Friday, September 28, 2007


Some of you know that we've been dabbling in the world of Waldorf... at least as far as art goes!
Taking the Waldorf ideals of rhythm and beauty and making them Catholic has taken up a great deal of time over on the 4Real forums recently, but my kids were already making their way.

Here are some pieces by M'Lady (Rebel has managed to hide his stuff ;))

This is a picture she drew of a tornado. She also wrote 'tornado' on it. She was very proud of it!

This is a duck she drew on a 'magna doodle' style pad.
M'Lady: "I weally, weally wike your drawing," (to Jacobite)
Jacobite: "Is it a picture of me?"
M'Lady: "No! It's a duck. I just drawed it's wing!"
Apparently the picture was FOR her Daddy! So I had to photograph it!

Attempt 1. I had to teach her how NOT to push so hard with the paint brush.

This time she did not push so hard, and she had mixed up the paint more.

This is the most recent effort. The paper was super wet this time. She was experimenting with mixing colours.

All the paintings were wet on wet using tube watercolours. I mixed up about 2 fl. oz (guesstimate) with about a 1cm long 'worm' of paint. She could 'visit' the worm to get a brighter colour.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Beauty of Toymaking

“ONCE upon a time there was a very beautiful doll's house; it was red brick with white windows, and it had real muslin curtains and a front door and a chimney.

It belonged to two Dolls called Lucinda and Jane; at least it belonged to Lucinda, but she never ordered meals.
Jane was the Cook; but she never did any cooking, because the dinner had been bought ready-made, in a box full of shavings.”

And so begins the tale of Two Bad Mice, by Beatrix Potter… a tale about a dolls house. It gets more interesting. THAT dollhouse belonged to the niece of Norman Warne, Beatrix’s erstwhile fiancé, and it took her a LONG time paint being as it was NOT her beloved wildlife.

It was, of course, a handmade house, and it is fairly obvious that at least one of the two dolls is a handmade (probably wooden) doll.

In fact, in the Victorian and Edwardian eras in which Beatrix wrote many of her ‘little books’, most of the toys were handmade.

Nowadays, it is a sad statement on the current lifestyles of our children, that they have so many toys and so few favourites. My favourite toy is still with me after all these years. He is a little the worse for wear, and I have no idea if he was a homemade toy or store bought, Cottontail (named after Peter Rabbit’s sister) was real a long time ago! (For those who are unfamiliar with the 'real' concept or who have never read The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams, I highly recommend it!) Cottontail inspired the toy beneath him, which was a rabbit I made for my son many years ago. The two of them are still played with today by my daughter, and still well loved!

Indeed, the ‘realness’ of toys is often a factor in the importance of toys... and I am not the only one to think so. Cay Gibson tells her story of a handmade doll, made real.

We had a crisis regarding dolls just the other day. Some kind, loving friend of the family gave my three year old porcelain dolls... which, although quite lovely, are really not the province of little girls. You see, accidents can happen. Yes, accidents like this one.
It truly was an accident this time. Dolly went flying when she opened her blinds, and a few minutes later, she came running, screaming and crying to me about "it's bwoken...".
She was almost inconsolable... for a doll she rarely even touched. Yes toys are very real to our children, which is why kids deserve those special toys, made with love and a story.

Katherine’s children will have such stories. She and her daughters have been making dolls from Magic Cabin kits. She has step by step pictures AND all the doll making posts are linked in her sidebar.

And here is a Waldorf Style Bunting Doll, if you feel bitten by the dollmaking bug.

Not all special dolls need to be made of cloth. Eileen and her kids took a step into the past and made cornhusk dolls. What a lovely autumnal craft, and a wonderful story (and documented with photos too!). In fact, Eileen has many crafty toy ideas at her blog!!

If you are handy with your knitting needles, you might liked the idea of knitting dolls or doll clothes, or even some other kind of knitted toy. There are so many wonderful resources online to do just that... Alice mentioned a few the other day in the original toymaking fair! There are even knitted Dalek toys for the sci-fi fans.

Not into knitting? Why not try paper dolls? There are historical versions at David Claudon's website. If you are a fan of Brit Coms or even Star Trek, you might find these paper dolls amusing! There are many paper doll sites online, and over at flickr, you can often find historical ones just for fun! Be warned though, it is NOT just a fun toy for the kids, there are many adults who enjoy the hobby too!

Maybe a wooden doll is more your style? Hitty: Her First 100 Years is the story of a wooden doll, made in the 1800s. She is described as having pegged joints... and if you have woodworkers in your house, perhaps you can make your own Hitty Doll. If you scroll down you will find the wooden doll information, but there is also a bunch of information about other kinds of dolls there too.

Sometimes it is the children who make things. My son spent days with old cardboard tubes, boxes and tape, making himself a marble run. (Think tubes and holes for marbles to roll down). I had hoped to take a picture of it for this fair, but life happened and the thing was disassembled and shoved in the cupboard. I suspect it would have come out of the closet if someone had not had a birthday in the meantime ;)!

Amy’s kids made some lovely fairy houses and acorn fairies as a wonderful craft. These are such great seasonal things to make... a lovely addition to a nature table too!

