Valentine’s Day Homemade Craft

by ElizabethMonaghan on February 5, 2013

I gave myself an early Valentine’s Day present today. I ignored the unfinished projects that surround me in our new home in New Orleans. Instead of cleaning and sorting, I cut out a pile of pink and red hearts.

Next, I mixed an easy batch of paste: one part wheat flour to four parts water, warmed over medium heat and whisked to the right consistency.

Then I sat with my sweethearts, William and Fergus, in our sunny kitchen, making Valentines. It was a perfect morning.

My boys are young, but little art projects entertain them, and creating cards is a lot more fun than shopping for them. This time, I made a conscious effort to make the process healthier.

The Set-Up

Our splash mat by Mimi the Sardine is made of organic cotton and coated with acrylic (as opposed to the hazardous plastic PVC). When it’s not protecting the table from crayons and markers, it’s under Fergus’ high chair.

Fergus’ art smock is also by Mimi the Sardine. The protective sleeves have saved many shirts.

William is wearing one of his daddy’s old shirts, combining dress-up with art-making. We wash the whole family’s laundry in Green Shield Organic Free & Clear detergent. It’s one of the few detergents to earn an “A” from Environmental Working Group’s invaluable database of household cleaner safety ratings.

The Materials

“Non-toxic” glue and paste usually contain plastic and unidentified ingredients. Homemade paste takes about four minutes to make, keeps for a few days in the refrigerator, and is safe to eat.

We love Stockmar beeswax crayons. Beeswax is a safe alternative to paraffin wax crayons like Crayola (paraffin is derived from petroleum). The block shape is easy for little hands to grip and helps develop coordination. When he’s done coloring, William likes to build with his crayons.

The Clean-Up

A warm washcloth with a few drops of Dr. Bronner’s unscented liquid castile soap cleaned the paste off William’s hands and out of Fergus’ hair. Avoid scented products whose ingredients include “perfume” or “fragrance” – they contain phthalates, which are linked to cancer and endocrine disruption. (Phthalates are banned from children’s toys in the U.S.)

Dried paste and errant crayon marks come up easily with baking soda. Mix it with a few drops of water in the palm of your hand to make a gentle scrub. I’ve used it on painted surfaces and wood without damaging the finish.

The Finished Product

I hope we’ll have another session or two of Valentine art before the 14th. Then we’ll mail them to our family and hand-deliver them to our wonderful new neighbors. Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your sweethearts!


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