Crafting in the “Maker Culture”

Boulder-aprons-(2).gifA recent article in our local paper referred to Kevin Kelly as saying that a “third industrial revolution is stirring.” Kelly, editor of the 472-page book, Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities,” sees an increasing number of self-educateds and do-it-yourselfers who are building things in wood, metal and other materials. David Carr, who interviewed Kelly in the the New York Times, referred to the arising of a “so-called maker culture, a movement toward building real, actual things with our own two hands.”

Are they right? Of course, Waldorf education and LifeWays have always strongly valued handwork and crafting of all types: woodworking, metalworking, fiber arts, and so forth. The accompanying photo is of me helping students make aprons in the LifeWays Training. Parents and teachers in these programs have always been excited by the richness of the classes which include woodworking, doll making, felting, knitting, crocheting, to name just a few. And there is certainly a wealth of online resources for all of these activities, and more. So I would agree that there does seem to be increased interest arising in more than just “the Waldorf world.” Perhaps it is arising as a counterbalance to the virtual world of technology which takes up so much of our time? But I’d still have to call it a “subculture,” rather than a culture.

To provide a bit more background information on Kevin Kelly, he is the founding editor of the Whole Earth Review (which evolved from The Whole Earth Catalog) and also worked with the online zine, Wired. Cool Tools has been described as “a sprawling compilation of useful tool reviews that author Kevin Kelly and a thousand contributors wrote over a 10-year period on Kelly’s blog of the same name.” It is available from Amazon.

A Child’s Seasonal Treasury

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A Child’s Seasonal Treasury, by Waldorf early childhood teacher Betty Jones, is a valuable resource for any early childhood teacher or parent with young children.

One homeschooling mother wrote: “Although other books were also helpful, A Child’s Seasonal Treasury was really all I needed, as it provided me with everything: seasonally based songs, poems, verses, games, activities, and recipes, in a very easy to follow way, and the layout was simple and beautiful. There were books which contained almost too much information, and they overwhelmed me, whereas Ms. Jones’ book gave just enough materials and I was sable to actually makes use of what was offered.”

In the forward Betty Peck, Anna Rainville and Nancy Mellon write: “”Contained in this one lovely volume is a very generous supply of original and traditional materials for parents and teachers, providing practical ways to engage children while enhancing family or classroom culture….Whenever you are longing for artistic guidance and inspiration with young children, reach for this compendium of treasures.  As early childhood educators we are thrilled and grateful that it is returning to print, and is to be widely available again.”

You can learn more and order your copy from www.bettyjones.us.

Making Felted Easter Eggs with Children

Felted Eggs1.jpgThe children at Rainbow Bridge made felted Easter eggs this week. Here are some “tips” on adapting the process to include young children (ours are 1-5 years):
1) For the foundation, use plastic eggs that do NOT open. They’re not as common, but you can find bags of them at craft stores.
2) Have the children help you wrap white wool around them and insert into a piece of nylon stocking, tied at both ends (tie one end with a SLIP KNOT so it will be easy to pull out!).
3) Let them “felt” their egg in hotish (warm) soapy water (dish soap works well).
4) When children are leave the project, finish the felting process doing them all together in REALLY HOT water, rinsing in cold water, repeating hot w soap and then cold.
5) Squeeze out as much water as possible and put them all in the dryer for an hour on high–this will really help with the felting process!
6) That night, open the stockings and loosen the felted eggs.
7) Let each child now point to colors of wool to wrap around the egg, and insert it into the stocking, retying with the slip knot. If you want to add the child’s name, use MASKING TAPE around a safety pin and a sharpie marker.
8) Repeat the felting and drying process as described above.
9) Remove from the stocking–don’t they look lovely!!

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Felting Bars of Soap with Children

Felting Soap almost finished.jpgThe children at Rainbow Bridge felted wool coverings for bars of soap–making “soap in a sweater”–as presents for their parents. It becomes soap and washcloth in one, and works best with a soap dish in which it can drain. We used Ivory soap, wool roving for the first layer, and colored wool for the outer layer. Here’s a picture of them unwrapping the soap when the felting process was finished.

To make your own, here is what you will need:

  • Bars of soap. We use Ivory, but scented or rounded soap works well, too.
  • Wool roving.  Wrap the soap with three layers of wool roving (we used white, but colored wool would also work). Wrap in alternating directions.
  • Colored wool: then let the children add thin layers to form a beautiful package.
  • Sections of pantyhose, tied at one end. You’ll need to help them put it inside and pull it tight, tying off both ends. 
  • Felting Soap Q&C.jpgTubs of water, as warm as the children will use. Use a few drops of dish soap (optional) and lather up a bar; let a child play with one as long as possible to felt the fibers. Depending on the age and energy of the child, you may need to rework this yourself so the fibers tighten around the soap and felt together 10-15 minutes?).

 

 

  • Thumbnail image for Felted soap.jpgRinse and let air dry. Drying can take a couple of days, depending on the weather. 
  • Remove from the stocking, and voila!