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...

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Crochet Blanket

The first blanket I made for the twins was a simple crochet granny square blanket from beautiful variegated blue wool and matching white wool. When I first started making it I didn't know whether I was making it for a boy or a girl and thought that this would be great for either. I edged this with my preferred double-v edging stitch. I'm going to estimate (conservatively) that this blanket took somewhere between 18 and 24 hours to put together. I'm still not a fast crocheter but I do enjoy it and I love the results.


Sunday, 25 March 2018

Twin Blankets

Having met the gorgeous and utterly enchanting twins, Alex and Josh, yesterday I can finally share the blankets that I made for them. This post is just a sneak peek; I'll post about each blanket separately during the week since I'm pretty proud of them both and I think the time and effort that each one took definitely warrants three posts in total! Keep your eyes peeled for a closer look in the next few days.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Cardboard Tubes, Yoghurt Pots & Lots of Tape!

My little lady is now really beginning to embrace my stash of junk and come up with brilliant ways to upcycle our cardboard and plastic. We happened upon some leopard tape in Home Bargains and at the crazy price of 50p for 10m there was no way that it was staying on the shelf so Jess started scheming and this is what she came up with...

One Cheetah tail for her and a Leopard-Giraffe model, which has a matching tail. The tails are toilet roll tubes cut into a spiral and covered in tape. Jess has worn hers all day and even sneaked out of bed to put it back on before going to sleep!

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Air Drying Clay Bowl

The second gift for Vicky's birthday was entirely handmade. We wrapped cling film around a bowl and then layered thin circles of air drying clay on top to form a flower shaped bowl. We had used this type of clay once before at a group we used to attend at Fingringhoe Wick but never to make something functional. Once dry, Jess painted it with acrylic paints. We only painted the inside so that the clay can continue to breath and dry in case it wasn't completely dry. I didn't like the idea of trapping moisture in the clay, which would eventually go moldy. With hindsight I think we should have used thicker circles of clay because I think it's probably very fragile and brittle but that's not my problem now that we've given it away!!! ;-)

Friday, 16 March 2018

Hand Painted Glass Vase

When someone special in your child's life has a birthday it would be rude not to make a fuss don't you think?! This post and the next will showcase Jessica's efforts for one of her favourite people on this whole planet!

This first gift (photos are front and back views) is a cylindrical vase decorated with her drawing and writing. She drew her design on a small piece of paper which I placed inside the vase to trace over using black relief outliner. After drying overnight, Jess painted the design herself. Drying it without the paint running was a challenge because of the shape of the vase so we'll be shopping for square vases in future!

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

What Came First?

What came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, we weren't aiming for a chicken but nevertheless, in our case the egg definitely came before the bird, and it was polystyrene egg! Jessica made this little bird from the polystyrene egg, which she painted before giving it wings, a tail, eyes and a beak. I was left to create the feet from thick, purple wire. You could attach a hook to the top of these if you wanted to hang them up or paint extra details like a red breast but we opted for super simple...

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Hama Bead Tetrominoes

Tetris tiles made from hama beads, why not?! I'm not going to lie, there are plenty of other things I probably should have done last night but I didn't fancy any of them so I made several sets of these instead...

I think Jess and I will enjoy playing with these to create different shapes. I needed to melt them pretty hard to make them strong enough for Jess to play with them so they don't fit together perfectly but I don't really care. This is craft just for the sake of it. Sometimes I just need to keep my fingers and brain busy!

Monday, 12 March 2018

Junk Modelling Cat

My collection of "junk" is extensive. I just can't bring myself to put coffee tins, toilet rolls, plastic lids, yogurt pots or egg cartons out for recycling. It just sits in the conservatory waiting for inspiration to hit. Today the lightning bolt hit Jessica and she decided to make a... wait for it... oh yes, no surprises here, a cat! She chose four toilet rolls and two egg cartons from my collection. We cut out the central pieces from one egg carton to make the ears. After raiding my craft cupboards for tape,  glue, acrylic paint, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, a pompom and a feather we set to work and created this...

