Saturday, 21 July 2018

Will They Remember Her?!?!?!?

That's it. All done. Jessica has finished her time at preschool and is ready for seven whole weeks with her Mum (she's been counting down to that!). So, as a very last goodbye and thank you she decided she wanted to give gifts to another nine members of staff from Abacus. So, we made nine double-sided wooden tags. As always, it had to be a cat! 

Friday, 20 July 2018

Mixed Media Buddleia Card

One last thank you card for Abacus on Jessica's last day. She used ink pads, paint, stickers and crystals to create this impression of a buddleia flower head to say a final thank you and goodbye to all  the staff who have made the past fifteen months at Abacus so enjoyable. Farewell!

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Hand-painted Storage Jars

These were our main gift for Jessica's nursery teachers. She filled the storage jars with feathers and pompoms and decorated them with (yes, you've guessed it) a cat! She drew a cat and wrote a couple of messages on paper, I then traced them onto the plain glass jars. Once they were dry Jessica painted the cats. We do love a keepsake!

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Homemade Gift Tags

I think a personalised, homemade gift tag makes any present just that little bit more special. Jessica wrote the names on a piece of paper. I then scanned and reduced them before embossing and finally burning them into plain wooden stars. 

They looked fab hanging on the gift bags...

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Fingerprint Thank You Cards

I can hardly believe that Jessica's time at preschool is coming to an end this week. She's made some fabulous friends, many of whom will stay with her through her journey into Primary school, and she's had some really caring teachers who have helped her to flourish and ensure that she's ready for the next steps. 

With so many people to thank we haven't gone over the top this time but Jessica and I have tried to make some lovely things for her teachers to remember her by. I'll share them over the next few days, starting with these fingerprint cat cards...

Jessica's fingerprints were a bit little for her to be able to draw the faces on the cats so she asked me to do everything but the tails. She's always loved a crazy cat tail! She used ink pads to do the fingerprints and to stamp the "Thank You". I absolutely love these cards and they were so quick and easy.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Mixed Media Allotment Pictures

For our penultimate session at Toddler group this year (how did that happen?!) we'll be heading out into the West Bergholt allotments for our last half hour or so. The children will be invited to complete a treasure hunt while we're there and we'll have a little sing song in the sunshine. Before we head over though, there will be plenty of time for the usual play and crafts. This week we will be making our own mixed media allotment pictures inspired by our visit. We'll be "planting" our vegetables in roller painted soil and using green wool and shredded paper as the veg tops...

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Jungle Tiger

I was inspired by Kathy's beautiful project this week and absolutely had to give it a try with Jessica. So, I copied Kathy's tiger as best I could and we coloured it in together. Jessica insisted on giving our tiger eyelashes and purple eyes! Once we were happy with the image we set about hiding it in the jungle of tissue paper. It's a lovely mixed media piece and we had a lot of fun creating it...

Friday, 29 June 2018

Painting at Blue Owl

For the past few months Jessica and I have been attending the storytime sessions at the rather fabulous Blue Owl Pottery Painting Cafe in Great Horkesley. Jessica really enjoys her mornings there, which we do on the first Tuesday of the month. The children have a few books read to them based on a theme for the month before painting a related item and enjoying a drink and a biscuit. I get to relax and enjoy their lovely coffee of course! We went once when Jess was younger but she didn't have the interest to do it every month back then but it's been a lovely thing to do in the run up to her starting school in September. 

Last month the books were all about Dads and the children were given the opportunity to paint a pen pot for Father's Day. This was the first time that she'd tried a sticker resist method and also the first time we'd used sponges to paint with. The colours are so much more vivid than with a brush because the sponges force you to use so much more paint. She also drew a mouse on her pot, which I then traced over using the writing bottles. We were both so pleased with the gift that I just had to share it on here. Here it is, front and back...

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Toilet Roll Windsock

This is another one of our 30 Days Wild activities. We made our own windsock from a toilet roll, some tissue paper and some craft tape. Totally low tech and absolutely not weather proof but when the rest of June is forecast to be like this...

