Tag Archives: Arts & Crafts

salt-dough hog’s head

Standard

Long ago, people made their First Night oaths while placing a hand over a hog’s head at the last of the Yule feasts of the year. Modern Asatrúar usually use a ceremonial ring or hammer these days. However, I thought it would be fun to sculpt a hog’s head from salt dough to use in such a way, or at least use as an altar piece or table setting to remind us of our ancestors. Here is how I made it:

salt dough hog's head

1. First, I mixed up a batch of salt dough. To make the dough go further, and dry faster, I wadded up a piece of aluminum foil to go in the middle and wrapped the dough around it.

2. To the ball shape, I added a snout.

3. I used my thumb to indent eyes on either side of the head, and inserted blue marbles for eyes.

4. The end of a fork made a nice tool for creating a bit of fur texture.

5. I used a butter knife to create ridges on top of the snout.

6. The butter knife was just the right size for making the nostrils as well.

7. For the tusks, I made little indentions in the sides with the end of a wooden spoon and attached little tapered coils of dough. (Remember to lightly wet dough when joining pieces.) I used the same method to make the ears.

8. To add more dimension to the fur texture, I snipped lightly into the dough all over, from front to back, with scissors.

Later, I cut a slit in the mouth and inserted a ball of dough to resemble an apple. When the project was completely dry, I painted it with water-based antiquing medium, and painted the apple barn red.

Hog's Head

no-sew poppet

Standard

The use of poppets in folk magic goes back to ancient times. Though the material of choice back then was wax, practitioners have adapted through the ages to make poppets out of anything handy; plant material, yarn, and often cloth.

This method of image magic can be used for any number of goals that you can think of, but the poppet is generally used to represent a person; what is done to the poppet is done to the person in sympathetic magic. The inside of the poppet should contain a taglock of the subject of the spell, and can include other items that are involved in the goal (healing herbs, for example), and other stuffing as needed like cotton, wool, or plant materials.

Even if you can’t sew, there is a simple way to make a poppet. You’ll need a handkerchief, bandana, or just a square of fabric, the taglock and other stuffing mentioned above, and a length of string. ( If you don’t have string, rubber bands will work, but the advantage of string is that you can add knot magic to your working.) First, find the center of your cloth. Roll the outer edges toward the center. Now open up a little space in the middle and stuff. Fold over, spread out the poppet’s arms, and tie off the head. (Draw on a face and other details if you like.) Take the end strings and criss-cross in the front and tie in the back, under the arms. While doing so, you can say, “Criss-cross, cloth and moss. This I claim, _____ is your name.” or other words of your choosing, followed by the specifics of your spell.

no-sew poppet

Pagan Medallions

Standard

Most of the time, I don’t wear jewelry unless it is meaningful to me in some way; my wedding band, a gift from one of my children, or something that reminds me of my spirituality. Pagan jewelry and pendants are not something you can get at any corner jewelry or department store. You usually have to seek out a new age or occult shop to find them. Whereas, other religions can find their symbolic jewelry, pendants and medallions anywhere. It’s not fair, I know. But think of it this way; it just gives us more opportunities for craft projects! You can make your own Pagan medallions depicting any deity. It takes surprisingly few materials and is relatively inexpensive.

Materials:
a bezel
deity image
small scissors
mod podge
small paintbrush
(pourable) liquid glaze

Use an internet image search to look up a deity image for your medallion. I especially like the classic look of Johannes Gehrts’ Norse deities. Save the image you want and use a photo editing website like pixlr-o-matic or befunky to change the tint of your image to your liking. Shrink it to the size you need and print it out. Using small scissors, carefully cut out your image to fit the inside of the bezel. Brush a thin layer of mod podge on the inside of your bezel. Press the image into the bezel. Use the blunt end of your paintbrush to make sure its pressed down on the edges and all over. Brush a thin layer of mod podge over the image. Now this is very important: let it dry thoroughly and completely. When image is dry, carefully pour the liquid glaze into the bezel to cover the image evenly, turning the bezel back and forth to make the glaze go where you want it. Do not try to use a paintbrush or other tool to move the glaze around. Lay your medallion somewhere that it won’t be disturbed for at least 24 hours. Don’t be tempted to touch the surface too soon, or it will leave a fingerprint. When medallion is completely dry, attach to a necklace or bracelet.

