Art / Handcrafts Archives - Page 2 of 11 - Eva Varga

November 15, 20134

We have had a great week .. so many memories were built this week. Our usual lessons proceeded and the days surrounding each were filled with a variety of extra-curricular endeavors.

Sweetie @ AGO swim meetWe took part in a swim meet – our last for 2013.

Both kids did very well – improving on most all of their swims.

Buddy @ AGO swim meet

We took part in our third homeschool art show (which I happen to coordinate). Buddy’s Lego Minecraft entry was voted the 2nd place favorite amongst the youngers.

Homeschool Art Show

We created poppy themed art in honor of Veteran’s Day. We shared this craft with the kids at the art show and everyone made a small thank you card for the Veteran’s home which we delivered later that day.

At Barnesklubb, we learned how to create the traditional Finnish handcraft called Himmeli.

Veteran's Day Poppy Art Activity

We brought home a new friend … a Bearded Dragon (my second).  I just loved his colors – amber, light green, and variegated browns.  We named him Dué (meaning too or also in Italian).

Bearded Dragon - our new pet

At the lodge meeting, we gave a multimedia presentation on our recent holiday in China.  It was our turn to bring the refreshments so we brought snacks common in China (e.g. sesame cookies, rice cakes, lychee fruit, and moon cakes).

The kids attended a Minecraft MakerBot 3D Printing class.  I will share more about this fabulous class soon.


Homegrown Learners



October 25, 20133

I can’t believe how quickly this week has passed.  Life has a way of doing that, doesn’t it?  Nothing of great interest has really happened this week – business as usual, I suppose.  We are looking forward to the upcoming holiday season though and love the smell of autumn leaves.  Fall is certainly my favorite season. With that in mind, we expressed our creative sides this week with two projects – moon art and carved pumpkins.

Moon Art

owl silhoutteOn the night of our recital last week, the kids expressed interest in doing an art entry in their moon journals.  Some time ago, I had pinned an image to my Art Projects & Handcrafts board on Pinterest, of a tree silhouette. The pin did not link to a tutorial page, sadly, but the image provided the inspiration we needed to get started.  Rather than use charcoal and tempera paint, however, we opted to use chalk pastels.  We’ve used them in the past with Tricia at Southern HodgePodge and knew from experience they would work well for this project.

We began by cutting out a shape for our moon with scrap paper.  We then adhered it temporarily with a glue stick.  Then the mess began. Using the broad side of the pastels (dark blue, purple, red, etc.), the kids covered the entire surface with chalk; rubbing it with their fingers to blend the colors.

We blew away the dust, carefully removed the paper moon, and then chalked in the tree and owl silhouette with the tip of a black pastel.  Lastly, we used a small paintbrush dipped ever so slightly in water to smooth out the black chalk. They were delighted with the results and look forward to continuing with our moon journals in the months to come. If you are interested in learning more about their journals, check out the World Moon Project – a global citizen science project connecting students around the globe.

Carved Pumpkins

pumpkinsWe didn’t get a chance to visit a pumpkin patch this year – just too busy with other weekend activities.  We can’t let the season pass without carving Jack-O-Lanterns, however, so we purchased our gourds at the local market.

Sweetie and I had been thinking about our designs for some time ~ Pinterest users can attest to that, yes?  Buddy, on the other hand, struggled to come up with a design that was suitable for carving.  He had wanted to carve Indiana Jones’ bullwhip as well as King Arthur’s sword but both were too detailed.  Even his hope of carving a Lego mini-fig were dashed when I explained the holes would be too small to illuminate the face.  It was an emotional night, needless to say.  In the end, however, we all found success.


  • The kiddos both made good strides in the construction of their Halloween costumes. Yes, they are making their costumes themselves – with a little help, of course. I’ll share pictures when they finish.  🙂
  • Sweetie has been actively updating her own blog.  She asked that I share her post, Mother Nature’s Dream.  It includes a poem she wrote recently.
  • We learned a new recipe as part of our China cultural studies – Drunken Noodles.
Homegrown Learners

July 20, 20135

Plastic is forever!  It does not biodegrade, but instead breaks down to the size of plankton.  Rotating ocean currents or gyres are pulling in plastic garbage from every continent in the world and churning it into bite-size pieces.  This debris confuses marine species and litters beaches, even in pristine remote locations.  Can art be used to save the sea?washed ashore

We recently took part in a community art workshop held each Saturday at Art 101 in Bandon.  Community members, local schools, and state parks work together to gather plastic pollution off of beaches.  Through the Washed Ashore Project, the plastics are washed, sorted, drilled, cut, and processed into art supplies.   Lead Artist and Director Angela Haseltine Pozzi leads the community in creating large-scale sculptures of the very sea life that is threatened by marine debris.

