What's it all about then?

food, cooking, baking, making, arts & crafts and a hefty dose of vaguely amusing general chat

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Paper Christmas Wreath

These paper baubles are everywhere at the moment (nobody said you were going to get original on this blog!). They are very easy to make, take only minutes and don't need any special materials. What's not to like? I made the ones above to string up along the wall in the hall.

And then I thought I'd use them for making a wreath for the door, because it's got to be easier than binding together pine cones and baubles etc, right?
Right! 20 minutes later I was finished and this was hanging on the door.

You'll need:
  • coloured or patterned paper or thin card
  • scissors or craft knife
  • ruler & pencil
  • stapler (a small one is best)
  • hole puncher and string

Cut the paper into strips of equal widths (mine were 2cm wide). You'll need 2 different lengths: one shorter strip for the inside and two longer strips for the outside. How much you vary the lengths is up to you, I think mine were 12cm longer strips and about 8cm shorter strips (for the outside ring).

Hold the strips together at one end and staple them. Then hold them together at the bottom (the longer outside strips will bend at this point) and staple again. That's one paper bauble finished.
I made 12 large green ones for the wreath, and then 12 smaller ones with red for the inside. You could carry on making ever smaller ones to fill the whole thing in if you so wish. To put the whole thing together, staple the larger ones together at the sides (where they curve) with the top of a smaller one in between. This is where it is handy to have a small stapler. Go all the way round doing this, then, to make it more stable, staple the sides of the smaller ones together too

You can then punch a hole in the top of one of the baubles and thread a piece of string through it.

And then it's ready to hang!

See? Told you it was easy :)

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Those glass magnets that are EVERYWHERE, made a bit easier!

You've seen them all over the internet (here and here for example), I'm sure, those beautiful glass magnets that are fun to do and make great presents.

We've made some for Henry to give his teacher for Christmas.

Well, I thought I'd give them a go, but (being me) I could see how I might simplify the process and make it a bit less fiddly.

What you need:

> glass nuggets (I used 3cm size) or glass mosaic tiles
> circular magnets
> scissors (regular and nail scissors - really!)
> pictures that you want to use, either printed out or from magazines etc
> a good strong craft glue (I used an UHU glue pen)

First, stick the glass nuggets onto the pictures, like this. You do not need to trace around the glass and cut them out or anything like that. Just stick them down onto the bit of the picture you want. As you can see, I printed out little 3x3cm patterns to use. I also (for Henry's teacher) got Henry to draw pictures which I then scanned in, resized and printed out.
Press down well to get out any air bubbles.

Note about the glue: do a small test just smearing some glue on a picture first, esp. if you've printed them yourself, as some glues sort of dissolve the printer ink and make it all smeary. If this happens, you need to find another glue.

Next, let them dry really well (pref. overnight). The next day, cut roughly around each of the nuggets. You can use the regular scissors for this. Then trim round neatly and leaving as little overlap as possible, using the (curved and therefore perfect for the task) nail scissors. You do not need a super-sharp craft knife and a steady hand for this (as in the usual instructions). This is the easy way!
Then, put a thin layer of glue over the back of the magnet AND over the edges of the paper. This will seal it and stop it from peeling off easily. Then stick the magent into the middle and again let dry really well.

And there you have it: finished magnets!

For packaging, I did as many of the other instructions suggest: stuck small metal washers onto card, then put the magents on them, labelled them and popped them into a small, clear pastic gift bag, stapled along the top.

  Next up I'm going to do some square ones with the mosaic tiles I've ordered. Will post them up here as soon as they're done!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Snow Baubles

Last year, our window decorations were all about paper snowflakes . This year, I've done more of them, plus I came up with the idea of doing "snow baubles" : similar sort of thing, but round.

I think they look wonderful, making our home look really wintery and cheery, for very little effort and (best bit!) no cost to speak of!
So, here's what you need:
  • white paper (printer paper is fine - I used scrap stuff that had text on one side)
  • something circular to draw round, about 10cm diameter
  • sharp scissors
  • an iron
Draw round your circle (I used a glass bowl that just happened to be a perfect size), and cut out. It's a good idea to lots in one go so once you get started on the creative bit you don't have to keep stopping to do more circles.
Fold a circle in half, then in half again, and then in half again.
You now need to make some cuts. The thing to remember is that you want to leave a solid edge of paper all the way around the bauble - this shouldn't be broken or cut into. You can cut into both sides of the triangle, or just along one. You need to experiment to see what sort of cuts give you what sort of effects.
Here are some I've done to give you an idea:

When you unfold them, they have creases in them (obviously) so it's a good idea to iron them (medium hot iron on a flat surface). Then they lie completely flat.