 Pagan Medallions

Kids’ Activities for the Autumn Equinox

Standard

EXPLANATION & INFORMATION

Look for these illustrated books at your local library to teach your children about the Autumn Equinox and some general traditions associated with it in various cultures:

STORIES

  • Wild Child” by Lynn Plourde (for ages 3 – 8)

ACTIVITIES

  • Help grown-ups with bringing in the harvest (or shopping for it at the farmer’s market) and with cooking the Harvest Feast.
  • Have your own Autumn Equinox ritual.
  • Heathens honor the Álfar (Elves) at Haustblót (Autumn Sacrifice). The Álfar are ancestral fathers and nature spirits. Make a little altar in your backyard with a flat stone and offer baked treats and other goodies.

CRAFTS

  • Make a harvest necklace; soak a variety of large beans until they are soft enough to be pierced through with a needle, and string the beans onto dental floss.
  • With help from a grown-up, make a bread cornucopia. Fill it with local fruits and veggies to be the centerpiece of your harvest supper.

Kid's Activities for Autumn Equinox

magical decorating on the cheap

Standard

A person’s home (or apartment) is an extension of ones-self, and if you’re Pagan, you may want your home to subtly reflect that aspect of your personality. When first starting out on your own, you may lament your bare walls and long for a non-existent decorating budget. It’s been many years, but I’ve been there. Through necessity I learned the beauty of simplicity and developed a love for junk chic. So if you’re just starting out and are dirt poor, embrace the eclectic look.

furniture
You will be surprised at what you can find for free if you know the right time and place. Go dumpster diving when school lets out in a college town. (Okay, you don’t have to actually “dive in”, most folks put their unwanted furniture on the pavement outside the dumpster.) Rich college kids don’t want to bring their furniture home with them for the summer. Keep an open mind. Found an otherwise perfectly good dresser, but it has a missing drawer? Use a large basket in place of the drawer, or put a board in the bottom of the empty drawer space and use it as a bookshelf. Old entertainment centers can be converted to bookshelves as well. Check for sturdiness, that’s what counts, then paint or sand to get the look you want, if necessary. But remember- rustic goes along nicely with a Pagan-ish theme. Find a nice strong table and miss-matched chairs if you have a dining area. Find what you can for free first, then look in thrift stores and yard sales for everything else. Or if you’re handy with tools, and have access to free or cheap pallets, make pallet furniture. The more items you can make or find with built-in storage, the better, especially if you’re living in a small space. Don’t over do it with the furniture, though. Make sure you pick things that suit the size of your space.

Some things you probably don’t need…
If your only computer is a laptop, you probably don’t need a desk. Use the kitchen counter or table for such things as paperwork and put it all away in a storage box or shelf when finished. You may not need a coffee table unless you think it would be handy for storage, and in that case, consider using a storage trunk for a coffee table. If you watch movies and shows on your computer, or other device, you don’t need a TV. That will free up space on your wall for other things, such as…

DIY faux fireplace
True, you don’t need a fireplace, but they are so classic and appealing, and you’ve made room by not getting a desk or TV, so why not? If you can’t have the real thing, at least you can have some of the beauty of one. Making your own fake fireplace can be a simple or elaborate project. One way to make one is to fit a smaller wooden box into a larger wooden box, cut a sheet of plywood to cover the space between, attach it, add molding, then paint the entire thing and tile the inside. Another way would be to take all the shelves out of an large heavy bookshelf and attach a board or wide molding to the front just under the top, and on the front sides. Still another method could be to attach a heavy shelf or mantle to the wall, and place thick boards under it on either side to help support it. In the center, place a cluster of flame-less candles, logs wrapped in string lights, or other decorative items. Use the top mantle-shelf as your household altar/shrine. The good thing about this kind of “fireplace”, is that you can take it with you when you move, or even move it when you rearrange furniture.

