Friday, August 19, 2016

Shaving Cream, Paint, and Fun

I took an art class this summer and learned to make marbleized paper using shaving cream and paint. It was so much fun that I knew I wanted to try it with my girls. I bought the supplies and then never got around to it. But this morning, after several long, boring, cranky weeks, I decided that we would spend our last Friday of the summer making art. It was so much fun! The best morning in weeks.

Here is what we did:

(I gathered all the supplies and set everything up first. This project is MESSY so you need everything ready to go before you touch the paint and shaving cream!)

First, spray shaving cream on a cookie sheet. You can use any flat surface (in my class we just worked directly on the art table), but this contained the mess well and was easy to clean.
Then smooth the shaving cream out as best you can with your hands. The goal is to cover the whole surface.
Then drip lines or spots of paint on top of the shaving cream.
I bought liquid watercolors online to use for this. They are relatively inexpensive and have strong, vibrant colors.
You can use tempera or acrylic paint, but the colors won't be as bright. (You can also make your own liquid watercolors using old markers - check Pinterest for instructions.) I made and posted a color chart so we could see how colors react with each other and we talked about colors that looked good together and colors that don't. Mixing purple and yellow is a no-no. This particular project looks best if you use only 2 or 3 colors.

Then using a chopstick, unsharpened pencil, paintbrush handle, etc. draw lines through the paint to mix it. It works best to make some sort of pattern instead of random squiggles. There is also an art to knowing when to stop!

Once the design is made, lay a piece of paper over the shaving cream and press it gently to make sure that all surfaces are touching the messy stuff. We used nice drawing paper, two weights of watercolor paper, and tracing paper. All worked well and each gave a slightly different effect. In my class we also used paper plates, deli paper, and watercolor paper with a linen-like texture. I think almost any kind of paper could work.
Then carefully lift the paper off and set it on the table. I covered my table with waxed paper to protect it and make clean-up easier. You can re-use the shaving cream for several papers, just add a little more paint if needed. The first printing is always the clearest, but second and third prints were still pretty. We marbleized both sides of our papers to make them more usable for future projects.
Then using a ruler or straight edge, scrape the shaving cream off. We found using a metal ruler made it easy to wash between colors.
Set a large trash can next to your work space and scrape the messy ruler on the side to clean off excess shaving cream. By the end of the morning, even our trash can was pretty!
The painted paper is damp, so hang it on a clothesline or drying rack for a while.
Then clean off your work surface, chopstick, and ruler and begin again. The three of us quickly worked out a system on one person painting, one person helping and prepping the next tray, and one person cleaning. After almost two hours and 3 cans of shaving cream, we had about 15 beautiful marbleized papers!
Now to dream up ways of using all these gorgeous papers...

- Work table with easy access to a sink
- Cookie sheets or other flat work surfaces (one per person)
- Waxed paper or old plastic tablecloth to protect work table
- Trash can
- Clothesline and clothespins
- Shaving cream, the cheaper the better (no aloe or menthol kind). One can makes 5 or 6 first prints.
- Liquid water colors
- Chopstick or paint brush handle
- Metal ruler
- Assorted paper (watercolor or heavy drawing paper works best)
- Aprons or paint shirts
- Paper towels and damp rags for clean-up

