Tag Archives: crayon-resist

How to Make a Celebration Branch

Nehemiah had guts. As cupbearer to the Persian king Artaxerxes during the Babylonian exile of the Jews, he was the king’s last defense between a poisoned drink and death. Every day Nehemiah’s life was at stake.August 2015 163 (2)

Every day required supernatural courage to perform his duties. And Nehemiah knew where to find it.

So when he went to Jerusalem and finished rebuilding the wall with the returned captives, he could hardly wait to share the book of the Law of Moses with the people. But when they heard it, they wept.

Nehemiah said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

It’s tempting to focus on weaknesses and dangers. But that’s like focusing the beam of a lighthouse so narrowly on the shoals, we can’t see the safe harbor just ahead.

Nehemiah reminds us to open our eyes to enjoy God, to share His gifts with others, and to rejoice because He has accomplished all His purposes. Our joy is in His sufficiency, and in that joy is our strength.April 2015 049

In keeping with Nehemiah’s instruction, here are info and directions for the Celebration Branch, as promised. The idea of a branch comes from Leviticus.

Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches, and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days.” (Leviticus 23:,40)

The people of Israel gathered branches to make shelters for the Feast of Booths,   a week-long Thanksgiving celebration after the harvest.

Our Celebration Branch is a little different. We hang a branch above our kitchen table, and decorate it to reflect times of thanksgiving and joy in our family year-around.August 2015 399

Examples:

To celebrate the arrival of a newborn, foster, or adopted child, hang photos, shoes, rattles, toys, words of welcome, etc. For an exchange student,  add welcomes in English and their native language, and brochures about places to share.

In Autumn, use artificial leaves, pencils, crayons, grades and photos of each school child and phrases about their hopes and dreams for the year.

At Thanksgiving, hang photos, drawings, or lists of things you’re grateful for, along with hand print or pine cone turkeys, strings of candy corn, etc.

The Celebration Branch is a perfect place for Jesse Tree,  Advent, or other traditional Christmas ornaments including candy canes, stars, evergreen sprigs, snowflakes, Nativity figures, or gold ribbon.Nov-Dec 2014 023 (2)

Small cards with Easter promises can dangle amongst fresh or artificial flowers such as forsythia and lilies, along with other symbols of new life such as eggs and chicks.

Birthday or baptism celebrations might include the photo of a child, interests, strengths, testimony, favorite things,  and other clues of how God has made them, such as small toys and books.

For summer vacation with the cousins, we hung crayon resist watercolors of flowers, frogs, and butterflies (See my post, “How to Make a Luscious Crayon Resist).

As you can see, the possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Here’s how to make your Celebration Branch:

  1. Take a walk in the wSept 2015 026oods and look for an interesting branch with lots of smaller twigs. Mine is a fir branch about five feet long, but yours can be longer or shorter as you desire.
  2. Remove leaves or needles from the branch and trim the side twigs until your branch is a pleasing shape.
  3. Hang the branch from your ceiling with several large eye hooks and strong string, making certain you screw at least some of the hooks through drywall into wood at each end so the branch can’t fall and hurt someone.
  4. Jazz up your branch with ribbon, bias-cut fabric, vines, lights, or glitter glue before you decorate it.
  5. Poke tiny holes in your decorations and hang them from your branch with light string or thread.
  6. Finally, friends, when you look at the branch, remember to rejoice in the God who gives you courage for each day, as He gave Nehemiah.

“Rejoice in all you11147035_10153285429579214_4948497860104946008_nr doings in which the Lord Your God has blessed you.” (Deuteronomy 12:7, The Fifth Book of the Law of Moses)

How to Make a Luscious Crayon Resist

“And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.” Deuteronomy 12:7

I’ve been a potter, fine artist, and crafter for many years, but no matter how many times I do crayon resist, color and light spring off the page in ways I don’t expect. Then I feel a little bit of the joy God must have felt when He spoke the world into being in all its parts.

And crayon resist certainly proved to be a hit for all the cousins when they visited. Not only do we have happy memories, but some beautiful artwork, as well.August 2015 327

This is an easy project that yields exciting results with the right materials. Whether you’re creating an illustration, objects for a mobile, or a drawing for the refrigerator, a crayon resist will delight and surprise.July 2015 001 (2)

The best part of this technique is the moment you paint over your drawing and see the crayon colors pop. White, as in the flower above, and very light colors, as in the frog, are especially effective, as is a balance of both rough crayon to resist the watercolor and bare smooth paper to absorb it.

