Nature Crafts

Written by Pete Nicholls
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At one time, I would never have thought my neighbor's after-season grapevine could be put to good use. Truly a vine "that runneth over a wall" and completely along two concrete block walls around our rather large backyard. That isn't to say the honeybees don't do their job every summer. Their humming can be heard from yards away. Along bricks the color of desert sand and red tile, the vine adds ever-changing beauty as leaves turn from soft green to shiny dark green and on to red and brown. Nowadays I know--after the leaves drop--the dead vines can be collected, tied with hemp every 12 inches or so, and coiled into "ropes." If other decorations are woven in, such as ivy or flowers, the vines can adorn inside hallways and doorways, a continuing source of beauty.

Nature crafts for children include coloring and cutting out butterfly or bird shapes and hanging them from mobiles. A project that produces lots of giggles is to cut an egg carton lengthways and color the "humps" to make a caterpillar. Of course, the painted front becomes the head, complete with antennae, and the last hump brings up the rear. If egg cartons are in short supply, a paper chain will work, or empty thread spools on a crocheted rope.

Other kids and adults go nuts over dinosaurs or ladybugs. They can use acrylic paints to make paperweights out of rocks, for example. Or they can create dolphins or tigers on many different objects and surfaces. Need a friendly grasshopper or a rumbly, tumbly bumblebee? Ask a crafts teacher to help you create one. Acorns and pinecones make lots of friendly little creatures.

Around the Neighborhood

Ideas are everywhere. A house down the block may sport a new "doorbell," one that looks like a real bell with a clapper or tongue. It may be surrounded by a floral wreath that changes as each flowerbed comes into bloom. Coasters and vases can be covered with twigs. Potpourri takes patience to get the flower petals and herbs dry enough so they won't go moldy in the jars. And bird feeders can be made from just about any non-toxic, durable odds and ends, including teacups and saucers fastened to the tips of poles.

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