Thursday, August 4, 2016

U.S. Olympic Training Center

On our last afternoon in Colorado Springs we visited the Olympic Training Center.
Bobsled anyone? The Olympic center was actually very interesting. It's a huge complex, with on-site dorms, dining hall, practice facilities, nutritional support, and medical services.
Thousands of athletes train here, both full and part time. Athletes participating in the Paralympics also train at the center. There are three official training sites around the country. Our guide explained that Colorado Springs trains primarily "indoor summer Olympic athletes", but winter participants sometimes train there in the summer. (We watched a bobsledder work out in the enormous weight room.)
We were able to go inside several of the buildings to see the training spaces. We visited the shooting sports center, the wrestling room, and the men's gymnastics space (most of the women gymnasts train in Houston).
The training spaces are set up for training, not spectators, so there is not much space for observers. We looked through outside windows into the weight room, basketball/volleyball courts, and the swimming pool. There were swimmers in the pool, but none of them were headed to the Olympics.
Even as a complete non-athlete I was impressed by the high tech facilities and the care and support given to the people who train there. The buildings were carefully laid out and the grounds were lovely. The flags along the main path through the complex represent all of the countries that participate in the Olympics.
There are cool sculptures and bronze statues throughout the center and a beautiful sculpture garden.

Rachel was quite intrigued by this statue, since two of the figures appear to be floating in midair!
I liked the sculpture of ancient and modern athletes holding up the globe.

There is an Olympic countdown clock on the tourist building. That day it read 7 days until Rio. Today it is down to 1! Seeing the place where so many of the athletes in this Olympics trained will make the games even more exciting to watch!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Garden of the Gods

On a wonderfully cool morning we went to one of my very favorite places - Garden of the Gods.
I had been to these rock outcroppings several times before and I discovered that they are just as fascinating as I had remembered!
We all posed in front of Balancing Rock...

...and explored some other rocks.

We parked the car and went hiking for a while.

Such a gorgeous place! The clouds were moving and the rock formations changed looks in the shifting light.

Katherine was...challenging for much of the morning. 12 can be a difficult age for everyone involved. (Now that we are home, she is quite enthusiastic about all we saw there, but at the time all she did was complain about the activities we were NOT doing.)
Rachel, on the other hand, absolutely LOVED Garden of the Gods. She was delighted to hike and climb, took lots of pictures on her camera, and repeatedly commented on how beautiful the sights were. I'll take this girl back with me any day!

As usual, I was fascinated with the plants and flowers. I especially loved the ancient twisted trucks and roots of the evergreen shrubs and the flowers and trees that grew directly out of rocks!

We had lunch at the park's restaurant, eating on the patio with a view of the rock faces.

I am certain that I would never tire of views of this place!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Seven Falls

After spending time at the cliff dwellings, we decided to visit Seven Falls. I have been to Colorado Springs many times, but I had never heard of this place. My mother-in-law had been there, but admitted that it had been 50 years! We eventually discovered that in order to go to Seven Falls you must first catch a shuttle bus at the Broadmore Hotel complex. A short ride later we found ourselves in a beautiful mountain site.
We walked along a gently sloping path along a mountain stream. I was so fascinated by the rock formations and the spicy scent of pine and the wildflowers planted all along the path that I kept stopping to take pictures. That meant that my family was always somewhere ahead.
I didn't care. I was too busy experiencing all that beauty!

We eventually made it to the base of the falls and had lunch at the overpriced restaurant there. My mother-in-law has had both knees replaced and quickly decided that she was not going to attempt the rigorous climb to the top of the falls. Instead she took the "mountain elevator" to a viewing platform and enjoyed the scenery. The rest of us sized up the 243 stairs ahead of us and started up.
The stairs were steep, narrow, hung over empty space, and had very few landings to rest on. Between the altitude, my fear of heights, and my general out-of-shapeness, the climb was a physical and psychological stretch for me.
But I was determined to make it to the top and the views were well worth it.

At the top we could see the beginnings of the waterfall
and trees estimated to be 300 years old.

I would have gladly hiked the trail through the woods to see more views of the canyon, but the girls were hot and tired so we climbed back down.
The girls whined and griped all the way back to the shuttle, completely oblivious to the spectacular views and I gained an appreciation for why some people vacation without their kids. But I decided to ignore their complaints as best I could, because the setting was just too pretty to miss. So I took my time going back down, pulling out my camera at every opportunity.

Seven Falls was a gorgeous place! I would happily go back to revel in the beauty of the Rockies, cranky children, endless stairs, and all.

I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters


Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way