In the News: Project Calm, Mindfulness through Making

GIC_08_calmcoveruk

A few months ago I was approached to contribute to a new magazine titled Project Calm, a mindful magazine for creative types. Project Calm is all about “mindfulness through making”. It was an honour to be asked to contribute as mindful creativity is to close to my heart and soul. It’s also serendipitous that the magazine was launched during the Slow Living month focused on nurturing, given the magazine aims to help busy folk slow down and nurture themselves through craft, encouraging us all to channel our energies into creating mindful beauty.

Bringing mindfulness to craft and creativity is so important (which I wrote a little about here, in relation to picking flowers and making flower crowns), both in terms of the personal, spiritual and mental health benefits of mindfulness, but also the environmental benefits of being mindful about how and what we create. I am always inclined to create from natural materials as much as possible, so that our projects have no waste from packaging and is fully compostable (for example, Ro’s halloween Mother Nature costume, made from real leaves, or our holiday Botanical Advent).

For this first issue of Project Calm, I contributed my Real Flower Temporary Tattoos tutorial. It is so exciting to see my work in print!

GIC_08_p8-9_naturenews_72dpiCopies are almost sold out, so if you’d like one order soon. They are available for purchase here.

Here’s a little sample of what you’ll find in the issue among the four sections covering Home, Nature, Travel and Mind & Body:

  • Paper-based crafts to make, colour & create
  • Positive features to inspire and enrich
  • Case studies and profiles of successful creatives
  • Travel, retreats and courses to try
  • Papercutting template on card
  • Paper animal kits
  • Poster with floral illustrations

Or, you can take a look at the preview here…

 

Thank you to my friend Erin, the florist, who collected discarded petals and flowers for my tattoo project. And, thank you to Kate for connecting my work to the folks at Project Calm.

Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

How to Make Easter Egg Bath Bombs with Flowers + Essential Oils

natural easter egg bath bomb diy with flowers

I freely admit that the naturally dyed Easter eggs I see on Instagram (these ones!) and Pinterest (these ones!) have me feeling a little underwhelmed with our own vegan Easter crafting traditions. For a few years now, I’ve wanted to naturally dye wooden eggs but haven’t found an economical source for the wooden eggs. We’ve been making our own bath and beauty products for the last year or so (deodorants, creams, toothpaste and so on) and it occurred to me when I was getting our Easter decorations out that the plastic Easter eggs we use for the egg hunt would make perfect bath bomb moulds, so I decided to try it out with the kids. And, low and behold we found our Easter egg, vegan friendly, crafting tradition! (Note: After years of frustration related to buying aluminum wrapped chocolates, I decided to buy reusable plastic eggs that I could fill with dried fruits and other treats, rather than put aluminum foil into landfill).

Making the bath bombs was really easy and a super fun activity for the children. They got their hands into some dough, designed their own scents from mixing essential oils, and crumbled dried flowers. A sensory and very satisfying experience! The bombs smell great, are healthy for sensitive skin and soothing for the soul. On top of this, you can make the bombs with common household ingredients that are likely to be in your pantry or available at the grocery store.

natural easter egg bath bomb diy with flowers dried

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

Here’s how we made them:

  1. In a bowl combine: 2 cups of baking soda, 1 cup of potato starch (you can also use corn starch or cream of tartar), 6 tablespoons of Epsom Salts (you can also use sea salt).
  2. If you want to make different scented bombs, then separate the mixture evenly into a few bowls — we separated into four bowls.
  3. Crumble approximately 2 teaspoons of dried flowers into each bowl. We did different combinations to get different colours. For example, a pink egg from wild roses, and a green egg from blue hydrangea. Make sure to finely crumble the flowers because the bits will go down the drain in your bath so you don’t want to clog it up. Although, as Ro said: “It would be the nicest clog ever!”
  4. Add 7-10 drops of your favourite essential oils to each bowl. I use Do Terra essential oils which are very high quality (pure) so I didn’t need many drops, if you use a more conventional essential oil you may need a few more drops to get a strong enough scent. We used lavender, wild orange, balance, serenity, citrus bliss, eucalyptus and melaleuca in different combinations.
    • Lavender, balance and serenity are calming.
    • Wild orange and citrus bliss are energizing and refreshing.
    • Eucalyptus is great for opening up the air ways especially if you have congestion or a cold.
    • Melaleuca, also known as tea tree, is a natural anti-septic, is soothing and smells great.
    •  I’ve included links above to purchase from Amazon, but if you are interested in opening an account with DoTerra to get oils at a significant discount email me: hippieindisguise1@gmail.com
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of melted (liquid) coconut oil to each dry mixture, if separated into four bowls. (Overall you would add 6-8 tablespoons to the entire mixture).
  6. Using a spray bottle or a teaspoon to very slowly add water and mix, only add water until the mixture is crumbly but will hold together if you squeeze it in your hand. At this point it can be pressed into your egg moulds. Pack the moulds fully and firmly so that as they dry they will hold shape. I let ours dry in the egg mould for 2 days although 1 day was probably enough.
  7. Gently open the moulds. A few of our eggs crumbled from over excited hands, so be careful.