Washed Ashore ArtA few facts we gathered from the gallery at Washed Ashore:

  • Over 200 billion pounds of plastic are produced worldwide each year, and it is estimated that only 4-7% of it is recycled.
  • Plastic pollution now affects at least 267 species world-wide.
  • 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die annually from entanglement.
  • 80% of marine debris comes from land via streets, storm drains, and rivers.
  • Americans use ~1 billion disposable shopping bags, creating 300,000 tons of waste each year.

In our family, we make a concerned effort to reduce our use of plastics.  I’ll be sharing the steps we have taken in a post next month.

June 10, 20132

kids club fair boothA year ago .. our Barnesklubb (Scandinavian Kids Club) took part in the county fair and entered a  Junior Feature Booth  exhibit (or fair booth) in the ‘Activity Class’.  To our surprise, our entry was not judged – we were informed that we did not meet enough of the criteria and were thereby ‘disqualified’.  We were heartbroken. Angry. Mystified.

Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities: It is this, that in all things distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.  

~  Thomas Carlyle 

As we reflected on the experience and reviewed the score sheet, we had to agree that we missed the mark in numerous areas (we lacked lighting, we didn’t use all of the available space, and our message was indeed unclear); though we are still perplexed as to why they claim to use the American System of Judging.  We talked it over and conferred with our other Barnesklubb members.  Everyone agreed we wanted to give it another go, proving Vikings are persistent and will persevere!

youth group fair boothWe opted to use the same Viking ship we had used a year ago, though we had to create a new mast.  Fortunately, we were able to salvage the Sons of Norway logo.  For a backdrop, we hung a tie-dyed sheet with white holiday lights twinkling behind to resemble an Aurora Borealis.

To fill the space, the kids created cardboard cut-outs of all the club members (a mini-me, as we came to call them).  The kids had a blast cutting out their mini-me and personalizing it.  The girls created Norwegian bunads for each mini-mi, whereas the two youngest (both boys) decorated theirs to match their Viking spirit.  The oldest (also a boy), dressed his mini-me in modern day clothes, jeans and a Lego mini-fig t-shirt.  After all, Legos were invented in Denmark.  For the faces – we wanted the judges to know that this club is indeed youth – and we thereby used a photograph on each mini-me.

Regardless of the result come Wednesday, we know in our hearts that we did an awesome job. Ultimately, it was the joy of coming together and collaborating on a fun project that we will remember.

May 2, 2013

While traveling through the many National Parks in Utah and Arizona recently, we had the opportunity to observe several ancient petroglyphs that were carved into the  sandstone cliffs. Let me take you on a short virtual tour of these remarkable archeological sites and then I’ll share a free art lesson you can do with your kids (upper elementary recommended) to integrate art, history, and science.

This is the second post in the – Homeschooling on the Road – marathon blogging series.

Capitol Reef1

By the year 700 until sometime after 1250, the Fremont Culture people lived near the area that is now Capitol Reef National Park growing corn, beans, and squash and also hunting and gathering food. They left few traces, but the images painted on (pictographs) or carved into (petroglyphs) canyon walls can still be seen.


The stylized horse and rider surrounded by bighorn sheep and dog-like animals is typical of Ute rock art.  Carved sometime between A.D. 1650 and 1850, these petroglyphs are visible along the vertical wall along the trail to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park near Moab, Utah.

Today, these rock art panels are important to many Native Americans of the region because they were created by their ancestors.   Inspired by their artistry, upon our return home we ventured to a local landscape supplier in a quest to create our own small pieces of sandstone art.


We purchased a couple small pieces of sandstone (just a few dollars because they were so small) and sketched a simple image onto paper that was unique to our personalities and passions (Sweetie sketched an owl and Buddy created a Viking ship). Using graphite paper, we then transferred the image to the stone surface, using a pencil to touch up the transfer in any area that the image wasn’t clear.  Lastly, we carved into the stone with the aide of modern tools (a Dremel).  The kids loved the activity and were delighted that they had a special souvenir from our trip.

You know the skills and abilities of your kids better than anyone – please use caution before allowing children to use power tools. Depending on age, this lesson may not be appropriate for all students.  If you choose to undertake this activity with your children, you’ll want to have proper eye protection and of course give the kids instruction on how to properly operate the tool.

Oils from our skin hasten deterioration of these fragile and irreplaceable cultural resources. Federal law protects these ancient drawings.  Any person who excavates, removes, damages, or otherwise alters or defaces archeological or historical resources located on public lands may be fined $250,000 and imprisoned for five years. 

