Tag Archives | Clementine Art

Heathly Crafting with Children

This article has been tough to write because the crafting world is gigantic…it’s impossible to try and cover the thousands of products that crafty people have in their cupboard. I walk into a Michaels store and I’m overwhelmed by two things: the varied depth of their craft materials and how much of it is imported & very cheaply produced. So much of that stores reminds me of the dollar store and it makes me nervous. I’m an average person on the scale of crafty – my children have always loved painting and making little projects, but with the inevitable smell that comes from opening specific paints, glues, and inks, I’m admittedly a little skeptical of how healthy these supplies actually are.

The inspiration for this article comes from a woman in the US, named Julia Andrus, who created a line of crafting materials after surviving a self described ‘mean’ cancer. Julia realized her exposure to even low levels of toxic materials in craft supplies could have contributed to her chemical exposure. On a mission to change her lifestyle and environment, Julia created EcoGreen Crafts and I guess it’s because an avid crafter created this line of products, the quality is as effective and amazing as traditional supplies. I’ve found in the past that sometimes using plant-based crafting products you loose some of the texture in paint and glue. This isn’t the case with the acrylic paint and Green Glue and is the reason I’ve stocked Green Planet Parties with these products. Just like my claim with the O’Bon pencil crayons (best I’ve every used) I can say the same about the EcoGreen Crafts Acrylic Paint.  They are amazing!  I asked some seriously crafty people to test the acrylic paint and everyone reports back loving it! It’s creamy, comes in a great sized tube, and there is no scent because the non-metallic shades of these paints are no-VOC. The metallic paints in this line are anchored to a No-VOC base, but end up being low-VOC after the metal pigment has been added. The popular 6 colors I’ve chosen to carry are popular with children and contain no volatile organic compounds. These paints are not manufactured in North America and that is reflected in the price point. These non-toxic paints are priced equally to traditional acrylic paints which is wonderful…parents love switching to same priced greener products, but while the price would increase, I hope they are one day manufactured in the US. If you’ve been searching for plant based white glue? This all-purpose green glue is great for back-to-school shopping.

For parents that enjoy painting with powdered paint, setup your environment with plant based so that powder cannot be inhaled that may contain lead. There are several paints on the market that use plant based pigments..the only brand I’ve tried is GLOB and these paints are manufactured in the US. As far as paint brushes go – I’m actively researching a ‘greener’ paintbrush. It’s actually a very difficult product because you are dealing with two issues: the handle and brush materials. If you go for a non-synthetic brush you might have anxiety about the methods used to obtain real animal hair for the brush…and these brushes are super expensive. ‘Greening’ up the handle of paint brushes is relatively easy because there are bamboo brushes on the market, but I’ve yet to find a brush I’m happy with at an affordable price.

Hands down – this point is the most important for providing healthier sculpture based craft material for your child! Don’t ever waste your money again on store bought play dough. From the amount of traffic and comments on this article “The Perfect Home Made Play Dough Recipe!” I know how many parents have discovered how easy, affordable and fun making your own play dough can be. Kids love to sculpt and it unleashes free-play at it’s best for young children and since you’ve made the dough yourself, you don’t need to worry if a small piece ends up in a child’s mouth. I’ve also experienced headaches from the synthetic scent from store bought play dough. Another sculpting product that shouldn’t be sold or wind up in your home is polymer clay that is used for sculpting small figurines…it’s made from PVC! Invest in clay that is packaged and marked ‘non-toxic’ and PVC-free. The dollar stores are not where you should be purchasing materials like this…there are no sort of guidelines it seems for this material. The amount of incorrect information on the internet about polymer clay is disturbing. Many crafting sites list polymer clay as a safe material even though it contains PVC and phthalates…it’s disturbing. I don’t have a source/brand for an alternative to PVC based polymer clay but I will post in the comments when I find one.

I was spoiled years ago when trying Clementine Art crayons – they were like applying butter to paper. I think all children would miss the variety of colors that you can achieve with a box of Crayola crayons, but traditional crayons are manufactured with paraffin wax which is petroleum. There are many brands of soy or beeswax based crayons if you are looking to ‘green’ your art supplies. I think the soy brands offer more color options, but I have only had the pleasure of using beeswax based.

