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...




Friday, 21 April 2017

Hobbycraft Suncatcher Kits


We love these - they are cheap, they have great designs, which Hobbycraft keep updating and they look wonderful when they're finished irrespective of how carefully they have done so they are brilliant for kids of all ages. Jessica has probably done half a dozen of them now. Like a packet of stickers they are a staple item that I pop into the trolley every time I go to Hobbycraft (that's right, I do need a trolley every time I go!).

That said, there are a couple of down sides. I am not complaining, just offering up some insight and advice. The kits come with plastic spreaders for the paint, which are reasonably effective but I have found that younger children find them a bit tricky to use so we always stick to using our own brushes. Secondly, once you've hung these suncatchers up in your window we have found that the colours in the paint fade fast. We hang ours in a south facing conservatory so they are put to the ultimate test and your experience may be very different. So, I have been encouraging Jessica to use my glass paints alongside the gelatinous ones provided in the kits. My paints don't seem to fade so we have ended up with some areas appearing unpainted when if fact they were originally completely covered in paint. Here are a couple that Jessica has done with a combination of paints. She has painted the J twice so it's not so obvious where the Hobbycraft paints have faded but all of the clear patches on the 3 are as a result of having been painted with those included in the kits.


Overall they are great value for money, the process is really good as are the finished products but they do not expect them to last in strong sunlight. We'll keep buying them!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

10 minute cushion

During these past few years I have occasionally (ok, often) felt a bit of a longing to be able to do more of my own crafts again. Being a full-time Mum is fantastic, I love it but it is exactly that, full-time 24-7. When I've had this itch to get on with my own things it has needed to be addressed rapidly with a quick-fix-craft. What better way to satisfy my need to make something than to spend just 10 minutes making a cushion? Honestly, 10 minutes. Here's the one from yesterday (probably should have ironed it first!)...


The fabric is upholstery weight from Dunelm Mill, chosen by Jessica. It comes with a height of 55 inches, which I don't trim down. It's better to have too much fabric than too little especially as I leave the edges raw on the inside of the cushion covers. I was making a cover for a 20 inch cushion pad so aiming for a finished cover of 18 inch square for pleasant puffiness! So, here's the details:

1. I cut a strip of fabric a width of 20 inches allowing for the 18 inches for the pad and a generous inch seam on each side.

2. I folded my fabric like a concertina ensuring that the middle section was 18 inches high, right sides of fabric were together and that there was a good overlap on top. It's easiest to show this using a piece of paper. The green side represents the front of the fabric...



3. I pin the fabric in place and run both sides through my sewing machine using a straight stitch.


4. I turn the cover the right way out and stuff with the cushion.

5. To secure the cover I use three KAM snaps, which I have raved about enough so here are a few pictures of the equipment and the process.



 

Voila, one simple cushion fit for any bed or sofa.


Here are a few others I've made over the last few years although admittedly not all of them were 10 minute wonders!...






Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Fairy Doors

Jessica has a wonderful cupboard in her bedroom. It's deep, it's high, it's a little bit strange and it's even carpeted. Kids love to hide in it and if I'm honest, so do I. Best of all, it's a great home for our new fairy doors, toadstools and cheeky bunnies. We were visiting fabulous friends up in Staffordshire over the weekend and they had a these lovely little sets left over from the birthday party of their rather wonderful daughter (I'll be so happy if Jess wants crafting parties at the age of 8). We broke out the acrylics and started them up there but had to bring them home to finish.


I am seldom allowed to complete things entirely alone so these are collaborative. Of course, the best thing about acrylics is that you can cover over the bits that really offend you and start again - I did that with the toadstools. Jess is thrilled with the new additions to her cupboard. 



  

Monday, 17 April 2017

Wedding Pyrography

The weather was beautiful, the ceremony was heart-felt, the personal and handmade touches at the reception were perfect and the couple were radiant. 

