Expensive and beautiful materials may be purchased for the use of elementary school children; but if art is ever to function in the whole lives of these children, now and later, work time and leisure time, they must learn to recognize the value and use of the materials they have at hand. Many of the crafts of past ages sprang from the use of ordinary, common and apparently worthless materials in the busy hands of inventive people in their own homes. It has always been the person with small means and much ingenuity who has been considered clever. Teachers who can discover the possibilities in old and discarded materials, and who can lead children to have meaningful experiences are, with these children, enjoying a satisfaction in the creation of new things that is really worthwhile from beginning to end.
Color chart showing twelve normal hues, twelve grayed hues and three values of six hues.
The owners of stationery stores, groceries, lumber yards, cabinet shops, dry goods stores and newspaper offices are very willing to give, for school crafts, boxes, cartons, paper, wood scraps and other odds and ends usually thrown away as junk. Parent-Teacher Associations, Mothers' Clubs, individual mothers and others are happy to cooperate in the saving of old newspapers, magazines, wrapping paper, sacks, rags, string, gunny sacks and other old materials that can be renovated and made into new articles. The way to have materials for school craft work is to enlist every one in the saving of junk.
Only a few tools are really necessary to carry on an elementary program in craft work. A hammer and nails, saw, paring knife, needle and thread, scissors, sand paper and a paint brush, such as found in the ordinary water color paint box, are the most important. Every home has these tools and they can very often serve at school if the need is justified.
Paint is necessary for the finishing of some articles. Ordinary house paint can be used for many things. Often small amounts of the paint, left from painting at home, are gladly given to the children to use at school.
Enamel is excellent for decorating and may be purchased in different colors or, if only a can of black and white are at hand, colored enamels can be made by placing a piece of old window screening over a dish and rubbing colored chalk on the screening, making a powder in the dish. This powder added to white enamel will give very satisfactory color effects. White house paint may be colored in the same way. Brushes used in enamel or house paint must be washed in turpentine or cleaning solvent.
Calcimine paints, similar to those used for painting the interior walls of a room but in deeper colors, are inexpensive and excellent for craft work. They are mixed with water. If these are not procurable, white calcimine may be purchased very reasonably at any paint store, and to it may be added water and powdered chalk as described for enamel paint. This makes a fine finish for many articles.
Water color paints are fine for certain work, especially in the finishing of wood and wrapping paper.
A box of wax crayons, preferably in sixteen colors, is almost indispensible in the decorating of craft work. Small bits from old crayons are also most valuable. Crayon can be used on almost every material to enhance its beauty.
This may be purchased at any drug store. Frequently homes have one or two partially used packages of dye which they will gladly give for school work. Several such packages will do a great deal toward making rags and flour sacks more acceptable for use.
These may be purchased at a paint or ten-cent store and are most desirable for making certain pieces of craft work more durable and attractive. Brushes used in shellac must be cleaned in wood alcohol ; those used in varnish may be cleaned in cleaning solvent or turpentine.
This is used for dry cleaning purposes, is inexpensive and especially useful for many school purposes. It takes the place of turpentine in many instances and is used for cleaning brushes which have been used in enamel, house paint or varnish. It must never be used near a flame.
Home made paste is inexpensive and serves most school needs. An old tooth brush is excellent for spreading paste over a large area. A very good paste may be made as follows:
Mix the flour and sugar together and stir in slow-
1 cup flour 1 cup sugar 1 quart water
1 tablespoon powdered alum teaspoon oil of cloves (about 30 drops.) ly one-fourth of the water. Bring the remainder of the water to a boil and add the mixture to it, stirring constantly. Boil and stir for a few minutes until clear. Add the alum and stir until it is thoroughly mixed. Remove from the fire and add oil of cloves to keep it sweet. When paste becomes sour it is unfit for use. Keep in a tight jar in a cool place. This makes two quarts of paste.
Flour and water cooked together in a similar manner may be used but the paste thus made will not keep for any length of time.