Creative Handicraft: Potholder from Scrap Fabrics

If you need a gift for a special person, or just need some time to unwind, make a creative handicraft. Crafting is therapeutic when you are feeling stressed, and it also can yield a useful or decorative item. Everyone has some measure of creativity, and with modern kits and patterns, a creative handicraft does not have to end in frustration.

If you have a sewing machine, you can learn to make a creative handicraft that will be a useful and welcome gift. Potholders are a great beginning sewing project that can be made from scrap material or unwanted clothing and a bit of double-fold bias tape. Here are the simple instructions for this creative handicraft.

First cut two 8-inch (21 cm.) squares of fabric to be the front and back of the potholder. Choose coordinating fabrics that match your kitchen for these pieces. To make it easier, you can make an 8-inch square pattern from a piece of cardboard to use as a pattern. Cut more 8-inch squares of any old fabric to stack for the filling. You want the stack of fabric squares to be thick enough to protect you from a hot pot, but thin enough to be flexible and able to be sewn through.

Stack all layers so that the outer layers are facing to the outside and the filler layers are inside. You can put a couple of large straight pins through all layers to keep them together. Now sew right across the middle of the stack. Sew across the middle again, perpendicular to the first stitching. You will have divided the square into 4 squares. Sew across the stack again from corner to corner, and again from the other corner to corner. The layers should be joined and sturdy now.

To bind off the raw edges of your creative handicraft, trim with scissors so that all the layers are again even at the edges. Open out one folded edge of the bias tape. The wider bias tape might seem to be easier to use, but the narrow type makes a neater finished product. Starting at one corner, line up the edges of the tape with the edges of the potholder, and start stitching through all layers along the first fold line, which will be about 1/4 inch from the edge. Stitch neatly and slowly, attaching the opened tape all around the edge until you reach the beginning corner. Cut the bias tape off, leaving 3 inches, (7 cm.) to make into a hanging loop.

Fold the bias tape over the raw edge so that the middle fold lines up with the outside of the potholder and the other fold is hiding the raw edge of the bias tape. Now, for best results, hand sew the binding down, forming a loop on your creative handicraft when you get to the end.

This potholder is just one example of a creative handicraft you can create if you have a sewing machine. When it is finished, you will have a useful item made from all recycled materials. Feel free to give this creative handicraft away or keep it for yourself.

How to Come up With a Craft Idea for Kid Programs

Are you a camp director or Sunday School teacher looking for a craft idea for kid enrichment? Maybe you feel like you are just not the creative type, and you struggle with coming up with craft projects. It is true that some people just have a knack for finding or even inventing craft ideas, but your creativity can be improved. There are ways to make it easier to find a craft idea for kid needs.

First, lay aside any perfectionism. Locking yourself into thinking there is only one right way to do something makes every decision harder. Regardless of the kid program you are helping with, there are always many suitable craft ideas out there. Don’t worry about picking the wrong one! If you’ve taken into consideration the age and skill levels of the kids involved, your choice will be adequate.

Next, consider your budget. When choosing a craft idea for kid programs, you need to be aware that some of them are expensive. Prepackaged kits to make a fun foam picture frame or a craft stick cross are affordable for a few kids, but if you are needing to do a craft with a lot of kids, these kits might cost too much. It’s often easy to do almost exactly the same project by just looking at the craft kit components and buying the same materials in bulk at the discount store. You may have to do some preparation, like cutting out shapes ahead of time, or at least making cardboard patterns for the kids to use in cutting out their own. The savings will be worth it, however.

Another consideration is this: in spite of years of indoctrination from women’s libbers, the fact remains that boys and girls like different sorts of crafts! If the craft seems a little girly, don’t use it at boys’ camp. Stick with lace-up leather billfolds, Indian artifacts, dinosaur art, and similar projects. Girls will like beads and anything that’s pink or purple. For a craft idea for kid camp where there are kids of both sexes, keep it on the boyish side and provide some pink materials to keep the girls happy.

An aspect of creativity that the non-creative types don’t realize is that ideas spring from other ideas. That is, if you look over a book or website of craft ideas, maybe none of them will appeal to you, but if you let them, they will spark an idea for a similar project. Use what you can and change what you must in the craft directions. For instance, the craft may have a slogan to be written across the front. If you need to change the slogan to fit your own needs, it’s perfectly OK. For instance, the pictured project might say “Girls rock!” You can change that to “He is the Rock!” if that meets your VBS needs better.

