Purple Twig- Art Exploration for kids. A mom run small business in Los Angeles. Stop by to see the trials and tribulations.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Winter Camp- week 1

We do have so much fun creating full days of activities for the kids during school breaks. We did two 3 day weeks for winter camps this year. When coming up with the curriculum we really needed to figure out a way to get the kids some outside time. Since we don't have a park right near us we decided to use the neighborhood for what it had to offer. There is a patch or grass that sits adjacent to a local elementary school. We decided to hold races and play some outdoor games there, but also do scavenger hunts with objects the kids had made, hiding them around the neighborhood.  So we filled the days with art making, game playing, reading and going for walks. It's so nice to have the kids for longer ongoing days, so we can do more ambitious projects, as well as, to get to know the kids better.

Here ages 4-5 are creating little snowstorms to send through the mail. They use paper punch outs and we put them in envelopes for them to send home. They love getting things in the mail.

The outside time is important. We take walks in the neighborhood, gathering material for artworks, playing games and creating obstacle courses. 

During the first week we made flags and snowflake banners for a winter parade. We love a parade.
Ages 4-5 made these  beautiful winter flags made from fabric which they painted and added other smaller fabrics and colorful yarn.
 The older kids, ages 6-9 made these lovely snowflake banners for the parade.

We cut out snowflakes from paper, added some white glitter and hung them for sticks we had found on our walk. 

I brought in bells and other musical instruments for the kids to carry in the parade. We all set off down the street, waving at people and ringing our bells. Some of the parents also joined us in our Winter Parade. A good time was had by all.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Great Gift.

Look at what my husband put in my stocking.

THE STICK BOOK is right up my alley.  I couldn't think of a better gift. It's got it all, beautiful images, ideas for outside time with kids and like it says loads of things you can make with a stick. After lounging around in the morning we went for a Christmas day hike gathering our own sticks along the way. It felt quite luxurious to not go near my computer for the entire day. 


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Winter Workshops

I do love the early winter here in Los Angeles. The skies are so beautiful after it rains and the hills are so green. We go for early walks in the hills, do more staying in and reading and eat a lot more soups. I also love all the ornament making and winter treat making that happens in December. We, at the Purple Twig, do believe in process over product, that the exploring of materials is how to build confidence and emphasize creative thinking with children, but I do so love to teach a craft, whether it be sewing, knitting, ceramics or printmaking. If you begin with beautiful materials, whatever the kids make will be beautiful.

Look at the wonderful holiday cheer we have been making with kids during our workshops. We did holiday card printing by using print foam that the children draw into. This is good for ages 3- 103. Some of our parents get into this one as well, which we welcome. Here are some card the kids made with a snowflake theme. Each one is individual just like a snowflake. We finished them off with a bit of glitter.

Here are a few more using different colored inks on different colored papers. I just love these Winter trees, some with snow on them.

We also had workshops for ornament making from pastas that we glued together, painted white and added glistening white glitter. 

And these little winter dioramas in a small round tin complete with fake snow that one can shake. We used stickers, stamps on small white pieces of paper and glued them into the tin and some even added little pine cones.

We also made this big winter dioramas in a jar using fake little trees, animals and lots of fake snow. I have tried doing these as snow globes but no matter how much hot glue we used they ultimately all leaked so by taking the water out of the equation they are lovely dioramas. Just hot glue your scene onto the lid of the jar. One thing to realize when making these is to first add rocks or white stones for the animals to sit on, otherwise they won't be seen over the curved lip of the jar.

Happy Winter!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Giving Thanks and Making

I love that day or days of holidays where things are quiet and you don't have to go anywhere. During those relaxing days we spent, making art, reading stories of thanks and honoring some of the objects made by a few native American tribes.

To start off we made these hand turkeys. What's a Thanksgiving camp day without a hand turkey

Then we honored the Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest by learning a bit about totem poles and making some ourselves with Sculpey and skewering them.

Look at these incredible totem pole drawings.

On the second day we made these amazing looking arrows from dowel and paper feathers that they made. The dowel is decorated with tape.