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

No surprise, the children couldn’t wait for Easter to use the bath bombs. We found they worked really nicely. They didn’t fizz around (you need to add citric acid to the recipe if you want fizz, but citric acid can be hard on the skin so I don’t add it to my recipe) but they smelled really good and easily melted into the bath water. The crumbled flowers floated to the surface of the bath and made the bath water extra fancy. The coconut oil was soothing on the skin and the essential oils gave off a delightful and calming aroma. Overall, the bombs were a success.

natural easter egg bath bomb diy dried flowers essential oils

If you have any questions about how we made the bath bombs please leave a comment and I will be happy to answer. For an amazing tutorial to make naturally dyed wooden eggs visit Fareisle Blog here.

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You might also like my post:

How to Make All Natural Temporary Tattoos from Real Flowers

Garbage Free: How to Make Your Own Delicious Cashew Milk

How to Make a Mother Nature Leaf Dress from Real Leaves

Drawing a Day: A Summer Drawing Project

Want to find me in other places?

How to Make All Natural Flower Tattoos for Children

Read dried flowers for temporary tattoos

When flowers are blooming over the spring and summer, the children and I are constantly picking up fallen petals and blossoms for little projects. We press them, dry them, make mandalas and do all sorts of creative things. Something both kids love to do is wear flower petals as an alternative to face paint. I’m fairly particular about what goes into and onto their little bodies so I generally discourage face painting and temporary tattoos because I’m not sure of what’s in them. A fun, easy and beautiful alternative has been using flower petals applied to the skin with a little coconut oil or a salve (I used this one). We just apply a little to the face and then the petal adheres easily. Depending on the rigidity of the petal they stay on for longer or shorter periods of time – but no matter what they have fun with it! We’ve found that more supple, flexible petals work best because they can easily ply to the contours of the face.

When I was on Pinterest a few months ago I came across a photo of an arm covered in flowers. The tattoos looked so realistic I clicked through the link and discovered that a makeup artist, named Verity Cumming, had in fact used real flowers as temporary tattoos. For her process, she had dried flowers and then applied them to the arm using synthetic glues, such as eyelash glue, to keep the flowers in place. I knew a glue would not feel great on the skin, especially for children who tend to be more touch sensitive, but also that glue isn’t the healthiest on the skin, so I decided to develop my own technique to affix the flowers as temporary tattoos.

Real dried flower temporary tattoos soft star shoes

Real Flower Temporary Tattoos Soft Star Shoes Hippie in Disguise

First, there were a few failures. (I thought I’d share them here, so you don’t repeat my mistakes) I tried using some flowers that we had pressed and dried and no matter what we tried they were simply too brittle to hold together on the skin – they crumbled. I realized they were too dry. Next I tried using some fresher flowers and petals, but these were either too heavy (from water content) or not supple enough/too rigid (from water content). They needed to be drier. But, have you ever noticed that if you let flowers air dry they tend to dry from the outside to the middle? I knew that if I let them dry naturally they would still crumble at the edges from being unevenly dried. So I tried to accelerate and even out the drying process. I adapted Verity’s technique of drying the flowers with paper towels in the microwave (using fabric dish towels instead of paper towels, because zero waste is a good thing right?).

Through trial and error I figured out the best way to make all natural temporary flower tattoos. Here’s what worked:

1)      Gathering: Gather fresh flowers and petals of any and all sorts available to you. We don’t generally buy cut flowers or pick them, but we still have an abundance of sources of fresh flowers. Do not pick! Be resourceful! You can find fallen flowers and petals in gardens all the time. In the winter I visit the florist and ask if I can pick up blooms from the floor or use their floral “waste” from bouquets. They are always happy to share and curious about what I plan to do with the flowers. An opportunity to have a conversation about using flowers creatively!