Pencil crayons and pencils can easily be ‘greened’ with O’Bon. I’ve written about this brand before and love that these pencils are not produced by trees, but made from recycled newspapers. Not only is the story behind O’Bon cool, but I’ve never been happier with the pencil crayons. The quality is amazing and children love the fruit or wild-animal designs.

You can tell from the length of this article the crafting world is a vast area to try and write about in one article. For those searching for North American made craft sets which are convenient and make a great gift – check out the new brand Artterro I found at My Little Green Shop. Just one look at the packaging and you know this brand is different. I can’t wait to try these kits with my kids – not only are the supplies made of higher quality (glass beads vs. plastic, felt wool, handmade paper) but many of the components are made in the US. The craft world has seemed slow to manufacture locally – the concern of course that crafting will no longer be an affordable pass-time. It’s nice to see companies like Artterro putting an emphasis on this and side stepping the norm of producing craft kits that are filled with questionable ingredients – both for human health and the environment. Differences that impress me are the wool felt dresses in the Art Dolls Kit, copper wire & wooden handles (!!) in the amazing Bubble Wand Kits (eeep I love these!!), and for the older crowd the Paint with Wool Kits are very unique. Imagine encouraging a child to felt? It’s incredible that the boxes that Artterro supplies are packaged in can be transformed into frames to later showcase art work. Pictured below are the finished kits from Artterro with bubble wands and felt painting.

I hope this gives you a starting point to help green your craft supplies. It’s a huge undertaking, but like greening your bathroom or kitchen, I recommend starting with baby steps and incorporating these changes when you’re looking to replenish art supplies. Look for crafts with No-VOCs (Volatile Organic Compound) which are the chemicals that produce off-gassing vapors. Packaging is a great way to improve your craft supplies and look for supplies marked ‘non-toxic’, made with soy or beeswax, PVC-free and phthalate-free. I’ll have more recommendations coming in August because once again I’ll be putting together my own school supply boxes for my children with an effort to create kits that are more sustainable and chemical free. Stay tuned and please share your experiences with sourcing better quality craft supplies.

Related Posts:

Wildlife Pencils Produced from Recycled Newspapers

Clementine Art – Naturally Artistic

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Supporting Local Is Vital To Our Future

I’m noticing an exciting movement brewing and it really became apparent watching the social media mediums talking about Earth Day this year. There’s been a big shift to simplify purchases and reduce our insatiable appetite as consumers. The movement to drastically reduce what we are spending combined with saving our money for quality and locally produced items will be a huge difference in the North America economy in 2010. When you are shopping – are you asking where things are made?  Is this influencing your decision?

Many parents are putting a big focus on re-using what they already have. If you resist the urge to go out and purchase items you think are needed – you’ll always be surprised what you can make do with at home. I found it so interesting reading moms posting on Twitter wondering why to celebrate Earth Day this year they needed to go out and purchase a gift for the planet? A great question and hopefully not the message parents were getting from the media this Earth Day. Even though I’m a proud owner of a green business, I’m hoping it was the message for families to re-connect with nature and eco-activities that made Earth Day celebrations truly special this year. When talking about North America’s problem with over-consumption – even greener options – would not have been the true message of Earth Day this year.

Back to the topic of supporting local.  For years we’ve now listened to the words ‘reducing your footprint’ ‘smaller footprint’ and this no longer only means recycling.  To me, these words truly mean better decisions, asking questions, and supporting local whenever possible; from the food we eat, to the everyday items we use.  I have stopped saying “but everything is made in China!” Why?  Because it’s simply not true.  We simply gravitate to all the choices from China because they are the cheapest.  When I am buying something that is made overseas – it’s not because I can’t find it….it’s because I want that low price. The only thing that will help this problem is supply and demand. The more people that join together to support our local businesses – the cost for these quality items will go down. You can ask Europeans what the cost is for their lovely wooden toys.  It’s not what we pay here because these items that are known for quality and safety, need to be transported which costs money. I find it impossible to believe we can’t find the same things here and support a local farmer or artisan that is gifted with quality craftsmanship, etc.

