Monday, January 15, 2018

Bugs in January

Being Team Clover 4-H Clubs leader I am always trying to come up with something new and different at each meeting and sometimes it is not easy to find things that will entertain each member.  Usually we have multiple projects per meeting so there is something of interest for everyone.  I am happy to report that I may have succeeded in both projects at this particular meeting.  For January we did 2 different type of bug art projects and while at first coloring with crayons and twirling paper didn't sound fun to the kids I think they actually had fun with it.  
As our year of learning about bugs/insects pushes on we are stuck in the middle of our two coldest months.  Finding bugs in below zero temps is not an easy task so we have been going into our creative side of bug study by making bug art.  Members were broken into groups and then they chose a bug to study and then create. Member first had to decide as a group which bug they were learning about.  Then they had to fill out a study form of their bug with at least 3 facts.  When they were done each member made a Paper Quilled image of their bug.  The bugs chosen to learn about by the members were Caterpillars, Butterflies, Flies, and Dragon Flies.  These bugs made for some pretty amazing bug art projects.
As I had mentioned above we did the Paper Quilling bugs but you will notice another art form in the photo.  When the group projects were completed members were able to make their own Word Bugs using their names to make a bug and personalize them as they wished.   
Looks like fun doesn't it?  Which project do you think you want to try?  Follow the links above for our simple directions

Word Bugs

What we have here is a rare, one of a kind image of the "Bull" bug. 

Or it could be just one our most recent 4-H Club's art projects.  We are focusing on bugs this year in our club but since its the below zero temps of January the bugs are all hiding someplace waiting on warm weather. 
To keep with our bug theme we had to get "creative" in our bug projects.  What's more creative then a Personalized Art Project using your name to make a bug.
Do you see our name in there?  Bull?  I think it looks sort of moth like or a leaf eater kind of bug.  What do you think it looks like?  Either way it was really fun to make and twice as easy.

Want to give it a try yourself?  Here are some step by step instructions for you.  First you will need to be able to read backwards, write with you opposite hand and look at an image upside down.  Just kidding, this easy project took most of my club members less then 15 minutes to make.  It uses the basic Kindergarten skills of tracing with markers, coloring with crayons and cutting lines with scissors.  Of course you will need to be able to write a word, hence the name "Word" Art but the end result is really quite astonishing considering the effort that is required.

Here are the supplies you will need:
Word art supplies

  • Water Color Paper (regular white printer paper will work if you in a jam)
  • Water Color Paints
  • Crayons
  • Permanent Markers (we like Sharpie the best)
  • Scissors or paper cutter 
  • Picture frame

Step 1

Cut your paper to the size of the frame you are using.  I used my paper cutter to get nice straight edges but you could easily drawn the edges and cut them with scissors (some members did this).  I recommend this step first as we waited till we were already done on a few of them and then some images had to be altered to fit the frames.

Step 2

Fold your paper in half and write the word you would like to turn into a bug on the fold.  Since we were personalizing our bugs we used our names.  Keep in mind when writing your name the beginning and end of the word you choose should touch the fold. 
Cursive writing is the best method for keeping a solid line flowing from start to finish but its not necessary.  We have a few younger members in our club and cursive is not something they have learned yet so they wrote their names and just connected each letter with a loop at the bottom (sort of like cursive). 
This simple word will be half of your bugs body.

Step 3

Fold you paper in half again so the ink side is on the outside of the paper.  Put the ink side of your paper against the window.  Using the light shining through the window trace you word on the other half of the paper.  It will appear as you are writing your word backwards at this point.   When you open the paper flat it will be the other half of your bugs body.
*note* this is best done on a sunny day for better image transfer to the other side of the paper.  We were working late into the evening so it was getting hard to read.

Step 4

Examine your bugs body.  It should touch at the beginning and end of the word.  If not this is an easy fix.  You will notice the last "L" did not come together at the end so we fixed it with a little connecting "V" shape.  This is not a necessary shape you can put what every you would like to there but something will need to be added to close the body shape.  Other wise you will not be able to color the full body shape if it does not connect as at least 2 points.

Step 5

Draw eyes on your bug and color it with crayons.  You can put eyes anywhere you would like and as many as you think your bug will need.  For your bugs colors, you can use any colors you want as well.  After all its your personal bug make it the way you want it to look.

