Flower Pounding on Paper Egg Cartons

We’ve done another project for TinkerLab’s Flower Challenge this week. You have to try flower pounding! It’s really simple and we got great results! Electra also loved getting the chance to use a REAL hammer.

A few of the different projects that I read about on the web used watercolor paper (check out this one at Sweet Leaf Notebook). We used Egg carton lids that we had on hand. The cartons worked really well, I think because they are so thick and the texture helps absorb some of the moisture in the flower.

The biggest tip I have for you is that it’s important to spread the flower’s petals out, and use flowers with simple shapes and bold colors. Yellow Nasturtiums worked the best for us, but this works great with leaves too.

Nature’s Opera Glasses (Leaf Peepers) & Fall Foliage Crowns


This week has been awash with what my mother-in-law calls Goldilocks days. Autumn days when you feel perfect in jeans and a sweatshirt and everything seems to sparkle. We made these “leaf peepers” to dress up a little for all the grandeur going on out in the woods. Gingkos aflame and momiji (maples) turning indescribable shades of fruit sherberts, we couldn’t help but go for leaf collecting romp in the park.

The opera glasses are easy to put together. Start by tracing around your favorite pair of sunglasses onto cardboard that has widely corrugated channels. Make sure to orient the channels of the cardboard vertically so that you can insert a stick on the side once you have cut them out.

Add another inch to inch-and-a-half at the top of the glasses to make long enough channels to stick leaves into.

It worked fine with a large pair of curvy adult-sized sunglasses as well.

Insert a stick into one of the channels on one side.

We also made these simple crowns out of a strip of cardboard taped into a circle.

Happy Fall!

Strings of Things

Although the leaves have not quite begun changing here in Tokyo, we got a jump start on leaf collecting when we made Electra’s big fat cardboard book booster seat / leaf press. The other day we opened up the book and took a look at our leaves. I happened to be reupholstering our couch at the time, so I had button thread in my sewing machine in addition to settings that made for the longest stitch possible. We ran stitches through the leaves to create a chain to hang in our window. I have a thick denim needle in the machine that created large perforations in the leaves but they seem to be holding up all right. I must admit they are so beautiful to look at that I want to don a fuzzy sweater and sip spiced apple cider all day long. Isis loves to look at them and I often catch her rearing up on her knees like a mongoose sniffing the air for an opportunity to pull them down. I’m sure she fancies them as the perfect floss for her two new baby teeth.

Here’s a picture of our cardboard beads hung from a stick as a mobile. The thin wide beads were an experiment that remind me of Alexander Calder’s work.




Alpha Beads: Learning to read in English or Japanese

My husband just started taking Japanese classes in the evenings after work, so everyone in the house now is learning to speak in one way or another. After stringing cardboard beads onto long strands to make mobiles, I started cutting out letters to make alphabet beads in both English and Japanese. Japanese has two phonetic alphabets called hiragana and katakana in addition to kanji characters (derived from Chinese characters). One of my biggest challenges when learning to read Japanese hiragana was recognizing the slightly different ways of writing the hiragana. I thought this activity of getting all the slightly different looking letters together would be a good exercise in recognizing environmental print (albeit out of context) for both my husband and my 2 1/2 year old.

Most of the flutes in the cardboard run vertically through the letters and create multiple channels for threading.

I have quite an unruly cache of cardboard accumulating in our small apartment and we have rounded up a good little collection of letters and hiragana.

The only materials we used for these picture stand-ups were cardboard boxes from the grocery store, sturdy scissors, (We have chicken boning scissors from my father, who uses them on the farm for their original purpose.) paper tape (more beautiful than plastic tape) and pipe cleaners or wire.

Use a strip of cardboard and some tape to make a little tripod on the back.

You can make mobiles, spell out words, or make strings of letters with needle and thread. How about a rudimentary version of Scrabble or some other kind of game? I served this mekan (pronounced mee-kon) (Japanese for tangerine) for breakfast. Fruit + chopstick + carboard beads. Mmmmmm.