Sunday, July 31, 2011

Make something by hand

I just listened to an interesting post by Gretchen Rubin on her Happiness Project Blog. SHe is speaking about the satisfaction of making something, even something very simple, with your own hands.
Check it out at:

I hope you enjoy it.
More posts coming soon

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Check out this wonderful children's class from New Zealand.
Some great ideas for a Grade 2 children's classes from Layla Neilsen.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Abdu'l-Baha: The Perfect Exemplar of Baha'u'llah’s Teachings

Abdu'l-Baha: The Perfect Exemplar

This weekend as we were finishing the first unit of Book 7, Sandy gave us a project, which in craft terms was very simple, but spiritually profound.
We were given a sheet of paper and some stickers and were asked to create a card on which we were asked to write a poem, or a statement about Abdu'l-Baha; what He means to you, and how He has changed your life.
After completing our project we shared our insights and thoughts, before moving on to unit 2.
If you are not familiar with the life and unique station of Abdu'l-Baha, follow the link below for more information.

More soon

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Music for prayer and supplication

I currently have the pleasure of co-tutoring a Ruhi Book 7 with two ladies, Sandy and Linda, who make wonderful use of music, in their service of the Faith. For many year Sandy was a member of the "Dream Angels" who would brighten many a gathering with their renditions of 50s hits. Linda hosts musical events at her home. Both work to incorporate music into the core activities, and enlivened our study circle, this weekend, with their singing.
So I thought it would be appropriate to share with you a quote from the writings of Abdu'l-Baha on the use of music.

The Dream Angels
Karen, Sandy, Jennifer, Alejandra, and Melita

O thou honorable one!
Thank thou God that thou art instructed in music and melody, singing with pleasant voice the glorification and praise of the Eternal, the Living. I pray to God that thou mayest employ this talent in prayer and supplication, in order that the souls may become quickened, the hearts may become attracted and all may become inflamed with the fire of the love of God!

(Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of Abdu'l-Baha v3, p. 512)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

They gave their today for mankind’s tomorrow

Once more in recent days, we have received the disturbing news of the continuing persecution of the Bahá’í Faith in Iran, with the arrest of members of the” Bahá’í Institute for Higher Education” (BIHE).
This prompted me to pull out an older project, which was produced to highlight the suffering and martyrdom of many in the Faith. It is a static display, which can be used in a public space, or as part of a study circle, or other core activity.
This project would be suitable for a Junior Youth class, Study Circles (especially Books 4 and 7), or a fireside. Also if you are a member of Toastmasters, Rotary, or a similar group you could use the display as a visual aid for a speech. For the junior youth it could be a school “show and tell”.
We are cautioned to be process and not event driven, so the above should be activities in which you regularly participate, and are required to speak on some subject, so why not the persecution of the Faith.

For the display I purchased a red three section display board, however you could also use a large cardboard box.
Cut down the box to the correct height and remove one side. One side will form the central panel of the display and the other two can be cut to half its width. If the box is plain it may not be necessary to do anything, but it could be covered with paper or fabric to give the desired appearance, or simply painted.

Then gather suitable pictures from the internet or from magazines and newspapers, and plan the story you want to tell .
The display in this post is particularly appropriate, because here in America as we have just observed Memorial Day, where we remember those who gave their lives in service to their country. How much more appropriate is it to remember those who gave their lives for mankind. At the time I was making the display I had just finished reading a biography of General Slim who commanded the “Forgotten 14th Army “ in Burma during WWII, and was moved by the words of the Kohima memorial to the Commonwealth troops who fell in the defense of India and Burma.

“When you go home
Tell them of us, and say,
For your tomorrow
We gave our today”

Kohima Epitaph

I used that sentiment as the centre piece of the display, telling of the martyrs of the Faith from the time of the Bab to modern times.

Having mounted the picture, I got some candle images and roughly cut the display board with a craft knife. This was to represent the horror described by an Austrian officer, who’s account appears in Book 4, The life of Baha'u'llah, Section 9.
The rope and the musket balls in front of the display are to represent the martyrdom of the Bab.
I got a length of natural fiber rope frayed the ends and then using a craft knife cut or partially cut through the rope to simulate it being cut by the hundreds of musket balls. For the musket balls I used 12mm (1/2”) wooden balls. I spray painted them black and then applied a thin coat of silver to give a realistic effect.
I then cut some wooded skewers into 50mm (2”) lengths and stuck them into the top of the display board. Next I got a length of chain and spray painted it black and when dry hung it from the skewers at the top of the display. The final touch was to place candles on the protruding part of the skewers.
The chain represents the suffering of Baha'u'llah in the Siyah-Chal

