F.W.'s Craft Corner

Toad House Splotch

Origami Wombat Splotch

Seeds of Love Craft Logo

For more great MCFC Crafts that you can make at home check out our


  • F.W.'s picture
    Color Craft Corner Print

    Make Your Own Foam Tray Prints! 

    You see that Craft Corner image above? I just made that with something most people would throw away! You know those foam trays you get in the supermarket, the ones with food shrink wrapped in them? I bet you never thought those would be the perfect thing to use for easy printmaking. Go get one and follow the instructions below and see for yourself. It is really easy and fun, and great for people who have never tried printmaking because of all the time and materials. All you'll need for this is are some basic items you probably already have around the house.


    You'll Need:

    • A Foam Tray
    • Paper for drawing on
    • Paper for printing on (can be the same)
    • Pencil
    • Ball Point Pen
    • Permanent Marker
    • Acrylic Paint or Block Print Ink
    • Paint Brush
    • Cup of Water
    • Tape
    • Square of Cardboard or Poster Board



    Foam Tray



    1.First make sure you have a nice clean tray that doesn't have any gouges or scratches on the flat surface. We strongly recommend using trays from vegetables so that you don't have to worry about contamination from meats. Be careful when cleaning the tray they are easy to scratch.







    2.Cut off the edges of the tray, leaving just a flat piece of foam.

    Foam tray cut downCut sides off of foam tray













    Pencilsketch for F.W.'s Craft Corner Print



    3..Now trace the outline of the foam on to thin drawing paper (like newsprint or copy paper) and draw the image you want to print within that border. Use a pencil so you can make changes. I asked Ryan to draw me and some of my crafting tools! Don't draw small details they will get lost in printing.







    Inking your print sketch. 


    4.It's okay if your pencil sketch is messy because next you go over your pencil lines with the permanent marker. You should be using a paper that the marker will bleed through so put a piece of thick paper underneath so you don't accidentially draw on your table! When you are done you should see the image in reverse on the back of your paper.








    5.Tape the foam tray onto the image. Make sure the smooth side is facing the image and it is lined up perfectly. When it is secure flip the paper over and you should be looking at the reverse image with the foam tray underneath.

    Foam tray taped to imageReverse side of inked image





    Pen tracing to foam tray



    6.With the ballpoint pen trace all the the outlines of your drawing. Press hard enough to make an impression in the tray (which isn't very hard). Do this very carefully because any slip of the pen could show up on your final print. Just do the outlines.








    Impression on foam tray

    7.Lift half the paper from the tray and look to make sure you made impressions of your outlines in tray. If you did, remove the paper. If you didn't, carefully lay the paper back down and try it again a little harder.

    NOTE: It is backwards on purpose. You want it that way because when you print an image it reverses and will look normal. 








    Pen impressions on foam tray


    8.Now make sure you have a good idea in your mind of exactly how you want your final print because everything you do now will show up. Take your ballpoint pen and color in (pressing down the foam) everywhere you want your final image to be BLANK. So, basically you are doing the opposite. You are drawing where you don't want ink on the final print. Be sure to press the foam down really well as you fill in the areas. Basically, when you're done, everything you want to show up on the final print should be raised and everything you dont want to show up should be pressed down. If you are having trouble getting it all with the pen you can use any not sharp tool to press the foam down (even the back of the pen).





    9.You are ready to start printing! Just tape your foam print block down to a piece of cardboard or thick paper so it stays still and also doesn't make a mess of your table. Then put some of your paint or printing ink on a palette. I just use old CD cases for palettes (more recycling of materials!) they are a perfect size.

    Tape foam print block to work surface.

    Putting pain on brush











    Apply paint to print block



    10.Use your brush to spread a thin layer of ink everywhere there is a raised surface. Be careful not to get it in the large non-raised areas because it could get on your final print.









