Crafts like gelatin prints can blast summer blahs
For a lot of kids, summertime beckons with temptations — to sleep in late, watch too much TV, swim, roam.
And that's just the first day.
Boredom sets in soon after.
So provide kids with crafts that inspire awe, not blahs. Two reliable sources are "Martha Stewart Living" and "Family Fun" magazines, which post kids' crafts online. "Martha Stewart Living" editors have also just released "Martha Stewart's Favorite Crafts for Kids" (Potter Craft); many of the projects in this heavy tome are retooled from the magazine's pages, which means they can also be found online.
Creativebug, meanwhile, offers online craft classes for kids throughout the summer, including a no-sew tepee, Shrinky Dink jewelry and Kool Aid-dyed yarn. There's a cost for most projects here.
Or roam Pinterest, the online board to which photos and do-it-yourself projects are "pinned," to find science and nature as well as arts and crafts fare. Media and crafting sites that originate projects often post their ideas to Pinterest.
Teen-age tinkerers can attend a free virtual camp by following Make magazine on Google Plus. Teen campers have access to do-it-yourself electronic, robotic — even crafting — projects. "Camp," now in its second summer, runs July 8 through Aug. 16, and includes virtual field trips and an online "hangout" site for posting project images and sharing ideas.
One crafting idea that may amaze kids of all ages for its novelty and simplicity is gelatin printing. This low-tech craft uses the following: a pan of gelatin such as the Knox brand, ink, paper, maybe an ink brayer and a collection of leaves. That's it.
Kristen Sutcliffe, of Oberlin, Ohio, writes about gelatin printing at her blog, New House Project.
"I love that kind of project, where it's easy, you can do it with your kids, but it's beautiful," says Sutcliffe.
Author of the new book "Fabric, Paper, Thread" (C&T Publishing), Sutcliffe, 30, says the gelatin provides a flexible medium for inking, and both positive and negative prints can be made.
"The surface is just the right amount of sticky to hold the leaves and things in place and keep the paper in place while you are pressing/rubbing it," Sutcliffe says on her blog.
It works best with smaller leaves and those that are textured. Ferns and geraniums work well. Use any paper or try a fabric. Sutcliffe has used canvas but recommends a smoother fabric such as muslin or cotton for a cleaner print.
She recommends using a screen-printing ink, such as Speedball, which works on paper or fabric. And she also suggests investing in a brayer, which will spread the ink uniformly without nicking the delicate gelatin surface.
If you're careful, you can make a dozen or more prints with a single batch of gelatin, Sutcliffe says.
Gelatin, such as Knox brand, 8 ¼-ounce packets
Water, 5 cups
9-by-13-inch baking sheet with edges
Printing ink, such as Speedball Screen Printing Ink (available at craft stores and online)
Paper or fabric
1. The gelatin needs a few hours to set. It can be made the night before you want to print. In a large pot, bring 5 cups of water to boil, then whisk in gelatin, one packet at a time, avoiding clumps. Pour mixture onto baking sheet and allow to cool and set.
2. To print, pour small amount of ink onto the plate; use the brayer to fully cover the gelatin with ink (a thin layer for working with paper; a heavy amount for printing on fabric). Place leaves on the ink-covered gelatin. Place your paper or fabric on top; rub.
3. Remove the paper or fabric: This is your first print (the negative).
4. Carefully remove leaves from the baking sheet (save them for reuse, if desired) and place a new piece of paper or fabric over the ink and rub; remove. This provides the positive print (the leaves' imprints remain in the gelatin until it's re-inked).
5. Re-ink the gelatin to make additional positive and negative prints.