Meet Cassi of The Crafty Crow


Cassi headshot Cassi is the mama, artist, and crafter behind the ever-popular kids craft blog, The Crafty Crow. Here she shares her wealth of experience with us, including tips and materials for crafting with kids.

***Note:
Readers will have a chance to win a wonderful little needle felted bunny, handcrafted by Cassi, at
the end of this interview.***

JEAN:   So, tell us a bit about yourself. How did you
get to where you are now as the homeschooling mama of three, with a popular
children’s craft blog, and your own crafts featured in several books?

CASSI: 
Well, my love of handmade, homeschooling and computers are the ties that
hold it all together and a divorce and being a single mom of three is what
propelled me forward. I started blogging 5 1/2 years ago just wanting to
communicate with other people who shared my love of crafting, I had no idea of
the opportunities it would lead to. I always think of that saying, "Do
what you love, the money will follow," well, I'm doing what I love at
least!

JEAN:   Everyone loves your blog and looks to it for
ideas to do with their kids. What made you start The Crafty Crow?

CASSI:  I
started it for my own needs, one place to keep all the kids' craft ideas, and
thought there were probably others out there who would like the same thing. I
also love the crafting community and wanted to be able to bring attention to
all the talented people out there.


Cassi Crafty Crow Mus     
Cassi Crafty Crow Workshop For Children


Cassi Crafty Crow Art For Small Hands  
Cassi Crafty Crow Mary Making 

A selection of crafts featured on The Crafty Crow from (clockwise
from upper left) Mus, Atelier pour Enfants, Mary Making, and Art for Small Hands

JEAN:   You post several times a day on The Crafty
Crow
– with multiple crafts from different blogs – often united by a theme. Are you scouring the internet all day to find these?
How do you choose what to post?

CASSI:  It
seems like I am always on the computer! I have about 500 blogs in my feed that I
read through every day plus I'm always looking at new sources and going through
archives. I get lots of submissions too so there's always something new to
share. I keep all the ideas in files and many of them are compiled by theme.

My posting framework is loosely based
on the calendar with seasons and holidays. I make themed posts when I have
gathered enough variety of ideas to make it interesting and then the rest is
what I feel like at the time :) I try to post at least 3 projects a day and
include something for each of the age categories. My own little whimsy is that
I like the posts to look nice together so I make choices that coordinate with
each other.

JEAN:   How have crafts featured in your family’s
life and homeschooling? What are your kids especially into?

Cassi craft modern Cassi’s workspace and her craft modern house – kitchen,
dining area, living room


CASSI: 
Well, my house is decorated in craft modern! You'll find shelves full of
fabric, piles of old and new craft books, coffee filter flowers, jars of
buttons and ribbons, children's art on the walls and a dining hutch filled with
paper, paint, colored pencils, markers, glues, felt and more. We have always
incorporated a lot of hands-on projects in our homeschooling since it's a great
way to learn plus it's fun. The kids do a variety of crafts – we try things
from The Crafty Crow and they help me with tutorials.


Cassi embroidery pillow
An embroidery of one of her son's drawings made into a pillow (the
pattern for this is in Pretty Little Pillows by Lark).

We started our biggest
crafting endeavor two years ago when we began making all of our gifts for
Solstice. The kids have to make at least 11 gifts each so there's a lot of
planning involved. The idea wasn't terribly popular at first, and it takes a
lot of work, but it has added so much meaning to our holiday I can't imagine
ever doing it any other way.

Cassi nature art 

JEAN:   Any tips for parents who want to make
crafting with their kids more of a priority?

CASSI: 

  • have supplies on
    hand
  • keep art materials
    on the table, coffee table, kitchen counter or wherever your family tends to
    gather

  • start making stuff
    yourself, many kids will want to join in
  • weather
    permitting, take crafting outside – everyone will enjoy a lot more artistic
    freedom when they don't have to worry about making a mess
  • for specific
    projects, collect everything you will need in a box; when you’re ready to do
    that project all you have to do is pull out the box and you're set
  • don't have any
    expectations for a certain result, just enjoy the conversation and camaraderie

Cassi boat making


JEAN:   What are your favorite craft materials for
little kids? What should we all keep in stock at home?

CASSI: 