Then we spent the afternoon making God's eyes. They loved making these. We have so many skeins of beautiful yarn that have been donated to the Purple Twig. I am always looking for new ways of using them.


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What's Marketing?

Okay so it's been about two years now since I opened the doors of Purple Twig. It has been so fulfilling in so many ways. I feel good about the website and how it conveys our sophisticated yet playful relationship to art education. I  am happy about our classes, the way they are structured, the progression of projects and I have found some fantastic teachers. I just got the floors sanded and now the space is much warmer and comfortable.

I have learned about budgeting and book keeping allowing me to stay above water. The thing I still am trying to understand is marketing.
I was convinced to buy an ad on one of those parent resource websites. "We can reach over 6,000 families in the Los Angeles area", "We so believe in what you do and want to work with you that we are willing to offer you both a spot in our news letter and a banner ad on our website for half the price, just $700. If you get just 4 families from that you will recoup your fees" I bought it literally and figuratively. Did I get any families from the ads? As far as I know, not even a phone call.  I felt a bit like a fool. When I spoke to others, I realized that I was not alone. Many small businesses succumb to the pressures of advertising in places that are just not working for them.
What has worked in marketing so far? Word of mouth. Moms are a powerful resource.  Mothers are also very supportive of other mothers and mom run businesses. It really has been the mothers who have told other mothers or posted on mom's group sites that have been the most successful. I then realized that I am an intimate business with a personal space. It's all about the community. Those big corporate sites or those Groupon type sites won't work for Purple Twig. They don't reflect this business.

So I decided to do some guerrilla marketing. We had made these posters during our dinosaur themed week at summer camp. We posted them around the neighborhood during camp. I had about 250 printed up and posted them in different neighborhoods around libraries and schools. Did this bring in any new students? I am not sure about that, but I do know that it made more than one person smile. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Celebrating Sukkot with the kids

At my children's school this week I helped celebrate Sukkot, the Jewish celebration of harvest. We built a sukkah at the school's farm. It was a simple structure of four 2X4 posts dug into the ground with 2X4 posts connecting them at the top. We then used twine wrapped around the posts for two of the walls  and the roof and a blanket for the back wall.

We invited the children to decorate the sukkah by weaving dried corn stalks into the twine. With my youngest's class we did watercolor paintings of our favorite fruits and vegetables, cut them out and hung them from the top twine. They were learning the letter H this week which was perfect to talk about harvest and hut.

The tradition is to invite a friend into the sukkah to share a meal.  I made apple and pomegranate salad for the kids to share while sitting together in the sukkah. It's such a wonderful holiday and after the High Holidays can be one that is difficult to muster but a beautiful way to celebrate the fall and to celebrate friendship.

Monday, June 4, 2012

The First Few Months

We opened (and when I say "we" I mean "I") October 5th 2010 on the night of the Eagle Rock music festival. The response was so positive and welcoming. I was so pleased that I chose the right neighborhood for my first business. One that would appreciate an art studio which promoted process and experiential activities. I thought to myself "I am going to have open studio every day and at least 3 people are going to stop by to make things with there kids". Along with the open studio, my goal was 20 kids in my classes. I was offering 6 so I thought that was a fair number. Reality set in pretty quick.  I had 11 students my first fall session. Yes, 11 and maybe two people a week coming in for open studio not per day.  I love those families who started off with me and entrusted their children to me. Most of those families are still taking classes and the Purple Twig would not have survived with out them.

This was one of my first art classes "Little Architects". We started out by building roller coasters and amusements parks, talking about structure and foundations for building.

So 11 kids was not going to get me through two months of rent.  I decided to start doing workshops on the weekends so that families could get acquainted with the shop. I  figured if families knew what we did then they might sign up for the next session. Well that was my first good idea as to growing the business. It completely helped supplement me through. 

Sunday, May 27, 2012

giraffes have two stomaches

Check out this incredible little tribe of giraffes made by our "Amazing Animals" class for ages 3 and 4.

After reading about how amazing giraffes are we used recycled materials like tp tube for the neck, balled up paper for the body and the head and straws for the legs. They taped them together and covered them with plaster cloth (one of the best materials). They actually all stood up. I was surprised and delighted. After the giraffes dried they painted them and added eyes and ears. Pink ones, orange ones, spotted ones oh my.

