nonfiction nuggets…seeing nature as an art supply kit

Nature’s Art Box: from t-shirts to twig baskets, 65 cool projects for crafty kids to make with natural materials you can find anywhere, written by Laura C. Martin with drawings by David Cain

Quite a few years ago now, my kids and I spent a few weeks up at the cabin on gorgeous, rocky, island-studded Lake Vermilion.  School was supposed to have started, but…we couldn’t bear to plunge back into the rush of things, so we lingered into September.  The days were cooler than midsummer, and one day, to keep the four of them occupied and buy myself some peace, I challenged them to create something…anything…from the bits and pieces of nature around us.  A good while later, they each had something exquisite to show:  dolly-sized placemats woven from grasses and pine needles; birch bark bowls sewn together with reeds; leaves pinned together with pine needles to create garlands.  That was a sweet day. 

And that’s the flavor of this book, Nature’s Art Box.  While it is very possible for kids to invent their own art projects from items found in nature, this incredibly clever book will provide you with oodles of ideas and inspiration to complement your own creativity.   Elegant vine wreaths and balls; enchanting woodland baskets; pretty dried flower headbands; an okra pod canoe; several exciting miniature houses made of moss or bark or cornhusks; necklaces, barrettes, and magnets; charming twig or pinecone creatures…on and on and on go the ideas. 

There are six sections in the book, grouped by materials rather than by technique.  So, there’s a chapter on vines, twigs, cones, and moss, and another on gourds, pods, husks, and seeds.  In addition, there are directions for creating your own clay, paste, paint, etc.,  plus pages of identification guides and recommendations for the various plants you come across.

For each project, there’s a picture of the finished item, a list of materials needed, and step by step, illustrated directions.  The illustrations are very nicely done, i

Incredibly, made of pressed flowers by artist Shelley Xie.

n simple ink drawings, some with a muted watercolor wash.  The whole look of the book has an organic, peaceful, creative feel.

This is a fantastic resource for some superb, non-electronic, creative fun.  It’s suitable for young children right on through adulthood.  I plan to get a copy to keep


up at the cabin, where I hope to set everyone to work fashioning some gorgeous, natural Christmas decorations.  Frankly, there are lots of mediocre craft project books out there.  This one is a gem.

Here’s the Amazon link:Nature’s Art Box: From t-shirts to twig baskets, 65 cool projects for crafty kids to make with natural materials you can find anywhere