Playing with Dolls


I’ve been working on my series of oversized craft-along dolls and have been having lots of fun! I’m planning on three different hair styles, starting with this two bun version – so we’ll see how it goes. Each face is hand painted, so each are different, and I’ve loved getting to know these dolls in the process. I think it would be so cute for each doll to come with a necklace that the child could paint or string along themselves. I also love the idea of doing DIY projects for the dresses they come in (like stamping patterns, drawing on them with bleach pens, etc.). And of course you could do many of our crafts here for the dolls as well – such as the cardboard wings, etc.MerMagCraftaLongDolls

I’m still in working on ironing out a few things on these dolls but hope to have my first batch out soon!

Our Week

Lion Pinata from Mer Mag's Kids Craft Camp

As I mentioned yesterday, we held our fist local Kids Craft Camp this week! It was a hit complete with four units, 1) Camping, 2) Nature, 3) Portraits 4) painting/printmaking. The kids sewed their own sashes and created a badge each day to go along with the unit of that day. With finished off with a bang in our painting unit with a piñata party! (the kids helped to paint the mane of this treat holding lion). I’m excited to do more detail recaps next week but be sure to check out our @kidscraftcamp IG feed, as well as @mer_mag for more photos in the mean time!

More things from this week:


Speaking of Kids Craft Camp, having a great discussion here on how instruction in kids art is valuable. What are you thoughts?

A Matisse dress? Yes please

maybe my favorite application for paint swatches

how sweet would a cardboard brownstone doll house be with these row house book shelves!

I’m seriously considering a giant glass corner window like this for the Banister House

more giant woodsy pencil art!!!

This swim suit

This dress

These sandals

This location

Kids Craft Camp this week!

Leaf Crown & Cloak | mer mag

Friends our first local KIDS CRAFT CAMP finished up to day and goodness me I’m beat! It was such great creative fun. We made leaf and twig crowns, splatter painted capes and cloaks, made puppets out of cardboard, and set up camp for little wooden peg friends and more! I’ll be giving a play-by-play of each craft camping unit next week (can’t wait) but for now here’s a few teasers of what’s to come!

Kids Craft Camp | mer mag Kids Craft Camp | mer magKids Craft Camp | mer mag

(colorful markers and coolest glue via Yoobi)

Cardboard Brownstone Dollhouses from PLAYFUL

Cardboard Brownstone Doll House | mer mag

It’s seriously impossible to pick a favorite project from my book Playful: Fun Projects to Make With and For Kids, but i have to say that this cardboard brownstone doll house just might be a crowd favorite. I’ve absolutely loved seeing all the houses you are making from this pattern! Have a look on instagram under the hash tag #playfulbrownstones to get inspired by what everyone is doing! (And if you have made one already, or have plans to do so, make sure you tag it with #playfulbrownstone as well as #playfultoysandcrafts so we can all enjoy! xo).

Cardboard Brownstone Doll House | mer mag

Cardboard Brownstone Doll House | mer mag

I also wanted to share with you a few more of the seriously sweet photos Nicole Gerulat took that never made it into the book. There was SO MUCH good stuff, but seriously….we really had to edit out tons, so the book didn’t go on for days! Had they left it up to me you’d probably be hauling around a webster dictionary sized book of Playful (it was too hard to choose!) so we can thank my fabulous editors who made it possible for Playful to easily fit inside your tote bag!

Cardboard Brownstone Doll House | mer mag Cardboard Brownstone Doll House | mer mag

It’s crazy fun decorating and styling these little houses – you’ll probably get as big of a kick out of it as your little ones do! Meta had the most adorable Maileg Mice on hand at the shoot and I just love that they felt so at home in our brownstones.

Cardboard Brownstone Doll House | mer mag

And speaking of Meta, didn’t she and Brittany knock it out of the ballpark when it came to styling this book?! Particularly on this shoot. Meta found this bed, painted it grey and put together this entire enchanted little girls oasis – and all inside her living room! I’m obsessed. A little girl seriously need to have this as her bedroom. Brittany’s wardrobe outfits are too perfect too. I want them all for my daughter now!

