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.