cinder blocks and boards
Did you use your only bookshelf to make a faux fireplace? Don’t worry, cinder blocks and boards make cheap, versatile shelving. (Just make sure your floor is sturdy and level.) You can vary the length of your boards to any size shelving system you need, and use for not only books, but for shoe racks, pantry shelving, and other kinds of storage. Cinder blocks come in a variety of styles now (and you can paint them, if you like). If you place the blocks with the holes facing out, you can place holiday string lights inside the hole in the block, or little nature collections.
If you later decide you don’t need the shelves, use the boards and blocks to make patio furniture; stack the blocks upright, and lay one down over the top of them both (with holes facing to the sides), then repeat with another set of blocks at the other end of what will be a bench. Thread 4X4s through the top holes. Cinder blocks also make nice planters, raised bed gardens, and fire pit/grill bases.

small shrines
In addition to (or instead of) using shelves or a faux fireplace for altars or shrines, you could use small hanging shelves or boxes for shrines to your deities, house spirit, or hearth spirit. Just attach a small crate to the wall, and fill it with devotional objects. You can wrap string lights around it, or seasonal greenery. You can also use a cardboard school box or cigar box for a portable shrine. Keep you ritual supplies inside and paint or decoupage your deity imagery (or tree hallow) on the inside of the lid and just open it up to have your ritual or devotions. You can make several for different purposes.

getting crafty with nature
If you have access to the gifts of Mother Nature, and I hope you do, bring a little of the outdoors inside. Bend an old wire hanger into a circle shape and tie greenery to it in layers, working your way around the circle. Another way to make a wreath is to trim some excess honeysuckle or grape vines and shape it into a circle, twisting and weaving until you get the thickness you want. Change decorations on it with the seasons and hang on your front door. If you really liked making that, make some for inside too. Make garlands by layering and tying greenery in layers to a vine, rope or heavy string. Hang your garland from your mantlepiece or shelf. Arrange nature collections in clusters or small baskets.

more crafts
Though a not so permanent decoration (they will deteriorate if the weather is too humid for too long), salt dough sculptures can add life and dimension to your walls and shelves, and are very inexpensive to make. Check out some of my past salt dough projects for inspiration.

You’ll not find a decorative art cheaper than toilet paper roll crafts, which can range from looking very natural and rustic to looking like wrought iron.

If you have old Pagan magazines or calendars, cut out your favorite pictures and decoupage them to wood scraps or nice sturdy cardboard, using thin layers of modge podge. Prop them up on a shelf and change them out seasonally. Try decoupaging pictures onto blank seven day candles for use in magic and devotion. Decoupage works best with small pictures.

Check out some of my suggested kids’ crafts for the holidays, even if you don’t have kids. You’re never too old for such things, and the beauty of simple crafts can add a lot of warmth to a home.

kitchen
If you have a small kitchen, you’ll need to go vertical with storage. Hang your cooking utensils above the stove, and install a peg rack or cuphooks near the sink for coffee cups. Use raised thumbtacks for hanging light items like strainers and flat graters. (In fact, I use raised thumbtacks for hanging pictures all throughout the house. You only need a nail or screw if the object is heavy.) You can even use tacks to hang herbs for drying, and for garlic ropes. Keep the grain dolly you made in the fall, hanging in your kitchen.

window sills
Save your glass bottles, especially blue ones. To make your own blue bottles, mix together some white glue and blue food coloring and paint the bottles with this mixture. Set the bottles in the windowsills of your front-facing windows. Not only are they pretty, but haint blue is traditionally known to ward off evil spirits. Also, keep crystals or a jar of salt in your windowsill for the same purpose. If you break a mirror, put the shards in a jar and put that in your windowsill as well. All these things make an interesting and shiny arrangement but also serve a magical purpose.

mirrors
Strategically place small inexpensive mirrors in the dark corners of your home to dissipate any stagnant or negative energy that may collect there. You can buy tiny mirrors by the package-full at craft stores. Glue them back to back on filament string interspersed with beads and hang as mobiles. Glue tiny mirrors to vases, planters, or small boxes, as you would for making a tiled surface.

thrift store finds and finishing touches
Over time, you will find items to fill your walls at thrift stores and yard sales. You’ll find nice frames to fill with pictures of friends and family. You can update just about anything with a little paint, and sand it down a little for a vintage look. Don’t forget to look for a horseshoe to go over your front door.