Step 6 

Your almost done all that is left to do is finish and frame your art.  At this point your word should look like a bug and you could be done with your project if you wished.  However if you want to add a background to it now would be the time to do that.  Using watercolor paint simply paint around  your bug.  Watercolor paint works the best as it doesn't paint over the crayon.  You can mix colors like I did or use just one color or not paint it at all.  I was trying to camouflage my bug on a leaf so I chose brown and green but you can use any colors you want.
If you painted your back ground I recommend you wait for it to dry but then place your picture in the frame you have chosen and presto you are done.

The finished product is pretty awesome if you ask me.  Its a great creative way to work learning about bugs into any project.  I'm sure it could be used many other ways as well not just to make bugs.
After looking at it for a little while now my picture appears to have a bit of a face property to it as well.  Couldn't you just see this being a head attached to a strange body from.....Maybe that is another project in itself.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Welcome Back Winter

And that ends our January Thaw, welcome back winter.  It was a nice streak of warm days and definitely a welcome break from all negative temperatures but now its back to reality.
When we went to bed on Thursday night it was still warming up outside and any snow was pretty much slush just melting away.  By the time the kids were off to the bus the next morning all snow was gone and we had rain.  For rain in January you know it had to be above freezing still and it sure was.  It was actually warmer then I think any of us were expecting too.   Don't quote me but I believe we had a high temperature in the low 60's (sorry I wasn't keeping too good of track) yesterday.

But all good things must come to an end and winter made its return while we slept.  Well maybe I was not sleeping but the rest of the house was.  I woke to the sound of ice pellets hitting the window about 3am and unfortunately I was awake for the day.  By 4am the ground was covered in a layer of ice pellets and I was just hoping that we would switch over to snow so the ice would not continue to build up and thankfully we did around 5am and well you get the idea for 6am. 

On the bright side the next "Thaw" we have will mean its Maple Season!!!  That in itself is great news but following that is warmer weather yet, spring blooms, and then gardening season.  I'm so ready.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

DIY Paper Shredder Quilling Strips

What are Paper Quilling Strips and why would I want to know how to make them you ask?
Quilling strips are the thin strips of paper used in a decorative technique know as Paper Quilling. 
Paper quilling or paper filigree is an art from that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped and glued together to create decorative designs - thanks Wikipedia.

Paper Quilling Project 

Now to make your own work of art you can hand cut each individual strip of paper for your project as I did for the picture above.  This is a proven method and has worked for years.  However it takes lots of time and you risk having random size papers and aching hands when you are done.  If you look  you will see many of my leaves have difference in height, this was not intentional but rather a result of an uneven cut.  If you are looking to keep the same height for a smoother appearance you can try a much simpler idea like running the paper though a simple shredder.  The shredder will assure that your strips are all the same thickness.  And yes this will be my new method from now on.

Simple $2 lawn sale shredded that was actually free because I "borrowed" it from my sister.
You do not need a big expensive shredder that shreds millions of pieces of paper at a time.  A simple cheap shredder or a lawn sale find will work just as well.   Just choose your paper color, shred it up and your done.  You now have a bunch of evenly cut Quilling strips.

The Shredder does the work for you
Put the paper in the Shredder

Easy Peasy Quilling Strips

These strips were made with regular construction paper for the purpose of demonstration.  A thicker card stock paper would prevent the fuzzy frayed edge you see in the photo below.  However the edge pieces of you new quilling strips will not be perfectly smooth using the shredder method.  Strips will have small marking from the shredder (see below) on them.  If you are looking for a perfectly smooth edge I suggest the razor cutting technique for your quilling strips or purchase them already cut from a supplier.

Textured edge from the shredder

Paper Quilling Bugs

With our 4-H year revolving around bug study and temps in the -32 degrees due to a windchill factor we were probably not going to have many bugs available to study at our January meeting so I focused on the crafting factor of projects.  These Paper Quilling bugs are just the best indoor bug project and each member can choose their favorite bug too.

What is Paper Quilling you ask?
Paper quilling or paper filigree is an art from that involves the use of strips of paper that are rolled, shaped and glued together to create decorative designs - thanks Wikipedia.

I know they look they may be "hard" to make as my Big Guy told me but that is not the case at all.  To make the bugs I pretty much just used circles.  The circles were strips of paper that were twilled around a tooth pick and glued in place.  Not anything I would consider too hard for our younger members to do.  The "hard" part was cutting all those thin strips of paper the same size.   Thankfully someone mentioned using the left overs from paper shredding and WhaLa we had a solution to getting enough strips of paper for all 14 club members with out aching hands.  Simply choose  your colors and let the shredder do the work for you and you have Paper Shredder Quilling strips and your done.

