FOUR VIRTUAL ART LABS + 1 ART KIT
. . . . . . .
(valued at $130)
Mixed Media Collage Lion
Watercolor Flowers in a Vase
Mini Maker: Hot Air Balloon
Sweet Treat: Watercolor Ice Cream
Art Lab Bundle Kit (per artist)
Hello there. I’ve been getting a lot of questions about materials for continuing creativity at home, and having tried a great many different materials at home and in the studio, I’m super happy to provide a list of economical, lovely to use art and craft materials. These recommendations are simply based on my opinion and I hope it helps as we parents embark on the joys of homeschooling and creating with our little artists.
For those of you who are local to Charlestown, where we live and have our studio, we love to support our local businesses, so I want to start by giving a shoutout to our very own Mockingbird shop. They’ve put together an Arts & Crafts section and here are some items that you might really love:
Ooly brand supplies are always great, Ariana and I especially love their color change markers, which are truly magic markers; and their Chunky paint sticks have a smooth buttery texture with vibrant colors that kids delight in as well. Check out the Mockingbird Arts & Crafts Aisle. Support Local whenever possible.
Here are some other items I think are really versatile, economical, and delightful to have at home. The setup is pretty basic – a set of vibrant watercolors, a good heavy weight paper that can withhold some water and mixed media work, colored construction paper, twistable crayons (which break less frequently than regular crayons) tacky glue for sticking things, Glitter Glue to add some sparkle. And lastly, a dry erase clipboard is just great for doodling and sketching out ideas.
Putting the “shopping list” aside for a second, I want to also point out that there are SOOO MANY ways to upcycle items in your own home—milk cartons, egg cartons, plastic container, straws, CARDBOARD (my favorite), dried flowers, aluminum foil, kebab sticks etc. When taking inventory of what you can create with, try to broaden your idea of what might work and save items for play.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me! 🙂
Requested additional links:
In the past I’ve shared a play dough recipe that I also love, but it required cooking over the stove and I found that Ariana couldn’t really engage in the process as much. This time, we modified a “no cook” recipe and we were able to work together more. We counted and measured out the ingredients, she mixed, and even when I mixed in the boiling water, she could sit next to me and watch. For that reason, I slightly prefer this “no cook” recipe.
Give it a try and let me know what you think! 🙂
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup salt
3 cups of cream of tartar
2 tbsp of veg oil
1.5 – 2 cups of boiling water
*optional peppermint oil
*if you prefer pumpkin spice, add pumpkin spice
*optional food coloring
Mix all dry ingredients. Add veg oil. Add boiling water. Mix with a large spoon. Let it sit for a few minutes. When sufficiently cool, start kneading. Enjoy the process. It is therapeutic.
You can add food coloring before or after kneading the dough.
Hey Studio Families! 👋🏼 Hope everyone is healthy, happy, and well. There’s a lot of bleak news out there so it gives me incredible satisfaction to announce something I hope will SPARK some JOY! We are super excited to partner with our friends @growinggigglesctown to provide FREE virtual experiences for you and your little ones! Happy Dance 👯♀️
Every weekday (not a typo – read: every single weekday) at 10AM, tune into Growing Giggles Instagram page for “A Letter A Day” and at 10:15 AM head over here @essemartstudio for a LIVE 🎶SINGALONG🎵 and an ART INVITATION for the day! This is the kind of screen time we are certain you can be happy about. 😊
*Fingers Crossed* 🤞🏼I have never done this before, at this frequency, with Ariana as my sidekick for a mommy daughter duo, BUT I do believe we could all use a daily dose of joy, so please overlook any blunders and do join us with your little ones. Wish us luck! Anything can happen!
Play Dough has become a huge part of our sensory experience at home and at the studio for our toddler Music + Art Labs. It’s a great way to keep little artists engaged on our weekly theme after their main art projects are completed . I tweaked a play dough recipe I found online and added pumpkin spice for enhanced sensory experience for our New England families who are largely Autumn Leaf Peeping, Sweater Weather loving, Pumpkin Spice adoring humans. Am I right? We have successfully used food coloring to further enhance the sensory play but also we just love a good old mound of un colored dough to knead, cut, roll, and play with. Pictured, we have our colored doughs and we’re using different beans, pastas, beads, kitchen toy tools, to take the play to many different levels. It’s a wonderful way to work on motor skills and let the imagination soar.
Here is the recipe! For the parents out there who are going to try this recipe out, tag us on instagram or Facebook – let us know if you made any modifications. Also, take five minutes and just enjoy the kneading process. Its therapeutic. I absolutely love it!
⋒ HOMEMADE PUMPKIN SPICE PLAY DOUGH ⋒
4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of salt
8 teaspoons of Cream of Tartar
4 cups of lukewarm water
4 tablespoons of veg oil
1 tablespoon (or a little more) Pumpkin Spice Seasoning
*optional food coloring and/or glitter
Stir flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a large pot
Add water and oil.
Cook over medium/low heat, stir constantly until dough is thick and forms a ball. (This can be quite a workout for the arms once it starts to thicken up)
Remove from heat and place on wax paper or cutting board
To add colors, separate into chunks and add a few drops of food coloring. you can use plastic bags here but I find it hard to knead that way. So, use a pair of disposable gloves to spare my hands from the stains.
Knead dough. If there is a lot of cracking of the dough feels over cooked, you can fill a bowl of water and wet your hands as you knead the dough to work in some moisture.
*Stores for 3 months
*Super Pro tip: After playing with the dough, roll into a ball to maintain supple texture. If you notice it is getting dry or flaky, just wet your hands a little and knead some moisture back into the dough before storing.