A final suggestion is to realize that you don’t have to change the instructions or create something new to have a good craft idea for kid use. Feel free to follow the instructions to the letter if that works better for you. The kids will have a great time either way. Just pick a craft idea, for kid creativity beats adult creativity everytime! The kids will make it creative, even if you have doubts about your own ability in this area.

Craft Idea for a Group: Make a Mural

Most craft ideas are geared to individuals, whether kids or adults. Sometimes you’d like to have a craft idea that works for a group of kids working together. Making a mural together is an idea that works for a group. By working together, you are creating something to decorate a shared area. Individual crafts can be displayed, but one unique item is often more effective than a group of items that are almost identical. In addition, sometimes kids’ crafts, like it or not, just become clutter when they are taken home, and it isn’t long before Mom throws it out. This craft idea of making a group mural can be displayed for several weeks and will not become clutter in anyone’s home.

The basic materials for a kids’ group mural is freezer paper. Freezer paper is about 18 inches wide, and it is very tough. One side is plastic coated. That is the side that is designed to be placed against the food. You will have better luck drawing on and gluing things onto the other side. Class or group murals can feature a number of different design elements. You can mix up some finger paint and let the children make hand prints (or even foot prints!) on the paper. You can let them scour old cast-off magazines and color catalogs for pictures they like and let them cut the pictures out and glue them on. They can add scribbles, designs, signatures, slogans, or pictures using markers, crayons, or gel pens. They can attach stickers to the mural as well. This craft idea is very flexible!

For making the mural, choose a topic that relates to the group in some way. If the group are girl scouts, for instance, and have been learning to camp, the mural can feature pictures of items related to camping. If you’ve been learning about dinosaurs, you can use them as a theme. If you want a really messy project that makes a cute mural for fall, mix up finger paint in fall colors. The children can each make a tree by first laying their forearm in brown paint. Then they lay their arm on the paper to make the trunk of the tree. They should spread out their fingers so their arm print has five short branches at the top. To make the leaves, the children make fingerprints all around the top of the tree using paints in other fall colors. If you add a few drops of dishwashing detergent to finger paint when mixing it up, it will be easier to clean off the children’s arms. Do make sure they have old clothes or smocks for this craft idea.

Little preschoolers will like making a mural with an animal theme. You should probably find and cut out animal magazine pictures to start with, and then let the children choose the ones they like for gluing down. Glue sticks are neat to use with small children. They will paste some of the pictures upside down. Expect it and do not scold them. It is the process that is important in this craft idea. The children can also use animal cookie cutters dipped in finger paint to stamp animals on the mural, too. You may need to tape the paper to the table so it doesn’t slide around while the children work.

An elaborate form of this craft idea that adults often make is a quilt around a theme. Each person in the group creates a quilt square to represent some aspect of what the group stands for. These quilt squares can be colored with fabric pens or crafted of patchwork or applique. Again, the craft idea is to build group solidarity and not to highlight one artist’s skills over another. When the quilt top is completed, it can be a group project to tie it or quilt it. It can be hung in a special central location or given to an appreciated leader or member.

If You’re Collecting, Ebay Selling is for You!

If you or someone you know is interested in collecting, Ebay selling is something you need to get familiar with! Ebay is a huge Internet site that allows people to sell or buy at auction almost anything you can think of. There are very few restrictions on what you can buy or sell. Are you fond of antique toasters? Bicycles? Vintage rhinestone jewelry? Stuffed toys? Elvis memorabilia? Whatever you are collecting, Ebay selling will probably have what you want.

Ebay is essential to know about if you are enthusiastic about your collecting. For instance, if you collect a particular type of antique or vintage dishes, such as Fiesta, you can search Ebay for exactly the piece you need to complete your set. In addition to finding the exact item you are looking for, there is a possibility you’ll get it for a great price as well. That tangerine colored pitcher might be yours for a song. You just have to look.

Collecting is one thing, but what about when the collector gets more items than he or she can store? What if they inadvertently collected duplicates of the same item. Or what if you just have stuff you don’t want anymore? That’s where Ebay selling can help. You can list your item on Ebay, and another collector can find it and make a bid. Ebay is a great way to recycle unwanted used items and make a few dollars as well as helping you with your collecting. Ebay selling is not hard to learn, either.

