Friday, 21 July 2017

Thank You Abacus!

The thank you presents for nursery were a team effort. Jessica drew a lovely flower and wrote "Love Jess", which I traced onto the front and back of four wooden coasters before using pyrography to make the images permanent. Jessica then painted them with a layer of acrylic varnish to finish them off.

For the card she wanted to paint another rainbow cat and this time she had to have a really spectacular tail!

Thursday, 20 July 2017

"Do You Want to Build a Snowman..."

Picture the scene...

It's July. The summer holidays have just begun. It's hot and sticky outside but your three and a half year old is being Elsa. She has used her power to make the snow and ice for you both to play in but that is not enough, she has got to build a snowman. So, what do you do?

You raid one of your craft boxes for cotton wool, ribbon, pipe-cleaners, a feather and googly eyes, find a toilet roll tube and some glue and you help her make a snowman of course. What else could you do?!

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Black Glue and Watercolours

I've seen lots of people recommend using black glue with watercolours recently so I thought we'd give it a try ourselves. 

The black glue is just PVA mixed with black paint (I used ready mixed poster paint). I did this when I didn't have much glue left in the bottle because I wanted it in a squeezy bottle so that I could pipe a design straight from the bottle. I just put some paint into the bottle with the glue and gave it a good shake. 

I drew a simple flower and left it to dry overnight before asking Jessica to paint it in the morning. The outline doesn't stay particularly raised so it's no help with learning to stay inside the lines but it does stay put and doesn't mix with the other paints. This could also be achieved by using black acrylic as I have done on the flower pots but I like this as an alternative too. 

Jessica must have enjoyed doing it too; as soon as she'd painted this one she asked me to draw her a cat in black glue for her to paint. What a surprise!

End of Term Cupcakes

It was the last day of nursery today before the summer holidays. I will share the thank you card and gifts that Jess made in another post but she was also adamant that she wanted to make some cupcakes for all of the grown-ups. She's had a fabulous first term at Abacus and has grown in confidence so much. It's been a joy to see her develop through attending the preschool sessions and worth every single tear at drop-off. Anyway, I digress, back to Jessica and her cupcakes...

Today she did everything (well, very nearly). She measured the flour and sugar on her scales so that they exactly balanced with the eggs she was using...

She creamed the butter and sugar together...

She cracked the eggs (which she doesn't usually like doing)...

She folded in the flour and spooned the mixture into the cases...

Then she licked... :-)

To decorate them we tried out some colour-your-own cupcake decorations by House of Cake. They are printed designs on sugar paste and come with edible food pens. The idea is brilliant but the black printed outline comes off if you're not incredibly quick and careful so they didn't look the best in the end. Jessica did enjoy doing them though and they were something a bit different.

She made pink buttercream (of course)...

She liberally spread the buttercream on the cupcakes and topped with the decorations before licking the rest of the bowl and ensuring that she had a sugar-high for nursery this afternoon - sorry about that... ;-)

Here she is looking as though butter wouldn't melt with her dozen of beautiful cupcakes...

Monday, 17 July 2017

Drawing and Painting

Jessica loves to draw and paint. She always has but all of a sudden she has really begun to understand the concept of drawing and paints things. Here are three of my recent favourites...



"Rainbow cat with two noses!"

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Polystyrene Printing

We have finally got around to trying out some printing using the polystyrene. As with so many things it has been something I've wanted to try for a while. It seems like a great way of creating batches of thank you cards and such like. So, when my pizza came with some polystyrene packaging I knew exactly what to do with it!

Jessica drew a design on the board using a biro to create an imprint in the material. It was originally a person but Jess decided she just liked poking and squiggling so that's what she did. It's a strange sensation to carve into the polystyrene and I can understand her fascination but these would work beautifully with a less haphazard drawing or geometric design. She decided she wanted to use black paint for her printing today and she covered her image using a small foam roller. Then we covered the board with paper, rubbed firmly and peeled back to see the result...

Jess was very pleased that she could make exactly the same picture for as many people as she liked. The only trouble is that there are a lot of people she likes giving artwork to! Here are just a few of her prints hanging up to dry in the conservatory...

Sunday, 9 July 2017

More Pot Painting

Jessica painted terracotta pots for the Grandads for Father's Day this year. Well, first she told me what to paint on them as outlines and then she painted them. Grandad B got an owl just like the pot I shared back in May while Grandad D had to have a cat and a heart. This cat had to have eyes that were different colours but I still haven't got to the bottom of why that was. The eyelashes signify that it's a girl cat and I have no idea why she chose to paint it red and peach but she was very proud of herself when it was finished. Here's the front and back view...

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Dried Roses

David bought me some beautiful flowers for Mum's anniversary the week before last but the roses faded fast (probably due to the heat) so I removed them from the bouquet and set about drying them. I love the delicacy of dried roses and there is something really special about being able to preserve a flower to last so much longer. Here are some of the roses from David...

The following ones are at least a year old and still look absolutely stunning. All I do is put them in an empty vase (no water) on the windowsill and wait. The ones from last week went a bit droopy so I moved them into an upside down hanging position in the conservatory for a couple of days before the stem dried out completely and that sorted them out a treat.

