Monday, 22 May 2017

Painting Pots


When the sun shines but you fancy a bit of painting why not paint some plant pots? Who cares if they're old and are already planted up? The acrylics dried up super quickly mind you - I gave up using a palette in the end and just squirted straight from tube to brush! Jessica added some lovely colour to her pot that she's growing wild flowers in. As you can see, she was a little heavy handed with the seed so we'll just have to wait and see if anything manages to flower! I chose to decorate my Hebe pot with a cute little owl. Twit-twoo!



Sunday, 21 May 2017

Paper Bead Necklace

In an idle few minutes on Friday afternoon when I had given in and finally let Jessica watch some telly I decided to make a handful of paper beads from some old Good Food magazines that I had lying around. I was very haphazard about it and didn't bother marking out or measuring; I just wanted something to keep my hands and mind occupied for a while. They worked just about as well as when I have measured them carefully and it was quite liberating to be less precise about it to be honest. So I cut out some triangles from two adverts in the magazine and rolled them up around a wooden skewer (start from the base of the triangle) before brushing some acrylic varnish on them to secure. 

Once Jessica was able to tear herself away from CBeebies she was very keen to commandeer my beads and make herself a necklace. I usually use a cocktail stick to wind around but the wooden skewers made it much easier for Jess to thread the beads with her elastic and plastic needle.


She definitely didn't order them as I would have done but it's her necklace so her choice. This is one of the things I find challenging, particularly when working with my own child. It's so tempting to meddle in the creative process of children but it teaches them nothing positive and potentially gives them lasting insecurities. As I have mentioned before, it's all about the process and not the end product. 


Besides, she thinks it's brilliant and I have to admit, it does look pretty good on her!



Saturday, 20 May 2017

Fairy Wings and Wand (Home Bargains Kits)


At under £1 per kit I did not have high expectations for these kits from Home Bargains but they were brilliant. I have nothing to grumble about at all. The instructions were clear, the decorations were plentiful and Jessica loved having a tube of glitter glue in each. The body of the items are foam so they should last reasonably well too. 

The wings required no assembly and putting the wand together was very straightforward. I would happily buy these again and again. The kits contained a strip of double sided tape for attaching the jewels to the foam but this is fiddly and experience has taught me that toddlers usually think of glitter glue as more of a glue that a decoration anyway so Jess just stuck the jewels on top of her blobs of glitter glue and that worked well. 



 That's one seriously happy crafter!

Friday, 19 May 2017

Salt Dough Hedgehog

In amongst my substantial stash of seed beads I have a good number of bugle beads. While playing with the salt dough and beads making the snails that I posted about yesterday, Jessica pushed some bugle beads into the dough, which gave me the inspiration for this little fellow...


Thursday, 18 May 2017

Salt Dough Snails

Our garden is full of shells we've collected. I won't tell a lie, it's mainly my obsession but Jessica does help me out a little with the beach combing and then she enjoys playing with them at home. Yesterday afternoon we were sat in the garden wondering what to do when inspiration struck. We decided to try making a family of salt dough snails! 




We used seed beads for eyes and baked the creatures for just over an hour at 150 degrees Celsius. They're a bit clumsy but they were fun to make and I have no doubt that Jessica will have a lot of fun playing with them. She already wants to make them a home (I have told her that snails live in their shells but she says these are special ones). These would be great decorated with acrylics too but we'll keep these one natural I think.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Masking Tape Mummy


Here's a nice simple one that we're going to be doing at Toddler group next week. It's a bit random but I like how easy it is. Even the little ones should get great results sticking the masking tape on as bandages. I came across this on No Time for Flashcards but it would appear to be a popular choice amongst kids crafters.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Buddleja or Lilac Collage


This piece of Jessica artwork was inspired by a beautiful card I received for my birthday (thank you, Katie!). I'm afraid to say that she liked it so much that she started writing her name on it (sorry, Katie!) before I could get a photo of it for here...


Katie's card is embossed and then she has filled each circle in the design with various jewels and studs. It's stunning and gave me the idea to do a collage with Jess. I can't decide whether we've created a lilac or buddleja flower but either way I love it! I drew the general shape and punched out a whole load of circles then Jess got to work with her glue and stickers. She decided she liked them overlapping so we have a really full head of flowers. It was a great preschool craft. Thank you for the inspiration, Katie.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Happy Birthday to me!

