In the At Home with Martin & Sylvia story “Maple Perfect,” Martin and Sylvia see only dirty, melting snow outside. But when they experience three warm days in a row, Daddy has ideas. He suggests they try tapping one of the maple trees to see if the sap is running. When they hear the steady drip, drip, drip of maple sap, they know "sugaring" season has begun. It's time to make maple syrup!
How delightful it must be to live in a climate where tapping maple trees is possible! What a cheerful end to winter that drip, drip, dripping sound would be. How beautiful to boil and put up jars of sweet, amber-colored maple syrup!
Alas, tapping maple trees doesn't work nearly as well if you live outside of New England, so sugaring isn't part of our own family's year. But if you're feeling wistful for this late-winter tradition, give this week's craft a try.
These watercolor notecards use maple syrup as a base to make the paints swirl into lovely patterns and shapes. The only trick is to remember to let the paint drip off your brush rather than smooshing it onto the paper in brushstrokes. Tell your kiddos to let the paint “drip, drip, drip” like the maple syrup in Martin and Sylvia's story.
It also helps if you prepare several pages before you get started. These little notecards are easy to finish quickly and — with the warm smell of maple syrup permeating the air as you work — painting them is a little addictive.
Maple Watercolor Notecards
Watercolor paper (ours was 9 x 12)
Washi or masking tape
Scrap cardboard (just a bit larger than the paper)
Liquid watercolor paints
Jars or cups for mixing water and paint
About ¼ cup maple syrup (this will do 2-4 sheets)
Spray fixative (optional)
Begin by taping the watercolor paper to the scrap cardboard. Tape around the edges, and then make a cross with the tape through the middle to make 4 equal rectangles.
Next, dilute your liquid watercolor paints into jars or cups with a bit of water. Pour the maple syrup into a separate jar, but don't dilute it.
Now, use a fat brush to wash the maple syrup over one of the squares on the paper. Take a separate brush and drizzle a few drops of watercolor paint over the maple syrup wash, and watch the paint flow and scroll out into beautiful shapes.
Continue painting — letting the paint drip, drip, drip as much as possible rather than making brushstrokes — until you're pleased with the effect. Repeat with the remaining squares.
Allow the paint to dry completely before removing the tape and cutting the paper into 4 rectangular notecards. If the paper is still tacky at all after it has dried — which it may or may not be, depending on how thickly your small artists applied the maple syrup — take it to a well-ventilated area and spray it with a quick shot of spray fixative to seal it well.
In addition to the marbling effect on the paint, we found that starting with maple syrup gave our notecards a lovely sheen once they were dry. Enjoy them as miniature paintings, or write notes on the back and send them to friends and family.
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred year old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two pre-schoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion--showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun--in her weekly Sparkle Kitchen posts.
When Meryl isn't writing for Sparkle Kitchen, you can find her on her personal blog, My Bit of Earth, where she writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography, and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day.