Crayon Shaving “stained glass”–Finding Inspiration From Local Artists

Sunday was truly a November day. I woke up and it was grey and rainy with reported temperatures in the 30s. Immediately, I was cranky. I had planned to head out for a walk with my family and then diverge to explore the Roslindale Open Studios, but looking out the window I decided that staying in the house in my PJs was much more appealing.  I put on my grumpy face and prepared to sulk all day.

But then my husband when outside to take out the trash, and of course Morgan insisted on helping. So they put on their shoes and coats over their pajamas and trekked down two flights of stairs to the dismal backyard.  The rain had settled to an oppressive mist. Once the trash was in the bins, Morgan sat down on the stoop.

“Wait here,” he said.

“What for what?” my husband asked.

“What on step for Daddy. Daddy go get dressed. Take walk.” At which point my husband tried to talk our toddler out of a cold, damp walk and failed. Instead he managed to convince Morgan that he couldn’t go out in his pajamas either, so the two of them came inside to get dressed. Faced with the option of staying home by myself and spiraling into a well of weather-inspired self-pity or bundling up and going out with the family, I chose the latter.

So after a quick trip to Dunkin’ Donuts* for hot beverages and a snack, I found myself visiting the Open Studios after all. I hadn’t originally planned to bring Morgan–how much attention span can a two-year-old really have for art?–but with it too cold and damp for the playgrounds we needed somewhere to take the little guy. And it turns out that my two-year-old at least can have a surprisingly long attention span.

The first artist we visited, Kasey Davis Appleman, works in mixed media collage with found objects. I carried Morgan from room to room looking at all the intricate assemblages and taking to him about the objects used to make the art. He wanted to find all the pieces with spoons, then all the sea shells. A few had some tiny cars in them, which made my little guy dimple up and smile from ear to ear.  We went through the place twice before Morgan declared that he was all done and asked to go somewhere else.

So we followed the sidewalk chalk arrows to the displays of balloons until we came to the Roslindale House group exhibit.  Morgan was particularly captivated by the stained glass work of Peter Guilday, specifically his glass stars.  Given that it is now dark early and the day persisted in being seasonably cold, I decided to carry on the art theme after Morgan’s nap. We made our own “stained glass” using crayon shavings, wax paper, and an iron.

Morgan picking colors for his stained glass

Morgan picking colors for his stained glass

Morgan had a lot of fun sprinkling the colors onto the wax paper. We had to send Daddy into another room to shave more crayons for him. I was afraid that Morgan would be upset if he saw us messing up his crayons.

Morgan's Stained Glass circle

Morgan’s Stained Glass circle

Once Morgan gets started on a craft project, he’ll run with it for an hour or so. We made stained glass in all different shapes and sizes. I saved the off cuts–who knows, maybe I’ll find something fun to do with them later.



Construction Paper Fall Leaf Art

When I quit my job as an Assistant Toddler Teacher in a day care classroom to have my son, I imagined taking the structure and lesson planning home with me. I envisioned weekly themes with daily art activities to give my son an enriching, creative, educational experience home with me. And then I had an infant, and then a toddler, and I realized that most of my energy would be spent on getting through the day. The little time I have to myself during the day (i.e. naptime), I want to spend on myself rather than on thinking up educational activities. For a while, I felt mom-guilt about this, but at this point I realize that it is ok. Morgan is hitting all his developmental milestones, can count to 10 reliably, knows the ABC’s, his colors and shapes (including cylinders and arches), and can do basic +1 addition. I think that is pretty good for a kid who just turned two in June. And all of this happened without conscious curricular planning on my part.

That being said, I am a crafty person, and I would like to encourage Morgan to explore his creative side. I am a little embarrassed that I still have the paper Easter baskets we made in March hanging in my window, because I haven’t done organized crafting beyond crayons or sidewalk chalk since. So to celebrate the changing seasons, I decided to do a fall leaf craft.



  • Construction paper
  • Elmer’s glue
  • paint brushes
  • little cups (we save the cups from apple sauce or fruit cups)
  • legal size paper
  • scissors

While Morgan napped, I cut tree silhouettes out of black construction paper and glued them to white legal size paper. I also cut simple leaf shapes out of red, orange, and yellow construction paper. When he woke up and was ready to do some art, I put some glue in a small cup, watered it down a bit, and gave him a paint brush.


He had so much fun, he ended up making five more when he finished the first. The best part? After I ran out of pre-cut trees and leaves, he wanted to pick the colors. So now I have a colorful forest on my wall– with blue trees, green trees, and orange trees with red, yellow, green, orange, pink, blue, and black leaves.  When I nurture him, I do have a budding little artist on my hands!

Morgan's Forest

Boston Handmade Holiday Gallery 2012

The holidays are fast approaching and once again the artists and craftspeople of Boston Handmade have come together for a holiday gallery exhibition. Located at the Christina Hurley gallery at 554 Washington Street in Canton, Massachusetts, the exhibition includes a wide array of beautiful handmade gifts. I am honored to have my hats and hair accessories included in the show again this year.

My friend Wendy and I model Bird Nest Fascinators at the opening reception

The show officially opened with a reception last Saturday, and the gallery was packed with people looking for unique items for their loved ones. I sold a headband to a nice lady who was looking for a gift for her eight year old niece. She even asked me to write her a little note on a business card. I think this is my first request for an autograph!

My headbands and bobby pins on display

Of course, holiday shopping is just getting into swing this weekend. Instead of heading to Wal-Mart or other large corporate retail chains today, why not head to the Boston Handmade Holiday Gallery tomorrow for Small Business Saturday instead?

A collection of Bird Nest Fascinators waiting for you to take them home

King Richard’s Faire 2012

After three weeks of late nights and finger pricking, my family and I went to King Richard’s Faire in Carver, Massachusetts.  I made my dress from Simplicity pattern 3782, and my husband made matching musketeer outfits for himself and our son. We were excited to find matching man and boy musketeer patterns through McCalls, but failed to realize until I went to buy the pattern that the child pattern started at size 3–much too big for our 16 month old. Fortunately, we are a crafty family through and through. My husband improvised our son’s costume based on his own.

Art Interlude: Postpartum–a self portrait

Postpartum by Celeste Bocchicchio-Chaudhri

For those of us who come to parenting through pregnancy and childbirth, part of making sense of our new role and identity as Mother is confronting the changes to our bodies. Here, in oil pastel on paper, is my tribute to my postpartum body: lopsided breasts, stretch marks and all.

Given the media obsession with celebrity moms who sprout tiny round baby bumps, have their babies, and then sport bikinis in bodies suspiciously unmarked by pregnancy, I think it is important for those of us who don’t have (or want) an army of plastic surgeons at our disposal to celebrate the beauty of our changing bodies.

I think my stretch marks look like flames.

Birds’ nests for your hair

About a year ago, I decided I wanted to include my millinery repertoire to include hats made from sinamay, a woven straw fabric. Sinamay is supposedly very easy to block as its open weave makes it easy to stretch and pull on the bias. When I went to buy some, I fell in love with a novelty textured sinamay called Medley Tuft. Here, instead of a grid, straw fibers in two colors swirl around randomly to make a straw cloth with a funky texture.  I didn’t realize until the sinamay arrived that the unusual weave made it much more difficult to work with, especially blocked on its own without a regular sinamay. So it sat in my supply box for a year while I tried to figure out what to do with it.

Then I started making my Peace Hat collection, and I saw the Medley Tuft sinamay in a new light. Why, all those random bits of straw woven together looked just like a bird’s nest! And so my bird’s nest fascinators were born!

Orange bird nest fascinator

Blue bird’s nest fascinator