There is something incredibly indulgent about making your own birthday cake and spending a decent amount of time decorating it. I suppose that's only true when you enjoy doing it but I definitely felt like I was indulging myself when putting this together on Friday. Jessica helped me to make the cake and then requested that I decorate it with cats so I followed the instructions in my favourite cake decorating book by Debbie Brown to make the models of Queequeg and Monty (Dad's cats). The muzzles are a bit big but I think they're still pretty cute. 


I definitely struggled making two cats at the same time as the icing kept getting too warm and sticky. I use edible glue to put the pieces together and half a cocktail stick in each tail. The cake itself was a standard sponge filled with Tiptree's seedless raspberry jam and lemon curd and crumb coated with butter cream. Yum yum!


Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Batik Quilt

I decided to make a patchwork quilt from our batik printed pieces. It's only big enough for Jessica's toys but she is thrilled with it. This is only my second attempt at quilting and I used the offcuts of wadding from my first project, which made it slightly more challenging than it needed to be. There are four pieces inside and they don't quite cover the whole area of the quilt. 


I need to admit that I didn't measure anything and so there definitely are plenty of flaws in it but it's just for play and I'm quite proud of it. Here's a look at the unconventional quilting on the reverse and a closer look at the quilted details on some of the batik pieces.





Having said it's only big enough for her toys, here is Jessica trying it out. It seems it's just perfect to playing Sleeping Bunnies...


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Melting Bead Accessories


Meet Lenny the Ring-tailed Lemur. He came home with us from our holidays this spring. He's a lovely fellow, full of character but until this weekend he was missing something. What he really needed was a melted bead bow-tie. Wouldn't you agree?!

Actually, Jessica did not. She has confiscated the bow-tie and given it to Flopsy to wear as a hairband. I don't mind this but I do think she would have preferred a more feminine piece.


Ok, I shall be a little more serious now. This all came about because I fancied trying something different with my beads and saw a post about making bracelets on Red Ted Art from a few years ago. Maggy's tutorial is very clear so I won't go into too many details myself but because I was making these for a tiny 3 year old's wrist I used a small hexagonal peg board and shaped the hot beads around a toilet roll! Attaching elastic to the back of them is a great idea and they look brilliant on but Jessica's wrists were feeling camera shy I'm afraid.


I can't honestly say how long they will last before they get snapped but I did melt the beads pretty well on both sides so we'll see. I now fear that a whole host of Jessica's soft toys may start putting in requests for melted bead jewellery. Still, it's something a bit different!

In the interests of being honest, I should point out that I don't actually use Hama beads anymore. I source my melting beads from Hobbycraft these days. They sell their own version of "Picture beads" and I only ever buy them when they are half price (which is fairly frequently) when I can get 10,000 beads for £5. These are completely compatible with Hama peg boards and although the beads melt slightly faster than genuine Hama ones I have not been disappointed at all.



Monday, 8 May 2017

Feet Painting

It's all too easy to forget that art and craft is not all about the finished product, particularly when I'm writing this blog. It's nice to have something to show off at the end but the fun is always in the exploration and the creation. The process provides the learning opportunities and the shared experiences make happy memories that last a lifetime. 

Jessica is generally not a great fan of getting messy but she'll always make an exception if I say she can paint her feet! There are all sorts of funny sensations that come with this activity. Ticklish feet will result in near hysterics if you use a paint brush to apply the paint and it feels really strange when the paper sticks to your painty feet. Who cares what the piece of paper looks like afterwards? 




Go on, be brave, embrace the mess and have some fun painting with your feet today!

Sunday, 7 May 2017

DIY Stamps

If, like me, you have a huge number of wooden blocks lying around the house you could try making your own stamps to use with paint or ink pads. Cut out some shapes from foam and glue them onto your wooden blocks. Allow them to dry completely and off you go with your printing. This one is ready for our mixed media bluebell art at Toddler group tomorrow...


Saturday, 6 May 2017

Felt Owl Bag - Tesco Kit


Jess really enjoyed making this and we love the finished bag but it was not without it's problems. Whilst PVA glue works well when sticking felt to paper it does not bond two pieces of felt together. In fact, we used tacky glue but this still didn't hold. I couldn't find my fabric glue (which I still don't think would have worked anyway) and anything else would not be appropriate for a 3 year old to use. In the end I let her glue everything and then sneaked it all up to my craft room to secure it all on my sewing machine. This did also mean undoing all of the original stitching too but we live and learn - felt bags need sewing! Here's the finished item...