... it doesn't really matter. So, we made it and hung it high in our Cotoneaster. Now we have to wait for some actual wind because we made it on Monday when it was stifling and there was hardly a breeze in the garden.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Paper Bead Snake

So, our chicken pox crafting continues...

Yesterday we make an upcycled paper bead snake! We cut out large triangles from an old magazine and made them into long beads or tubes by rolling them around a pencil and gluing together. Next we found a polystyrene egg, a pipe-cleaner and some googly eyes for the head. We threaded the tubes onto some embroidery thread and used some beads for the snake's tail. Finally the snake needed some star markings on his head. Voila, one very long, satisfyingly bendy snake to play with.

Jess was pretty pleased with it wrapped around her neck!

Monday, 25 June 2018

Paper Plate Lion

I am a big fan of a paper plate, particularly when crafting with toddlers. They are so sturdy, easy for parents to transport home even if they're covered in glue, paint or glitter and they have so many uses. Off the top of my head I can tell you that in recent weeks I've used them to as shields, moons, faces, masks, hats and suncatcher windows. At just 2p per plate when you buy a pack of 50 from Poundland - you can't go wrong.

Now, anyone who knows my daughter will know how much she loves cats. Domestic or wild, big or small, it doesn't matter. She loves them all. Lions are amongst her favourites probably as a result of  her love of The Lion King. So, on yet another day cooped up with chicken pox we thought we'd have a go at making a paper plate lion...

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Blow Paint Poppies

We're participating in 30 Days Wild this month, which is a fabulous challenge run by The Wildlife Trusts. Admittedly, this was much easier for us to do before Jessica was stuck down with chicken pox but we're trying hard to keep going and do something inspired by nature every day in June. 

So, one day last week we took inspiration from the poppies that Jessica has been growing this year and had a go at painting a picture of poppies using a blow-paint technique. We used ready mixed paints but I think liquid watercolours would have been better to be honest. We squidged a spot of paint at the top of each stem and blew the paint into the shape of a poppy. The blow affect is a bit lost as the paint was so thick but it was still an enjoyable activity and we'll learn from our mistakes and try watercolours next time!

Friday, 22 June 2018


I think it's really important to craft and create alongside Jess. I try not to do the same as her because that tends to deflate her and she will say that there's no point in her drawing a fox, for example, if mine is better than hers. However, it's good for her to see me playing, painting and making mistakes and for us to discuss creative processes. When we're painting I'll often get out my watercolours alongside hers and talk about what we both feel like painting today. She sees me plan, try, often fail, sometimes manage to salvage and always concentrate hard on what I'm doing. Crucially, we relax together and enjoy each others company while doing something productive. This handprint picture was a fun piece that I created during one such session. I love it!

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Chocolate Owl Cake

Jessica loved helping me make this super-easy cake for her Auntie Ruth's birthday earlier this month. I can't imagine why she was so enthusiastic!!!

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Cardboard Tube Prinitng

I love it when Jessica's feeling inspired and asks to do something herself rather than waiting for me to come up with ideas or instigate our crafting exploits. They are studying The Hungry Caterpillar at nursery this half term. They're growing caterpillars in the classroom and have done lots of lovely crafts already. One that Jessica particularly liked was making caterpillar pictures from cardboard tubes. She liked it so much that she wanted to teach me how to do it too...

Next we created a flower picture. There's magic in the printing process no matter how you do it or what you create.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Simple Homemade Bird Bath

Jessica and I have made a couple of bird baths now, both using terracotta saucers atop an upturned terracotta pot. They are so cheap and really easy to personalise. We use acrylic paints to decorate outdoor pots. This is the one that we made for our own garden...

