Siblings support

Iv pole

The other day a patient came in for chemotherapy with two siblings. All three children immediately set up space in the art area to create for the two hour chemo infusion. The older of the siblings had not been to the clinic as frequently as the younger sibling and was excited at all the materials available to him. After a few rough inventions that he scrapped, he went about collecting materials to recreate his siblings “i.v. pole”. With cardboard tubes, a few boxes, some large spools, string, wooden dowels, and a failed teepee(my art project), the pole was complete. All the families and staff were impressed with his attention to detail. As this was his siblings last planned chemotherapy it seemed fitting to bring a piece of the clinic home with them. While this sibling was unable to attend the clinic as often as the rest of his family, he was affected by the machinery just the same.


going through cancer treatment is tough work.  There are lots of needles, shots, procedures, and medicines that make you feel awful. Sometimes only a superhero could make it through a tough day.  The other day we had two superheroes come in To our clinic. Batman and Superman had the chance to meet in the clinic for the first time, get their meds, and not eat the whole day.  Even superheroes need friends to support them.image

Remember your Strength



The children who visit our clinics are constantly called on to show strength.  The strength to endure pain, nausea  loss of independence, and isolation.  They must exhibit this strength time and time again.  As anyone knows, it is hard to be strong everyday, and even harder to remember just how strong we are.  To help the children remember I taught them how to make memory dolls.  These memory dolls are to remind them how strong they truly are.


The supplies needed for the doll are two pipe cleaners, some cotton batting for softness, some strips of fabric for clothes, and some special beads for reminding them of their strength.  I first have the children pick out a bead that reminds them of a time when they were strong or one that reminds them of a very happy memory.  The beads are added either to the structure of the doll, where the child would feel strength. Or to the outside clothing of the doll, as a visual reminder.

Take the pipe cleaners and fold them in half so the ends are touching.  Take one pipe cleaner and cross the ends to make a loop that will be the size of the head.  Twist where the pipe cleaner crosses two times to make the head and pull the ends out straight to the sides to make the arms.







Take the second pipe cleaner and loop it over the head so it hangs like a scarf.  Take one side and loop over the arm where the shoulder would be to anchor it in place.  Repeat on the other side.  Cross the pipe cleaner strands over where the waist would be.  Twist twice to make the waist.

Take a strip of batting and wrap the body starting at one hand and moving towards the other hand.  Take another strip of batting and starting at the neck wrap down the length of the body continuing down one leg.  Either wrap up that same leg and down the other, or take another strip of batting and wrap the length of the body, starting at the neck, and down the other leg.

When body is fully covered in batting it is time to clothe the Memory Doll.  Use strips of fabric to either wrap on the doll, or create clothes and glue or tape onto the memory doll.






Remember to attach special bead either underneath of clothing or on top of clothing to remind child of the strength that they possess.


Catch those dreams

Change is scary. It makes one feel a loss of control, no matter what the age. When a child battles cancer or a serious blood disorder, there is a lot of change. When someone is scared due to change or loss of control, dreams can be affected. What better to catch those bad dreams than a dream catcher!
To make these dream catchers we start with a small length of basketry material wrapped into a circle and held in place with colorful wire. image
We then weave colored string around the circle making knots as we go.

Tutu’s for Treatment

Tutu’s for Treatment

When a child is in treatment for cancer all extra-curricular activities must stop. This may also continue after the active treatment is over due to decreased “counts” or lowered immune system. For a little five year old girl one of these missed activities was Ballet class. Since she could not go to ballet, the clinic brought the ballet to her. We told her to come to clinic in her tutu and gives us a ballet lesson. What she did not know was the whole clinic wore tutu’s! We even taught all the little girls how to make their own tutu in the art area. Tutu day was a huge hit with alll the patients, staff, and families!



Time for valentines!


As January comes to an end and the holiday decorations are packed up, the clinic can feel cold and sterile.  The staff came to an agreement and announced ” time for Valentines!”.  Off came the red and green snowflake skirts on the paper ballerinas And on went the red and pink heart shaped skirts.  Multicolor confetti hearts sandwiched between clear contact paper hang from the nurses station windows. And curled paper heart mobiles are decorating the lab door.  For the curled hearts first cut paper into 1 or 2 inch long strips.  Fold each strip in half crossways.  Take a pencil, or paintbrush handle, and curl each strip down towards the inside of the fold.  Poke a hole in the middle of the fold, string a thread or ribbon through the hole, and place in between curls of heart.  Stick together with a clue dot.  Hang three to four along thread or ribbon with beads placed under each heart.  string a few beads on bottom edge of ribbon for weight. Although Valentines Day is not for three more weeks, it is important to celebrate everyday at the clinic.  Having holidays to decorate for creates a more welcome environment in the clinic which is so important!

