Ask A Detroit Expert: Easy Crafts To Do With Your Kids

Mavis Farr is a mom, artist, metalsmith, educator, seamstress, photographer, designer, printmaker, percussionist and word enthusiast. She makes custom stamped transformational jewelry and teaches traditional beadwork and metal working workshops and art workshops for kids.

Frustrated by a lack of affordable quality jewelry, she set out to make her own and founded a small metals shop in 2008. Her focus is on creating custom designs and helping people wear their words.

Mavis' work can be found online at To register for an upcoming class at 555 Gallery, email her at

Read below to discover how to make engaging crafts for kids by following simple steps from children's art instructor extraordinaire Mavis Farr!

DIY Hula Hoop

Hula Hoop Basics:

"The reason we make our own hula hoops (and make them for gifts) is that homemade hoops are sturdy and can withstand lots of play; and a custom fit hoop is far superior to a store-bought one—those can be too small, too large or too light. The first part of this craft is more appropriate for ages 12 to adult ; the second part is appropriate for all ages with adult supervision."


  • 3/4 inch (19.05 mm) 160 psi irrigation tubing
  • A PVC pipe cutter or tough scissors
  • One tube connector for each hoop you plan to make
  • Colorful tape of all types. You can purchase "hoop tape" online.
  • Tea kettle/bowl for hot water


  1. Determine the length of tubing you need to make the hoop the correct size. When held in front of you and resting on the floor, the hoop should come up to your chest.
  2. Cut your tubing to size.
  3. Boil a kettle of water and carefully pour into a small metal bowl or pan. 
  4. Working carefully one end at a time, dip the tubing end (about 2 inches worth) into the hot water. Hold it there for 30-45 seconds. Pull it from the water and insert the tube connector into that side. As it cools, the PVC will join with the coupler. Dip the remaining side into the hot water as before. Pull tubing from water and insert tubing onto the tube connector, joining the hoop together. Cover this join seam with duct tape.
  5. Now here's the fun part for almost any age— using any variety of duct, gaffers or hoop tape, create a fun design by wrapping the entire hoop in tape. This makes each hoop unique and improves grip when it's time to hula hoop. 

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Screen Printing with Mavis

Screen Printing Basics:

This is a fun and exciting craft suitable for most ages, with supervision. It's a great rainy-day project but be warned that it can be as messy as it is fun.

What you will need:

  • screen printing kit (you can get this online or at an art store)
  • screen printing inks (also at the art store)
  • squeegee
  • masking tape or duct tape
  • plastic spoon or craft popsicle stick for applying ink
  • a smock for each person printing or helping
  • clothing hangers, clothes pins, a line or another place to dry the finished work
  • fabric, tee shirts, tote bags, cloth napkins or blank scarves (any blank fabric you care to work with)


  1. Follow the directions on the screen printing kit to make a prepared screen ready for printing. This can be as simple as drawing onto the stretched screen with screen drawing fluid or as complicated as making a photographic image screen. Whatever you decide to make is up to you, however, I have found that letting my daughter draw her very own design onto the screen or using her existing artwork for the photo emulsion method makes for a more fulfilling kids project. 
  2. Gather t-shirts, cloth napkins, bandanas, plain fabric or whatever you want to print onto. You can make about 15-20 prints before the ink begins to dry in the screen and it needs to be rinsed. If you are making t-shirts, put a piece of cardboard or a flat wooden board between the t-shirt layers or the ink will bleed through to the back of the shirt. 
  3. Put about a tablespoon of textile screen printing ink onto the top side of your image and then pull the ink across the screen with the squeegee. As you pull your print, press gently but firmly downward as you pull toward the bottom of the screen. Be sure that the ink went into all of the design spaces. You can pull the ink across a couple times, but if you pull it too many times, the image will not be crisp. 
  4. Lift the screen off the print and hang your t-shirt to dry. Repeat the process over and over again for each shirt. You can customize napkins, tote bags, shirts, flags or anything you can think of using for this process. When you are finished with your printing, wash the ink off of the screen thoroughly with warm (not hot) water and mild detergent and set screen on its side to dry thoroughly. 
  5. Once items have thoroughly dried, you can heat set them by tossing them in the dryer on hot for 10 minutes, or by heat setting them with an iron. For the iron method, you need a scrap of fabric larger than your design to act as a mask between your ink and your iron. Using the hottest dry setting, press each area of the design for 10 seconds.
  6. Enjoy your new garment or accessory and launder as usual.

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After receiving a BA in Photography from Savannah College of Art & Design, Nicole Wrona began working with a diverse range of musicians. In addition, she is a freelance writer for numerous publications. Her work can be found at and