April 15, 2013

We love to listen to audio books in the car.  You’d hope that we could always agree on a title, and sometimes we do.  Especially when we have found a series we enjoy and can’t wait to hear the next installment.  Generally, however, we argue about which one we will listen to first. We all have our favorites you see. We generally pick out titles with which we are familiar, but on occasion we stumble upon a new title that jumps out at us and grabs us as if to say, “Read Me!  You Must Hear My Story!”

One of my favorite authors growing up was Scott O’Dell.  I loved his book, The Island of the Blue Dolphins and for many years, dolphins were my favorite animal.  While browsing the audio titles at the library last month, we came upon a title by O’Dell that I was not familiar, The Road to Damietta.  I absolutely love historical fiction and when I read the book jacket, “Rich in the atmosphere of thirteenth-century Italy, The Road to Damietta offers through Ricca di Montanaro’s eyes a new perspective on the man who became the famous Saint Francis of Assisi, the guileless, joyous man who praised the oneness of nature and sought to bring the world into harmony. “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace,” he said. “Where there is hatred, let me sow love, where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.” ”  We indeed must read this book I proclaimed to the kiddos.  It seemed the perfect choice for us … Scott O’Dell, love for nature, historical context (despite the fact that we study history chronologically and we were presently in the 1800s), etc.

The cover on the left is for the audio version. The cover on the right is for a print version.

I really enjoyed this book but there were a few things that took me by surprise and I wish I had known before I had selected this as an audiobook for my children.  I do not believe books should ever be banned, however, I do believe parents have the right to screen what their children are exposed to.  I’ve never worried too much about this as we have a pretty relaxed and open dialogue with our kids.  My children have not ever experienced nightmares and enjoy watching movies with scenes that many of their friends find frightening.  As a parent is our responsibility to protect our children and if at all possible screen movies and books until the child is old enough.  I wish I had had a little inkling of what The Road to Damietta held for us … not because of images that were frightening but because it brought to the surface adolescent love and some vocabulary that I just wasn’t ready to expose my children.

Through Ricca di Montanaro we see the vibrancy of 13th century Italy. The pettiness of the noble and merchant classes, the undercurrent of treachery in the church, and the breathtaking beauty of an already ancient landscape. In the beginning, Ricca and her friend, Clare, swoon over Francis Bernardone’s playboy antics. But when Francis infamously strips naked in the public square and takes a vow of poverty for Christ, their paths diverge.  What took me by surprise, was that Ricca also partly disrobes in the public square causing quite a stir with the noble class, particularly Ricca’s father.  Her father sends her to anItalian convent and even then she cannot shake her conviction that Francis will change for her, if she can only prove her love.

Her continued obsession with Francis disregards completely his devotion to peace, nature and God. Her jealously of Clare’s burgeoning involvement with Francis’s way of life is one of many clear illustrations of just how blind her 13 year old mind is to his commitment. Soon, all of Italy is religiously obsessed: the Fifth Crusade has begun. The Road To Damietta is a journey that Ricca undertakes to follow Francis, and it ends in heartbreaking realizations for both of them.

I don’t want to give too much of the story away.  It really is a very lovely book and we enjoyed the story and the historical context.  However, I want my readers to be aware of another surprise I encountered.  Along Ricca’s journey, a vocabulary word is introduced for which I wasn’t prepared. My kiddos usually allow words they are not familiar with to pass them by and likely picking up meaning with context clues.  This time, however, my children asked, “Mom, what is a brothel?”  Hmmmm.  This wasn’t something I was ready to explain to my 10 and 8 year old.

With the few little surprises set aside, there were many things we enjoyed about this book.  One of the things we most enjoyed about this book was the fact that Ricca was training to illuminate manuscripts. As O’Dell describes Ricca at work, he brings to life the artistry and tediousness of her work.  My kids enjoyed googling illumination and looking at images from ancient bibles and even more modern twists on this beautiful art form.

We also enjoyed learning about the contrasting lifestyles of the noble class, merchants, and peasants of 13th century Europe.  I wish I had read aloud this book (and thereby screening out a few passages) when we were studying the crusades for Ricca & Francis’ story helped us to better understand the motives and feelings of the common people during this tumultuous time.

I often try to capture the spirit of a book that touches us by integrating other subjects – art, music, cooking, and if possible, field trips.  This time, I was inspired to provide the kids with an opportunity to illuminate a favorite verse or quote.  We had done this in the past but neither remember it very well and even then, I realized they were too young for the intricate work.

When we were at the Multicultural Faire last week, the Sons of Italy had a fun trivia game prepared with informative posters along the wall.  One poster was of Saint Francis of Assisi and the kids enjoyed sharing with the lodge members about what they knew of him.  They were quite surprised and looked up at me during the conversation to ask, “Do you all homeschool?”  It is a question I hear often.  To my delight, homeschoolers are indeed making a difference and changing societies perception of what is possible.