Here's a side-view to showcase the feathery tail...

As you might imagine, Jessica is very proud of this model of Nala, the cat from down the road!

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Fork Painted Tulips

I came across this craft idea on Facebook. Aside from eating cake, what better use could there be for my Mary Berry forks than painting beautiful spring tulips?! Jessica insisted that she was pretending to be an artist in her studio cafe; I had to pay to join in!

Friday, 9 March 2018

Hama Bead Elmer

I bought Jessica a small Hama bead set for her birthday and we finally broke it open this week. The set included a horse and an elephant pegboard, which really complement our huge array of geometric shapes. Jess insisted that our creations had "cutey marks" and she's played with these four for hours already! This set was an excellent investment.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Quirky Easter Bonnets

We're in Lent so it's perfectly acceptable to be thinking about Easter, right?! We do love a good Bonnet Parade at Toddler Group so Jessica and I set about making a sample hat while we were snowed in last week. We cut a spiral in a paper plate from the centre out to the rim and then sellotaped a couple of straws to the rim and centre to give the height and structure to the hat. Feathers, pompoms and tissue paper were used to decorate this one but we also have Easter stickers and shredded paper available for the children to use on the day. I can't wait to see the creations this year.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

World Book Day Part 4 - Chicken Licken

During one of our shopping trips before Christmas, Jessica had spotted a collection of Ladybird Classic story books and asked if she could have them for her birthday. As it happened I had already ordered a larger collection from The Book People, which we have both been delighted by. It's a great mix of fairy tales and traditional stories that I would highly recommend, particularly at the incredible price of £21.99 for 22 books. 

I can't claim that Chicken Licken is a firm favourite yet because we only read it for the first time on World Book Day last week but Jessica liked it well enough to want to make some of the characters from the book after just one reading. She's been acting out the story with them ever since. She's highly amused by the idea of the sky falling down and isn't the least bit bothered that they all get eaten at the end. Actually she frequently tells me that foxes like to eat birds and that she knows that for a fact! Anyway, here are Chicken Licken and Goosey Loosey, two of the poor, ill-fated birds from the book...

Monday, 5 March 2018

World Book Day Part 3 - Paper Dolls

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson is a fabulous story that we've enjoyed time and time again in our house. After reading it again last week we just couldn't resist making our own set. Jessica's names may be less imaginative than in the book and she insisted that her paper dolls must all be girls in dresses but they are firm friends and have already been played with a lot. Meet Reddish, Goldie, Pinkie Bow, Greyish and Bluey Sparkles...

Sunday, 4 March 2018

World Book Day Part 2 - Room on the Broom Kit

I bought this kit a while back from a sale in Hobbycraft and stashed it in my supplies for a rainy day. As it turns out, it came in very handy for a snowy World Book Day when Jess was missing nursery. The kit is designed to be made up into characters from Room on the Broom by gluing the pompoms and pipe-cleaners together but I was very sceptical that they would stand up to any amount of play so I opted to use the materials to make a collage instead. They just about fitted onto a piece of A3 card... 

The pieces required for each character were individually bagged and the instructions were very clear, making this a really stress-free and fun activity to do with my preschooler! She loved doing it and was so pleased with the finished piece... 

Saturday, 3 March 2018

World Book Day Part 1 - Drawings

I mentioned in my previous blog post that Jessica had been drawing pictures for nursery based on characters from children's literature in the run up to World Book Day so I thought I'd share a couple of them on here. 

I made a Hungry Caterpillar costume for Jessica a couple of years ago and she was hoping to wear it again last week for nursery, while she can just about still squeeze into it. Alas, the snow got in the way of the dressing up but she did create her own rainbow caterpillar on paper... 