Thursday, 4 May 2017

Bold Colour Choice

Whoever could have chosen these colours and asked me to make her a blanket from them?! I probably should try something a bit more adventurous for my next blanket but there is something very satisfying about a big, simple, granny square blanket. This one is just 22 rounds followed by a round of edging to finish it off. I have a tendency to crochet with excessively tight tension so I have used an 8mm crochet hook with standard double knit wool. 




Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Teeny Weeny Rainbow Sharpie Shells

Jessica loves little treasures, particularly teeny weeny ones that will fit into her many small pots and tins. She hides them, forgets them and then has a wonderful surprise weeks later when she rediscovers them. She loves these shells that I decorated with Sharpie markers for her. Wash and dry your shells thoroughly and they will take Sharpie marking well. These ones were fiddly but you can create some beautiful bigger pieces on larger shells. You'll find some great ideas on Pinterest.


Just to give you an idea of scale on the ones I have done...


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Batik using Acrylic Paints

Batik is a wonderful process for decorating fabric. It is a technique in which wax is used to resist your choice of dye. I loved doing it in Ghana back in 2010 but had not tried it since. I did, however, have a bottle or two of Tulip Fashion Art Dye Resist in one of my many craft boxes so Jessica and I gave it a go and goodness me, we loved it! Before I go into details, let me show off the finished piece...


The wax resist acts very much like a glue in a squeezy bottle so it's great for little people to use without too much mess but Jessica found it difficult to squeeze it hard enough so she asked me to help. She was really specific about what design she wanted, I was just the instrument to make it happen! We then left the fabric and gloop to dry completely (we left it overnight) before commencing dyeing.


Now, this is the really exciting bit. To dye the fabric we used watered down acrylic paints and it worked brilliantly. No buckets of dye, no dyed hands and no fuss. We chose some really bright colours and just went for it. We covered the fabric completely and left it to dry for a couple of hours to allow the paints to penetrate the fabric. 



After drying I scrubbed the fabric by hand in a bowl of hot water to wash off the wax resist. There was no noticeable leaking of colour into the water, which I was really pleased with although I wouldn't risk washing it in detergent. I was quite gentle with it as it was the first time we'd tried it and so there is some wax remaining but I will be a bit more confident with it next time to get the whole lot off. 


 Jess is pretty thrilled with this and has requested that I turn it into a cushion. I suppose I might get around to that one day but I think I'll definitely through a calico bag or two into the trolley next time we go to Hobbycraft. This technique would make some pretty funky shopping bags I think!


Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Daddy and Cat

Jessica asked to do some gluing yesterday. Specifically she wanted to glue Daddy's face. I couldn't resist sharing her creation...


I dutifully cut out the shapes she requested in the colours she demanded, found the "enormous googly eyes" and dug out some scraps of wool for her to use and then left her to it. She was so thrilled with the scraps of wool that she decided she wanted to also make a cat too.


Monday, 24 April 2017

Mixed Media Bluebells

We had a lovely walk to some bluebell woods with Toddler group this morning and then spent the early evening trying out making bluebell pictures from dyed farfalle pasta, watercolours and strips of paper. We're going to be doing these at Toddler group in a couple of weeks, when I'll aim for curvier stems and a better shade for the pasta but I really like Jessica's idea of doing some purple painting on the picture too. 


Here's the little lady in the woods this morning reminding me that she does not like having her photo taken...



Saturday, 22 April 2017

Spanish Mosaics

I have never seen anything quite like the enormous 3D mosaic map at Huerta Grande where we stayed for our springtime holiday this year. Jessica thought it was amazing and loved running around it. It is a miracle that she stayed on two feet the way she hurtled about from one place to another. She is now under the illusion that Morocco and Spain are within paces of each other but I shall try not to worry too much about that!






On a less spectacular but more realistic scale I also really liked their mosaic feature pieces on the walls of their cafeteria area created from beach-combed items. Jess and I love collecting shells and pieces of sea-weathered glass on our visits to the Essex coast so these served as inspiration for potential future projects...




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