Creating a Kids Dreamcatcher [How to] : Coping with Bad Dreams & Nightmares

In my children’s Trauma & Loss Art Therapy groups, we explore common trauma reactions that can surface after something bad, sad, or scary happens that takes away a child’s sense of safety and security in their world.  I often use trauma informed children’s books such as Brave Bart or A Terrible Thing Happened to help introduce and educate children about the different emotional, physical, and behavioral responses they may be experiencing.

As described in both stories through the characters Brave Bart the Cat and Sherman the Raccoon, one of the traumatic stressors can be difficulty sleeping or becoming afraid to go to sleep because of nightmares and bad dreams.

I find creating dreamcatchers are an easy, fun, art-based activity to make together as a group, as well as provide a creative, meaningful way to address fears and worries related to exploring this topic.

Kids really enjoy learning about the Legend of the Dreamcatcher before we start creating:

“According to legend, the good dreams pass through the center hole to the sleeping person, The bad dreams are trapped in the web, where they perish in the light of dawn.” ~Lakota (Sioux) Dreamcatcher Legend


Creating a Kids Dreamcatcher [How to] : Coping with Bad Dreams & Nightmares | creativity in motion

When introducing dreamcatchers, I often prepare paper (or styrofoam) plates (small or large in size) by cutting the center out, and punching holes around the edge.  Kids can also help and do this part too! The circle form can then be decorated with markers, oil pastels, foamie shapes, paint, or collage. Yarn is used next to thread through the punched holes, creating a criss cross pattern back and forth over the center of the circle to create the dreamcatcher’s web.  A small piece of yarn is left hanging off the circle’s edge, where a series of pony beads can then be strung together. To complete the dreamcatcher, a few feathers can be securely attached inside the bead’s inside to hang down. Some dreamcatchers have multiple beads and feathers attached to the bottom.

Creating a Kids Dreamcatcher [How to] : Coping with Bad Dreams & Nightmares | creativity in motion
My Dreamcatcher Example

Step by step photo tutorials and other ideas when making paper plate dreamcatchers can be also be seen here, here, and here if you are interested in seeing more examples!


Related Posts:

Worry Doll | Muñeca Quitapenas [How To]

Finding Safety through Art: Relaxation Inspiration

My Trauma Informed Pinterest Board

Alcohol Inking Love

I’ve been using a lot of my alcohol ink stash lately for various projects, which inspired me to do a summary here of my most favorite ways to use this fun and easy material.

Alcohol lnk Stash

My first alcohol inking love is for making altered dominoes.  In my own creative practice I find the blending and mixing of colors on the domino’s smooth surface a relaxing and soothing process.  I often like to also add printed words or magazine photo collage to embellish the domino’s intention.  This past week, I just mailed out an altered art domino I was working on for Emery who is on my 2013 Creative Pay It Forward list.  In my art therapy work with women survivors of domestic violence and trauma, making altered dominoes can be an empowering way to create meaningful symbols of affirmation & strength for themselves or to give to one another.

Altered Domino: Create It Forward
Create It Forward Altered Domino for Emery

If you’re interested in learning how to get started with your own altered domino making with alcohol inks, download this how-to:

Altered Dominoes with Alcohol Inks How to
Making Altered Dominoes with Alcohol Inks

Other things I’ve discovered that feeds my alcohol ink addiction includes using it for altering glossy photographs, as well as to make artist trading cards that are coated with a glossy surface.  And just recently, I was super excited to experiment with my inks on plastic slide mount covers when working on a small accordion book.

Alcohol Inking Examples
Oh…Let me ink the many ways…

What are some of your favorite ways to use alcohol inks?

Inside & Out: Slide Mount Accordion Book [How to]

Slide Mount Accordion Book Cover
Slide Mount Accordion Book Cover

A year or two ago I remember seeing Quinn McDonald‘s awesome 35mm Slide Accordion Journal on her blog, as well as this mention about her slide mount journal being featured in the premiere issue of the Cloth Paper Scissors’ art journaling mag Pages.  Great idea! Making my own has been on my creative to-do list ever since and I finally spent some time creating one.  The process was lots of fun!  It’s also a great way to re-purpose any old, unused, and unwanted slide mounts into a miniature book!

Supplies: Accordion Slide Book
Supplies to get started: Plastic slide covers & tape

Supplies I used to get started were some empty plastic slide mounts, paper tape (as well as masking tape), and a variety of miniature images, collages, and words to glue inside each mount.  Using some of my Lost and Found idea-o-logy paper stash came in handy for the background because each page is doubled sided and could be seen on the front and back in the mount’s center.

