable

Our family was grateful to stumble upon what is likely our new favorite natural paint. We give Earth Paints an A++. The oil paint kit is next on our list of products we need to try…a Christmas gift perhaps?

Many thanks to Earth Paint for sending us the kit to review!

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

4 Comments

30
Apr

Painting Rocks and Sticks – TV Free Activity

by Tiffany in Crafts

Today kicks off Screen Free Week. This week is dedicated to turning off various forms of media and turning on real life activities. Every year this event rolls around and many families either turn off their electronics for the week or they reduce the time spent pursuing those activities. We generally do the latter because we don’t actually spend that much time watching TV…though computers are a different story. At an rate I would have a mutiny on my hands if I just flat out said no electronics, but coming up with fun, TV free activities that get them away from these devices without them even noticing is much easier.

One of those activities we did recently was to paint sticks and rocks. It is a completely simple project that gets them outside and handling nature. It is also unique enough and fun enough to keep them interested. We spent about 1-2 hours painting (and allowing to dry) and then the kid splayed outside with their new wares for the remainder of the day. I sat on my fave Adirondack chair and read a book. We now have the prettiest rocks and stray sticks of anyone on the block. What more could you ask for?

We actually did this project a few weeks back but they still play with these rocks and sticks…as do neighborhood kids. What I liked most about it is that we already had the paints in all sorts of bright colors (from when we painted our ice cream truck) and we had all the brushes on hand as well. All we had to do was go looking for rocks and sticks, which are easy enough to find for free. We will definitely do this cheap and fun little project again.

Monday, April 30th, 2012

8 Comments

23
Sep

Recycled Can Halloween Crafts

by Tiffany in Crafts, Green Holidays

Looking for an easy and eco friendly crafting idea to get the family in the mood for Halloween? Of course you are! I can’t be the only one who thinks Halloween is the most awesome holiday there ever was.

This particular craft uses recycled cans so if you drink anything out of cans you are in luck, you have what you need. If not, you can likely get some pretty easy via Freecycle or from family and friends.

For a ghost, paint the can white with non toxic paint, and use a black marker to make the eyes and mouth. Use the tab to tie some string to it for hanging and use a bit of ripped cheesecloth above the can to blow eerily in the wind.

For a bat, paint the can black and use white marker or paint to make eyes. You can also use googly eyes. Use orange paint to write the word Boo. Black wings can be made from paper, painted cardboard, or foam and then be glued to the can. Remove the tab to make the mouth appear open and use a hot glue gun to connect a string of some sort for hanging.

These can be stored after Halloween is over and used for subsequent years too. Happy crafting!

 

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

1 Comment

5
Dec

How To Make Borax Crystal Ornaments and Sun Catchers

by Tiffany in Crafts

I have wanted to make some borax crystal ornaments for a long while now. I thought it would be timely considering the season but also a fun homeschool project since there is definitely some science going on here. Borax, as we usually buy it in the store, is a white powder consisting of soft colorless crystals. We don’t think of crystals when we see it because we see powder. This project is great for helping kids to see the crystallization process as the water cools and molecules clump together. It’s fun, easy, and kids love it. Plus you have a lovely ornament or sun catcher in the end. Just make sure to supervise well. Borax is natural but that does not mean it is safe. It should NOT be tasted or inhaled.

Making Borax Crystal Ornaments

List of Things You Need:

Pipe Cleaners
Scissors
String (we used hemp)
Popsicle sticks or pencils
Jars or glasses
Borax

To get started you need to put a pot of water on the stove to boil. Then have your children make their ornaments using pipe cleaners. You can make hearts, stars, swirls, candy canes, snowflakes… just about anything their heart desires. BUT they need to make sure they are small enough to fit inside the jar without touching the sides or the bottom. When finished with their designs the ornaments need to be tied with string to a pencil of a popsicle stick so that they can be laid over the mouth of the jar and the ornament will hang down inside. Just make sure to leave enough string so that you can hang them later.

Making Borax Crystal Ornaments

Pour the boiling water inside the jars (without the ornaments) and stir in 3-5 Tablespoons of Borax. The hot water will dissolve it and you should have a bit of sediment at the bottom. Place the ornaments inside the jars and allow them to sit for 24 hours. If you have any young kiddos who may mistake this for drinking water then move them up someplace safe please.

Making Borax Crystal Ornaments

As the water cools, the molecules that moved apart when the water was hot will now move close together again and form crystals. You should start to see the translucent crystals in 3-4 hours. Be ready for squeals of delight when you first see them.

When they are all finished you just need to set them on a towel to dry, remove them from the pencils, and then hang them in a window or on your Christmas tree. Be prepared to repeat many times because kids LOVE this project. Be on the lookout for pipe cleaners at thrift stores and yard sales to make this project a bit “greener” and remember that these could be made for family as gifts… very affordable and handmade.

Don’t they look lovely on our tree? Oh and yes… in the real versus fake argument we go with second hand, fake. Annoying fake snow and all.

Borax Crystal - Purple Swirl

Borax Crystal Ornaments for Christmas

Sunday, December 5th, 2010

24 Comments

19
Jun

Does Sidewalk Chalk Have Lead?

by Tiffany in Children, Crafts

A reader recently emailed me and asked about a concern that came up among her local moms group. Some moms insisted that sidewalk chalk has lead in it and others insisted it doesn’t. So which is it?

Well the connection between sidewalk chalk and lead became headline news in 2003 when several stores recalled chalk for lead. The good news that there haven’t been major recalls since, indicating that reformulation has occurred. BUT the chalk that was recalled was not major brand chalk like Crayola it was off brand or generic chalk made in China and used by stores as their own “brand”. I believe Target was one of the offenders in the 2003 recall.

These days the Art & Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI) certifies 3 brands of chalk as lead free and safe for children.. Crayola, Prang , and Rose Art. These are well respected brands and you can feel at ease using them. Personally I would avoid off-brands you may find at discount stores like Big Lots, or those found in cheap gift baskets (like Easter baskets) or cheap art sets. If it doesn’t have a recognizable and respected brand… I wouldn’t buy it. Chances are they won’t contain lead but I err on the side of safety just in case. I also prefer Prang to most of the other brands. They are more expensive but they also have more sustainable products (such as their soybean crayons) and their web site has tons of safety data  on each product they sell. You can also make your own sidewalk chalk and take charge of the ingredients yourself or buy homemade chalk made by artisans on Etsy, who I am sure would be happy to disclose their ingredients.

All in all I think parents can feel at ease letting their kids play with sidewalk chalk but as with ANY product we have to stay informed and be vigilant. In the meantime encourage your kids to get outside and “create”.

Saturday, June 19th, 2010

4 Comments