    Puting paper down on your print block



    11.Before the ink dries carefully lay a sheet of paper down on it and lightly smooth it with your hand. The first prints you make will be test prints, so don't use nice paper. 











    DIY baren on print paper

    12.The real pressing of the paper against the print block should be done with something very flat and smooth. Printmakers use what is called a "baren." I make my own baren with one the sides leftover from the tray, but you can use anything that is smooth flat and has a largish surface area (like the bottom of a glass). Use your baren to rub the back of the paper to really make sure it is making contact with every inked part of the surface. 





    Taking paper off print block


    13.Now it's time to carefully lift one side of your print to see if it's working. If it is looking okay lift the paper completely off. If the ink hasn't transferred in spots, gently lay it back down and rub those areas some more. When you take your first print off it is the best feeling, you'll love seeing it!

    Now congratulate yourself, you've made a print! 





    Final B&W print

    This print was made on wet handmade paper. See below for details

    More Tips and Tricks!

    Your first couple prints will show you where you need to fix your block. If ink is showing where it's not supposed to, press the foam in that area down more. If you are losing some detail, make that detail bigger. If you are not getting a full image in an area, make sure you add more ink there and rub it with your baren more.



    Printing on dry paper is fine, but sometimes you can get a more solid image when you print on wet paper.  If you want to try a wet paper print use a heavy paper so it doesn't tear. Brush water on your paper with a clean brush and let it dry until is is just damp. Then follow all the normal printing steps. When you are rubbing it against the print block you will see the ink through the paper more which is nice for seeing what is happening. Wet prints will be crinkly, so you can press them under books when they are dry. 

    Wetting your paper for printing

    Rub wet paper down on print block


    If you don't feel like doing all these steps, try just drawing directly on the foam tray and make a print from that. You'll cut out a bunch of steps and you might get something unique out of it!



    One last tip. When printmakers have multiple colors, each one is its own block! That's pretty hard, so when I want color I just use watercolors (see the image at the top). You can use whatever you like to color your print. Also you can try all kinds of different paints and inks to make the prints. Play with it and have fun! As usual, I would really like to see any prints you make!

    Here's a print Ryan made this winter.
  • F.W.'s picture

    Recently Keby was making her own tea, from herbs she grew in her garden, and she asked me what she should use for the tags on the tea bag strings. I thought since she was making her own special tea, she should have her own special tags!


    Lately I've really wanted to start making more stamps and prints. So I decided that's how I would do it! With a stamp you can make lots of copies of something easily but they look a lot nicer and more handmade than printing something from a computer. I thought about making a clay stamp like when I made a chinese chop, and I thought that maybe I'd try a foam tray print because it's easier, but then I saw one of Ryan's white rubber erasers he uses while drawing and I knew it would be perfect! 

    Supplies you'll need for stamp

    For this craft you'll need a white plastic eraser (they're called plastic but they feel like rubber), a pencil or permanent marker, a carving tool or craft knife, a stamp pad, and some paper.


    I started by cutting the eraser in half lengthwise. This will give you more eraser to make stamps with. Or to actually erase with!

    drawn stamp image on eraser

    1. I drew out some ideas for tea label on a piece of paper. When I came up with one that I liked I drew it on to the surface of the eraser with permanent marker. You can use pencil if you want to be able to erase the eraser. Everywhere that is black will be carved out. Those big areas with lots of black lines will be carved out to leave room on the tags for Keby to write what kind of tea she made. REMEMBER: What you carve into the stamp will print backwards, so keep that in mind when you draw your design!


    With this next step you have to have an adult's help.The eraser is very small and when carving is is VERY easy to slip and cut your fingers.



    carving a rubber eraser stamp 

    2. After your image is drawn on the eraser get an adult to carve out the black areas for you. If you have a carving tool this is a little easier, but it can also be done with a craft knife as long as your stamp is not too detailed. You don't have to carve very deep into the eraser to make your stamp work. The good thing about thes erases is they are very easy to cut.


