Fabric Printing with Kids, Part I

Otherwise titled, “decorate your own t-shirts for kindergarten”.


Maia and I have been doing lots of easy and fun fabric printing over the past week.

The fabric paint was left out after I had some friends over for a night of freezer paper stenciling—something I used to do a lot of. But freezer paper stenciling isn’t the easiest thing for an almost five year old to do (I’m not ready to hand her an x-acto knife!), so I tried to think of other ways to print on fabric with her. There’s always leaf printing, or potato stamping, but this time I wanted something especially easy and quick.

So I grabbed my stash of juice bottle caps and thread spools out of the collage box, a vitamin container from the recycle bin, and some plastic circle pieces left over from an old stacking puzzle. They were all easy to print with and made great geometric designs.

Fabric Printing with Kids


  • Plain T-shirt or fabric
  • Fabric paint (We used Jacquard Textile Paint)
  • Found objects to use for printing (juice bottle caps, thread spools, legos, etc)


First, I ironed on a piece of freezer paper, shiny side up, to the inside of the t-shirts we printed. This was to stabilize the fabric as well as to prevent the fabric paint from going through to the back of the shirt.


Then we painted our print tool of choice with fabric paint


and pressed the painted side of the bottle cap (or whatever) to our t-shirts to make a print. Easy!


With this shirt, I used the empty vitamin bottle top to print a solid white circle, then used a thread spool and iridescent pink paint to create the design on top. Maia had asked for flowers and I thought this would create a perfect flower pattern. What do you think? Don’t those look like nice white flowers? But when Maia saw it, she said, “Oh, Mama! Steering wheels! Cool!” So there you go. One of her new kindergarten shirts has steering wheels all over the front.


And here’s the finished t-shirt Maia made. A face. She wants to wear it on the first day of school (tomorrow!) to show her teacher.


And a shirt I made for Daphne.

We also tried another very easy, kid-friendly t-shirt and fabric paint combo that turned out great. So stay tuned for fabric printing part II, coming soon…

P.S. If you work with fabric paints, remember to follow the instructions for heat setting the paint. With the Jacquard paints I use, you let the paint dry, then iron from the back of the fabric for 30 seconds.

This post contains affiliate links.

Shaving Cream Art :: Drawing on the Window

Shaving Cream Art - Drawing on the WindowHello, my friends.

This is a post that I started over a week ago about shaving cream art for kids.

Daphne’s been sick, so this past week has been a little intense. Luckily she seems to be on the mend and her fever is finally gone (Which is especially good because I’ve been carrying that little hot potato almost nonstop and it’s been so hot here. Did I mention we don’t have AC?).

Shaving cream art on the window


  • Shaving cream
  • Fingers, hands, and (optional) a paintbrush or spoon


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A Cake for Outer Space :: Decorating with Kids

Decorating a Cake with Kids

I am such a sucker for children's art, that when Maia asked if we could bake a chocolate cake so that she could decorate it "like outer space", I had to say yes! Of course!

Decorating a Cake with Kids

So this afternoon found us baking this chocolate cake, icing it, and walking to the store for a tube of sparkly decorator icing. Maia drew the planets from our solar system orbiting around a happy sun. She added an extra planet for good measure. And I haven't told her that Pluto's not considered a planet anymore — it seems to be her favorite.

Decorating a Cake with Kids

Maia used sprinkles to color in and decorate the planets and the sun.

Decorating a Cake with Kids

And here is is, before we sliced it open to see what a chocolate version of the solar system tastes like.

After I posted about our plan to make this cake, Susan Marie Swanson sent me this link to a moon cake that Amy Karol at Angry Chicken made — an ice cream bombe showing the layers of the moon. How cool is that! She made it after reading Midnight on the Moon with her girls, a book that we've read recently too. Like many kids, Maia loves the Magic Tree House books!

DIY children’s birthday party invitations


How to make your own super cool zine-like children's birthday party invitations:

1. Decide on a theme. Maia said she wanted a "monsters and princesses" birthday party for her 5th birthday. This is partly because of this book and her current fascination with both monsters (we play "monsters" almost every day) and princesses.

2. Provide paper and drawing materials so the birthday child can draw a picture for the invitation. Maia drew a crown, a cake, and a paperclip chain (?!) along the top of her paper which she said were for her friends to color in and decorate. The monster is a color copy of a drawing she did a while back (for her purple monster costume, which, ahem, I am still working on.).

3. Hop on the computer and do a google image search for a theme-related picture or two. Maia wanted Snow White on her invitation but didn't want to draw her so she picked out a picture online to print out.


4. Cut out your computer-printed images and any drawn images you want to add. Maia cut out Snow White and asked me to cut out her monster.


5. Glue the images to the paper with the drawing using a glue stick for a nice even layer of glue (rather than the puddles that happen around here with glue bottles).