But we didn't stop there. We decided to make carts for our giraffes to ride in. Using milk cartons that were cut off at the top, they painted and glued on fabrics, popsicle sticks and buttons. We added wheels which are just some plastic lids with brackets through them. The tribe is now ready to be on the go.

Friday, May 25, 2012

12th birthday party celebration- book in a box

We did a Birthday party for a twelve year old last week. We suggested a book (accordion book) in a box for the project. She loves books and boxes so it was perfect for her. We talked about telling a story, primarily fairytales, through images. Since the stories are primarily universal it's easier to convey a story through images.

After choosing which story they would like to tell, we start with a box and cut a length of paper and fold it to fit in the box. Then we went through many sources for our images, playing cards, magazines, storybooks, old postcards, beautiful origami papers.

After cutting out all the desired images we laid them onto the length of paper, moving them around, deciding where the watercolor paint was needed, what backgrounds were needed.

Then the final step is the gluing and the glitter. Oh so much glitter. Here are some final pieces. The stories range from Persephone to Hey Diddle Diddle to Sleeping Beauty. They are truly amazing and they fold up into a little box. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

let's start from the very beginning

About two years ago I came to the conclusion that I wanted to open my own art studio for kids and  families. I'd been teaching art at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena for about 8 or so years and I had started the Purple Twig which was rogue art teaching. I would go to homes and teach an art class to a group of children weekly. My good friend, Ivan at Art Design Office had already created Purple Twig's identity and website. But Purple Twig needed a home. I wanted to have my own place to create art happenings for kids. But I knew nothing, I mean knew absolutely nothing, about business. NOTHING! So my first step was to ask my long time friend Ally, who is an environmental lawyer what I needed to do. She laid it all out for me. The first and most important thing I needed to do was to get a good CPA. So I did. Bobby Malhotra has been amazingly helpful. I couldn't have done this without him. I completely recommend him if you are in the Eagle Rock area of Los Angeles. 
I listened closely to both Ally and Bobby about S corps and LLCs and businesses licenses. I went to Leagalzoom, paid my $500, waited 6 weeks and became Purple Twig LLC.  It's not so mysterious.

During this time I was doing research. Cataloging art projects and activities from the Armory, from craft fairs, from my own projects. Doing research online for art and craft projects for kids. I even sent my daughter to all sorts of art classes around town to check out their business and teaching models.

Then I looked for a space. The first time I drove past this vacant storefront in Eagle Rock I knew it was right.

That's my friend Karin. She asks questions that I would never dream of.  It's good to take someone like her with you. She made me look at spaces that I was never interested in. It made me even more sure that this was the right space.

That was my first look inside all 1,000 feet of it ( a bit blurry)  and this is the bathroom (a bit disgusting).

After putting in an offer and negotiating with the land lord (which I didn't know one could do). I sent that lease agreement to Ally a few times and she came back with some great changes. 
I went camping with my family and when I got back I got the keys with two months rent free to renovate.

While at our local super market, I noticed these small green chairs. I immediately bought them all. It was my first purchase for the new space. And they are one of my best.
I had big plans for the storefront, building walls, sanding concrete, beautiful tiles, I also had a very limited budget so I did almost all the work myself, except the painting. 

And the electricity, although my brother did try and talk me into learning this for myself.

 I did put those things together, which took days.

I looked at tiles and paints and shelves. I went to flea markets and thrift stores. I spent more time in IKEA than I ever wanted to spend in my life. And in the end I went very simple and functional.I finally got to put the art supplies that I had been saving up from thrift stores, art stores and our own recycling.

Look at this amazing bathroom. I am so proud of this. I cut and installed the tiles ( I electrocuted myself a few times. If any of you ever cut tile you know what I am talking about. I wished I had gotten a demo on that power tool beforehand) , created the vanity and built the step stool from the crates that contained the concrete tiles. It's quite a difference.

After about 4 months in the making I finally opened my doors for the Eagle Rock music festival on October 5th 2010 and was completely overwhelmed.