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...

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...

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