6. Help your child write part of the birthday invitation. Maia just asks how to spell things these days (or guesses), but used to want me to write the words so she could copy them. Of course, if your child is older, she can probably write it herself. And for younger kids, you can always just write it yourself.


7. Play around with the reduce/enlarge button on the copy machine to get the text (or anything else) the right size for the invitation. This may be the highlight of whole invitation-making process. Be warned that your child may find other things to reduce or enlarge over the next few days.


8. Cut out and glue the text on the invitation.

9. Add any other words that your child dictates ("You can dress up as anything since it's a monsters and princesses and knights party.") or that you feel belong on the invitation (date, time, location).


10. When the invitation is complete, make as many color copies as you need (another good job for the birthday child) and send them off.

Don't forget to add your child's name! We forgot, and I had to add it by hand to all the invites.


An Awesome Book by Dallas Clayton

An Awesome Book for Kids by Dallas Clayton

Dallas Clayton urges children (and adults!) to dream big through his debut picture book, An Awesome Book. I bought a copy to give Maia for her birthday later in the month and can’t wait to read it with her. It’s great! 

JEAN:  Dallas, your book is truly awesome! It is filled with thought-provoking artwork and an inspiring message. What led you to create it? I want to know what little seed of an idea blossomed into this amazing children’s book!

DALLAS:  Well I suppose the idea behind An Awesome Book is pretty simple. I wrote it for my son, who was five at the time and was always coming to me telling me about these amazing magical dreams he would have. Fantastical kid ideas about wizards and riding dinosaurs through endless space, things like that… Meanwhile when I talked to most of the adults I knew about the dreams they had, their hopes and aspirations they would talk about things that were very material – owning a dinette set, or paying off their car… So I wrote this book to speak to that idea, to challenge kids and adults as well to try and make their everyday hopes and aspirations a little more magical. To inspire people to dream big.

Dallas Clayton An Awesome Book

JEAN:  Will you tell us a bit about your own background? Did you do any writing or art prior to creating this book?

DALLAS:  I live in LA. I’ve lived here for about ten years, I moved here just after high school. I grew up writing zines, short stories, poems, and selling them to people on the street. When I first moved to LA I realized there were enough events here, shows, galleries, markets, that I could go out every night and sell writing to people on the street and make enough money to pay rent. I did that for a few years and eventually people
started hiring me to do writing jobs.

I’d been writing pretty steadily in the work for hire world up until a little over a year ago when I decided to write An Awesome Book. I wanted to try and
write something for my son while he was still young enough to appreciate it so I decided to write a kids book a day.

This was the first one I came up with and I kinda just went with it. As for the art I’d never drawn anything before this book, nothing of substance anyway, so that was the real challenge of it. Drawing takes forever!


JEAN:  Your first printing sold out almost instantaneously, your subsequent printings sold quickly as well, and now you’re on your 5th printing. Wow! It seems that your message is so very appreciated and needed. Why do you think this is so?

DALLAS:  Actually I think I’m on my 10th or 11th printing at this point…hahaha. I’ve lost count. I guess I tried to approach writing the story from a universal perspective. I think all the best art comes from a thematic place, rather than being strictly a story or strictly a visual piece the most amazing things usually help speak to something larger, answer a bigger question.

For me reading books to my son I found that so many of the classics, the real heavy hitters, did that so I knew I wanted to try and play in that world. I feel like regardless of your age, race, religion, social status, where you are in the world you can relate to the idea of dreaming, of wanting to make the world better so I felt like that was a natural place to start.

An Awesome Book - Child holding book

JEAN:  I understand that you are giving away a copy of An Awesome Book for every book you sell – putting the free copies directly in the hands of children at places like hospitals and schools. What a great way to give back! And considering the message of your book, it makes me a little teary eyed to think of the lives you could be affecting. Can you talk about your decision to do this?

DALLAS:  Yes well the short answer can be seen in this video : http://www.veryawesomeworld.com 


But to expound a bit on that – I always felt like the models that existed for sharing books with kids were fairly limited. I know when an author would come read at my sons school, my son would come home with this pamphlet that said “please send a check for x amount if you want to buy this book, etc” I just always pictured myself as the kid in the classroom who wouldn’t have brought the check in, the only one who didn’t get the book. For me since I didn’t go through a big publisher there’s no red tape there’s no larger confusing math problem to solve to try and get as much money as possible out of the books. I can base my model simply on sharing, and since I am small enough and have enough lateral movement the Awesome World Foundation can give away a book for every one I sell. Touring around and reading to kids is pretty much the best thing ever, being able to give them a book that I wrote and talk to them about their hopes and dreams…well that’s pretty unbeatable.