magical decorating

Three Easy Lughnasadh Crafts

Standard

Lughnasadh is a celebration of first fruits and grains. It is the wake of Lugh’s foster mother, Tailtiu- Great One of the Great Earth. Lugh is a god of many skills and has many roles. His name is associated with light, but contrary to popular belief, it is the flash of lightning, not sunlight, with which he has been traditionally associated. In County Mayo thunderstorms were referred to as battles between Lugh and Balor. Balor’s evil eye represents the scorching late-summer sun. Lugh’s defeat of Balor represents August storms defeating the crop-threatening summer heat and drought.

The theme of these three crafts are wheat and blueberries. Blueberries are a traditional Lughnasadh food, and according to Mara Freeman, the Sunday nearest August 1st was called “Bilberry (blueberry) Sunday” (Kindling the Celtic Spirit). Blueberries, to me, also represent the color of the stormy skies hoped for at Lughnasadh. It is good luck and a good omen if it rains on Lughnasadh.

blueberries and wheat crafts

salt-dough blueberry beads
The first thing you’ll need to make is the salt dough blueberry beads. Take a handful of salt dough, add a generous squirt of blue food coloring, and a few drops of red food coloring. Knead in the color well. Adjust if necessary to get the color you want. Roll into blueberry sized balls, poke a hole through the middle with a skewer, and let dry.

wheat & blueberry crown
Measure two inches down from the top edge of a brown paper grocery bag and cut in a straight line to get an even strip. Fold this in half lengthwise. Wrap around your child’s head to measure for size. Remove, tape in place and trim excess. Arrange placement of blueberry beads and wheat heads. Glue in place.

wheat & blueberry necklace (or wall hanging)
With heavy-duty thread and a yarn needle, string blueberry beads and wheat heads, piercing through the middle of the wheat head. Stop and tie off when you reach the length you want. You may want to trim the long bristles of the wheat.

wheat mobile

Lughnasadh mobile
To make this craft, you’ll need: blueberry beads, wheat heads, heavy string or yarn, marker or crayon, scissors, glue, a hole-punch, stained glass paint (or white glue mixed with food coloring), painbrush, and waxed paper (or re-purpose some clear plastic packaging).
First, trace three shapes onto your wax paper or plastic packaging. Use your wheat heads to help you decide how big they need to be. My shapes were a half-circle, a circle, and a triangle, but you can choose whatever shapes you like. Paint the shapes, the color of your choosing, with the stained glass mixture. Let dry and cut out. Punch holes in the top and bottom of each shape. Arrange wheat heads on shapes with color peeping though. Glue in place and let dry. Thread onto string or yarn, interspersed with beads, tying knots to hold each item in place. Hang from a sunny window.

three Lughnasadh crafts

easy drawstring bags

Standard

I’ve been making some drawstring bags for the kids of my grove to use for the Midsummer sun coin hunt. These sturdy little bags made from sunny bandanas are so simple to make. To make one, all you need is: a bandana, matching thread, sewing needle (or sewing machine), scissors, iron, a ruler, pins, a safety pin, and a 30 inch cord or ribbon.

STEP 1: Iron creases out of your bandana and turn to the faded side. Bring the corners in to meet in the center, or as close as they will get, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Iron the edges to make a crease.

STEP 2: Flip the bandana over and bring corners to the center again. Iron edges to crease.

STEP 3: Measure about and inch in, all around the outer edges. This is your sewing line. Mark with pins.

STEP 4: Sew all the way around, through all layers, by hand or with a sewing machine. Don’t sew the corners closed- this will be a casing.

STEP 5: Attach a safety pin to the end of your cord to thread it through the casing.

STEP 6: Thread it all the way around to the beginning and tie it to the other end of the cord.

STEP 7: Pull cord to gather the top of the bag closed. You can pull some of the cord out at the opposite opening to create two handles for your bag. Attach trinkets (beads, buttons, bells) to the ends of the cord, if desired.

Notice the inside of your bag has eight little side pockets! The layers created in folding helps this bag stand up on it’s own.

easy bandana drawstring bagsFor more Summer Solstice fun, see Kids’ Activities for Midsummer / Summer Solstice.

