How to Make a Lanyard!

Summer Camp Lanyard Patterns

It just wouldn’t be camp without making a lanyard. That flat colorful cord, twisted and tied, seems to be a part of every girl’s summer arts and crafts. Even camp alumni speak fondly of learning to make decorative lanyards. Here are four different lanyard patterns to learn. Have you seen these?

1. Diamond Braid.
The first pattern to the left is called the “Diamond Braid.” Like most of these braids, getting started is the hardest part.  This one is unique too because it’s more braiding that tying knots, and will require a knot at the end to keep it from unraveling.

2. Cobra Braid.
The second one is usually called the “Cobra Braid” because it makes a flat lanyard reminiscent of a cobra’s head.  Some people also call it the “Ladder Knot.”  If you know how to tie a square knot, or even how to tie your shoes, you’ll be able to make this lanyard.

3. Box Braid.
The third pattern is probably the best known camp lanyard pattern.  Known as the “Box Braid” or the “Square Braid,” it makes a regular 4-sided strand.  The important thing for this arts and crafts project is keeping your strands straight and your knots tight.

4. Round Braid.
The last pattern shown here is a variation on the box braid, and is usually called the “Round Braid.”  To make it, use the same 4-strand weaving knot, but each new knot makes a slight turn crossing over (rather than parallel to) the previous knot.  Like all these patterns, you repeat the knot and braiding over and over until your lanyard is long enough or you run out of cord.

Don’t forget that these are just starting points. You can combine them, switch from one the other, add a twist to a strand, or maybe even add a bead to create your own summer arts and crafts project. Go ahead and experiment, and you’ll have something really cool.

Weaving Traditional Camp Basketry

Camp Basket

Weaving camp baskets is a traditional arts and crafts activity just about everyone enjoys at Rockbrook. Over near the fiber arts cabin we call “Curosty,” there’s a nice stream flowing by, and it’s there that girls often work on their baskets. It’s a really nice spot to sit and soak your feet on a summer afternoon, but also, the water is important for the basket weaving. To bend and weave the wicker (cane, reed, or grass) fibers, it helps to soak them in water for a while. This softens the fibers making them more flexible for weaving.

Basketry is a truly ancient art. Native people around the world have been making baskets for as long as anyone can remember. Near us at camp, the Cherokee split oak baskets come to mind as a good example. Our camp baskets may not be as elaborate as these, but the girls at Rockbrook are continuing this long tradition of basket making in the mountains of North Carolina.

Girls Painting at Camp

Girls Painting Camp

There seems to always be some kind of painting going on at Rockbrook Camp— paint, brushes, paper, cardboard. Everyday in the painting and drawing activity, of course, girls are painting, working on composition, color, texture, perspective, etc.

In the drama activity, girls will be painting scenery for the end of session play. During one of the special afternoon events— like a carnival, for example —there’ll be face painting, of like in this picture, body painting to show your team spirit. In the “Hodge Podge” craft activity, chance are you’ll see girls painting fabric pillow cases, backpacks, or bandannas. The ninth grader CAs do tons of painting as they prepare decorations for the big surprise banquet at the end of each session. It’s really quite amazing how much painting we do at camp.  There’s no need to bring a brush (we’ll have those too!), but come ready to add color to almost everything you do!

Camp Tie Dye Crafts Forever

Tie Dyeing Shirt Camp Craft Activity
Making Tie Dye T-Shirts

It just wouldn’t be camp without a new tie dye t-shirt! In one of our camp craft activities called “Hodge Podge” we learn how to make the coolest shirts by folding, twisting and binding plain white t-shirts with rubber bands (lots!). The goal is to get creative with the patterns you make crinkling the shirt. Make art by being messy! Maybe a fan shape, a spiral, or a bullseye would work. Then with squirt bottles of different color dyes, you add colors to certain spots for even more variety. It pays to think about which colors are next to each other since the dyes soak in and blend a bit on the shirt. After leaving the shirts overnight, it’s so much fun to unwrap them and see how your design worked out. You can imagine that camp girls gather quite a collection of shirts over the years!

Want more info about tie dyeing as a camp craft activity? Here’s a “how to tie dye” page.

Summer Pottery Program

Summer Pottery Arts Program

The Rockbrook pottery program continues to be a very popular activity at camp.  Both  pottery studios always seem to be humming— girls sculpting, pressing or decorating something, and instructors zipping around to give pointers, prepare materials, or plan a kiln firing. All this action means that there are some pretty cool things being made too! There are multi-colored tiles, sculpted miniature animals, giant coil pots (like the one in this photo), and delicate wheel-thrown cups and bowls.

One really cool project is to take a smooth flat slab of clay and press natural forms into it so that they leave intricate textures. Little twigs, leaves, and tree bark, for example, all leave amazing patterns. You can then use the slab to make a vase or some other vessel.

