Monday, August 31, 2009

The Snails and the Acorn Children

One evening a snail boy was exploring a conch shell at the beach when he smelled marshmallows and heard people singing "kumbaya".

He saw a beautiful seaside cottage made of rocks, driftwood, dry reeds, shells, and dried out crab claws.

He slowly moved up the scallop shell-lined path to investigate.

He pulled his head in a bit when he saw an acorn boy. He was a little bit shy.

"Hello," he said. "I thought I smelled marshmallows...." He tried to peer around the acorn boy.

"Did someone say marshmallows?" asked another snail loudly, craning her neck over a boulder and peering down at the group, stretching her horns as far as they would go. One of the acorn boys buried a bit of chocolate under the sand using his foot.

"Marshmallows?" asked the acorn boy.
The acorn boy looked at his acorn brothers and sister grouped around the bonfire. One of them was pushing something behind a rock. There were no roasting sticks or marshmallows to be seen, but his sister had some white stuff on her mouth, and his brothers were brushing away some crumbs.

"Marshmallows?" repeated the acorn boy faintly. The snail was stretching his neck close to the bonfire and sniffing.

"Yes, we have marshmallows...." his voice trailed off as his older brother gave him a warning look.

"And chocolate and graham crackers," said the little acorn sister, jumping up and down. "We're having s'mores! School starts tomorrow! It's our last bonfire of the summer!"

"Hmmmm...." said the snail bashfully. The acorn boys were all blushing a little bit.

"Won't you have some?" asked the eldest.

"Yes, please!"" said the snail bashfully.

"Me, too!" yelled the snail girl.

The children shared s'mores with the snails.

Afterwards, the snail children took turns pulling the acorn children in a chariot made of a slipper shell.

Then, as the sun sank on the last day of summer, the children hopped and oozed all over the sandy beach, leaving small round footprints and shining trails.

Copyright 2009 Elizabeth F. Curtin

Sunday, August 30, 2009

How to Make a Daylily Horse

Create a beautiful little toy horse out of dried daylily fronds!

This is what the daylily plants look like at this time of year.

Pull a thick handful of the dried fronds to make a toy horse. If you don't have daylilies, you can make this horse with raffia, thick natural string, or dried grass, hay, or straw. Stiff dry materials will have to be soaked in water. I used fresh grass for my first horse. It came out beautifully but was an ephemeral toy. The grass shrank as it dried and the bindings fell off.

Get out your jute twine and scissors.

Trim the moist black ends off the fronds and discard them.

Tie string on either side of the fat tummy of your horse. Pull the string tight and knot.

The next knot goes behind the head.

Take a couple of the fronds and fold to make ears.

Lay the ears on top of the head. Tie another string on top of them very close to the head string. When you tighten it, the ears will pop up. Let the ends of the knot hang down for a forelock.

Bend the face down and knot around the muzzle with a long piece of string.

Leave the ends of the string long for reins.

Trim the muzzle. I made it square at the top and angled at the lower lip.

Pull the ends of the string through the mouth for a bit, pull behind the head, and knot into reins.

Divide the fronds in front into two legs, knotting at the top of each leg, and at the bottom above the hoof.

Trim the hoof.

Now divide the back of the horse into a tail and two fat rear legs.

Horses have a large haunch. Knot below the haunch on each back leg, and again above each back hoof.

Trim the tail to a length that looks right to you.

Now watch your horse come alive.

One of my children placed the horse in a treetop stable,

then took him to the beach to feed him some sand. The horse was very hungry and ate it all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Build a Driftwood Cottage

I have been collecting driftwood this summer. It's fun to build with!

Here is the beautiful driftwood house, which this young girl built for the little beach elf she made with a little bit of my help with the clothes. The elf is made of a wooden bead glued to a wine cork, with a twist of pipe cleaner for arms. It has a glued hat and a sewn tunic made of wool felt. (Sewing works much better than glue with wool felt, we learned.) The girl drew the elf's face with colored pencils. What a beautiful, seaside driftwood cottage she made for her elf!

Dewy Morning

It's a dewy morning in the 70's, and there is a tinge of Fall in the air.

This is the Slug Summer Camp below, at the end of the season.

And here is one of the slugs. Normally I find them disgusting, but as I watched it slowly ooching through the grass I began to feel that it was almost.....cute. It is just a naked snail, after all.

Monday, August 24, 2009

How to Whistle on an Acorn Cap

Acorns are falling already in New England. Would you like to learn to whistle on an acorn cap?

Make two fists and press your knuckles together. Rest the acorn cap on your fists with the open side up. Cover the bottom part of the acorn cap with the lower part of your thumbs. Try to press them together hard enough so that no air can escape that way. You should leave a little triangular-shaped opening at the top of the acorn cap.

Press your open lips over your thumb knuckles and blow hard.

It takes some practice but an acorn cap makes an incredibly loud whistle. Don't blow the whistle near people's ears!

What else can you use to make a whistle? I've tried a pen cap, a bottle cap, and a slipper shell. Would a water bottle cap work? A walnut shell?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Patchy Pirates

I've been trying to create a new kind of doll for a few months, and I have finally succeeded in creating my first patchy pirate. She needs a few details, like some wee braids, buttons, and ric-rac.

I wanted to spend more time playing with color and experimenting as I made dolls. I wanted the whole process to feel more fun, more intuitive and creative, with a doll which felt more uniquely mine.

I tried to make rag dolls using jersey, velour, felted sweaters, blue jean, and crisp cotton. I had a lot of trouble with the head. Some of the trial dolls were downright strange and creepy looking. I gave away the cutest of the experiments and I came back around to doing waldorf heads, since they are so lovable.

Here is a pile of patchy pirate bodies! What a joy to play around with these patches of bright color! I love it! More fun to come soon as I finish these little patchy pirates in the coming week.