We introduced it to the garden while we still had nesting blue tits in our box but I don't think they ever found it. However, this week we're regularly getting a pair of magpies using it. They are fascinating. They're bringing in bits of bread from somewhere and dipping it in our water before eating it themselves or (I suspect) taking it to young in their nearby nest.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Sticky Mosaics - a charity shop bargain

Jessica and I stumbled across this little gem in a charity shop in Colchester a couple of weeks ago. The kit is a set of four pictures to complete with gems and foam squares made by The Orb Factory. There are all sorts of designs available and are sold as Sticky Mosaics - mosaics by number. The quality of the product is fantastic and the designs are beautiful but they do come in more expensive than similar kits by Galt and even Crayola. That is, unless you spot them in a charity shop for £1! 

Jess is loving them. They are great for number recognition, following a key, manual dexterity and sheer patience and persistence. I highly recommend them, especially if you can find them on offer. They're currently half price in Debenhams...

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Fingerprint Dandelion Clock

Sometimes the simplest things are the most beautiful. As usual, Jess didn't arrange the colours as I would have liked but I try not to control her creativity so this is her finished canvas which now hangs proudly on the wall.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Quiet Book Part 3

... and the final set.

9. Tangram.

10. Noughts and Crosses.

11. Letters. There are 3 sets of lower case alphabets in the pouch for Jess to use to start forming words on the velcro strips.

12. Telling the time. The arms move and the numbers come off. Just don't ask why the grandfather clock has two pendulums! Oops!

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Quiet Book Part 2

Here's the next batch of pages from Jessica's book...

5. Buttonhole flower garden. 

 6. Rainbow weaving.

7. Knots, bows and laces.

8. Exploring constellations. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Quiet Book Part 1

I've been away with my head in a project for a while. I decided a couple of months ago that I wanted to make Jessica a fabric activity book. I've made lots of little things for Jess over the years but nothing like this; nothing that's taken this level of planning and preparation or this much time to complete. Actually, some of the crochet blankets may have taken longer but you can do them in front of the telly with little concentration so they don't really count!

Quiet books are more traditionally for younger children than Jessica but there were plenty of things that could be adapted to suit. Her book is not necessarily finished and I may well add to it in the future but for now I am done and will post the pages of the book across 3 blog posts. They are all handmade and a little rough around the edges but Jessica loves them and that's all that matters.

Each page has eyelets and the book is threaded together through them. The front cover has a snap on it and the back cover has a flap to snap the book closed. 

So, here are the first set of pages...

1. Washing line with tiny pegs, felt clothes and a laundry basket to store them in.

2. Snap wardrobe with clothes on hooks. They can be removed and moved around. Jessica designed the clothes and requested the cape!

3. Rapunzel's tower with wool hair for plaiting and putting clips in.

4. Manicures! There are twenty velcro nails in the little pouch to create a multitude of different manicures for my hand.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Modelling with Salt Dough

Kat created these pieces from salt dough back in February half term then painted them with acrylics over the Easter break. You have got to love a bit of salt dough haven't you!?!

Friday, 30 March 2018

Handprint Popcorn Blossom Tree

The ornamental cherry tree in our garden has started blossoming this week, which inspired us to get crafting. We love creating mixed media pictures; this one uses popcorn as cherry blossom, cotton wool as clouds and we also used crystals and stickers as decorations. Jess practiced her scissor skills, we used her handprint as the tree (would you believe that I've run out of brown paper?!) and she chose to paint the popcorn pink. I love it!

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Decoupage Cat

Jessica has turned her hand to decoupage this week. She cut up lots of squares of decorative tissue paper while I was busy doing the washing up then I helped her to stick them all onto the mache cat that we'd bought in one of our many visits to Hobbycraft. We use a mixture of water and PVA glue as an adhesive. She was more than capable of doing most of it independently but I helped with the tricky areas like the tail. Jess chose blue crystals for the eyes and once completely dry I will cover the whole cat in an acrylic varnish to finish her project. 

Quilted Blanket

This one was my first ever patchwork blanket. I've made a couple of playmats before but never a full blown blanket. It was my first time using cotton wadding and bias binding on a large project too. I used a disappearing nine square technique for the patchwork which is created from 81 11x11cm squares. I am so thrilled with the result and Jessica is so envious that I've promised her I'll make her one too. This blanket took just over 12 hours to complete and it was worth every single second...

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