Do-it-yourself projects for crafty kids

Do-it-yourself projects for crafty kids

August 20th, 2011 by Karen Nazor Hill in Life Entertainment

Maddie Kertay holds up a felt pig she and sons Sam, left, and Greg, center, made together in her studio. Kertay, who home-schools her six children, has worked with each one in dozens of craft projects from painting to quilting.

Photo by Jenna Walker /Times Free Press.

How to make custom note cards

* Start with blank note cards. Mark a chain of small dots in a swag across the top of the cards.

* Use these marks to sew the paper with embroidery floss so that you have a stitched line across the card.

* Using scrapbook paper, cut 1-inch strips of multiple papers and then cross-cut them into small triangles for the pennants to hang on your stitched line.

* To secure the triangle pennants to the card, use double-sided craft tape on the back of each triangle and position them so they appear to be hanging from the stitched line.

Note to parents

"If you have a left-handed child, buy him left-hand scissors," Kertay said. They can be found in craft stores and online.

For more crafting ideas or where to take local classes, visit or

Source: Maddie Kertay

Maddie Kertay is extremely crafty. And so are her kids.

Their handiwork includes quilts, stuffed animals, stationery, rubber stamps, jewelry and sculptures. The youngest family member, Sammy, 10, won a second-place award at the state fair two years ago for his cross-stitched needle case.

"Parents are often anxious when it comes to making crafts," Kertay said. "They think because they aren't creative, they can't be creative with their children."

They're wrong, she said. "There are many books and classes dedicated to kids' crafts, and it's easy for parents to learn along with them."

Kertay, the daughter of an artist who encouraged her creativity, said people are often amazed at the projects a young child can accomplish.

"A 3-year-old can knit," she said. "Just remember that whatever art project you're doing, make it fun, and they will embrace it."

Projects that interest a parent will likely interest the child as well, Kertay said.

"I like crafts with a practical purpose. You won't see Popsicle sticks or Play-Doh projects around my house, because everything we make has a practical use in our home as opposed to something that you'll throw in the trash when the child is not looking."

Kertay said a good starter craft for parents and children is handmade cards.

"Card-making is simple and requires limited supplies. It's tidy," she said.

Sammy and the next oldest of Kertay's six children, 13-year-old Greg, recently made cards decorated with miniature

banners hanging from the top of the card. Using a large needle, the boys sewed a string in and out of the card at the top, creating a swag effect. They then cut out small triangles of printed paper to use as banners to suspend from the string. They will either write messages, decorate with prints made from their handmade stamps or add a computer-generated message.

Kertay said making stationery is not only fun, it teaches her home-schooled children about etiquette.

"The world has gone digital. Many people don't write letters today," she said. "People are even sending digital wedding invitations, and that's abhorrent."

Kertay said she's heard parents say they encourage their children to play video games because playing requires the use of fine motor skills. Craft-making does the same, with the added benefit of having something to show for your time, she said.

Many art projects are available in kits, which simplifies the process. And Kertay recommends not only proper supplies, such as age- and hand-appropriate scissors, but quality supplies, which often means bypassing the kids section in art supply stores.

The art supply section for adults can be expensive, she said, so watch for sales. "At least once a month, local art supply stores like Hobby Lobby and Michaels will have 50 percent off sales. That's when I stock up," she said.

Inadequate art supplies can result in inadequate projects, Kertay said.

The Kertay children only give gifts that they have created.

"Every one gets something different," Greg said.

Not only are the boys creative, they also are business-minded.

"They make campaign buttons and personalized mirrors," their mom said. "They ship their products all over the United States. Crafting/sewing teaches children to be creative thinkers."

While Greg hopes to be a mechanical engineer and Sammy wants to be an astrophysicist, both said they will always be interested in crafting and sewing.

"I've made my own robes and pajama pants," Greg said.

"I haven't made my own clothes, but I've repaired them," Sammy said. "You don't have to throw away your clothes if they tear. I know people who go to schools where they don't teach home-economics classes, and I think that's sad."

One of Sammy's favorite projects is making sock creatures. He said his first creature was created via step-by-step instructions in a sock-creature craft kit. His second creation, a comical stuffed Albert Einstein, is a product of his imagination.

"You don't always need to follow directions," Sammy said. "You can change it to make your own designs."