I hope this has given you some ideas, and has also helped to focus your thoughts on the sacrifice of countless ordinary believers who “Gave their today for our tomorrow”.
We owe it to them to make that tomorrow count.
All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 214)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Special Place

This is going to be a “scenic” post.
A few weeks ago, I received a call from one of the junior youth animators asking how they could make the scene described in Lesson 9 of “Breezes of Confirmation”. Unfortunately we were out of town, but I gave him a few suggestions on how the group could recreate that special place. However due to several schedule changes the project has yet to be done; so I worked up this example.
Creating miniature scenery is something I had done quite a bit of, but had not come across an application for it in the core activities until now.
During the 90s in Scotland I ran a miniature figure painting class (Children and Youth), for the local Community Education Group. This was mostly based around the “Games Workshop“ gaming figures, which the (mainly) boys, would paint and then use to game with.
The town where I lived was called Old Meldrum (or usually just Meldrum), so we had a competition each year where they competed for the “Meldrum Wizard” trophy for the best painted figure. I would paint a different wizard for the prize each year.(Similar to the picture below.)

The story in lesson 9 is about Musonda’s special place, where she goes when she wants to be alone and think about things. It’s a beautiful place, close to a river, with a large flat rock shaded by a tall tree. Musondo likes to climb onto the rock, lie on her back and look up at the blue sky through the branches. She always feels calm and happy in her special place.
You can create your own special.

• Cereal box
• Tissue paper
• Wallpaper paste
• Paints
• Sand
• Flock
• Small stones
• A large stone
• A tree like twig
• Artificial moss
• A small bird

Cut out one side of the cereal box and then bend/fold it into the shape you require. In this case I made a hollow for the river and two raised sides to form the banks.

Take some blue tissue paper, scrunch it up then paste it into the river bed. (I used wallpaper paste, but if you do not have wallpaper paste you can water-down the white glue)
Set aside to dry

Whilst you are waiting you can make the tree.
Take your twig and using white glue, fix suitable pieces of the artificial moss to the branches to form the foliage. Set tree aside to dry.

You can now select some small stones for in the river and a large one for Musondo’s rock.
If you get the stones from the garden be sure to wash them before use.

Repeat the process with green tissue paper for the banks, but do not “scrunch” the tissue up as much. Whilst the paste is still wet sprinkle the green flock liberally on the two banks.

Flock is available from model and model railway shops, and is used to represent grass on models and layouts. An alternative is to use fine sand, and paint it green (This is what was used on the wizard base). You can buy sand in the craft shops, but you can get from various other sources.
What I do with “non-packaged” sand is to spread it on a tray and bake in the oven. This achieves the purpose of both sterilizing and drying it. I then use sieves to grade the sand and to remove foreign material such as vegetable matter, and then store it in jars.
NOTE: Be sure to allow the sand to fully cool before working with it, and observe the normal precautions used with any baking activity in the kitchen.
Also be sure NOT to use the normal kitchen utensils (This for some reason seems to upset the kitchen owners).
Set aside to dry.
Once everything is dry shake off the extra flock/sand, and keep for the next project. It may be necessary to add more paste and a second application of flock.
Then make a hole in the base for the tree, (I used an awl for this purpose) and hot glue the tree in position, from the under-side. I added some sand around the base of the tree to hide the joint
Paint the river with suitable colours, and then stick the small stones, in place with white glue.
I also applied some glue along the banks and added sand. Then glue the large rock in place under the tree.
As a final touch Juliet “quilled” a yellow bird to represent the one seen by Musondo.

And now you can relax and contemplate, in your very own Special Place.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Craft and Community

I am a regular listener of podcasts and a favourite is Laurie Taylor’s “Thinking Allowed”, from the BBC, where he and his guests discuss current questions relating to sociology
I just listened to an interesting on one on crafts.
Laurie and his two guests,(David Gauntlett and Richard Sennett), discuss various questions

• Does making things really make us happy?
• How does craft contribute to bringing people together?
• How do you create communities?
• What can be considered craft?

You can listen to the show at the link below.

P.S. The second part of the show speaks about fox hunting, so if you have strong views you may want to stop after the craft section.

