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community craft design event Vancouver Volunteering

Rooftop Reindeer

‘T’was the week before Christmas (ish.) What could you make with cardboard, no storage, borrowed paint and a handful of volunteers? Turns out, you can pull off a stage set for an Early Years Winter concert!

After my initial idea was ruled out as the Production Manager was super busy (concerts upon concerts!) and couldn’t let us use the wooden stage flats, I had to come up with another plan. I decided on rooftops made of cardboard to host the reindeer and the sugar plum fairies. This was a modular solution that we could make in a small area and store until the show, and didn’t require volunteers to have specific skills to be able to help out. I asked parents to cut up rectangles of card at home of specific dimensions, and these were turned into roof shingles. The school facilities chaps were so helpful when I kept stealing the recycling, and I visited Michaels on delivery day to snag some of their large scale packing card.

In between running around Christmas shopping some of the parents popped in to help as I set up in a corner of the school and constructed and painted the rooftops, using kitchen sponges to print brick texture. Karen, another Mum introduced me to Tuck Tape which was amazingly reliable for construction – (I won’t use anything else now!) apparently its used for actual home construction. Karen also made cute curtains which we hung inside cardboard dormer windows and lit from within.

The final set looked lovely with the addition of some fir trees (just like West Vancouver!) but the real show stoppers were undoubtedly the children, we were all so proud of their performance!

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art community Drawing event Vancouver Volunteering

Sip and Scribble

I devised this event as a fun way to bring our new Kindergarten parents together at school, but it would work equally well as a team-building exercise or corporate event.

Blind continuous contour drawings, marker pen on canvas board, (my example, right)

When we decided to host a wine tasting as part of our school community building, I knew involving an element of art would be fun. I decided to incorporate something of a leveller for the playing field so that people’s inner critics would not discourage them from joining in. Leading a session of ‘blind contour’ portrait drawing surreptitiously encouraged the participants to engage with one of art’s best exercises, that of careful observation.

New friendships forged via creativity and fun

The exercise involved creating portraits in pairs, with the artist not allowed to look at their drawing whilst in process, and with the rule that the pen has to stay on the board at all times. Drawing each other in turn was fun and engaging, and there were a lot of laughs as our participants posed, drew, sipped and swapped notes. I also demonstrated the use of the colour wheel and provided paint so the participants could take their piece even further.

The event was a great success, with wonderfully positive feedback. Anna and David, my hosting partners, provided a lovely selection of wines from France and California and wrote helpful tasting notes, as well as allowing us to use their beautiful home for the event.

Handouts for participants
Custom logo

I branded the invite and handouts (tasting notes, and art history cues) with a custom logo and consistent look and feel. I’m looking forward to hosting another session!

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Book community craft event Vancouver Volunteering

Enchanted Forest of Books

This year, the Scholastic Autumn Book Fair theme was ‘Enchanted Forest’. I volunteered to decorate a section of the school library as part of its magical transformation.

Considering the space, I was inspired to create some enchanted ‘flying’ books to hang above the readers. I hollowed out discounted children’s hardbacks and using Mod Podge to glue the pages open at different states, and hung them with nylon wire.

The signage was really fun to make, I painted wooden boards with freehand calligraphy and added autumnal detail and glass eyes for a touch of fantasy. I made headdresses for the librarians and signage for the cashiers to match.

Boards painted as signposts to imaginary destinations

I prepared faux foliage garlands and festooned the trees and windows, which looked beautiful with the light shining through the Fall colours. I added details to the trees such as battery-operated candles in lanterns, LED lights, sparkling rhinestones and strings of pretty ribbon with tags for the students to write on their book fair ‘wishes’.

Decoration for the book donation boxes
Our lovely librarians getting into the spirit!
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art community craft culture Decoration event Mexico paper cut Party Vancouver

Dia de los Muertos party

DIY Day of the Dead decorations, skulls, calavera, photo booth
Luis rocking the calavera and Adeline with her newly-crafted headdress

I love an opportunity to decorate for a party, and even more so if I get the chance to make the decorations myself! The last few years we have hosted a Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) party, inspired by the Mexican holiday and the annual festival in Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.

So many faux candles and sparkles to use! I love this holiday

For this year’s party I used some foam core on which I hand-painted bright calavera (skull) motifs. I created a skull and lace backdrop with twinkly lights and garlands with faux marigolds and lace ribbon, with plenty of hot glue. I painted and collaged a large polystyrene skull and a vintage sombrero that Chris bought from a work auction, which were fun decorative items and photo props. Papel picado was the inspiration for some cut paper-style foam core signs.

Gabriela with over-sized ‘papel picado’-style signage!
More calacas

We also set aside a maker space and I led a craft session for my friends teaching them how to make calavera headdresses to wear, which was so fun even for the craft-reluctant!

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art craft culture Decoration event fashion Mexico Vancouver

Calavera headdresses

This season I have been busy making scores of headdresses for Dia de los Muertos, and led a craft session to teach my friends how to make them too – such fun!

I used sturdy headbands, (either wide plastic or thin metal work well) and with hot glue, added a felt strip as a base to add the decoration. I provided a lovely selection of faux flowers and foliage, plastic and polystyrene skulls and rhinestones, and we dived in, cutting up some dollar store lace tablecloths as mantillas.

Top hat with a brim of lace, ribbon, netting, faux floral and bejewelled skeletons