2)      Preparing: Cut as much of the stem off as possible, this is easy with flowers like hydrangeas and pansies. You want to end up with a very flat flower for application. For flowers that have a hard or thick stem I recommend pulling the petals off and drying them individually.

3)      Drying: Lay a fabric dish towel over a large plate. Lay the flowers out on the dish towel. Place another dish towel on top to sandwich the petals between dishcloths. Then place a second plate over the dish towel. This will help to flatten the flowers. (The layering is: plate, towel, flowers, towel, plate). To dry them evenly I heated the plate and flower stack in the microwave for 40 seconds. I found that some flowers needed longer. If you are using many different types of flowers I recommend drying similar flowers together, they are more likely to require the same amount of time, and therefore you have less risk of over- or under-drying some flowers. To know that they are dry enough, just lift up the plate and towel and do a visual check, you will probably see some wet spots (flower sweat!) on the towel. Touch the flowers: if they feel limp and look flatter than before they are good. If they still seem rigid, then heat them a little longer. Once they are flat and limp, lay them out to finish drying in the air. They will still feel somewhat soft and moist, but I found they can’t be completely dried, they need some moisture for them to stay intact when tattooing. It sounds complicated, but once you try it I think you’ll see it’s pretty easy.

  • Warning: Some flowers will transfer their colour to the dish towel, so use a towel that you don’t mind getting a little stained.

4)      Applying: I used a beeswax salve with lavender oil in it (because I know it’s soothing on my children’s skin and they love the smell!), I applied it to the skin where the flower would go, then gently applied the dried flower, gently smoothing the flower onto the skin and letting it adhere to the salve. For most flowers and thin petals this is enough. In some cases you might want to add a little salve to the exposed part of the flower (the part facing out/visible) to help smooth the flower onto the skin more.

The flowers and petals stay on pretty well like this. The smoother the petal is to the skin the longer it will stay in place. These are certainly not as long-lasting as a temporary tattoo that is glued on but it’s still lots of fun for the kids (and yourself!) and provides a fun way to decorate your child that is natural and encourages them to learn about flora. You could try experimenting with using natural glues like honey, agave, or syrup, I’ve heard these work well too. The advantage of salves is that it’s good for the skin.

Flower tattooing is a great opportunity to learn about flowers with your children, for example:

  • You can teach them the names of the flowers as you apply them
  • You can talk about which flowers retain their colour through drying and which change
  • You can feel and talk about the different petal textures

As with all of my “how to” posts and DIYs please feel free to ask questions in the comments or share your feedback, there’s always something I’ve forgotten to include in my explanation!

UPDATE: This tutorial was recently included in the publication Project Calm: A magazine for mindful creatives. You can read more about it here!

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If you are interested in Ro’s shoes they are from Soft Star and are available through this link. Soft Star is an American shoe maker (men, women, children and baby shoes). All Soft Star shoes are handmade, using end-to-end environmentally friendly processes and materials. Ro’s shoes are the Hawthorne model (adults). Sen has the Swift model from the children’s range.

You might also like:

Garbage Free: How to Make your own Delicious Cashew Milk

Ecominimalism: Minimalism and Sustainability Talking with Robin Kay

Top post: Any Occasion, Sustainable Gift Guide for Children

Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

Mother Nature Leaf Dress Hippie

Make Your Own Mother Nature Leaf Dress

Mother Nature Leaf Dress Hippie in Disguise Danielle Chassin

Ro’s finished Mother Nature Leaf Dress, not perfect, but we learned from the process how to make a better one next time (see instructions below). But we did have a great time innovating to make a costume that is completely garbage free and compostable!

Halloween is Ro’s favourite day of the year. Her love for imaginative play and dress up, in combination with her outgoing personality make it far more fun than birthdays or Christmas. She just loves dreaming up a costume and then bringing it to life.

Ro is fortunate to have two grandmothers who are talented artists and very handy in the sewing department. Matt’s mother is a visual artist, she illustrates, paints, sculpts, sews, makes fibre arts, and gives an artistic flair to everything she touches. My mother is multi-talented, she went to school for fashion design, so she can design and sew up a storm of beauty. She has also put her talented hands to pottery, knitting, furniture, gardening and many more projects of beauty over the years. With these two creative grandmothers not only capable, but interested, in helping bring Ro’s visions to life, she has had some pretty extraordinary costumes over the years.

