A lot of Canaries are artists or craftspersons. Arts and crafts are not only therapeutic (both for the mind and the small motor skills) and fun hobbies and can be a source of revenue. Yet arts and crafts supplies are incredibly toxic. You may despair, like I did, that now even art has been stolen from you. However, humans have been creating art long before any man-made chemicals were unleashed on the population. You can do what cave painters, medieval artists, peasant fabric dyers, and indigenous people worldwide have done: Make your own natural ones that are just as good, or buy them premade.

I thought I’d be stuck with preschooler supplies. Then I read the Green Guide for Artists by Karen Michel. Adult artists rejoice! The book has a lot of safe info on good companies and many recipes for making your own paints and adhesives. Very detailed and easy to follow with no Greenwashing. (Greenwashing is a term you will hear many times. As eco-friendly living becomes more mainstream, companies who make toxic things pretend to be eco-friendly.) This is where eco-friendly and Canary-safe often do not mix. Paper can be recycled or made from hemp, but be treated by chemicals. You can buy chlorine free paper. As paper absorbs chemicals quickly, I don’t get mine from a copy shop. Ecojot is my personal favorite company: Canadian, all vegetable dyes and glues, acid free, chlorine free, recycled metal, wind power, donations of notebooks to African school and great paper. Check for specials online.

Stockmar makes great beeswax crayons and also paints. Clementine makes markers, paste and paints. I love the smell of both companies’ products (aside from the markers which made me ill). They remind me of playing outside as a child, using soft rocks and water on slate to make my “make up.” Also Stockmar’s crayons are the highest quality crayons (or any colored drawing product including craypas or pastels) I have ever used and my Dad was an art professor. These products made art new again and fun. I wasn’t battling a headache either!

Milk paint is how many Canaries paint their homes and it is also great for art. Fabric artists can find a wide variety of organics with which to work, remembering that China’s standards for organic are low, if that is important to you. I have had a lot of trouble with the dyes used in some organic fabric. One Canary says she can use regular natural but not organic fabric if she soaks it in a baking soda and water mix. Alternate with a soak in white vinegar and water, and back again for a week, and then wash twice with no soap and then with soap.

Again, eco-friendly is not always canary-safe. Fabric made from recycled water bottles is still synthetic fabric. As I do not work with wood, metal or ceramics, I suggest the book The Artist’s Complete Health and Safety Guide by Monona Rossol for all artists. In fact I am shocked it is not given to all freshman art students because it could help prevent artists from becoming Canaries in the first place.

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