  • For the youngest
    kids use non-toxic and easy to clean up art materials. Experimenting with
    different media and sensory experiences are most important at this age. Homemade play
    dough, finger paint with pudding, and watercolors from food coloring are good,
    simple and inexpensive activities.
  • Keep a
    well-stocked recycling bin – newspaper is great for protecting surfaces but
    it's also fun to paint on; cereal boxes can be used as structures (buildings,
    blocks) but can also be cut apart to use as tag board; glass bottles can store
    small items but they can also be made into vases, lanterns, snow globes, etc.
    Set out a bunch of recyclables and see what the kids can create. There are lots
    of ideas for crafting with recycled materials on The Crafty Crow.  
  • I love my roll of
    white butcher paper from Costco! I mainly use it to cover surfaces for drawing
    and to make patterns, but it has almost endless possibilities and it lasts
    forever too.
  • Clear contact
    paper and clear packing tape for making stained glass art and laminating.
  • Mod Podge – I love the smell of Mod Podge in the morning ;) but, use in a
    well-ventilated area! 
  • Sharpies, because
    they stay permanent on so many surfaces – I guess that's the bad thing about
    Sharpies too! These are markers for older kids you will need to use caution.
  • Felt – craft felt
    is fine for cutting and gluing but use wool and wool blend felt for sewing
    projects.
  • Colorful tissue
    paper for decoupaging and making flowers.
  • Oil pastels
    because they are just so darned smooth and beautiful! They're messy too but
    it's worth it to me.
  • Painter's tape –
    tape down work surfaces and watercolor paper, use it for masking and to hold
    glued pieces together while they dry. Removal is clean and easy and it can be
    reused too.
  • Everyone should have
    child-friendly but good scissors, white glue (I like Tacky Glue because it
    holds quickly and since it's thick you won't get big pools of it on the
    artwork), watercolors (I like Prang), and crayons/markers/colored pencils.
  • Some sort of clay
    whether homemade salt dough, polymer, or the real thing from the craft store.
  • This will be my
    last idea, since I could go on and on, but take a walk
    outside and see all the things you can find to craft with: rocks, pine
    cones,
    sticks, leaves, flowers, acorns, seeds, feathers, etc..




Cassi felt story book house


JEAN:   Your own creations have appeared in several
books. How do you make time for your crafting? Do you have anything you’re working on these days?


Cassi watercolor drawing CASSI:
  My
own crafting has really taken a backseat to my work for The Crafty Crow,
homeschooling, and maintaining a household, but I always have several projects
going on anyway, they just take a lot longer :) Right now, I am crocheting two
different blankets, needle felting some little animals for gifts, drawing
mandalas and still doing my watercolor drawings. It's very difficult for me
just to sit and not have my hands busy with something so I always carry some
sort of project with me, like crochet, drawing or embroidery, and do a little
bit when I can. I usually do some in bed at night too to help me decompress
from the day. As far as professional projects, I have several that I'm working
on but I don't want to jinx anything by saying something too soon, I'm
superstitious that way :)

JEAN:   Thank you, Cassi! We are lucky to have you scouring the internet for inspiring children's crafts to share with us! What a resource you are creating! And I hope you continue to carve out time for your own crafting.


Cassi bunny giveaway 

Readers who leave a comment by Friday, July 9th
at 12 midnight EST, will be entered into a random drawing for this wonderful little needle
felted bunny, handmade by Cassi. Here's what she says about him:
He's a little needle felted gray bunny (the base of the bunny is 1 1/2", height is 2 1/4" and the orange part of the carrot is 1 1/4"). The bunny, his collar and carrot are all made from 100% wool, and everything except the collar is organic wool. He's pretty solid but not meant for rough play.

The random number generator picked #117 so Sonja wins the bunny!

this lil' bunny is adorable!!


Painting Around the Hole

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After my post on painting tiny, MaryAnn Kohl suggested (on facebook) the idea of offering paper with a hole cut out of the middle. I did, and Maia's been loving this new format! Here's one of her paintings on poster board with a circle cut out of the middle. I thought the progression and layering of crayon drawings, then paint, was interesting.

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Try this with your kids!

Maia's done five drawings now (two with paint) with holes in the middle and keeps asking to do more. I use a bowl to draw the circles on the posterboard and a cup for 8×11" paper, then just cut out with scissors. She's done one with a triangle, too, and who knows what shape she'll ask for next. I don't know what it is about the hole, but it has inspired some crazy creativity in our house!


Strawberry shortcake!

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We just cooked (and ate) strawberry shortcake! Mmm. What a perfect way to spoil our dinner appetite on a 4th of July weekend. The recipe is here, from Martha Stewart. I followed a link from Angry Chicken's holiday weekend post, and salivated over almost all of the summer berry desserts, including this star spangled shortcake, but in the end decided to keep it simple and classic.

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Maia, with the crazy self-directed hairdo and my apron falling off her hips, was my partner in crime, as she is with most baking in this house.

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She always gets bits of crust, bread dough, or, in this case, biscuit dough to make her own creations. This time she rolled the dough into tiny balls which she lined up along the edge of a cake pan to cook "for the fairies."

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Yum!

Happy 4th of July everyone!


Painting tiny

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As a complete contrast to the large body paintings Maia did, here are some tiny paintings of hers.

I've been trying to get this post up for a couple days now, and it seems like every time I sit down at the computer the baby wakes up or Maia needs my attention or something. I meant to write about the benefits of working small, working large, and trying different sizes and formats to keep things interesting. But I guess I'll do that another time, because once again, Daphne is awake after napping for approximately 10 minutes. Someone's gotta have a talk with that kid. (Although she is teething, so we'll cut her some slack.)

Today, photos…

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