Finally, I have also dried out a couple of the rose heads from my memorial rose in my garden. The roses on the plant are white, occasionally with a yellow or pink hue. They don't stay white when you dry them out, as you can see, but they are still beautiful. 

I haven't managed to find any other flower that you can do this with so far. Any ideas anyone?

Friday, 7 July 2017

Pressed Flowers

We opened up the flower press this morning and Jessica arranged the flowers and petals from our garden face down on contact paper. We then popped a piece of card over the top to create yet another botanical creation. My favourites are the single petals and I think we'll use just petals next time aiming to create something like a mandala from them once pressed. They seem so delicate and press really beautifully, partly because they have less moisture than the fleshy parts of the flowers. 

When pressing your own flowers be sure not to overcrowd the flowers in the press. Just put two or three per layer. We use construction paper around the flowers between the layers card as this soaks up the moisture. We left them for just three days this time. This was ample time for the petals and many of the flowers but the bulkier ones like the fuchsias probably needed a week I think. I don't like using glue on our pressed flowers (reintroducing moisture) so we always use contact paper (sticky-backed plastic). We often make suncatchers from them by framing them in an aperture cut from card with contact paper front and back to seal them in. They always look beautiful but the colours fade quickly in the sun.

Go on, give it a try!

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Painting with Marbles

David has his razor blades delivered in a box that is just a shade narrower than a piece of A4 paper, which makes it the ideal size for this activity. We lined the bottom of the box with a piece of paper, blobbed some ready mixed paint onto the paper, put marbles in the box and shook...

Jessica is still not a huge fan of getting messy so she used her tongs to remove the painty marbles (great for improving those motor skills!).

Then we did it again and again!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Flower Pounding

We've put some flowers from the garden into the press this week. We haven't done any since last autumn so Jess has forgotten that it takes a while before we can get them out and use them to make something beautiful. So, I thought we'd try something new today and we have tried flower pounding. That's right, I let Jessica loose with my pin hammer and we both escaped injury - phew!

We chose lots of petals that had fallen from my plants in the garden and placed them face down on some acid-free watercolour paper. We covered the petals with kitchen paper and hammered away. Satisfyingly vivid colours bled through the kitchen towel and when we revealed the artwork there were squeals! We actually found it better to do the hammering a few petals at a time and it was really interesting how the dyes coming out of the flower differed from the actual petal colour. Every red petal we tried came out purple for some reason! 

Here's Jessica's beautiful botanical artwork...

Monday, 3 July 2017

Cupcake Jellyfish

With a busy week ahead I needed to make an early start on next week's craft for Toddler group. So, here it is, the last craft of the year is a cupcake jellyfish. 


Poor thing looks a bit sad doesn't it! This next one was our first attempt. It is made from a mini cupcake liner and has been played with a lot, which explains the slightly disheveled look!

The tentacles are ripped strips of tissue paper glued to the inside of the cupcake liner. On this occasion we'll be using glue sticks because PVA was far too messy and the dye in the tissue paper bled badly. I've then fed a piece of wool through a circle of card and the jellyfish so that he can be played with. 

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Bubble Painting

Jess did some paint blowing at preschool earlier in the week, which inspired me to give bubble painting another try. We have attempted it once before and failed miserably to get any imprints but we tried lots of different paints (and containers) this time until we finally found something that worked.

So, in the end we used a small container with acrylic paints, washing up liquid and water. We blew the bubbles and then used a spoon to transfer the bubbles from pot to paper. We just couldn't get it to work putting the paper on top of the pot. I'll keep working on it but this was more than satisfactory for today.

Here's Jessica's finished piece...

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Felt Strips and KAM Snaps

Sometimes the simplest of ideas turn out to be wonderful resources for small minds and fingers. This is one such example although they are also teaching Jessica a lesson in patience and persistence because she's not a dab-hand at using snappers yet.

I made this set yesterday afternoon by cutting strips of stiff felt and attaching snaps to each end ensuring that each strip had both a male and female snap-head and that they weren't both face up on the fabric. This means that each strip can be wrapped into a loop and secured with the snaps. Alternatively you can attach the strips together or make felt chains like the one pictured at the top of this post.

I'd hardly begun making them when Jessica wanted to start creating. First on her list of things she could make with them was a house...

Then we made some regular polygons,

a few numbers and letters,

a kite,

and a very long snake that turned into a skipping rope later in the day.

With just one felt strip we had some lovely bangles,

two made a nice crown,

and three made a lovely belt for Jessica. I do not know how many I would need for a belt and I'm not going to find out!

Jessica also enjoyed playing with them without using the snaps using the felt strips to represent things like the sky or the ground. We have already played with them for ages and I'm sure that Jessica will come up with many more ideas once she can use the snaps more confidently. After all, as she told me this week, she does have a much bigger imagination than me! 

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

A Classic - Painted Butterflies

We did an old favourite at Toddler Group yesterday. We painted, folded, squished and printed onto A4 paper before cutting the wings out and peeling the paper open. We stuck the bodies on with double-sided sticky tape then added a couple of Baker Ross' finest eye stickers. These make an excellent alternative to googly eyes when working with young children. They're always incredibly popular at Toddler Group. Everyone loves a sticker!

Jess made four of them! This one is my personal favourite...

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