BTW: There is a Junior Youth craft posting coming soon.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Of Quilling and Queens

The Quilling
I was back in California on business again, but this time Juliet came with me, to attend the North American Quilling Association 2011 Conference in Newport Beach. The conference ran through Friday and Saturday, so Juliet was able to meet with her fellow quillers and has produced this slide show of the event.
I am sure you will enjoy.
Juliet is also planning a quilling project for her May craft evening, which will be featured in a later post.
For information on quilling go to the North American Quilling association web site:

The Queen
We both had Sunday free so we decided to go to Long Beach to visit the Queen Mary, prior to Juliet catching her afternoon flight. The weather was great, and we enjoyed sunshine and blue skies. When we had visited a few weeks earlier it was blowing a gale complete with torrential rain, and we just glimpsed the liner through the rain and mist.

The Queen Mary through the mist

The Queen Mary is “craft” on a massive scale. She is a product of the famous John Brown & Company of Clydebank, and is one of few surviving examples of the Scottish shipbuilding industry, that dominated the maritime world for the later part of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century.
From her elegant upper decks to her massive engines she is a shining example of the many crafts of the early 20th century shipyard.

For more information see:

Juliet on the fore deck

One of the engine room instrument panels

Ready for some delicate craft

The Bridge

The Queen Mary

Long beach with the Villa Riveria in the centre

Sorry it did not get any pictures of the state and function room decor, but I guess I was more interested in the engineering stuff.

There are several more post in the works, for this month, will be back soon.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Egg Project

I am finally settled back home and am able to get back to the blog.
I have been travelling for all of March and most of April, and at the same time training for the BPMS150, which I completed last weekend. It is a bike ride from Houston to Austin to raise funds for the National MS Society.

I see that there has still been interest in the site despite my absence and the lack of new material. I would like to thank everyone for your patience, and plan to remedy the problem with several new posts.
With this weekend seeing the celebration of Easter in the Christian areas of the world, I thought to borrow the idea of the egg hunt, for this post.
It is a very simple project and requires no advanced skills, and can be used for a number of the core activities or other Bahá’í events.
• Hollow plastic or cardboard eggs
• Stickers
• Paper
• Ribbon


First decide on the event you are going to use the eggs for, children’s class; junior youth; study circle; Ridvan; or another Holy Day, and select suitable writings. Print-out the writings so that they are a suitable size to fit inside the egg. You can alternatively write out the quotes.

Decorate the outside of the egg with stickers, or alternatively paint or decorate with markers.
Select your quote and cut to size

Take a wooden skewer or a knitting needle, and roll the quote, as shown, then remove from skewer.
It may be necessary to roll the quote more tightly, and then secure with a piece of ribbon. Tie the ribbon in a bow and trim to length.

Place your “mini scroll” inside the egg, and you are done.
Repeat the process until you have enough eggs for your purpose.

Some ideas for use:

• An egg hunt for children’s class.
• Ayyam i Ha or Ridvan gifts
• To study a prayer for Book 1
• Just to share the word of Baha u llah

Please let us know of other ideas you have.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Light of Unity

It has been a busy start to the month of March, but not for the Ruhi Crafts blog.
I am currently on the road, and as I type this, the boom! boom! of the Disney fireworks are going off in the background. I have spent most of March in Orange county, but the time is going in fast. I have an idea to create some craft projects from general, “free” junk I am collecting but inspiration has not kicked in yet. So between working and bicycle training, I stopped by the Dollar Tree and bought a few craft items.

I bought a pack of the foam frames for light switches, some hearts, and markers. I thought it would a appropriate to use the following quotation to decorate the frame.

So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth. The One true God, He Who knoweth all things, Himself testifieth to the truth of these words.
(Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 14)

As you can see from the picture my penmanship is not very good, but you can get the idea, for a quick project for a children’s class, I am sure you can improve on the decoration, with normal access to your craft box. Also if you do not have access to the pre-cut foam frames you can make your own from foam sheet, or cardboard, or poster board, or a host of other materials.
Let us know what you think and send us some of your ideas, and pictures of your finished projects.
I hope to bring you some more minimalist craft ideas, from on the road, very soon.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ayyam i Ha Party #1