Our little model was a dream too and she seriously got lost in play on this shoot. She loved playing with the dollhouses so much we didn’t really have to tell her to do anything!

Cardboard Brownstone Doll House | mer mag

Once you’ve copied the template it’s crazy easy to keep on making these (and fair warning, you might get addicted! You can see I made two more for our Playful trailer!) Now I want to make a firehouse from these brownstone templates and put a fire pole down the middle of it! Wouldn’t that be the coolest? My boys (and my daughter!) would go nuts for that.

Happy Fathers Day Weekend!

Kid Craft Camp Play Station with Paulo's | mer mag

We’re so excited to for Kids Craft Camp to start next week! We can’t even believe it’s here already. I’ve been working hard on getting everything together for your little ones and have had lots of hands to help. I’ve recently discovered that Jon is the good luck charm when it comes to thrift shopping (second only to Meta of course! she’s got the serious touch). We found SO much great stuff such as these wooden clip boards below (pics from my IG feed). We’re going to use them on a little nature walk Plein Air drawing/watercolor activity and I’m crazy excited about it.

Setting up Kids Craft Camp

I’m also crazy excited about these things I’ve found around the web this week. Check out these Weekend Links:


i HAVE to get this wooden play makeup set for my daughter who’s obsessed with all things pigment, makeup, and lotions

and speaking of makeup, have you ever thought of carving out shapes from your lipstick? tricky but totally awesome

these shadow words are a great drawing activity for older kids! I’m super impressed with the results

Ana’s tiny dancers have my heart

chatting about why we don’t have more natural playscapes in the US for kids here. Any thoughts?

now this is a the kind of glass house I could get on board with!

and this dad wins the prize for awesomeness. and speaking of which…

Happy Father’s Day weekend!





Duct Tape Watch – with a little extra Fathers Day Surprise!


Jon is a super fan of watches. Whenever we walk by a watch store he stops and has to go in, check out all the inner workings, picking out his favorite style, etc. He’d own one for every day of the week if he could I’m sure. SOoooo the kids and I decided to make him a watch! And one out of duct tape and a few other recycled materials of course!

To make this watch we used:

  • the lid of a large catsup bottle (for a fun flip top)
  • duct tape strips
  • paper for watch hands
  • 1 brad
  • black acrylic paint
  • hot glue


  1. Begin by folding and braiding three strips of duct tape. (See our headband tutorial for more directions on this step).
  2. Fold a strip of duct tape – sticky side out – to act as a “closure”. (You could also attach sticky velcro for longer use)
  3. Using a large catsup bottle lid paint on numbers to create a watch face
  4. Cut out two strips of card stock for watch hands. Punch holes into hands and attached through middle of the lid using a brad. Add a dab of hot glue to secure to the other side.
  5. Attach the face of the watch onto the duct tape band. We glued another square of tape under the watch face (not shown in the pic) to make it easier to glue onto the band. Then using hot glue, we attached the face to band.


The kids had a lot of fun giving their dad the watch and he loved it!

Little did he know…


That that wasn’t the last watch we’d be giving him for Father’s Day!


Shortly after we presented him with the duct tape watch, the kids had him close his eyes for another surprise. They then ran back to get out a wooden box and placed it in his hands.

After opening his eyes he found a gorgeous wooden box. And then proceeded to open it up to find a gorgeous wooden watch from Jord!! I picked out the Sully Series from maple and cherry and it’s exquisite.


Needless to say Jon flipped. It was gorgeous, perfectly his style and delivered in a beautiful wood box with heavenly woodsy scent.  MerMagFathersDayZordWoodenWatch3

He couldn’t love the kids play watch more but this was a pretty great cherry on the top.MerMagFathersDayZordWoodenWatch4

And a perfectly fitting gift for a dad who puts his family first all the TIME. MerMagFathersDayZordWoodenWatch1

We’re all sure lucky to have this guy around and are excited to celebrate him more this weekend!



Wooden Watches by JORD

Make a Simple Braided Duct Tape Headband

Braided Duct Tape Headband | Mer Mag

We had fun braiding duct tape and turning it into accessories to wear such as headbands and bracelets, etc. I think we’ll have to make a red white and blue one for the fourth of July!

