Friday, March 22, 2013

Everyday Art: Vinylmation Obsession

Have you heard of Disney's Vinylmation? No? Don't feel bad. I had no idea what it was either until about two months ago. We were at Mall of America and visited the Disney Store.

My mother-in-law was letting the kids pick out a little something there and the girls fixated on these little Vinylmation characters. I had never seen these before. I thought they were a little overpriced for what they seemed to be. A little three-inch plastic figure for $12.95. And here's the kicker. It was in what they call a "blind box". So you didn't KNOW which one you were getting! WHAT! You spend $13 for 3 inches of something you may or may not like? Wow, Disney. What a racket! Yes, those were my initial thoughts. However, I softened. We have nearly 9 million stuffed animals in this house already so the fact that they were looking at something so small, I started to see the positive side to this. HOWEVER, my older daughter wanted the Nemo one. She had to have it. And both girls were getting a box. Can you see where this is going?

Here's a Disney Store display (though not the MOA store).
So each one grabbed a box and we opened them right outside the store. Guess what happened? My older daughter (the one who really wanted Nemo) got...Mr. Incredible (though I still thought it was pretty cool). And my younger daughter got.....wait for it....NEMO! Actually, that was pretty much a miracle considering there are 11 or 12 they could have received. Now, my younger daughter is very sweet and she knew that her sister really wanted Nemo so she switched with her even though she didn't really like the Mr. Incredible guy. No one was devastated so we went about our day.

Well, then we made a trip to California for a family vacation. We gave each of the girls a little money to buy a souvenir and I told each of them I would buy them a vinylmation figure. Well. Even though, we saw them throughout the park, we waited until we could go to D-Street in Downtown Disney to pick out their characters. They had a HUGE selection there.
This is in front of the Tomorrow Land store at Disneyland.
You wouldn't believe HOW LONG we were in that store! Ella picked two (she saved some of her souvenir money to get one) and Lily picked one. And well, I picked one too. Another tidbit about these, you can trade them! So we brought Mr. Incredible with and Lily traded him for the Toy Story Unicorn at the Tomorrow Land store. Here's our current collection:
Now, remember when I said Lily just happened to pick the Nemo one out of the box. Well, the girls picked out blind boxes from the Park #11 series. See that little guy on the left. The yellow Donald guy? Well, Lily picked him. She wasn't super excited about it so she thought she would trade it. Luckily, the store person mentioned to us that this was a VARIANT. Um, what is a variant? Yeah, apparently, Disney puts "variants" and "chasers" into their blind box series. So one in each case of 24 blind boxes is more RARE than the others. Lily just happened to pick that. And it's not just one of the rare ones, it's SUPER RARE. I told her it might be best to keep it. I looked on ebay the next morning and I couldn't believe how much that little 3 inches was worth! And HOW LUCKY Lily is. She is now picking out all my future Vinylmation purchases and I'm now referring to her as Lucky Lil'. Okay, not really. But it has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

They have fun playing with these little guys too. Here is something they set up at our rental house while were were still on vacation:
 Each of their characters had a little room and a vinylmation friend.

I started actually googling all this and learning more about these figures. There are some really cute ones out there, and some really not cute ones. And it's kind of fun that you don't always know what you're getting. My older daughter and I have actually bonded over this joint obsession. I've told her everything I found out about vinylmation. And she and I have had fun looking at them in the Disney Vinylmation Vault and here at Vinylmation Kingdom. We talked about which ones we liked. She and I haven't really had something fun like this that we both liked. She is into Legos and Star Wars which is more my husband's thing. She and I have always had art in common, but nothing toy-related really. It's been really nice to have a topic I can bring up with her if I hear something new.

Now, typically, I wouldn't post all this on HERE, an art blog. I mean, I could claim that each of these little 3-inch figures is a work of art because Disney has a team of artists who work on these and create the series. And I do believe the newer series are more creative than the older ones. But all that might be stretching it just a bit. ;-) I did mention to Ella that there are artists who create the vinylmation characters. She thought that was the COOLEST THING EVER! She has long said she wants to be an artist (or a scientist) when she grows up. And I think it was kind of neat to show her a job where someone can be creative and it not be your stereotypical idea of what an artist is or what they do.

We had one weekend day to relax after we got back from our vacation before we jumped back into the craziness of our lives. And THIS (below) is how my girls spent their entire day! Seriously, they worked on this project for about 6 hours almost nonstop.

They decided they were going to create their own vinylmation series. And it would be the Pixar Series 2 (Series 1 is currently being sold at Disney Stores). We had some Color Blanks waiting to be created. They carefully thought out each character and drew an image first.
And here's the REALLY COOL thing. The girls worked TOGETHER! Seriously, these two are quite the opposites when it comes to personality. And there are times they get along, and other times they simply do not. But they spent the entire day working together on this really nicely without any fighting. It was amazing!

Once all their characters were created, they enlisted the help of my husband to create boxes for their characters. Here's what he came up with:
Here they are! Eight completed blind box vinylmations:
So now, what did we do? Why, opened them of course! We shuffled them around and everyone picked two to open.
And here's what we found:
 Sully and Boo in her purple costume from Monsters Inc.