It’s easy to see why the Rockbrook summer arts program is so well loved.  There’s almost an endless variety of pottery projects to make, great satisfaction seeing how they turn out when glazed and fired, and the fun of being with your friends throughout.

How to Make Wheel-Thrown Ceramics

wheel-thrown ceramics at camp

“Can you learn how to use the potter’s wheel?”

Yes, you can! The Rockbrook ceramics camp activities let campers improve their pottery skills so they can learn to throw pots on the wheel.  After practicing other ceramics techniques, specifically hand-building methods like pinch, coil and slab pottery, it’s exciting to learn about the potter’s wheel. 

Like any skill, this takes practice, but to get started you’ll work on 4 key steps:

  1. Centering the clay on the wheel.
  2. Opening up the center of the clay.
  3. Pulling up the walls and shaping the piece.
  4. Trimming the base of the piece.

Of course there’s lots of detail to each of these steps, but this brief outline gives you a sense of what’s involved in learning to throw ceramics on the potter’s wheel. Real art! Over a few weeks at camp, you’ll be surprised how good you can get and be amazed at the cool things you can make.  Maybe next summer, you can finish a whole set of matching mugs!

P.S. If you want to read more about it, check out the book Wheel-Thrown Ceramics, by our friend Don Davis.  It’s the best one around.

Learn to Knit at Camp

crafts with girls knitting

Can I learn how to knit at camp?

You sure can!  In fact, knitting has become one of the crafts at camp girls are really enjoying.  You might think it’s old fashioned or something that only your grandmother would do, but knitting is really cool!  And it’s not that hard to learn.  With some basic pointers and a little practice you’ll be able to make a simple scarf, or even something more difficult like a hat.

The younger girls particularly like using the “Nifty Knitters.”  These are special round, handheld looms that make knitting tubes really easy (there’s one on the shelf in the background in the photo).  They are a fun way to see how knitting works and to make quick progress on a project before moving on to using knitting needles.

Knitting is one of those great crafts girls can easily do at home.  It can easily become a life-long activity to enjoy for years to come.

Fun Arts and Crafts

Arts and Crafts Activities

Here is one of the arts and crafts activities the girls enjoyed this summer at camp.

Can you tell what it is?  Pine cones tied to a branch with string— it’s a mobile.  What’s fun is using different sized pine cones and then arranging them with different lengths of string.  When the stick has more than one branching part, even better!  This kind of craft activities is really like making a sculpture.  It’s putting three-dimensional objects together to end up with some cool art. One girl turned her mobile into a bird feeder by adding some peanut butter and birdseed to the pine cones. Functional art too!  Arts and crafts are always fun at camp.

Take a look!

Tie Dyes are Always in Fashion!

Camps Craft Tie Dye

One craft at summer camps like Rockbrook that’s always popular is making a tie dye t-shirt. It’s certainly a classic thing to do, and while you might think of swirls and colors on shirts from the 1970s, tying and dyeing cloth is common all over the world. For example, there is adire tie dyeing in Nigeria (Africa), shibori dyeing in Japan, and mudmee dyeing in Thailand, just to name a few.

In the Rockbrook craft activity called “Hodge Podge,” the girls use rubber bands to tie up the cloth. Folding, twisting, bunching, pinching, and wrinkling the material you make all sorts of different patterns. Then with the rubber bands, you keep everything tight. The tighter the fold, the more resistant to the dye that part will be. That’s part of the creativity involved— deciding what to make tight (resisting the dye) and what to leave loose (taking on the color of the dye). Plus, there’s the fun of picking what colors to use, and in what areas. With so much variation, it’s neat to see how each shirt turns out different.

Knitting Camp Girls

knitting camp girl wearing a hat she made

“Like your hat Maddie.”

Knitting! It’s just one of the fiber arts activities available at Rockbrook each and every camp session.

With so many arts and crafts opportunities, you get to make some pretty cool stuff when you come to camp… like this hat for instance. Maddie knitted it when she first got to camp last summer, and from then on was rarely seen without it. A camp arts project that she used every single day!

It’s true; knitting has become an increasingly popular activity at camp. The Rockbrook girls are learning that it isn’t all that difficult (once you master the basic stitches!) to knit, is really a lot of fun, and is so satisfying when you see what you’ve made. Some girls describe the feeling of it, the process of twisting, looping and tying yarn in patterns of knots, to be relaxing, even meditative.

It’s the kind of thing that can become addicting.  As soon as you finish one project, it’s easy and exciting to imagine and start another.  In the long run knitting can then continue after camp at Home. It can become a life-long hobby!

P.S. That’s Looking Glass Falls in the background.