How it works: Regular crayons have enough wax in them to make a water-proof tJuly 2015 009extured line to resist watercolor paint applied lightly and only once. (Repeated washing of crayon surfaces with a wet brush will lift the crayon and destroy its resist properties).

You may want to plan the balance of light and dark values in your composition, as well as positive and negative space, or you may just want to plunge in to scribbling and painting. Either way, this is an exciting technique to experiment with. But it has its limits.July-Aug 2015 014

The coarse nature of crayons does not lend itself to tiny details. Too many small shapes will get lost in a cacophony of lines. Too many colors lessen the impact.

For a mobile, make your designs very simple: flowers, frogs, leaves, butterflies, and the like. More complex illustrations, such as this one I did for a picture book, require careful planning and a light pencil sketch.August 2015 008 (3)

Supplies: Regular crayons (not washable), card stock, watercolor paper, or a copy paper with a high cotton rag content such as Wausau 100% cotton stationery (at Target and other stores), watercolor paint box, paper towel, water cup, and thick, soft brush.August 2015 007 (2)

  1. Draw and color a simplified design on your chosen paper. (Elements of a mobile require heavy card stock). Light crayon delivers extra zing when you add the watercolors. Color hard. Leave some paper blank to absorb the paint.
  2. Load a soft brush with water and watercolor of any dilution.  Experiment with both opaque and transparent color, bright colors, deep colors, and black. The important thing is to commit to whatever you choose, so you don’t scrub off the crayon by changing your mind too many times.July-Aug 2015 012
  3. If your resists are for a mobile, you’ll want to cut out your elements after they dry, flip them over, and repeat steps 1 and 2  on the other side.
  4. You may want to spray your finished crayon resists with a fixative from a craft store or heavy-hold hair spray from the dollar store.
  5. When your mobile elements are completely dry, punch a small hole in the top with a hole punch, ice pick, or thick needle and hang with thread or light string. Turn on a fan and watch your dazzling display dance.August 2015 399

When the Leaf Comes Out of the Table

The table is tidy with a turquoise windowpane tablecloth, a bouquet of flowers from Farmer Larry up the road, and chickadee salt-and-peppers perched on the edge of a vintage red-and-white quilt square. Overhead swings the Celebration Branch.August 2015 422 (2)

This one is simply a bare fir branch (no needles) wrapped with burlap and ribbon and currently decorated for summer with crayon resist flowers, frogs, and butterflies, mostly made by the grandkids. It’s all very pretty, but I ache over what’s missing.

What’s missing is the leaf in our kitchen table. What’s missing are our daughter, son-in-law, and four children, who left this morning for their home and ministry to the Ojibwa in Ontario’s far north. Our family table has shrunk. The house echoes.  My heart echoes.

What do I do with the sadness?

For two splendid weeks our home has been abuzz with six grandchildren, sprinklers, water squirters, arms outspread in soaked clothing, giggles, foil packets of campfire stew around the bonfire, tea with sugar cubes, Kung-Fu Panda, backgammon, and popcorn.August 2015 131

For two wondrous weeks I’ve listened to my earnest daughter instruct her children with the teachings of kindness on her tongue, my patient son-in-law lead bedtime prayer and songs, and the kids jockey to pick and eat garden blueberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, and beans.

For two humbling weeks I’ve been enfolded in the holy ground of hubbub--gooey fingers, cranky naps, and bright mornings. I’ve slowed down, sped up, whirled dizzily, and sat in a heap to soak it all in, confess my selfishness, hear God’s voice, and see His face in the faces of others.

I’ve slowly unclenched the fists of my normal two-grandchild daycare routine and settled into the rolling back seat of a speeding satellite sent to unlock the secrets of love and forgiveness in the eyes of six tumbling, grubby, priceless children. My heart is full.

Which was why today, carefully orchestrated as it was, was hard. Very hard.

August 2015 008The adults decided to sweeten the bitterness with a trip to the bakery this morning. It didn’t fool the kids.  All the children in my car said they didn’t want to go to the bakery (and that’s a first) because they knew the goodbyes would follow.

Goodbye for a year–maybe longer. I’m with them.

My heart aches at going back to ceramic plates instead of paper–paper having been faster to clean up so all of us could squeeze in rides on the Green Machines, wading in the creek, and making crayon resists on the kitchen table.

I know goodbyes are necessary. My children have a God-breathed calling and so do I. For them, it’s clinging to Jesus while balancing family and friends as well as running a Christian school, church, and Bible study in a remote town to which there are no roads–only twin-engine planes or trucks when the lake freezes.

