Tuesday, October 7, 2008
simplified paper bag toadstool: a tutorial
When I chose a woodland theme for the Mama Goose window I knew there would be toadstools. I had been thinking along the lines of paper mache over recycled plastic containers. Last week, Pat from Zen Crafting (and my dear friend), e-mailed me this photo from Ann Wood's flickr photostream. I "faved" it immediately! How perfect is that! Everything I love: recycling, paper, ingenuity, and simplicity. Ann pointed to The Spore Project, by Doug Rhodehamel, for her inspiration for the paper bag mushroom. Doug Rhodehamel began this project to raise awareness about creativity in daily life and promote art education. His introduction says that "The project illustrates the importance of self expression, resourcefulness and creativity - specifically, how to look at one thing (a simple paper bag) and see what it can be instead of merely what it is." It also encourages everyone to make and "plant" mushrooms with the intention of getting the word out... so far 63,000 have been planted all over the world...can you imagine!! That's a lot of paper funghi. Please check out the whole site...it's fascinating! You can find his tutorial here for plantable shrooms if you'd like to spread this beautiful message by making your own.
The original tutorial is quite involved and is specifically for mushrooms planting in the ground. It's also not very child-safe since bamboo skewers and a hot glue gun are needed. I simplified the instructions to make this a craft that is do-able with a young child. Use any combination of instructions to create your own mushroom and then recycle them when you're done.
-brown paper lunch pags
-paper towel for blotting
-red and/or white acrylic paint (optional)
-spot stampers (wine cork and pencil with new eraser...not shown in photo)
1. Open bag and put your fist in.
2. Squeeze bag around wrist.
3. Take your fist out and twist stem in one direction, tightly.
4. Roll the mushroom cap's edges to round them.
5. Tear edges around the stem's bottom for a more organic look. I did this with some, but not all. Keep in mind that you'll need some sort of flared bottom to help it stand up.
6. Paint top red.
7. Blot wet paint with a paper towel to give a softer, more natural appearance.
8. Admire and decide if you want to embellish more. I also attach a loop of tape to help the mushroom adhere to it's surface and stand upright.
9. Add spots with a wine cork or new eraser, depending on desired size.
So sweet! Try making different heights for each toadstool to make them unique.
My aim for making these toadstools was not as altruistic as The Spore Project, but maybe you will consider all of the benefits of delighting children (and some of their grown-ups) a happy excuse to forage for brown paper bags of your own. Make some, plant some, play with some. My 3 1/2 year old had so much fun helping with this "simplified tutorial" and photo shoot, that she ended up going off to her studio and surprised me with a little mushroom completely independently... it's that easy.
Are all of these little toadstools as beautiful as Ann Wood's stunning paper bag art? Of course not, but the many possibilities for open-ended dramatic play are exciting and adults might want to keep some for their own decorating, as well. We will bring them to our nature table and keep some for playing with fairies and dolls.
This entire project combined both my love of simplicity and the joy I find in a little magic and whimsy. So much fun!