It’s sad to think that our economic struggles in North America could be lessoned if we followed what all other countries do – support our own manufacturers. Network within your own group of friends or social media forums and ask who around you can sew, make quality items from wood, or where you can purchase food locally. Following a path of purchasing less and reusing what we have, then following a blueprint as a consumer of quality, sustainable, locally made items that can be recycled or are made from recycled materials will change the way we shop this year. I’m excited for Earth Day 2011 because  I think these concepts will truly be understood and followed by parents.

Please share your actions that help make everyday decisions more earth friendly. Here are a few fun ways to talk to children about reusing household items and reducing purchases that might not be required. Examples include:

Making home made play dough. Did you know that traditional play dough containers are not recyclable and the quality of the play dough cannot compare (or last as long) as the home made version?

Don’t throw away your broken crayons – save them for a rainy day project of melting them down and making new crayons to use.

Understanding that children simply don’t need buckets of new clothing that is made overseas, printed with traditional inks and materials. It honestly feels better to purchase less, spend more, and support a local “made in North America’ clothing store.

Similar Articles:

Earth Day 2010 ~ How Will You Celebrate

Mommy Eco-Tee

Valentina – A Very Special Valentine

Clementine Art – Naturally Artistic

A New Spin On A Classic Toy – Building Blocks

** Badger sunscreen contest note **  The winner Jen has been contacted and the contest is closed.  Thanks to everyone that completed the referral form or posted a comment to the Mommy Footprint fan page!

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Clementine Art – Naturally Artistic

A few months ago I received Clementine Art soy crayons to review which is great because I’ve always wondered how a soy crayon stands up against Crayola and no-name brand crayons.  Not to be a crayon snob…but there is such a big difference in quality with the amount you pay for art supplies and crayons are no different!  When I opened the box of these soy crayons, I sensed immediately I was going to be a fan.  The shape of them are just perfect for kid’s hands as you will see from the image below.  The quality of the crayon is also amazing and it’s tough to use regular old crayons after using the Clementine Art crayons. Interesting when you read the desciption on the Clementine site, you see the word ‘creamy’.  I thought it was such a funny word to describe a crayon, but it’s actually a perfect description because the crayons simply glide over the paper. With my 4 kids that craft, color, or draw every day, even I’m searching for one of these unique soy crayons to color with because they are so easy to use. I remember when my twins were at the age where the fun world of coloring and drawing started I purchased the plastic round ink ‘dabbers’ that were marketed for a very young child.  I thought “great idea” thinking the round shape of them would work well and be easy for them to navigate. This was simply not true and they turned out to be a waste of money. The shape of the Clementine Art crayons are perfect for all hand sizes and would be my pick for children of any age to begin exploring or that love art. Check out the below picture to view the unique crayon shape:

natural_soy_crayons_image

So why all-natural art supplies?  These 6 products under the Clementine Art umbrella are not only a step-up in quality (you get what you pay for), but a better choice for our children and the planet. Traditional crayons are produced with petroleum and synthetic additives (yuk!) and the packaging is not always eco-friendly.  Clementine Art is one of the very few companies to list their ingredients and you will enjoy reading this list including; kosher soy wax, mineral pigments, beeswax, carnauba wax, vegetable stearic acid, calcium carbonate (chalk), natural brazilian rosin, and titanium dioxide. No chemical dye or additives.  Whew!  – our parents never would have believed the crayon world could be so complicated.

The story of how Diane, the founder of Clementine Studio and her wonderful art products is lovely because she is actually a dedicated art teacher from Boulder Colorado.  Her studio was a place where children were encouraged to get messy and creative with glue, glitter, paint, and more! Wondering what actually was included in the description of ‘non-toxic’ with all of these products, Diane started making her own play dough and paint and Clementine Art was born.

I would recommend any of the Clementine Art products as wonderful stocking stuffers this Christmas. The soy crayons and natural paint are way high up on my list with Santa this year. I’ll need to request another pack of the crayons into my own stocking because my kids keep calling dibs on the soy crayons so I’m stuck with the cheap, broken crayons at the art table. And when your kids notice a difference in art supplies…you take notice.  I can’t wait to try the paint and will be on the look-out at my local Whole Foods until the Clementine Art site lists more online retailers.  The other 5 products Clementine Art offers via Whole Foods (and smaller stores over the next few months) are: soy crayon rocks, natural glue, modeling dough, natural paint, and natural markers.

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