Martin, Laura. Nature's Art Box. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing, 2003.
(Head over to Amazon where you grab this for $12.71)
If you are ready to move on from finger painting, this is the book for you. It will help you move your artist from the dinning room table to the back yard (which is great for clean up!). There are projects for young artists and those seasoned school aged kids.
(There are tons of projects for our "sea treasures" we found at the beach)
"Nature has colors and patterns that no artist could ever draw or paint nearly as well." I love this line by Martin and her creative ideas are just as eloquent as her writing. She breaks her art projects down into groups that take up over 214 pages-
Vines and Moss
Gourds and Seeds
Clay and Stones
Paints and Dyes
Flowers and Leaves
Stamps and Stencils
Martin says that "almost anything you find in nature can be used for something." I love the idea that you don't have to spend money at the art store to make wonderful projects with your children. Just stepping outside, the materials are there for the harvesting. Martin even explains how to make your own clay and glue! I know that many parents want to know about using natural items and this book provides the direction.
There are the common camp projects from your youth such as God's Eyes and Potato Stamps (I have to make these with my kiddos!). Keep reading and you will find over 60 other projects such as Okra Pod Canoes, Fern T-Shirt Prints and making your own natural Dye Baths. I can't wait to use these ideas at Easter!
It is evident that the projects are well thought out with background, material lists, directions with wonderful drawings by David Cain. The directions include enough information to easily complete the project, but not overwhelm the artist. Each project looks doable for even young (or old and unartistic) fingers. While actual photographs would be nice, the drawings are simple and show the end project beautifully.
There are charts telling you where to find "treasures in nature", when to harvest them and how to use them. I love that it tells you to only use "fallen bark" from a Birch Tree! It will help you learn about using Lichen as a dye, Pressing Primose and making Corn Husk Hats. She also added a lovely list of gift suggestions for your creations and other books that might help you with nature art.
(I want to gather some of these for pressing)
When I open my Nature Preschool (dreams happen!), this book will be a wonderful addition to the classroom. I think that any classroom, in nature or classroom based, should add these natural art lessons to the lesson plan. It also would be a nice gift for a parent. All parents can use ideas for entertaining (and educating!) their children on rainy days and weekends.
The book has a welcoming feel and makes the projects all seem approachable. With the drawings and layout, art doesn't seem as daunting!
I give Nature's Art Box by Martin by Alaskan Mom Approval for using nature, helping make even the artistically challenged artists and providing projects that force families outside to forage for supplies!