We've been reading chapter books for a while now. It seemed a good idea when we were off on our holidays at some point and didn't want to have to carry lots of bedtime reading. Our journey into longer children's stories began with Jill Tomlinson and her wonderful animal stories like The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark and The Cat who Wanted to Go Home alongside some of the short Roald Dahl books like The Magic Finger and The Giraffe, the Pelly and Me. We've also read the first book in The Worst Witch series but have very recently turned to one of my old favourites Gobbolino the Witch's Cat. Although written in the 1940's it is right up Jessica's street. A black kitten with one white paw and bright blue eyes who can do magic, what's not to love?! It captured Jessica's imagination in an instant and she wanted to draw Gobbolino and his sister Sootica after just one chapter. Here they are, complete with that one white paw!

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Shape Pictures

World Book Day is almost upon us again so we've been thinking about favourite books this week and last. Jessica's taken some pictures into nursery that she's drawn, including one of Gobbolino and Sootica the witch's cats, which we're reading at the moment. Today we turned our attention back to a firm favourite, The Owl Who Was Afraid of the Dark. As with the other animal pictures that follow, I cut out what I was told to and Jessica assembled the pictures. She can be terribly bossy at times!!

This next one is Nala, the black cat that lives down the road from us. I'm not sure why she needed two pink paws or why she's holding them up as if she's begging but I can explain (to some extent) why she has seven whiskers - it is one of Jessica's many whims! She always draws three whiskers on both sides and then a fourth on the left. At this point, she always says, "there's the extra whisker". It's her little style, shows that the picture belongs to her I suppose.

The cat was for me, so she had to make one for Daddy too. Naturally, he got a bird. In this case a Tawny Owl. To be specific, a lady Tawny Owl, identifiable by the eyelashes. Six eyelashes, not seven as her whim has not extended beyond whiskers yet!

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Toilet Roll Castle

One of this weekend's crafting exploits was to make a kitchen and toilet roll tube castle for some of Jessica's characters. The rolls are wrapped in coloured paper and stapled together. The turrets are made from self-adhesive stuff (I really don't know what to call it!!!) from Home Bargains. Once I had cut the doors in, Jess added sticker windows and a few beautiful gems from her endless supply. Who doesn't love a toilet roll craft?!

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Kat's Melted Crayon Experiments

Kat's second request of the evening on Saturday was to do some melted crayon art. So, out came the crayons, the pencil sharpener and the baking parchment along with the iron and ironing board. She arranged the shaved wax on card before placing it between sheets of parchment paper and ironing over the top. We used the iron on its coolest setting and used lots of baking paper because the wax is pretty greasy and has a tendency to melt off the card so we needed to protect the ironing board. Although it does not always produce the most beautiful creations it is definitely an incredibly satisfying process.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Watercolour Mixing

Colour mixing has fascinated Jessica for quite a while now. It's a brilliant topic for experimentation and there are so many brilliant ways of playing with colours. We've particularly enjoyed using pipettes and liquid colours in the past. Today though, we just used a palette of watercolours and a brush. Jess used a crayon to repeatedly draw around a square tub and I encouraged her to overlap the shapes. She then painted each square with a different colour and was thrilled to find that the overlapping parts colour-mixed. Her preference for pinks and purples led to a somewhat less interesting image than we might otherwise have got but I really do try not to get too involved in these little projects.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Nutella Marbled Loaf

Kat was still in school while we were enjoying our half term last week so she had her one and only sleepover with us on Saturday night. Once Jessica was asleep Kat's crafting demands came thick and fast and it all began with a request to make cake. Big fans of Nutella that we are, we opted for a recipe for a marbled loaf cake from GoodtoKnow. It was very straightforward and the resulting cake was delicious. I think you can probably tell from the photo that Kat wasn't brilliant at splitting the cake mixture in half so we ended up with rather more chocolate than plain cake but no-one's complaining!

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Chocolate Making at Craft Cabin E4

We had a lovely morning at the Craft Cabin E4 in Chingford today.  We were there for a birthday party, which they ran brilliantly. Jessica loved creating her own chocolates from the array of sprinkles, raisins, cereals etc. and made a glorious mess spooning the melted chocolate into the moulds to fill them up. The children decorated boxes to take their chocolates home in, played party games and had a nice lunch too. It was a very busy couple of hours and the little lady had a blast. A huge thank you to the hosts and the staff.

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