I mentioned a while ago that Hobbycraft had been posting some blog posts with some handy tips for pyrography so this seemed the perfect opportunity to attempt to massively improve my skills and make a hand crafted piece for the happy couple.


So, what was the key that Hobbycraft provided? A cunning method of transfering an image (in this case writing) onto the wood before burning. I printed a mirror reversed image onto tracing paper, laid it ink side down onto the wood and then traced out the design leaving an imprint of the ink (along with slight indentation). Using a fine, rounded nib I burnt the outline first before burning the interior of each letter.



That printing on tracing paper tip is a real revelation and I can't wait to do more and more pyrography now. Thank you, Hobbycraft!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Shredded Easter Egg Nest


Eggs definitely belong in a nest so Jessica and I made one to house our polystyrene eggs this year. The process we used is something of a mix between papier mache and decoupage. Jessica was thrilled with shredding magazines while I enjoyed layering up the nest.

Right, here's the how to...

1. Shred plenty of pages from a magazine. I think we probably did about 8 sheets but it depends how big and solid you want your nest or bowl to be.

2. Line a bowl with cling film that is the shape you would like to replicate.

3. Mix PVA glue and water in the ratio of roughly 1:1.

4. Paint a layer of glue and water mixture onto the cling film and start layering paper on top of it in different directions.

5. After placing about half a dozen strips paint these over with the glue mixture and keep layering.

6. Keep repeating the layering and gluing until you're happy with the thickness. This doesn't have to be done all in one go. Take as long as you like over the nest and make it as thick as you fancy!

7. Allow the nest/bowl to dry completely at which point you will be able to easily peel the clingfilm away from the paper.

8. Trim the edges if you want to tidy them up a bit.


Here are a couple of shots of our nest in progress...





Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Tissue Paper Tulips

We have our first tulips out in the garden and our fishy suncatchers were looking a little sad so we've made a few tissue paper tulips to brighten up our windows. I love the authentic looking droopy leaves! 


To make these we:

1. cut tulip shape apertures from a piece of purple paper

2. covered with contact paper

3. stuck small pieces of tissue paper to the contact paper until the whole tulip was covered

4. cut around the tulip leaving a thin purple border

5. taped a tissue paper stem and leaf to the back of the tulip

6. taped to the window

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Fun with Shaving Foam (Marbling & more)

I was feeling brave enough to try marbling with Jessica using shaving foam and liquid watercolours at the weekend. It sounded like fun and it was (to some extent) but we weren't very good at it. Reading up on an article about the process on The Artful Parent it would seem that I missed out a crucial step. I neglected to scrape off the foam as soon as we'd taken the print. This has resulted in a bit of a sticky mess but I'll know better next time I suppose! 

We filled a craft tray with shaving foam and dripped some liquid watercolours on top. Using a cocktail stick, Jessica swirled the colours around a bit and placed the card lightly on top. At this stage I should have scrapped the foam off using something like a palette knife but I just left them. When I came to remove the partly dried foam it was sticky and has proved difficult to remove; you can see the residue on the picture.


Having given up on this craft fairly quickly I gave Jessica some of her cups and spoons and let her just play. As she stirred the foam it became nice and stiff, much like beating meringue. She said it was like icing, which gave us the idea of making shaving cream cakes. This was great fun. Jess filled her silicone cupcake cases with the thick foam and then sprinkled them with glitter. She cut up some straws to use as candles too. I love it when great ideas just emerge from our play! We'll definitely be making a mess with shaving foam again!





Monday, 27 March 2017

Easter Bonnets

It was our last session at Toddler group before Easter this morning.  We made Easter bonnets from paper plates and bowls. I made the bonnets and attached the ribbons beforehand and let the little ones loose with Easter stickers, pom poms and tissue paper. Here are some of their masterpieces...


They were all very proud of their creations and enjoyed posing for photos before doing a mini parade for us. Here's Jessica showing off her bonnet back at home later...

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