Mittens and Rhino (hamster in the ball) from the movie Bolt (I don't think Pixar created Bolt, but the girls were trying to come up with vinylmation characters they hadn't seen before).
Dory and Squirt from Nemo
Doug from Up and a "rare" one. They didn't have a name for it. And it's not really based on a character.
Instead of the rare one above, they originally were going to make Russell from UP but I think there was a mistake on that Color Blank. ;-)
I don't even know if this post will be of interest to anyone. I just thought it was so amazing how such a creative endeavor brought our whole family together on a weekend day when typically we would all be in different parts of the house doing our own thing. I was intrigued and amazed at the amount of attention and thought my girls put into this project. I have NEVER seen them work on something for so long all at one time.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Craft Project: DIY "Faux" Stained Glass Frames

Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time knows we LOVE sun catchers or anything pretty and sparkly in a window. :-) A year and a half ago, we worked on a faux stained glass project with black glue and permanent markers. The girls' projects have been hanging in my kitchen window over the sink ever since. I decided it was time for something new to look at. :-) We had a teacher workshop (no school) day at the end of February, and inspired by this post at Play at Home Mom, I thought this would be the perfect project for the girls.
What you'll need for this project:
--pictures frames (any size)--I got ours at Dollar Tree, we used 8 x 10
--clear glue
--Glass mosaic tiles or gems--We used the glass tiles and gems shown below from Michael's at $2.99 a bag. I think we used 4-5 bags total with some of certain colors leftover). You can also buy glass gems at Dollar Tree. At our Dollar Tree, the colors are limited to blue and green and maybe clear. I wanted a greater variety in color for the girls so I shelled out for the Michael's brand. ;-)
--Gorilla Glue
--suction cups (also found at the dollar store)
--sorting dish (optional)--you can even have the children sort the tiles/gems by color as an added educational activity. I found my tray at the dollar store as well.
This project is GREAT for all levels as you can do as much or as little to help the kids with it. Since my girls are 9 and 7, I let them do most of it. If you are adapting it for smaller children you can just let them put the gems wherever, and either add the glue yourself or let them do it. I have somewhat perfectionist little artists, so I had them plan ahead.

Step 1) This is actually for the parent. I used gorilla glue to go around where the frame and the glass would meet to create a seal. This way, when the clear glue is applied, it will not leak. I didn't take a photo of this step before we were finished. You can see it below in the photo that shows the finished underside with the suction cups. I did this step the day before I wanted the girls to do the project so the glue would have time to cure.

Step 2)--for older (or more particular) children--I had the girls plan out their design on a piece of white paper.
Step 3) Spread a good amount of clear glue on the TOP of the glass in the frame. So the frame creates an edge for the glue. We put enough to cover the glass and then some. After squirting from the bottle, the girls used a foam brush to spread it around.
Step 4) Add your tiles/gems to the glue on TOP of the glass in the frame.
Step 5) We added a bit more glue over the top and between the tiles. Just to make sure everything was sealed for sure.
This step might have been overkill, but I plan to have these hanging in my window for at least a year. I don't want any of the tiles to start to fall out. My window does get some sun, though it is not direct light for the entire day, just in the morning hours. I'm hoping it holds with all the UV exposure.

Step 6) Let dry for several days. This step actually didn't take quite as long as I anticipated. After dealing with the cookie cutter suncatchers, I think these dried even faster than those. Two days maybe. Though I left them on the art room table in the sun so that may have sped up the drying process a bit.

Step 7) I used gorilla glue to secure suction cups to the back. I used larger ones at the top and smaller on the bottom. These 8 x 10 stained glass frames are pretty heavy so I wanted to make sure they would stay in the window.
I included a couple extra photos so you can see the seal I created under the glass and along the frame edge as well. It's not pretty on the underside. Remember gorilla glue will expand when it dries.
And here are the finished frames in my window! I LOVE these! They are so bright and fun. Just makes me happy to look up and see them in the window.
 My nine year old created the one below. In her words, "just a design":
And this is my 7 year old's. She called hers "Garden". You can make out flowers with a green leaf by each one. And there's a dragonfly in the lower left on the side. And a butterfly on the right side above the red flower.
This project is perfect for any child who likes a tactile experience. Also, it's a good sensory experience with putting the tiles in the clear glue. I tried to take a couple photos to show the depth of the tiles in the frames and the tactile nature.
Now, if you are worried about the weight of these in your window. Or you might like a less "messy" version. OR you are short on time for a gift idea, I have a SHORT-CUT to this project. This came about just this afternoon when my daughter had a friend over and they were looking for a project to do in the art room.

I quickly pulled out some 5 x 7 Dollar Store frames. Cut contact paper (you can get this at the Dollar Store too!) to fit the glass in the frame. Taped the contact paper down with the sticky side up. They cut out tissue paper however they wanted, in the shapes they wanted, and placed the pieces on the contact paper.
 My daughter used scrapbook punches to cut out these circles in the tissue paper:
Because both my daughter and her friend left "holes" where the contact paper showed through, when I turned it over it stuck to the glass. This was a nice way for it to be secured in place while I put it in the frame. I also trimmed any excess tissue paper that hung over the edge of the frame glass.

This can be adapted for different ages. If you have smaller children, you can cut the tissue paper yourself and just have them put the pieces on the contact paper. You can have them rip the tissue paper into small pieces first for a more organic feel to the work. They can practice using the scissors by cutting the tissue paper themselves.

Once the contact paper is covered with tissue paper, you can turn it over and put it on the BACK of the glass going into the frame. Then put the prongs down to hold it all in place. The contact paper stayed in place with the frame prongs. You could use tape to secure the contact paper more. I probably will glue it just to really secure everything. You can secure it however you like, depending on how much time you have. These would make fun gifts for Mother's Day or an end-of-the-year gift for teachers.
I think these turned out great! And are super fun in the window with the light shining through. The cool thing about these too, they look pretty neat in the window even when it's dark out. Sorry I don't have a photo of this. But the tissue paper appears opaque and you can still see the design when it is dark outside.