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Eco-Art Crafts Made by You

Crafts -- Not Just for a Klutz

TIME OUT! Summer vacation. Time to change the daily routine and try something new -- take a vacation, camp out at a different site, catch up on movies.

In terms of crafts, it means exploring a new medium or learning what it takes to produce something we use that we normally purchase ready-made and take for granted. A few years ago, someone gave me a Klutz craft book for kids for a Christmas present. Although it explored a medium I had never tried, I put it aside. (Too simple! It's written for 10 year olds, I thought ) But one day I wanted to do something different and looked at it seriously. Then I tried the clearly illustrated projects and, during the course of two hours, I had a wonderful time. What worked for kids surely did work for me.

The Klutz publishing company specializes (but not exclusively) in crafts books for children. The company's books are imaginatively conceived, clearly written and beautifully illustrated. Although we usually present crafts projects for young adults and older, we thought that kids would enjoy trying out these projects (as would adults). Klutz has graciously given us permission to adapt text and reproduce images from projects in two recent books: Squashing Flowers, Squeezing Leaves; and The Body Book.

In addition to our review, and crafts projects taken from these books, we asked some young crafters (Katherine and Susan Glass) to try out some projects in these books. Here's what they say --

The Body Book
Review by Katherine Glass (age 15) and Susan Glass (age 12)

Do you want to make a peaches and cream hand mask, a lavender salt soak, or a milk and honey face scrub? Try The Body Book, a fun and informative activity book, perfect for girls ages 10 to 15. Equipped with most of the supplies needed (facial brush, oils, pumice stone, etc.) and simple instructions, the reader can create all-natural lotions, moisturizers, conditioners, gels, and many other body care products. This book provides cheap, effective, and exotic alternatives to store-bought items. The reader must be prepared, however, to buy easy-to-find foods needed to make the recipes.

Squashing Flowers, Squeezing Leaves
Review by Katherine Glass (age 15) and Susan Glass (age 12)

This is an activity book of creative projects using pressed flowers. The problem with this book is that the activity ideas seem to be geared toward seven- to ten-year-olds, but the process of drying and handling the delicate flowers and the patience involved would be more appropriate to young teens. Another drawback is that most of the activities call for extra (though for the most part inexpensive) materials. If parents are willing to help their children with the flower-pressing part of the projects, these activities will prove an excellent substitute for video games.

Squashing Flowers, Squeezing Leaves : A Nature Press & Book by Klutz (editors), 2001
Review by Eco-Artware

This is a uniquely packaged book. The "book" itself looks standard, consisting of text and pictures printed on thick, glossy paper. But the back cover opens into a three-panel press intended to squash plants. The book also comes with a packet of supplies--sturdy rubber bands to keep the press tightly closed and a few materials to use in specific projects.

While the press is convenient, you don't need the one in the book. You can squash flowers on your own in simple homemade presses. It's really easy! Place two paper towels or two sheets of newspaper cut in 8-inch squares in a telephone book. Place the flowers or leaves on them, place two more paper towels or newspapers over them, and close the book. For greater pressure, pile another telephone book or some weighty hard cover books on top.

Wait two to four weeks for the pressed materials to dry. Take a peek after two weeks because different flowers dry at different rates. Remove the pressed plants when they are dry and stiff to touch. But hold them gently because dried flowers are paper thin and very delicate.

How to Press Flowers

How to arrange your flowers for pressing depends on shape. Klutz suggests: Press your flower face down, or sideways. It's easiest to press daisy-like flowers face-down. Trim off the stem and flatten the back of the flower center so the flower can lie flatter. Press single petals if you want to. After drying you can put them back together to look like the original flower or use them by themselves in original designs. If the flower is thick, cut it in half. And if it is really lumpy, pull out some of the center petals.

When you've dried several flowers and leaves, use them for crafts projects, such as these.

Decorating Containers

What You Need:
  • A plain box (made out of cardboard, wood, metal, or even paper maché)
  • Pressed flowers and leaves
  • Acrylic paints (optional)
  • Craft brush
  • Diluted white glue (Squeeze some glue into a small cup or jar. Add the same amount of water. Use your brush to mix the two together. )
What You Do:

art credit: Darwen and Vally Hennings
1) Start out by painting the box with acrylic paint. You can paint the sides of the box lid in a contrasting color. Let the paint dry before adding your flowers.

art credit: Darwen and Vally Hennings
2) Arrange pressed flowers and leaves and glue in place. Let dry.

art credit: Darwen and Vally Hennings
3) Brush an overcoat of diluted white glue over everything. Let the glue dry. You can brush on more layers of diluted glue after the first coat dries to add extra protection--a good idea if your box will be handled a lot.

After you've finished a box, try decorating ready-made picture frames and mats, recycling a candy tin or sprucing up your lunch box.

Frames and Mats, Lunch Boxes and Tins
Frames and Mats; Lunch Boxes and Tins.

From Squashing Flowers, Squeezing Leaves by the editors of Klutz. Adapted with permission. © 2001 Klutz, Inc.

The Body Book
by Anne Akers Johnson, Klutz (2001)
Review by Eco-Artware

Filled with recipes for simple beauty care products you can make at home, this book shows how you can take care of yourself from head to toe beautifully with products mostly found in your kitchen. (Okay, you might have to get one or two supplies from the health food or drug store.) For example, try one of these hair rinses for a good finishing touch to your hair care routine. I like to transfer homemade rinses into a plastic bottle to avoid the possibility of broken glass in the shower or sink. (Use a funnel to pour the rinse into the plastic bottle--an empty shampoo bottle works fine.) Each recipe makes enough for one rinse.

photo credit: Thomas Heinser Camomile Rinse
This rinse brings out the highlights in blond and red hair. Use it as a final rinse and it will leave your hair shiny and softly scented.

What You Need :

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 camomile tea bags

What You Do
Bring the water to a boil. Add the tea bags, cover the pot and let the rinse cool completely. Remove the tea bags. Pour into a plastic bottle (optional). Then pour the rinse over your hair after shampooing and conditioning. Leave it in as a final rinse.

Rosemary Rinse
This rinse adds luster to dark hair.

What You Need :

  • 1 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp dried rosemary or (even better) a couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup cider vinegar

What You Do
Place the water and rosemary in a small pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add the vinegar. Let the rinse sit until it's completely cool. Strain the liquid, discarding the rosemary. Pour into a plastic bottle (optional). Pour the rinse over your hair after shampooing and conditioning. Be careful not to get it in your eyes. After about 5 minutes rinse your hair thoroughly in warm water.

photo credit: Judy Swinks Lemon Lightening Rinse
Lemon rinses your hair clean and lightens it as well.

What You Need :

  • Juice from one lemon
  • 2 cups warm water

What You Do
Combine the water and lemon juice. Pour into a plastic bottle (optional). Pour over your hair after shampooing and conditioning as a final rinse. Avoid getting this rinse in your eyes. It will sting.

For a catalog or to get further information about Klutz, check their web site, http://www.klutz.com

From The Body Book by Anne Akers Johnson. Adapted with permission. 2001 Klutz, Inc.

PHOTO CREDITS: Judy Swinks (bowl of lemons), Thomas Heinser (girls washing hair), Darwen and Vally Hennings (step-by-step drawings)

See what you've missed

If you've enjoyed this project, don't miss our crafts archive with projects including:

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