I should mention that I can sew, and while I’m not nearly as capable as either of them, I can certainly sew a Halloween costume. But, I loved that Ro and her grandmothers had a special project each fall, starting with a chat about her idea, maybe some sketching, a trip to shop or gather materials from a thrift shop, and then sewing and assembling the costume. It was a lovely tradition and a great bonding experience. At the same time, I didn’t want Ro to think that we were not capable of making her costumes ourselves — self-sufficiency is an important thing to me. I hoped the time would come, naturally, when we would make her costume ourselves.

Ro starts thinking seriously about Halloween in late summer, when her mind turns to the return to school and she sees the signs of fall start to show in the natural landscape. Last summer, we had beautiful weather and spent nearly every full summer day outdoors enjoying nature in forests, by the river, and everywhere in between. While both children have an innate interest in the natural world, I was intentionally trying to cultivate their interest by, not only spending time in nature, but also encouraging them to use natural objects for art. Ro loves fashion, not for the sake of trends, but for the creative self-expression. My mind hadn’t turned to Halloween yet, when one day in late August Ro announced that she wanted to make an ombre dress out of leaves and be Mother Nature for Halloween. To say my heart was singing to hear her say this would be a modest statement. She had, unknowingly, married her interests and mine and I knew this was the perfect year to shift to the two of us making her costume.

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Many people have since asked us how we made her dress and so I thought I would share our method here. This is just one, very simple way to make the dress, by using a braiding technique and affixing the braids to the base garments using safety pins, but I thought some process photos might help those of you who may need a visual guide. I hadn’t expected to be asked how to make the dress, so I didn’t take any photos when we made it, so I’ve recreated a few below for the sake of this post.

Without further ado, here’s how we made the dress:

  • After sketching the dress she wanted (a full length, tank dress), we found a suitable tank top and long skirt from her existing wardrobe to use as the base to pin the leaf braids onto.
  • In the weeks leading up to Halloween, we tried a few techniques, braiding and tying with string, and found braiding to be the least fussy.
Leaf braiding using simple three strand braiding technique, closed off with a safety pin, which is used later to affix the braid to the garment.

Leaf braiding using simple three strand braiding technique, closed off with a safety pin, which is used later to affix the braid to the garment.

  • On the day of Halloween, we spent about 3 hours walking around our neighbourhood gathering leaves, trying to find a range of colours to get the ombre effect. Especially looking for leaves with long stems, which makes braiding much easier. I highly recommend maple leaves. We used some oak leaves, because Ro loved the colours, but they were very hard to work with for braiding, and in some cases I had to pin the leaf itself to the garment. This can be avoided by using leaves with longer stems.

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  • It is important to gather your leaves freshly when you make the dress, because they will not last more than 12-24 hours before drying and becoming very brittle and crumbling off. We did not pick leaves fresh from trees, but rather gathered from the ground, so if you are someone who picks leaves then they may last longer. Although, I’m sure you can find plenty of leaves without the need to pick live ones from trees!
  • Next, we organized the leaves into colours: purple, red, orange, peach, yellow, lime, dark green, brown. Ro wanted a fade from purple to red through to green and brown, so we arranged the colours to make braids in this order.

Just a simple example shown above, our leaf chains changed colour more gradually as the garment was full length.

  • Once we had a braided chain of leaves about the length of half the shirt, we would stop and pin it closed to keep the braid from undoing. Chains longer than this tended to pull apart with wear. We continued to make chains and lay them on the shirt, until it appeared to be enough to cover the top. Keep in mind the garments will stretch when worn, so allow space for the braids to overlap.

Leaf braiding using simple three strand braiding technique, closed off with a safety pin, which is used later to affix the braid to the garment.

  • I was set on making the costume in such a way that would not create any garbage, so we used pins to attach the braids to the top and skirt. None of the pins opened while she wore it, but if you are concerned you could tape over the pin on the side that contacts the body, or wear a second garment underneath as a barrier.

Try to pin through and around the braided stems. You can trim off the extra stems or tuck them under another braid.

  • We repeated the same process of braiding and laying out the braids on the skirt, and then pinned them in place. Note that the direction of the braids was reversed on the skirt, meaning the braids pointed down to the ground. This helped to have a smoother, more comfortable waist.

Leaf braids on the tank pointing up, leaf braids on the skirt pointing down. Separated here to show technique, but you would want to have the ends of the leaves touching to hide the stems.