Happy Ayyam i Ha to everyone

Our community had the first of two Ayyam i Ha parties last night, and Tawa and Sam laid on a tremendous spread, which was supplemented by “pot-luck” items for the rest of the guests.
We had a wonderful time with food, fellowship, fun and of course a craft.
We made the flowers from an earlier post, with the addition of a Happy Ayyam I Ha sign, which was made using a stamp purchased from “Our Town Papers” at the Bluebonnet conference. (They sold out of them very early – I wonder why?)
This was the first time we had used this craft at an event, and it proved to be just right in complexity. It is not too complex to intimidate the non-crafter, and the time required is just right to fit into a study circle. Let us know how it works out for you.
Also I discovered this great idea for an Ayyam I Ha, advent style banner, check it out at:
So without further ado here are the pictures.
Happy Ayyam i Ha from Tyauvin On
In case you are wondering about the tooth brush and the paper towel, I had just finished cleaning the ink off the stamp when Juliet snapped the picture.
Kerri admires the card her daughter made for her
The crafting table
Karaoke from Linda and our hostess Tawa
Mrs. Nosrat and Tahereh
The excitement was just too much for Afsaneh and Rob

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Bluebonnet Conference

We are just back from the 14th annual Texas Baha'i Bluebonnet Conference, (February 18th – 20th), which featured former member of the Universal House of Justice, Mr. Hooper Dunbar, as the keynote speaker. The theme of the conference this year was “Immortality and the Human Spirit”. Details of the conference are available at, where you can purchase CD/DVDs from previous conferences.
I understand that this year’s conference will be available on CD/DVD for those who were unable to attend, or simply need to review this weighty subject again, so I will not detail the main program, which is outlined at the link above.
As well as the awesome program these events are always an opportunity to meet and socialize with friends old and new.

This was the first time that we publicized the Ruhi Crafts Blog, and we shared a table with Juliet’s Divine Stars. I had been travelling all week and Juliet offered to make the sign for the display. I had intended to produce an graphic, and print it out, but Juliet made this fantastic sign, incorporating crafts, crafting tools and materials, I am sure you will agree it is vastly superior to a simple printout. You will recognize a few crafts from earlier posts on the display board.

We spoke with anyone who would listen about Ruhi and the arts, and I hope have encouraged folks to contribute, or at lease participate in discussion. We handed out cards and hope to see an increase in collaboration in the next few months.
As well as the wonderful talks and the evening’s entertainment, there were a number of vendors many of whom were artists or craftsmen.

We were beside old friends Marie and Dan Caldwell’s, “My Town Papers “ table.
Visit their site at: for a great selection of stickers, innovative photo albums and just a score of great “scrapbooking type” materials for both Bahá’í and general purposes.

Our old friends the Nossas were also there with a table selling Jorge’s beautiful jewelry, which you can find on Etsy.
It was wonderful to spend time with them. Susan had introduced us to the institute process, and the Ruhi Craft blog owes much to Susan’s love and encouragement, as we went through the sequence of courses. Susan commented on the display, that this had grown from the single mind-map I had made during our Book 2 study circle. So it just shows what can come from the nurturing atmosphere of the study circle. Their son Pablo, who was also there with his wife Bita, was the ONLY tutor for our oldest son.
I bought Juliet this lovely ring symbol necklace.

Next to the Nossas was Sabrina Laumer’s display of arts, ranging from paintings, tile magnets, to prayer beads. You can see more of her work at

We had met the wife and husband team, Gigi Alford and Anis Mungapen, who created the book “Hasten Forth”, when we attended the Louisiana Bahá’í School, and it was a pleasure to meet Gigi again at the Bluebonnet Conference.
At first glance this is another pretty coffee table book, but one soon realizes it is much, much more than that. The first clue is the fact that the Forward is written by Mr. Kiser Barnes, but as one progresses through the book the blend of pictures and quotations from the Bahá’í writings tell the story of the Faith and the lives of the central figures.
The idea of the book is to stimulate discussion and interest in the core activities, as an aid to teaching, and a call to action. It’s a superb example of harnessing the creative spirit.

Here is what the creators say:

“All Art is a gift of the Holy Spirit,” are the worlds of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, son of the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh. He describes the station of the arts in the youngest of the great world religions. “These gifts are fulfilling their highest purpose, when showing forth the praise of God.”
Showing forth God’s praise was the motivation to undertake this project. The creators of the book hope that the pages herein may provide, in their own small way, not merely a narrative, but also meditation; not only a companion for exploring the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith, but actually inspire and incite to action.

Well that is it from an action packed Bluebonnet conference, I hope this post has given those who were unable to be there a flavour of the event, and acts as a pleasant reminder for those who were. Also I hope it helps stimulate the artist in you to get involved.
Remember you will be able to buy CD/DVDs of the conference, and if you can, please support the artists.