    3. When your stamp is fully carved, press it against and inkpad. If you see ink on any of the large areas that should be blank carve that area away a little more. Now you're ready to stampy stamp as much as you want! For the tea tags I used a handmade paper that we had around here and red stamp ink. They look really nice together!


    handmade tea tags

    4. For the tea tags you just cut them out and fold them in half. You can see how the final tea bags turned out over at Keby's Blog


    Have fun making stamps of whatever you want! And as usual send me pictures when you do!



  • Keby's picture

    Seeds of Love - Valentine's Craft

    Seeds of love Card



    alentine's day is a time to show appreciation for those you love. I love all my friends, and of course I love gardening. I've decided that I'm going to combine my two loves and give away seeds this February 14th! Of course, I won't just hand people a pile of seeds. Instead, I'm going to make everyone a special card to put the seeds in. Because the only thing better than getting a packet of seeds, is getting a packet of seeds and a really nice handmade card!


    For this craft you'll need:

    Construction Paper, Scissors, Glue, a Packet of Seeds.



    This craft creates a really pretty card that looks like two flowers growing out of a flowerpot and it can be given with or without seeds inside.

    Piece of Brown Handmade paper





    Cut a piece of dark colored paper into rectangle that is as wide as you want your flowerpot, but twice as tall. I'm using handmade paper that is created from plants, but regular construction paper will work fine.






    draw pot on paper





    2. Fold the rectangle in half and draw a flowerpot shape on the front.


    Paper Pot Halves





    3. Cut out your flowerpot so when you unfold your paper you have two flowerpot shapes attached by their bottoms.





    Seven Paper Hearts









    4. Now take other colors of paper and for each flower you want in your pot cut out:

    - 1 flower stem

    - 1 flower center

    - 6 small heart shaped flower petals

    - 1 large heart shaped flower leaves


    Assemble paper flowers

    5. Assemble and glue down your flowers on the front side of the top flowerpot shape.
    Glue Closed Paper Flower Card.
    6. Put a bead of glue along the side edges of your top flowerpot half. Fold the bottom half up to meet it and seal them together. Do NOT glue the top of the flowerpot closed.
    Grass Seed
    7. Either put some seeds from a larger pack into a small baggie, or get a store bought packet of seeds.









    Final Seed Love Card





    8. Write a message on the front of the flower pot and slip the seed pack inside. I also like to put a second message on the seed pack as well. Depending on how big you've made your flower pot you may have to fold the pack to fit it in.


    You are now ready to spread seeds of love amongst your friends and family. Remember, Valentine's day is not the only time of year people like to get cards letting them know that someone out there loves them. You can make this any time of year, because people can always use a smile and some seeds to plant. Happy Valentine's day!




  • F.W.'s picture

    F.W. Craft Corner Chop





    We're back from China, but it was such a great trip I can't stop thinking about it! One of the things that I really liked there were Chinese seals, also known as chops. Chops are blocks that have a name or symbol carved into them and can be used to stamp documents. Chops have been used in China for thousands of years as official signatures. Originally, chops were used just by the Emperor to sign official documents, but over time other officials started using it, and now anyone can have their own chop!






    Row of chops at Shanghai Museum


    At the Shanghai Museum there were some really nice chops, which got me wanting one for all my important documents. Then I figured that I could make my own. The problem was that most chops are made out of hard material such as jade, stone or wood. But you know me, I’m crafty, so I figured out a way to make your own chop with easy to use stuff you might have right now!


    F.W.'s Chops

    You'll Need:

    Clay that hardens when you bake it in the oven, a toothpick, and some wax paper. I combined green and white clay so it would look marbled, like a piece of jade, but you can use any color you want.

    Your stamp can be any symbol or letters that represent you. You could try using your initials like I did.

    There are two options for getting your initials on the stamp. You can carve it in (and the stamp will look like the one on the left), or you can add it using raised strips of clay (and it will look like the one on the right).