Now the bugs above are the samples I made to show the members but I must say I am intrigued to see the final results.  With members ranging from Kindergarten to 11th grade it should be quiet the variety of bugs on display.....I'm sure we may even invent some new species of bugs.

Now obviously you can make more then just bugs with this technique as the sky is really the limit.  Below you will see me trying to get fancy and learn a few new patterns with my new found skill.

"B" for Burr
"B" was supposed to be for the Bull family but since it was so cold when I took up the new skill the "B" could stand for Burr!!!!

January Thaw

January 2018
Wow, time files when you are non stop busy. lol  I really must apologize for never updating this blog.  Honestly, I do blame it on the lack of audience and then again my lacking posts probably are the reason for the lac of audience......
Any way here we are over a year after my last post to give blogging another try.  We will call today's blog "January Thaw" as today is the 2nd day in row that we are above freezing and possibly 40's by the end of the week, has to be the January Thaw as spring this early would just be crazy.

Of course to have a January thaw we must first have a "freeze" and did we ever this year.  With a week till Christmas it was looking good for white Christmas with some snow covering the ground, temps were normal for that time of year and it was all going great.  Then 2 days till the big day and it warms up and rains, poo there goes the "white".  Thankfully Mother Nature took pity on us and delivered late on Christmas Eve/Morning with some snow.  It was perfect and beautiful and all that...
...but in order to have snow we must have cold and BAM!!!!! EXTREME COLD!!!!! was here and stayed.  We had about 2 weeks that we were in the -digits with horrible wind chills too.  The kids did not even have one near freezing temp day to enjoy outside while on vacation.  It was just cold, cold, cold and now 14 days later it has finally warmed up.  Late yesterday we hit the freezing mark (32 degrees) and today we could do the same.
Thank goodness its just been unbearable to even be out doing the critter chores.  And the critters were not to thrilled to be out while we did the chores so we all welcome the thaw.

On the bright side all this inside time did give me time to look up projects to do for our 4-H meetings and one of those projects will be Paper Quilling Bugs.  These are the samples I made up should be fun to see how the club does with them.
Paper Quilling Practice
Happy New Year to all my followers.  Enjoy the brief warm up while you can

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Wow It's Mid October Already!

So again we are way behind in keeping everyone aware of what is happening here in the Bull family so get ready to speed read your way through a quick what is going on here this fall.

Fall started out very slowing with the changing of the colors not taking place till mid October.  When they finally got here they were beautiful as could be though.  This photo does not do justice to all the beauty we had here.  I always feel bad for anyone who does not get to experience the beauty of fall, I would just go outside and smile with all the amazing colors that would show up each day.  Then poof just like that the wind came (with some force) and the leaves were almost all gone.  Mother Nature sure is an amazing thing.

But if you know anything about fall foliage in Upstate NY then you will know it requires a nice freezing frost to get all those vibrant colors to happen and with that cold freeze something else we did not want to happen ended up happening.  Our poor turkeys started to die.  We were on a one a rate death toll :(  We were finally left with just one and that is the one that was always bigger then the others so we were hoping for great things with this one but in a weeks time it too had passed away. 
The oldest Daughter was quite upset as the Turkeys were her choice in critters and she really did love them.  Thankfully our kids have adjusted to having to deal with the loss of animals and she did over come it and is already planning next years try again at turkeys.  And as much as I worried about them being nasty and mean as everyone had told me they would be they were not.  As you see this one is literally waiting at our front door for me to come out so they could follow me around.  They were like our little shadows and I think we will all miss them.

Turkeys were not our only loss in critters so far this fall.  We had pigs that have since become dinner and we had meat bird chickens which have also joined the pigs in the freezer.  But one unexpected set of critter deaths came in the form of 10 ducklings.  Yes ducklings in fall, one this springs duckling apparently grew up quite fast and managed to hatch our 10 ducks in October!?!  Not good timing for babies to born where we live but we were going to let her try to raise them.  By no means was she not trying to raise them as their death was not her fault.  When we first discovered the dead ones (at 1day old) we assumed a weasel or something had attacked them in the night as they all had the same damage by the neck area.  We were able to get two of them back to good health and back to their mom to try again but unfortunately for them they did not survive either.  These two were also attacked but this time as the last one was being destroyed the Hubby happened to be close enough to see our other lone male duck attacking them and they were just too tiny to survive.

All of this means one thing we are going to be heading into winter very soon.  The death of the critters is sad but on the other hand it is just the same as last year with just our chickens, goats and 3 adult ducks so perhaps next year will turn out better for an increase of critters here?