Our lovely fair organizer Alice, was a little surprised when her daughter had some fun with duct tape and her kids also made some lovely gnomes for their wee garden.

Maybe your child is interested in making for younger sibling. Sara's 8 year old helped her to make a book for the baby! What a great thing to do for your baby brother or sister!

Sometimes, allowing the kids to make toys can be a matter of sanity... YOURS! Maybe it is a rainy day, or your sick and need a quite craft for the kids to work on. In that case here is a really cool page of toys to make.

For the slightly older/more modelling inclined, Canon has paper toy print outs from their papercraft site.

There are, of course, pioneers in the field of toymaking, blazing the way into the future with crafts from yesteryear. Take Tasha Tudor. She made dolls, doll houses, clothes and all sorts for her family and herself. Yes, you do not need to be or have a child to make toys J

EDITED TO ADD: Our very own Elizabeth has been having fun making math gnomes and working on a seasonal table with one of her sons :) Take a good look because there is a lot of inspiration there! (I really want to make these ;))

And check out the lovely rocking horse and dolls house over at Lindafay's Higher Up and Further In (Love the name of the blog from my favourite book!!)

If you do decide to make some of these toys, or some variation or original design of your own, don't forget that there is another Toymaking Fair at Almamater on October 20th!



Rebel turned 8 yesterday.
He woke up early and wriggled in our bed while Jacobite and I tried to get some more sleep. Finally we sent him down with a present from Nana and Grandad, to keep him quiet!

As I came down to make him some pumpkin pancakes (he loves pumpkin) I told him the story of his birth. He has heard the stories many times, but I like to tell them!

He did not want to go out for a special meal, instead he wanted to stay at home and have sausages (only because they were out of ham) and Lima beans. His greatest ambition is to get stronger!

He did not want a homemade cake, which was a shame because mine taste oh so much better, but we compromised. I wrote on a store bought cake with orange icing in a tube. Orange being his favourite colour.

He did well in the present department, faring well because the exchange rate is in my Mum and Dad's favour... meaning they get to send over lots of dollars for a few pounds!
Seriously though, they got him the ever impressive Lego sets, which later Jacobite and I helped someone get set up. Apparently he inherited from someone (not me) the inability to read the instructions first!
I got him halfway there so today he can finish it off. If he can find the piece he mislaid!

Oh well, he has some Rock 'em, Sock 'em robots to help ease any frustrations ;)

Now all he needs to do is hide the goods from his little sister, who has already tried to lay claim to the robots! (Takes after her auntie!)

Here is to eight more wonderful years!

PS Jacobite tells me these are terrible pictures of DS... and indeed they are not great. It is very hard to take a picture of a moving target... ;)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Reading, Waiting, Watching

It is true that I have been reading. Such inspirational books by the likes of Susan Branch, or Montessori books, or the wonderful crafty blogs out there. If only I could somehow link my blog feeds to my blog I could show you them!
In the meantime I have been waiting and watching for the links to come in to me for the Toymaking Fair... if you have an entry, be sure to get it to me soon! I have some great posts and links to share already!

I have also been schooling the kids. This week we were ecstatic to receive our Beeswax Crayons and Modelling Beeswax from Hazelnut Kids. M'Lady LOVES her block crayons because they cover the paper and they are HERS. BOTH of the kids love the modelling wax :) It just takes forever to warm when you have cold hands.

Today, Rebel finished school in about 1/2 an hour. I timed him as an incentive. His 1 hour math lesson took 10 minutes. His 45 minutes of Latin took 7 minutes. He then went on to have a thoroughly enjoyable time decorating his final draft of Aesop's Androcles and the Lion for Progymnasmata. OK something really needs a little work here obviously someone is not quite challenged enough. We'll work on breaking records next week!

In the meantime I have some reading to do!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Somethings are just freaky.

I don't know whether to be pleased, annoyed or freaked out. I guess I just act my age or something... it's spot on!!;) Anyway ht to JugglingPaynes for the link!

You Are 29 Years Old

Under 12: You are a kid at heart. You still have an optimistic life view - and you look at the world with awe.

13-19: You are a teenager at heart. You question authority and are still trying to find your place in this world.

20-29: You are a twentysomething at heart. You feel excited about what's to come... love, work, and new experiences.

30-39: You are a thirtysomething at heart. You've had a taste of success and true love, but you want more!

40+: You are a mature adult. You've been through most of the ups and downs of life already. Now you get to sit back and relax.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The Beauty of Toymaking

Just in time for the Christmas Season, we are having a series of handmade toy fairs! You can check out Alice's blog for the details, but yours truly will be hosting the September event.
I am thinking that Wednesday 25th September would be the best date... enough time for everyone to make something, and to email me the information!
So, drop me a line in the comments or email me at:
spinneretta AT gmail DOT com (minus the spaces and replacing the at and dot obviously ;)) if you have something worth sharing and I'll put you in :)

Happy Toymaking!

Errr... KING? says I'm an Uber Cool Nerd King.  What are you?  Click here!

Apparently I am a nerd king. I think I would rather be the QUEEN, but I am in the majority as far as the homeschoolers seem to go... we appear to be history literature nerds (maybe it's the books...)

ht DREW although I will admit I saw it in a few places ;)