    F.W. kneads clay



    1. The first thing you need to do is to knead the clay and roll it into a cylinder for a chop with a long handle. If you want a chop with a more decorative handle just shape part of the clay into a block a little bigger than you want your stamp.





    Clay flattened on wax paper.


    2. Press your cylinder down on the wax paper until you form a flat base the size of the stamp you want. Or press your block of clay down until the bottom is perfectly smooth. Try to make sure the bottoms of your clay pieces are as flat and even as possible.




    Carving symbol into clay

    3. If you want a chop with "empty" letters and an ink background then you will want to carve your symbol into the clay. Use the toothpick to do this and carve lightly at first before you go back and make your lines deeper and wider. Push the clay back against the wax paper to even it out and then touch up your lines. REMEMBER: Carve your symbol backwards so it prints the right way when you use the stamp.



    Addin a raised symbol to your chop


    4. If you want your chop to have inked letters and empty background then you will want to create your symbol with clay. Roll some clay into thins strips and attach these to the bottom of your chop in the shape you would like. You can use the toothpick to help move the clay around to neaten up the shape. REMEMBER: Apply your symbol backwards so it prints the right way when you use the stamp.





    F.W.'s Chop F.W.s Chop Style 2


    5. The last step is to shape the handle of your chop the way you'd like it. Or, you can create a mini sculpture to put on top of one without a handle.

    Then, bake the clay according to the directions on the package and get out your stamp pad. You can start stamping your own letters or homework just like the Emperors in China used to do. Hmmm…I'm not sure they did homework, but you know what I mean!



    Very elaborate chop print.


    Not all chops are made to stamp a simple design. Some use every
    surface of the stone they were carved on. Mouse over this to see what
    kind of crazy chop created this image!


  • F.W.'s picture

    Make an Origami Wombat


    Origami Wombat instructions


    Would you like to play momma wombat and have a little wombat to carry around in your pouch (or pocket if you're not a marsupial)? I know it would be much better to have a real wombat but we don't like being pets, so you are going to have to settle for paper.


    If you don't have origami paper don't worry. You can take any paper you'd like and cut it into a square for this craft (make sure it's a true square with even sides).


    If you want printable instructions just click here.


    If you want to follow along online go to the next page.


    Remember, don't get discouraged! Origami is hard and it may take you several pieces of paper before you get this right.



  • F.W.'s picture

    Toad House





    Are you ready to go into the toad home-building business? Alright, get your hard hat on and let’s start!


      1. First, get a large can, flower pot, or plastic tub to act as your main structure. If you are using a can, make sure there are no sharp edges around the opening that will hurt the toad.


      2. Next you're going to decorate or paint it any way you want, but if you are using something with a lot of writing or pictures on it, it might be a good idea to first paint the whole thing with a layer of solid color, just to cover it up.


      3. Then you can paint your house design on (you can make it blend in with the environment, or paint it to look like a little mini version of your house). You’re going to be laying the can on its side, so keep that in mind when you’re designing it.



        4. After the paint has dried, and you are happy with your design, spray it a few times with the clear acrylic spray. This will help the paint last through storms and other foul weather.


        5. Bring your toad house outside to a nice spot. Toads like water, so the closer to a pond or other water source, the better. Or, if you don’t have a pond, find a moist shady spot in your garden. (Keby told me that she loves toads in her garden because they eat a lot of the pesky bugs.)


        6. Then lay the house on its side, and bury half of it. Fill the inside with dirt because that’s what toads like to sit on.


              That’s it! Now just sit back and keep an eye out for a toad looking for a new home. If lots of toads are in you area, they probably won’t want to be roommates (unless they’re in toad college), so you might want to build more homes for them. Eventually you could build a whole toad town, with rocks for decoration and a little pond for swimming. Just try not to bother the toads too much or they might move out, after all no one likes an annoying landlord. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a house warming party to go to!


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