Last minute crafts via Eckford Street Studio

December 23, 2013

It's not too late to decorate! Last minute holiday crafts
Though your tree is likely already trimmed, and you may be ready to just relax and ride out the 2013 holiday season, here are a couple last minute crafts we have enjoyed at our house this weekend. Great for little hands home from school on a rainy afternoon!
Cinnamon Applesauce Sculptures
This dough is super easy to make; and when dry, the resulting sculptures are surprisingly strong, and continue to smell lovely for years. 

Measure one part applesauce (I use unsweetened, but I've heard sweetened works, too) and one part ground cinnamon in a gallon ziploc bag - 1/2 cup each is a good place to start. Squish everything around until a dough starts to form. If it seems crumbly, add more applesauce; if it seems too wet (sticks to the sides of the bag), add more cinnamon. I added quite a bit more cinnamon for a nice, stiff dough. That's it - everything will smell delcious, and you're ready to go!

You can use this to sculpt freeform, or roll it out like cookie dough and use your favorite cutters. My little guy used a star cookie cutter as a mold, and filled it full of dough. Then we pushed whole cloves into it to make it smell even better - arguably his favorite part. Don't forget to add a hole if you plan on hanging your sculpture.

Your creations will dry on their own in a day or more, depending on the thickness. You can speed up the drying by putting them in a 250° degree oven for a couple hours, flipping often, but this risks cracking thicker sculptures. Hang them as decorations, add a magnet for the fridge, or use them as gift tags.

[Safety/comfort notes: some people recommend wearing gloves while handling this dough, but we've never had problems with irritation from the cinnamon. Do make sure sticky fingers don't rub little eyes, as that will burn!! Also, as delicious as it smells, eating it is asking for a tummy ache.]

Cardboard tube decorations (pictured above)
When Calvin was done with his dough sculpture, he headed right over to the tree to hang the gloppy thing up - he was a bit disappointed we had to wait for it to dry. To occupy him, I set up the same project that kept him from un-decorating the tree the day we brought it home.
I love this activity because it is ridiculously simple, but so engaging and full of possibilities. Use a good pair of scissors to cut an empty paper towel or toilet paper roll into rings about 1.5" wide. Then you have the perfect vehicle to add whatever kind art to your tree that you can dream up!

You can paint these rings, glue festive paper and ribbons to them, decorate them with glitter glue, or just use crayons and markers. Stickers are huge around here at the moment, so Calvin used sticky foam shapes and adhesive jewels to dress his rings up. I wrapped several of them in foil tape, because who doesn't like shiny this time of year? (Foil tape is available at most hardware stores, but you could just as easily glue aluminum foil to the tubes.)

When they're finished, they are so easy for toddler hands to hang without mauling the tree. And because of the ring shape, they look surprisingly finished once in place.

Have a lovely end of the year, and looking forward to connecting with you all in 2014!

About Kristin:

Shortly after earning a sculpture BFA in 1997, Kristin Melkin found herself visiting Greenpoint and decided to stick around for a while; fifteen years later, she is still here. Along the way she became a wife and mother, and acquired an extensive career in arts education, working for a variety of institutions and organizations including the Guggenheim Museum, Noguchi Museum, and as a resident artist at many city schools.

After the birth of her son in 2011, Kristin brought her arts ed practice local and created ARTLAB toddler classes in the back room of Caribou Baby. In May of 2013, she opened her second baby, Eckford Street Studio. ESS is a permanent home for ARTLAB and a place for young artists of all ages to connect to their community, explore art processes and materials, and discover their own ways of expressing themselves.

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