ElleSee Paints: The Follow-Up to Self-Portraits for a Year

March 29, 2020

So for my 35th birthday year I planned on painting self-portraits each month as an art project where I would challenge myself to paint over the previous artwork and try new techniques an approaches to painting that I had not done before (find out why here).

While there were several months where I did not complete a portrait (I always forgot about it until the last hour before the beginning of the next month), and I have yet to paint the last self-portrait (the canvas is prepped with white paint), and I didn't really try any new techniques or styles in my painting (in most of the paintings the brush strokes look pretty much the same), but I did try to draw myself in different ways: closer, smaller mouth and bigger eyes, non-human...etc. That helped me to have a different approach to each self-portrait.

Would I do this again? Yes. I think I would. Though I forgot about it until the last minute every time, it was a lot of fun to get outside of my painting box (trees and landscapes) to try something new. What have you done lately that was outside of your regular box?


Behind the Art: Tetrahedron

March 21, 2020

While I was making Christmas gifts one year, I had some extra air-dry clay available that I decided to use to make some brooches for the shop that were a more affordable price point than the hand-drawn brooches set in a wooden bezel (see them here). I came up with a few shapes and designs, but decided I wanted to do something in a triangle shape without it being just a triangle that I cut out. So I looked-up three-dimensional triangles and found the tetrahedron

The Tetrahedron is one of my most favourite brooches that I have made, and, in true fashion of favourite-things-a-maker-has-made, it is one of the last to still be in the shop. If I'm being honest, all of my favourites are still in the shop. One of the hardest things as a maker is to think that you are coming up with the coolest ideas and creating the most amazing things only for them to not sell at all (or very rarely at a handmade market), but all you can do is keep moving along and hope that the next idea sticks better.


Our Favourite Children's Books and Toys

March 18, 2020

Favourite Books for Preschoolers

The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak is a fan favourite with both my preschoolers at work, and my son at home. It is soooo silly that there is absolutely no way that a child would simply not love it.

I just discovered The Button Book by Sally Nicholls, and the children are loving it!! Not only is it a beautifully illustrated book (thank you Bethan Woollvin), but it is also very silly (are you sensing a theme here? Silly is good!) and the children love doing the activities prompted by the buttons (especially the green button...).

Favourite Books & Series for Older Kids

If your child is a fan of the Geronimo Stilton books, then the Kingdom of Fantasy series is a good one to check out. My son cannot get enough of it, and asks for a new book every birthday and Christmas. Even if you've never read any of the Geronimo Stilton books before, you don't need to worry about it as this series stands on it's own.

My son read The Wild Robot by Peter Brown with his class and absolutely loved it. He brought home the second book in the series called The Wild Robot Escapes from the school library, and when I read the back of the book I was instantly taken with the story and how much it reminded me of the dystopian fiction that I read in university. It is very well written.

Favourite Toys for Preschoolers

Right now, the absolute favourite, top-used, could-play-for-hours toy for my preschoolers at work is Duplo. This open-ended STEAM toy has so many possibilities, and creates so many opportunities for learning co-operative play.

Another incredibly popular toy at work is the blocks. Every child currently in my room enjoys playing with the blocks (regardless of gender). These blocks would be a good starting kit if you don't already have access to some.

Honestly, preschoolers are happy with any kind of open-ended toys: toys that they can build with, toys that they can dress-up with, toys that they can explore water and sand with. Loose parts are also amazing and they use their imaginations to come up with so many different ideas and ways to use them. The beauty of loose parts is that you can use anything from around your house (buttons, nuts and bolts, pinecones...the list goes on!).

Favourite Toys for Older Kids

GraviTrax are like a marble works for older children that provide lots of STEAM opportunities, while also giving them something fun to do. You can find the starter kit here, as well as multiple expansion packs (including a magnetic cannon!). 

Nothing beats a solid collection of art supplies (great for younger kids too!). Getting crafty and creative is also a great way to use some of the recycling and materials that might note be recyclable in your area.


The Shop is 9

March 08, 2020

This month is the shop's 9th birthday! It's unbelievable that we have reached this point, that so much time has passed and we have seen the shop grow and develop into what it is today. I still have so many dreams for the shop, so there's a long way to go on this winding road that Little Shop of ElleSee is taking, but I am so glad that you have been walking along with me (see the journey so far here). Whether you have been with me since the beginning, or have just joined in on the adventure, I have loved having you with me. You've made excellent company!

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