Folded paper





Latex Free

Latex allergies are very serious, especially in hospitals and clinics.  The medicines and blood products given to the patients can actually increase their likelihood of developing this allergy.  For that reason there are no balloons in art making at the clinic.  This limits the piñata s, balls, bowls, and heads created out of paper mâché or plaster cloth.  I have found that large, latex free gloves work almost as well.  the gloves are difficult to tie and not as strong as balloons which is why i go with The largest size I can find.  First you tie knots in the fingers of the gloves right at the base.  Then you turn the glove inside out.  Now blow the glove up and tie a knot, which is the hardest.  I have found a piece of string or wire wrapped tightly works better than a knot.  This also helps as a hanging sting for while the ball is drying.






The layers of plaster cloth or paper mâché need to be thin and allowed to slightly dry between the layers.  The gloves are not as strong as the balloons and will become disfigured if applied too heavy or deflated too soon.

Happy mâché-ing!!


Winter Ballerinas

I am always searching for new, seasonal art projects for the patients, their families, and the staff to do. This helps the patients pass the time in the clinic, learn new techniques, and explore their creativity. The addition of all this artwork to the clinic walls makes the patients proud to spend time her, especially when their artwork is displayed.  When these snowflake ballerinas first made their appearance at the clinic, all the adults asked for directions, staff and parents. First fold an 8×11 piece of paper into a triangle and cut off the extra strip.  Put that strip aside for another step.  Fold the triangle twice more, point to point, to make a smaller triangle.  Cut tip off triangle where all folds come together. About two inches down from that point, cut a wavy line across. This makes the skirt. Proceed to cut pieces off sides of skirt as you would a paper Snowflake.






Next take extra strip of paper from beginning and fold in half lengthwise.  On the fold draw a body of a ballerina. Cut this out. Open snowflake skirt and slip folded ballerina body through top hole until skirt is under snowflake. Open ballerina body and hang. Enjoy!


Felting Fun (or not)

Having an intern to supervisor is exciting and exhausting. The influx of creativity, ideas and enthusiasm offsets the additional work supervising an intern means. Recently my intern introduced me to the technique of felting. Here are some examples of our first attempts at wet/dry felting.

While some people found the long process fun and relaxing, some had a harder time. This next image is when I attempted to teach the technique to a friend. Her heart was quite holey!

While I do like this technique, I tend to want to add to and mix all my medias.  I decided to sew my star and add felted beads to make this flower nest.  Happy felting!

Unexpected Puppetry







When working in a hospital setting it is common to focus on the medical aspect of the child. How they are physically, mentally, and emotionally handling their diagnosis and their treatment. However, coming to the clinic often affects more than just the child medically. They are affected socially as well. The missed school time, the inability to play sports, the feeling different can be a heavy burden to school age children. While most oncology children have the loss of hair and other physical changes to make them different, many children with chronic diseases have more subtle changes. It is the subtle differences and the longevity of their treatment that may affect these children for their whole lives. For the chronic diagnosis, such as blood disorders, the child must come to clinic every month for transfusions. Depending on the severity of their illness, they may not be able to play contact sports, may tire easily, even end up in the hospital frequently for pain or complications. As these children grow the feeling of being different can grow as well. At no time is this more apparent than in middle school. Middle school can be a rough time for any child, let alone a child who may medically feel like an outcast. This showed itself the other day when a thirteen year old boy with a chronic blood disorder came in. He often is talkative and likes to build skate ramps, or show off his drawing skills, before he settles into an iPad game or a movie. This time he was fairly quiet and unsure what he wanted to do. After going through a few choices i suggested making a puppet. I thought he would say no to this, as he is thirteen, but he jumped at the choice. I gave him a cloth puppet and explained all the materials he could use to decorate it. He said almost immediately he wanted to make a stage and put on a puppet show. A puppet show of a nerd and a bully. While creating these puppets, he said he wanted the play to be about a nerd who beats up a bully.







He completed the puppets and the stage, but became shy about putting on the show as he now had an audience. Having recent experience with middle school bullying I put on a short play for him asking him to prompt me along the way. What followed was an open tale discussion about bully’s and being bullied. While this play did not have anything to do directly with his medical condition, being aware of his social predicaments will help us to treat the whole child and not just the physical. In the end he asked that the puppets and stage remained at the clinic for others to play with.