Slide Attaching
Attaching slides together with tape: Front and back

Using some paper tape on one side and masking tape on the other (just to experiment), I attached each individual mount together. The tape created a sturdy, flexible binding between each slide for the book’s accordion style.  I then used a variety of my favorite alcohol inks to add color to each slide.  The plastic, smooth texture of the mount’s surface made working with the alcohol inks super easy and left a nice look that dried really quick.  With some sandpaper and a sharp metal tool, I distressed some areas of the book after applying the alcohol ink.  I also accented the mount edges and in between each page with a gold paint pen.

Slide Mount Accordion Book Finished
Inside & Out: Slide Mount Accordion Book Finished

I think I’ve made my first Creative Pay It Forward gift to send to someone on my list in 2013! Yay! Thank you to Quinn for the inspiration to try this out. I look forward to making a few more!

Creative Goodness with Gluebooks: eBook [Free!]

Inspired by my 2012 6 Degrees of Creativity 2 e-workshop, Creative Goodness with Gluebooks, a mini eBook is now available to download!

Creative Goodness with Gluebooks eBook

Creative Goodness with Gluebooks invites you to learn about the possibilities and creativity of gluebooks! This free 6 page color PDF will introduce you to easy ideas that gluebooks can be created with repurposed and general art materials, as well as fun ways to develop, collect, and use your paper stash!


  • What is a Gluebook?
  • Cultivating & Creating Your Paper Stash
  • Paper Stash Ideas
  • Material Ideas to Use with Gluebooking
  • Gluebook Prompts
  • Brown Paper Bag Gluebook How To
  • File Folder Gluebook How To [VIDEO]
  • SMASH books
  • Inspiration, Resources, & Links

Add to Cart

Once adding this eBook using the free checkout above and an e-mail address to send it to (for this purpose only), you will automatically receive a link to download the PDF file.

Happy Gluebooking!


Before & After : Paper Bag Gluebook Goodness

This week-end I finally finished up a paper bag gluebook I started this summer for my Creative Goodness with Gluebooks e-workshop over at 6 Degrees of Creativity 2.  It’s been in a decreasing pile of “gluebooks in progress” patiently waiting to be done:

For these gluebook pages, I used some of Tracy’s dictionary pages from her paper stash (thank you!), distressed ink, bits of Tim Holtz’s lost and found paper, a little hand stitching , and images from an old photo stock catalog that I discovered.


These are the “before” photos of how I created this paper bag gluebook:

A paper bag gluebook can be easily and inexpensively made using lunch bags or even recycling large paper grocery bags.  The photos above for my gluebook use three lunch size bags. After cutting off the flaps along the bottom of each bag, simply stack and fold them in half. Removing the flaps creates neat pockets for stashing and holding notes, collage pieces, or other keepsakes you’d like to discreetly make part of your gluebook.  You can determine the number of pages you want to have in your gluebook by how many paper bags you choose to use.

Then, to keep it simple, you can two punch holes at the top and bottom of the folded side, then tie with yarn, string, or fabric.

Here is another paper bag journal idea and technique using grocery bags from Judy Wise’s blog. Enjoy!

File Folder Art Journal [VIDEO] How to Tutorial

During a recent art therapy supervision session, I was re-introduced (thanks Mary!) to the technique of taking a basic file folder and re-purposing it into a mini book that could be used as an art journal.  I wanted to remember the folding sequence and steps involved, so I decided to do a quick, short how-to video and thought other creatives would also be interested in trying this fun, easy, and inexpensive idea.  Materials you will need to get started include a file folder (with side tabs, not a middle tab) and some glue:

Here’s some written steps:

1. Start with the tab in the upper right hand corner.

2. Fold the folder up from the bottom straight across so the tab curves line up.  This will create four pockets inside of the journal.

3. Next start with the right side and begin to fold this into the middle, making sure the bottom of the tab lines up with the file’s center seam.

4. Fold the left side to the middle, lining up the upper left section with the center seam.  Note the file’s tabs will be extending out of the journal.

5. Squeeze the folder/journal in together- Glue the middle together and the folder’s edges.

6. Embellish with paint, collage, fabric, and mixed media materials.  The thickness of the file folder surface is great for painting, sewing into, and doing lots of collage!  The pockets are the perfect size for Artist Trading Cards, tags, and other creative keepsakes!

Covers Started

I remember that the January/February 2011 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors also had an article about making art from office supplies and featured a File Journal (watch the video here!), with another slightly different folding technique and ideas for Journal Cards/Tags to put inside the pockets.  I have also been researching other inspiring examples on the sites Dreamcicle Journeys and Rough Around the Edges, as I continue to keep working on the art journals I have started.

If you try this technique out, I would love to see your journal!   Feel free to comment with a link to a photo, post, etc.!