  • The braiding and pinning for the top and skirt took about 5 hours. Partly because we were developing the process as we went and partly because Ro wanted to try the top on at every step of the way!

  • The last piece we made was the hair piece; Ro wanted a fascinator. So we took a left over chain of red maple leaves and braided them. I closed the braid with a regular hair elastic. When the braid was laid over the top of her head, draping down, the leaves fanned up for an interesting look. Held to the head with a few bobby pins.

If we’d had more time, I would have filled in those peeks of white fabric with some shorter braids, but time and patience ran out. Ro wanted to skip around the neighbourhood in her dress!

By the end of the evening, Ro’s dress was dried out and starting to crumble. We had a trail of leaf crumbs all around the house. As I swept up, I noticed that the most beautiful pile was gathering at my broom.

A leaf heart made from the crumbled leaves from Ro’s dress. The rest went into the compost.

Please feel free to ask any questions about process or technique if my guidance wasn’t clear. Good luck and have fun getting creative with natural materials and please share your results with me!

You might also like my post:

How to Make All Natural Temporary Tattoos from Real Flowers

How to Make Easter Egg Shaped Bath Bombs with Real Flowers

Ecominimalism: Minimalism and Sustainability Talking with Robin Kay

Top post: Any Occasion, Sustainable Gift Guide for Children

Let’s be friends! Please come find me in other places:

Citrus Scented Natural Play Dough

With winter weather soon coming to an end, we’ve been savouring the last of the winter days by doing activities that we don’t make as much time for in the summer, like visiting museums, baking, painting, and doing other indoor activities. Last weekend we decided to make play dough. We’ve made play dough a few times before and have tried our hands at naturally colouring the dough with spices and teas, with mixed results. (However, I can confirm that it is very easy to make brown dough!)  This time we decided to play around with scents.

  To make scented doughs we added essential oils to our usual playdough recipe. The result was lovely scented balls that Ro and Sen really enjoyed playing with, and miraculously resisted taste testing!

The recipe I use is very simple and involves no cooking, which makes it easier for young children to help. Best of all the dough will last many months if stored in an airtight container between uses. I’ve adapted my recipe from one I found on the Imagination Tree site. Note: If you divide the dough in half before adding the essential oils, you can make two different scented balls, as we did.

Here’s what you need:

*2 cups of all-purpose flour (other flours will work, but I wanted a white dough so I used all-purpose)

*2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (I used coconut oil, because it is clear and hardens at room temp, so it helps with the consistency of the dough)

*1/2 cup of salt (I used sea salt, because that’s what I had on hand, but table salt is typical for play dough)

*2 tablespoons of cream of tartar (if you haven’t used this before it is a powder found in the baking section)

*1+1/4 – 1+1/2 cups of boiling water (I used about 1 and 1/4 cups, but different flours may need more or less water)

*15 drops of Citrus Fresh essential oil (An oil blend offered by Young Living Oils)

*15 drops of Lemon essential oil (I used Young Living)

*optional: citrus zest (to add colour and texture, I used lemon, lime, blood orange, and minneola orange)    

Preparation method:

1) If using zest in your recipe, then begin by preparing the zest first, so that it has been exposed to the air for a while before adding it to the dough. It would be ideal to dry the zest out a little by dehydrating it or drying it out in the oven, but it is not necessary. I recommend using a fine zester if you have more than one size.

2) In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients and the coconut oil.

3) Start by adding 1 cup of boiled water. Mix thoroughly. Add the remaining 1/4 to 1/2 cup little by little until the dough is just mixed or very slightly dry. The dough will become wetter when you add the zest and work it with your hands. If the dough becomes too sticky add more flour one tablespoon at a time.

4) Separate the dough into two even sized balls and allow to cool down to almost room temperature.

5) Lemon dough: Form a bowl shape with one of the balls of dough and add the lemon zest and lemon essential oil drops, then fold dough over and knead the zest and oil into the ball.

6) Citrus Fresh dough: Using the second ball form a bowl shape with the dough and add the Citrus Fresh essential oil and zest from other citrus fruits into the dough bowl, then fold the dough over and knead thoroughly to incorporate the zest and the oil into the ball.

7) Time to play!

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Organic aprons and baking tools by Odette Williams

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If you are interested in learning more about essential oils or in purchasing some, my friend Nicole has a small shop on Instagram called Dwelling Simple Essential. You can also visit her website, which is a great resource for learning about essential oils.