For just about every item you can name, someone somewhere collects it, and they are probably searching Ebay for what they want. So whatever you are collecting, Ebay selling can help you generate the money needed to add items to your own collection while getting rid of things you don’t need. In addition, you can be gratified to know that the item you didn’t want, like the bikes your kids have outgrown, or your vintage clock, was exactly what some other collector was seeking.

Just like collecting, Ebay selling can get almost addictive. It’s a fun hobby that many people are discovering. So where do you go if there’s something special you are collecting? Ebay! Selling, you’ll find, is almost as fun as collecting, so be sure to try it, too. Remember, too, that Ebay can not only help you complete your collections. It can also be a source for the things you need for other hobbies, interests, and needs in your life.

Why Coaching is the Way to Go in Team Management

When you hear the word “coach”, what comes first into your mind? Do you picture a basketball team with a man/woman shouting out directions? Or perhaps a football team with a man/woman pacing to and fro and calling out the names of the players?

Coaching is no longer reserved to sports teams; it is now one of the key concepts in leadership and management. Why is coaching popular?

Coaching levels the playing field.

Coaching is one of the six emotional leadership styles proposed by Daniel Goleman. Moreover, it is a behavior or role that leaders enforce in the context of situational leadership. As a leadership style, coaching is used when the members of a group or team are competent and motivated, but do not have an idea of the long-term goals of an organization. This involves two levels of coaching: team and individual. Team coaching makes members work together. In a group of individuals, not everyone may have nor share the same level of competence and commitment to a goal. A group may be a mix of highly competent and moderately competent members with varying levels of commitment. These differences can cause friction among the members. The coaching leader helps the members level their expectations. Also, the coaching leader manages differing perspectives so that the common goal succeeds over personal goals and interests. In a big organization, leaders need to align the staffs’ personal values and goals with that of the organization so that long-term directions can be pursued.

Coaching builds up confidence and competence.

Individual coaching is an example of situational leadership at work. It aims to mentor one-on-one building up the confidence of members by affirming good performance during regular feedbacks; and increase competence by helping the member assess his/her strengths and weaknesses towards career planning and professional development. Depending on the individual’s level of competence and commitment, a leader may exercise more coaching behavior for the less-experienced members. Usually, this happens in the case of new staffs. The direct supervisor gives more defined tasks and holds regular feedbacks for the new staff, and gradually lessens the amount of coaching, directing, and supporting roles to favor delegating as competence and confidence increase.

Coaching promotes individual and team excellence.

Excellence is a product of habitual good practice. The regularity of meetings and constructive feedback is important in establishing habits. Members catch the habit of constantly assessing themselves for their strengths and areas for improvement that they themselves perceive what knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to acquire to attain team goals. In the process, they attain individually excellence as well. An example is in the case of a musical orchestra: each member plays a different instrument. In order to achieve harmony of music from the different instrument, members will polish their part in the piece, aside from practicing as an ensemble. Consequently, they improve individually as an instrument player.

Coaching develops high commitment to common goals.

A coaching leader balances the attainment of immediate targets with long-term goals towards the vision of an organization. As mentioned earlier, with the alignment of personal goals with organizational or team goals, personal interests are kept in check. By constantly communicating the vision through formal and informal conversations, the members are inspired and motivated. Setting short-term team goals aligned with organizational goals; and making an action plan to attain these goals can help sustain the increased motivation and commitment to common goals of the members.

Coaching produces valuable leaders.

Leadership by example is important in coaching. A coaching leader loses credibility when he/she cannot practice what he/she preaches. This means that a coaching leader should be well organized, highly competent is his/her field, communicates openly and encourages feedback, and has a clear idea of the organization’s vision-mission-goals. By vicarious and purposive learning, members catch the same good practices and attitudes from the coaching leader, turning them into coaching leaders themselves. If a member experiences good coaching, he/she is most likely to do the same things when entrusted with formal leadership roles.

Some words of caution though: coaching is just one of the styles of leadership. It can be done in combination with the other five emotional leadership styles depending on the profile of the emerging team. Moreover, coaching as a leadership style requires that you are physically, emotionally, and mentally fit most of the time since it involves two levels of coaching: individual and team. Your members expect you to be the last one to give up or bail out in any situation especially during times of crises. A coaching leader must be conscious that coaching entails investing time on each individual, and on the whole team. Moreover, that the responsibilities are greater since while you are coaching members, you are also developing future coaches as well.