Midsummer Flower Boat

Standard

Making a Midsummer flower boat is a fun and memorable way to commemorate the Summer Solstice, that kids especially love. For your paper boat, you can use any kind of paper. Why not use something you were going to throw into the recycle bin anyway? Newspaper or what we call “good on one side paper” is fine. A rectangular shape works best.

paper boat instructions

1. Fold paper in half with the fold at the top.

2. Fold the top two corners down to meet in the center.

3. Fold one layer of the bottom strip of paper up.

4. Flip over and fold the back bottom strip of paper up to be even with the front. (Right now you have a hat!)

5. Open it up, turn it on it’s side, and press down flat.

6. Fold bottom point up to meet the top point.

7. Turn over and do the same to the back.

8. Open, turn on it’s side, and flatten again.

9. Open up into a boat!

Decorate the boat and dip the top of the sail and side ends in oil. Fill it with flowers (and prayer slips, if you like). Set it in a stream and light it on fire at the top and sides. Watch it sail it off, blazing like the summer sun, to carry your prayers and wishes to the realm of gods and spirits.

Green is Gold.
Fire is Wet.
Future’s Told.
Dragon’s Met.

Midsummer Flower BoatFor more Summer Solstice fun, see Kids’ Activities for Midsummer / Summer Solstice.

salt dough sun plaque

Standard

With the Summer Solstice coming up this month, I thought I’d share this fun little sun plaque craft.

I used strong salt dough, because I had a batch on hand, but you can use regular salt dough as well. After mixing and kneading the dough, I rolled it out thick and cut it into a five inch circle using a lid for a template and cutting around it with a pizza cutter. I made a circle indention in the middle with a small jelly jar, for the face. The nose is just a small coil shape placed in the middle of the circle face and smoothed down with dampened fingers at the top. (Remember to dampen the surface of the salt dough before adding pieces.) I used my fingertip to make indentions for the eye areas. The lips are made from three tiny balls of dough pinched up on the ends. I attached two flattened dough balls for cheeks. I found two little amber-colored beads to press in for eyes. Then when it came time for the sun rays, I looked around my kitchen for something triangular or sun-ray shaped and spotted the ends of my fine mesh metal sifter- perfect! If you decide to make a sun plaque with your little ones, remember to press a hole in the back for hanging when you flip it over to air dry the back. If you have leftover salt dough, make some little sun medallions!

salt dough sun plaqueFor more Summer Solstice fun, see Kids’ Activities for Midsummer / Summer Solstice.

a kitchen witch’s wooden spoons

Standard

Wooden spoons are an essential item in any kitchen witch’s tool kit. They are sturdy enough for mixing thick concoctions without scratching surfaces. Wood is naturally resistant to bacteria. Here is how to prepare and transform an inexpensive set of wooden spoons for magical cooking.

preparing wooden spoons

Your wooden spoons need to be cleaned in mild soapy water before you prepare them for use. Rinse and let dry.

Sand the surface, taking special care to smooth any rough edges.

At this point, you can carve or wood burn meaningful designs onto your spoons. Trace your design lightly with a pencil. An art-gum eraser works quite well on wood. Then carve it with an exacto knife or wood-burn with a pyrography tool. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. Mine are very far from it! It’s the meaning, feeling, and thought behind it that counts. You can dedicate different spoons to certain deities, spirits, or powers, using symbolism and intent. Their power will be invoked when you use them. Mine are a sun for Sunna, a moon for Mani, a heart with an amber teardrop for Freya, and a goose with a basket and broom for Mother Hulda. That one is my favorite, and I have burned on my name in runes and the bottom of the handle.

Sanitize spoons in five parts warm water and one part vinegar. Let them soak about 5 minutes. Let dry completely.

Now it is time to cure them. Dip a clean rag in melted coconut oil and rub down the spoons generously with it. This keeps them from drying out and cracking. Let spoons set overnight in a warm place to soak up the oil, or use the residual heat of the oven after baking something; place spoons on a baking sheet and leave in the warm oven for a while.

You’ll want to re-oil your spoons once a week when you oil your cutting boards.

a kitchen witch's wooden spoons