Happy Creative Play, friends! ⋒
Hello… Sophia Moon here! My heart it so full… I can’t believe it’s been a year since we opened the doors to Essem Art Studio. So much has transpired… so many pivots, turns, lessons, and explorations. To all the Charlestown families and small businesses that have supported us, spread the word about what we do, created and collaborated with us, thank you so much. You keep us inspired and motivated to elevate our game every single day. It’s been a super fun ride… stick with us because it’s gonna get even better.
At Essem, our mission is to spark joy and inspire creativity in our community. We believe that, at any age, creative play and exploration helps us solve problems, manage stress, communicate better, and simply be happier. To that end, we have expanded our programming to include Creative Workshops in the evenings for adults (Paint Your Pet, Macrame, Still Life Paintings, etc); and we are introducing Mini Maker Camps for more immersive experiences for our little artists/makers in the coming months.
Our usual explorations in color and texture through paint/mediums have expanded to include the use of upcycled materials (cardboard, plastic, bottles, cartons, etc) and goodies foraged from nature (leaves, pinecones, twigs, rocks, acorns, etc). We are also dabbling in Clay Play; Printmaking; Free-form Sculptures; and thoughtfully honed crafts and activities to expand the imagination and empower artists and makers of all ages to make creative decisions.
This summer, we also introduced Music + Art Labs featuring a joyful and interactive singalong session that permit kids to be mindful of the lyrics and melodies. It is super exciting to draw from my extensive experience in music, songwriting, vocal performance, and voice coaching to teach kids to explore their voices and to appreciate the nuances in vocal expression and dynamics.
We love collaborating with likeminded, heart-forward individuals and businesses to bring art and joy to our community. The Kids of Charlestown exhibit, a collaboration with Zume’s Coffee House and Savvy Sitter Boston, is a colorful community art exhibit hanging at Zume’s through the end of September. In September, we will be doing a second installation at Grasshopper Cafe in collaboration with the Charlestown Community Center’s Summer Day Camp program – Kandinsky Kids Art.
We feel so privileged to be a part of this community and to be trusted to cultivating your creative experiences! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!!
Let’s talk about invitations to create… simple ones we can implement in our homes that don’t require great efforts in set up and clean up that are also age and skill appropriate. What used to be our coffee table from Ikea is now A’s art/craft table at home. There’s nothing super picturesque about our setup… it’s not instagram worthy by a lot of standards but it’s our real, unstaged setup. We have a simple tray to hold jars, cups, and repurposed boxes to organize/display different mark making tools, a placemat to catch most extraneous marks, and a big pad of paper that we always have turned to a blank page. Loose work as well, but can get cluttered so we prefer the pad for this purpose.
The tools should be ones your little artist has already mastered, to some degree. Don’t put out scissors if your kid doesn’t know how to handle them safely. Put out materials you’re comfortable leaving with your kid semi-unsupervised. In the beginning, this may just be a set of washable chunky crayons. As they start getting bigger and more comfortable with a larger range of tools, you may be tempted to lay it all out. This can be overwhelming so try to limit it to a few different textures and tasks.
Spark joy: On some mornings before I leave for the studio, I’ll pose on of A’s dolls dressed in a funny outfit and doodling… a playful invitation to play that is one of the first things she notices when she comes out of her room in the morning. I’ll add one more note to keeping it organized, labeled, and well maintained – it teaches little artists to respect the tools they use. They learn that everything has a right place and needs to be cared for – they are learning a great life skill. Nothing stops creativity in its tracks quicker than dried out, crusty materials. Am I right? 🤓 What are some ways you invite your little artists to create?
Crayola Twist Crayons
Water-soluble color pencils (always sharpened)
(1) Drawing Pencil
(1) Dry Erase Marker
Tempera Paint Stick Pens
Small grid notebook
One large 11×15 Drawing Pad
This summer, the Charlestown Community Center Day Camp directors, Catherine Farley and Erica Walsh, with support from administrative coordinator Bob McGann, are making this summer one to remember for the campers at their BCYF program. The mission of Boston Centers for Youth & Families (BCYF) is to enhance the quality of life of Boston’s residents by partnering with various organizations. This year we were super blessed to be among the many new relationships.
To culminate the summer fun, campers visited Essem Art Studio and created a collaborative work of art inspired by Wassily Kandinsky’s color study, Squares with Concentric Circle. Each Camper (age 6 to 12) created a single 6×6 square with concentric circles. Watching the kids explore color and thoughtfully create individual mini paintings inspired by one of my favorite artists; and ultimately putting together a collective work of art that will be exhibited at Grasshopper Café—all of it is just magical and fun.
Our first Paint Your Pet workshop with pet portrait artist, Bridget Foster Reed was such a blast that we are doing it again on September 10th (7-9 pm). Each participant started off with a lightly sketched silhouette of their beloved furry friend, a unique palette of colors carefully selected by Bridget, and loose guidelines to get started thinking about color, light, shadow, and details. It was a super fun evening of painting and trying something new and everyone went home with a lovely portrait of their pet.
We hope you’ll join us on September 10th!
Doesn’t really get more magical than this… we made lovely cardboard rainbows in our Art Lab today. Little artists/makers will explore colors of the rainbow, sort through our colorful crafting options, make thoughtful and creative decisions, and give their nimble fingers a chance to fine tune small detailed actions.
Following the lead of some of the amazing kids studios around the world, we are starting to include some up cycling in our Art Labs. We’re super excited to get into a series of Cardboard Creations. Stay tuned for more fun up cycling activities.