JEAN:  You mentioned that you and your six-year-old son painted a mural together on your kitchen wall in preparation for this mural that you painted. Can you talk about the process of creating art side-by-side with your son?

DALLAS:  Well as most parents know, the whole process is about growing and changing and exploring who you are as you try to teach someone else who they can become. So many of the things I’m doing in my life right
now, with the book, and art, and touring, and making things are all things I’ve never really done before – at least not to the level which I am doing them now. So the way I see it, including my son in this process puts him at the ground floor of learning these things with me. It’s rare as a parent that you get to stand with your child and say “I’ve never done this before either, but it looks pretty amazing, you want to try and figure this out together.” That’s a pretty special feeling. Being able to take him on tour with me, to go to other schools and read to kids, to give away books with me, I think it’s a beautiful time to share. Also he’s my favorite person in the whole world so that’s a pretty amazing bonus.


JEAN:  Is there anything else you’d like to add?

DALLAS:  Thank you so much for the interview, and to your readers please help spread the word! All the support I’ve had so far is tremendous, and all of it is because of amazing people going out of their way to share. 

An Awesome Book by Dallas Clayton

JEAN:  Thanks for being so awesome, Dallas! And thanks for creating such an inspiring book for our next generation of thinkers, creators, dreamers, leaders, and parents!

Would you like to buy a copy of An Awesome Book by Dallas Clayton?

Or win one?

An Awesome Book Giveaway

An Awesome Book by Dallas Clayton

Readers who leave a comment by
Tuesday, August 10
th will be entered into a random drawing for a
copy of
An Awesome Book.

The random number generator chose #66, so Amy wins the book!

Awesome indeed! I can’t wait to share it with my 4 year old, and what a great gift for our young friends! Thank you Dallas!

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

Paper made of stone? My weekend splurge


I splurged over the weekend and bought myself some new notebooks. Not a big splurge, since each cost under three dollars, but just my kind of splurge. I love paper and notebooks! The two on the left are made from non-traditional materials: banana fiber and stone. Banana fiber make sense to me, but stone?


Have you heard of paper made from stone? It apparently is very ecological since the process of making it doesn’t produce the pollution that making paper from trees creates. Even making post-consumer waste recycled paper creates quite a bit of pollution. I wonder if there is a downside — I don’t know much about it.

I’ve been writing in this notebook for a few days now and love it! It’s quite heavy, but the pages are normal thickness and super smooth.

I’d like to see some sketch pads and other art papers made of ecological alternatives like this, especially if they are as economical as this notebook.


This notepad is actually a mousepad. I thought it was pretty cute and I’m always wanting to jot notes while I’m at the computer. The label says its made of banana fiber as well as recycled paper.


And this last one is one of those magnetic grocery lists that hang on the fridge, but has the added bonus of a meal planning section along the top. I need all the help I can get in the meal planning department, so thought I’d give it a try.

I feel like I’ve been treading water lately. There’s so much I want to do and I’m struggling to find the time to do any of it. Even the blog. And at this point the blog feels like my job. In a really good way. A job I feel privileged to have. You all are showing up every day (from 107 countries, apparently! How cool is that?) and so I really want to have something new posted. And yet, lately, it’s been a bit of a struggle. So I may need to scale back my posts temporarily, perhaps to three or so a week. I hope you’ll understand!

P.S. I just realized I forgot to say where I got the papers. They’re all from Target.

Cinnamon twists – yum!


Maia and I made cinnamon twists yesterday. They were delicious! Between making the dough, letting it rise, rolling and twisting it into shape, letting them rise again, baking them (yes, these are baked doughnuts!), then dipping them in butter and cinnamon sugar, it was a half day affair. But easy and so worth it! Maia loved the process, although I have to say that she probably loved the product even more! By the way, I used half white whole wheat flour this time and they worked great. I might even try all white whole wheat next time.

When the doughnuts were finished we had several platefuls! So many doughnuts! So we piled in the car and delivered them to Harry at work and to friends.

Maia starts kindergarten in a couple of weeks. It’s hard to believe that my mornings baking and creating with her are about to change. Instead it’ll be a mad rush to get her to school by 8am. I suppose afternoons will become our time to do these things, perhaps as a way to wind down and reconnect after school (and maybe dinner will just make itself – ha). I imagine we have a bit of a transition ahead of us!

Totoro and Other Drawing Challenges for Kids


I didn’t end up doing any of the babyproofing of art supplies over the weekend as I had planned, other than moving scissors off of Maia’s red table and keeping the paints in the studio. But Maia did a few more of her challenge drawings and I thought I’d share them with you.

These challenge drawings are easy to make by simply altering the paper in some way to inspire them to think and create differently. I cut holes out of paper sometimes for hole drawing challenges, but this time added contrasting paper shapes with a glue stick.

Maia’s Drawing Challenges


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