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10 + years
Over the summer we got a family pass to the Portland Japanese Garden. Our son found a cool miniature Zen garden toy at the gift shop. Inside was a beautifully written pamphlet explaining Zen meditation, and how raking and caring for your rock garden can be a great way to clear your mind and attain...
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Our kids are getting older! The twins are now 11, and our youngest is 6. I haven’t posted here in quite awhile, but we’ve actually been as busy as ever creating all kinds of projects. Along with art, one of our favorite family activities is playing games. We love Catan, Sushi Go, and No Thanks,...
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In my excitement about the new Star Wars film, I got the bug to re-record this Star Wars inspired funk rap I wrote 20 years ago in my band days. Here is a quick music video I created with the help of some drawings from my 8 year old son. Also, you can download the...
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Here is the new winter theme Paper City set! I love the imaginary escape of dollhouses, so I tried to create some of that feeling. The kids have been busy coloring and cutting. Now they’re making a few of their own additions! So find some hot cocoa and start crafting! I hope you enjoy it!...
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Last week my 7 year old daughter asked me if she could do some embroidery. She made this pillow a couple of years ago, but hadn’t done much since. Sounded like fun to me! She does a lot of drawing, so I got out a disappearing fabric pen and let her create a design on...
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Need a holiday traveling project for the kids? Here is a travel size Paper City Nativity Scene! The tiny pieces turned out rather cute, and it’s also quite convenient being able to print everything on one sheet of paper. Especially great for large groups of kids. And after they’re done building it, you can stow...
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Here is a little animated card based on my Paper City Paris design. Just pull the tab and watch the people walk down the street. It might even be fun for a Valentine’s Day card! I actually got the idea for this card a few months ago, but I never had the time to figure...
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I’ve wanted to try weaving for a long time, but was never sure how to get started. Then I learned about weaving with yarn on a little piece of cardboard, and also found out more great tips from all of you on the Made by Joel Facebook Page. Thanks! Our twins just turned six this...
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I finally tried painting fabric and made some simple little dolls. Last night I laid out a few scraps of muslin and the non-toxic acrylic paints I always use for kids stuff. (See my favorite tools page if you’d like.) I kept the paint pretty watered down so it soaked into the fabric. It was...
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I had some thin pieces of scrap wood, that I thought might work well for a necklace. So I cut some up, painted them, drilled a tiny hole, and threaded silk strand through them. Then I used some clasps from the bead store and crimped them on with pliers. It was pretty fun. My daughter...
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My wife’s birthday was this week, and we made her some necklaces. The kids made bead necklaces, and I wanted try something with wire. It worked pretty well. I just bent sterling silver wire with pliers, and then gently pounded it flat, using a slightly rounded hammer. I took less than 15 minutes total. I...
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I came up with some simple modern dollhouse designs for my book, Made to Play. This is one design that didn’t make it in the book, so I thought I’d share it here. It’s very fast and easy to make. All you need is a board, (any length is fine) and two small strips of wood...
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Here is the music video for Mnemonic Sounds! I decided to go with an abstract art theme for the video. It ended up working quite well I think. The band came to my studio last week, and we had a great time shooting it. Everyone got to be involved, which made for a lovely variety of puppeteering...
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I’ve been wanting to try a paper cut-out mobile and ended up making this owl.  It was an interesting design challenge, trying to make it look good no matter how the pieces spun, and the mobility gives the owl a lot of character.  I think I’ll put it in the kid’s room. I only used...
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A couple of days ago we took another short trip out to the countryside to visit my wife’s grandparents.  The kids love visiting their great-grandparents, and so do I, because they always seem to have some vintage gifts for me.  This time it was an old box of wooden odds and ends that they thought...
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My brother-in-law showed me some photographs of Picasso doing light drawings, and I had to give it a whirl myself.  I had so much fun, I kept going until my camera battery ran out. All you do is put your camera on a tripod in a dark or dimly lit room and take a long...
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I finished the dollhouse!  At least for now.  I’m sure I’ll never stop making furniture for it.  It’s too much fun.  My son especially loves organizing and arranging the furniture.  The guys in the family are playing with dollhouses and the girls are out riding bicycles.  Nice.
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I’ve started to make some doll house furniture.  I’ve been wanting to do this for a few months now.  My kids love playing with doll houses.  I bent a little chair out of wire, and finally found a use for the awesome hand printed fabric scraps I got from Umbrella Prints.  Got out the hot...
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