If you like to collect cones, twigs, leaves, flowers and other of nature’s bounty, Laura C Martin’s book, Nature’s Art Box, will give you a multitude of ways to use them in creative ways. Although aimed at children, many of the projects will stimulate the interest and artistic juices of adults who love natural materials. The projects are a good way engage children in fun activities while also drawing them into an appreciation for the beauty of nature.
The introductory chapter provides guidelines for beginning an exploration of nature crafts and includes directions for making homemade glue, paste, and clay. The bulk of the book is devoted to sixty-five projects organized in groups on the basis of materials: vines, twigs, cones, and moss; gourds, pods, husks, and seeds; clay, stones, sand, and shells, paints, inks, and dyes; flowers and leaves; stamps, stencils, molds, and seals. For each project a list of materials and step by step directions are given with abundant illustrations.
The projects are simple to complex. One of my favorites was a chess set using moss and twigs to make castles and knights, cornhusks for bishops, kinds, and queen, and small cones for pawns. Another chest set uses shells and coral to fashion chess pieces. Other projects include sand painting, okra canoe and people, a bark and moss miniature house, and shell candle. The appendix includes charts on plants that can be used for coloring and painting, and suggestions for flowers that can be used for drying.
Projects are included for children of many ages. They vary in difficulty and complexity and many need adult help and supervision. The use of a glue gun, hot oven, and iron for some projects, for example, suggest the help of an adult for most children that would be interested in the projects. Many other projects, however, could be carried out by children alone or with minimal guidance.
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