Braided Duct Tape Headband | Mer Mag

Get the full tutorial on how to make these on Minted Julep today.

Instagram has a new look!


How pretty is Instagram’s new clean white look? I love it. Here’s just a sample of my feed (which you can follow here if you like. Lots of updates on the Banister House, my illustration, our daily comings and goings and as always – loads of good crafty fun!).


xo Mer

Playful French Industrial Picks of the Week


I’m back with more inspiring Playful French Industrial picks this week! Starting with this gorgeous George Morrison painting that I wish I could bid on. Gah!


And how sweet is this little peanut from Paul + Paula? My daughter loves putting socks on and off so this reminds me of her a bit. Se looks like she’d be right at home in Le Dans La dreamy space below. I just want to lie down and take a wee nap on the floor right where the sliver of light creeps in.


My boys are getting older and I’m always looking for inspiring ways to encourage them to dress. I love this little lad below. Looks to be both comfy and effortlessly stylish. Swap the top for a short sleeve shirt and the pants for shorts and you’ve got a perfect ensemble for a summer evening – heart scarf and all!


I’ve had an obsession with children’s spaces and playground design since I was a kid. I would go with my dad to library and we’d pick out a number of books on the matter all from the 70’s. I don’t know if it is because of this but I’ve got quite an affinity for children’s spacial design from this era.



A lot of great creative stuff was happing in in the 60’s and 70’s (like this Herman Miller Playscape below!) that really get my happy juices going (including their cover designs). And this site is full of some of those old books!!! Squeal!

WHY_NoguchiAtlanta_18 WHY_NoguchiAtlanta_12

And finally this photo just says NYC summer to me! Love.



Make a Set of Totem Pole Banks from Cans and Duct Tape

Duct Tape Totem Banks | Mer Mag

We like to up the earning in the summer time for the kids so that they can have opportunities to purchase souvenirs on trips as well as learn a bit more about money, saving and giving. It also helps to fill the days with productivity a bit more as they are trying to earn “tickets” (which then are cashed in for money at the end of the week) by doing chores and errands.


To make this experience more fun we recently made a set or totem pole banks for the kids (something I’ve wanted to do ever since this post) and they have been so fun! The kids have also enjoyed learning about the origin of totem poles as well (something they have been curious about ever since our trip to Disneyland and the Tiki Room).


We made it so that each can on the pole had a different spot for money to be divided into. 1. To Spend, 2. To Save 3. To Give. It’s helped to get the idea of saving for the future as well as charitable giving across a bit better – something that is great for kids to learn. We’ve also loved watching how an item means more to them when purchased with money they earned from hard work. (Jon has them vacuuming up every little crack in the house and it’s great!).


To make these you will need:

  • 3 cans (I find that a majority of grocery cans come in standard sizes and can be stacked)
  • duct tape
  • utility knife for cutting
  • low temp hot glue and gun (for glueing on wings, noses, etc.)

Duct Tape Totem Banks | Mer Mag

  1. Begin by taking off the label from your can and choosing an assortment of duct tape colors
  2. Have an adult cut a slit from the top of the can lid – large enough to insert dollars and coins into
  3. Cover your can with a solid color of duct tape and then create a face with additional duct tape, paper, cardboard, etc. for wings, noses, ears and the like.
  4. You now have one bank ready for saving!
  5. Continue to decorate 2 more cans in fun and silly ways for spending and giving. When you are done it’s time to stack your totem pole!

Duct Tape Totem Banks | Mer Mag

As a theater teacher Jon’s off for the summer (the silver lining to a teachers salary :)) so he’s helped to start a full blown work routine for the kids in the morning. It’s not been without it’s moments (whining, crying, full blown protests on the floor) but the kids are starting to see the benefit of work (at least the spending it and fun play after work part) and are slowing getting used to a routine that asks a bit more from then than they originally wanted for summer break. Don’t get me wrong – we’re all about the slow parenting thing and want to take our summer easy but we also want our kids to value work and learn about money and think summer is a great time for this. And then after the floors are mopped there’s plenty of time for lazy naps in the grass, fishing, and eating cotton candy and zooming on rids at our Art City small town fair!