For me, it’s clinging to Jesus while balancing home, family, friends, daAugust 2015 212ycare, school activities, church activities, critique group, art, and writing.

All holy ground. So what to do with the weight of good-bye?

I remember the happy faces, shared activities, and time spent wrestling with and resting in, God. With each memory,  I feel the restoration of the visit, the touch of my daughter’s skin, the sound of her hymnal voice, the strum of her donated guitar. I remember.

Family visits are like that–for helloes and I love yous and renewal and strengthening of bonds, for making memories last until the next time God grants us leave to see each other again.

How about you? How do you make memories? How do you make them last?

In the next few weeks, I’ll share fun activities that made this family visit so wonderful. WAugust 2015 409atch for these upcoming posts: How to Make Custom Packets of Campfire Stew the Kids Will Love, How to Make a Celebration Branch, and How to Do Crayon Resist.

For now, I sit at the kitchen table and gaze at the Celebration Branch. I watch the crayon-resist flowers, butterflies, and frogs twirl in the breeze. I’m so happy for the time we spent making them. I guess that’s why, amidst the tears,

I have a big smile on my face.

Apple of His Eye

I c11034920_10153188937269214_2723384077591697003_nolor cardboard tulips on the kitchen table, sunlight streaming through lace curtains, illuminating dirty windows. I make a mental note to clean them tonight. Too much daylight makes glass streak.

I color yellow on the tulip edges so they’ll gleam under the black watercolor as though lit from behind, like my friend Wendy’s fat lambs in the late sun, glowing with halos through their fleeces.

I feel joyfully alive as I color, though my hands cramp and I must rest them frequently. Even the pain reminds me of the splendor of this mortality, that God made nerves to signal pain and pleasure, hot and cold, rough and smooth.

I brush waxy crumbs away and listen to birdsong. As a child I loved the songs of the Bible–the Psalms. Their truth and hope cut through all my pretend–joy, anguish, outcry, acquiescence, and rest–He is God of the real.

A favorite line became a life raft during the worst of the teen years–“Keep me as the apple of Your eye.” (Psalm 17:8)

I didn’t understand the imagery then. But despite feeling worthless and hated by others, I felt special to God–the apple of His eye. I saw myself as a literal polished apple–beautiJune 2015 019fully mottled, shiny, pleasing to hold.

Only later did I read the little footnote that said “apple” meant “pupil.”

The pupil is a hole into the eye.The iris surrounding it is triggered by light striking the optic nerve, and expands or contracts to regulate light as needed.

So if we ask God to keep us as the pupil of His eye, we ask Him to guard our spirits, to regulate His holy light of love and truth that we might always be able to see His path, whether in brightness or darkness. This is an amazing prayer.

The iris widens in darkness, to gather light into the pupil for illumination. Lord, when my soul is dark, open the iris of my heart to gather in Your light. You know how much I need it.

I need Your light when pickle juice spills on clean dishes, when I lock keys, towels, life jackets, and picnic in the car just as we arrive at the lake. I need it for my sore foot at day’s end when the little one wants me to stand and hold her for Rock-A-Bye-Baby.

I need it when I throw out burned eggs because there were FIVE emergencies while I tried to cook them, and everyone is crying because they’re hungry. I need it when the little ones I love wear body braces and face serious surgeries.July 2015 014

I paint black watercolor on my tulips and the waxy color springs to life in relief.

In addition to gathering light, the iris also limits light to protect  the pupil. But some protection is up to us. If we look directly at the sun, its brightness can burn the rods and cones at the back of the eye to destroy our vision forever.

Some people wish for more light, for the light of all knowledge, like Adam and Eve. They want foreknowledge of their futures–poverty, riches, and the day of their deaths. But I don’t want to know. I don’t trust myself with that much light.

I fear I’d turn every thought inward towards how to serve and preserve myself, how to keep instead of how to lay down my life, and thereby miss the joy and pain and real of the present. I want to live all the way here.

I want to watch my granddaughter’s face as she tells me about her new song, her dance steps, how she made a fairy dust necklace for her baby sister who cried because it couldn’t really make her fly.July 2015 048 (2)

The sun shifts. I hang my painted tulips on the tree branch above the kitchen table with frogs, butterflies, burlap, and grosgrain ribbon. The kitchen lies in shadow. I marvel how my eyes adjust. The light has fallen to the other side of the house–perfect time to clean the kitchen window.

Father, clean the glass of my heart. Help me see clearly. Keep me as the apple of Your eye. Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.