That's it really! I'm sure you could do more with them, maybe decorating with glitter, but even as they are they work really well.

Happy holidays! :)


Friday, 6 July 2012

African Animals - Part 2

Continuing our project looking at various exotic animals, today we tackled the parrot:

Isn't he gorgeous?!

Here's how we did it: I drew a silhouette of a parrot on thick red card, as we wanted our parrot to have a base colour of red. I roughly sketched in where the wing and tail feathers would be, and added details like eye, beak and claws.
This was a bit fiddly to cut out, so I helped a bit.

Then we made feathers out of various coloured and patterned papers. If you have it, I think coloured tissue would work really well, or even patterend serviettes.

We cut feather shapes out of the paper, then folded along the middle and made lots of cuts. When opened out, you have feathers!

We stuck the feathers on in layers, starting with the bottom (tail) layer. Then we added some neck feathers, in red crepe paper, and H drew some feathery details on the tummy. Beak, claws and eye were coloured in with black felt tip with white pencil around the eye. Then we stuck the parrot onto a brown card branch (with pencil wood details on it).

Here it is with the previous animals we've made:

They look great together, don't they?!
More to come, so keep watching :)

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

African Animals - Part 1

We're doing a mini project on African animals this week - reading a bit about them from our Animal Encyclopedia, listening to some stories and then doing a bit of crafting.

The inspiration came from this Deep Space Sparkle torn paper Zebras post.

Here's ours:

Pretty cool, eh?

But then we decided to get really creative. And this is what we did:

1. Potato print brown patches onto cream coloured card. (Can you guess what it's going to be yet?)

2. While that is drying, paint a background picture on another piece of coloured card. We chose a light blue, and painted grass and a tree onto it.
3. On the back of the skin print card, draw a boxy giraffe, as big as possible, and cut it out. Flip over and ta-da! You have a giraffe!

4. When the background is dry, stick the giraffe onto it and add details like horns, eye and tail.

We were really pleased with this technique and can imagine it would work well for lots of animals.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The wheels on the bus go round and round....

No posts for ages not because we haven't been crafting, but because we've been doing SO MUCH.
So now I'm going to have to hit you with a load of catch-up posts, the first of which is this rather cool London Bus we made.

It's easy-peasy. Really, really. And it looks great. And it's cheap. And infinitely variable. Really, what's not to like about a craft like this?
We did not entirely make this up - it's based on something we saw on Disney's Art Attack programme. But ours is better, so ner.

For the London Bus variation, you need:
  • 2 large, empty egg cartons
  • white card
  • glue, scissors, felt-tip pens
  • paint

First, stick the cartons on top of each other. I used a hot glue gun (my new favourite tool) because it's fast, but any strong glue will do.
When that's dry, paint the bus red. We used acrylic paints so only needed one coat to get pretty good coverage. I'd have done another coat, but Henry was having none of it.

While that's drying, make the windows, wheels and lights. We just cut out window shapes, outlined in black marker, and then drew on people. We also did a driver at the front. If I'd been better organised, I would have got us some Playmobil catalogues and cut out people from them, which would also, I think, have looked cool.

The wheels were circles of card painted black, with smaller circles of white card stuck in the middle. And the lights were small circles painted yellow.
When paint on the egg cartons has dried, stick on the windows and wheels.

Ta-da! Finished and ready to hit the London traffic:

You could do any number of variations of this: yellow school bus, trucks and lorries, taxi (using small egg carton), tractor (using small one stuck on a large one) etc.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

A simple scrapbook

Or Smash Book, or Journal, or whatever you want to call it; it's a notebook for sticking stuff into.

Henry went to the cinema for the first time ever yesterday, and loved it. He also wants to keep the ticket, as he does with pretty much any scrap of paper that comes his way. His room is full of leaflets, brochures, ticket stubs - in fact, any printed material that he happens to come across and considers important enough to keep.

So it occured to me that instead of having all this stuff just floating around his room and making it even more messy than usual, we could stick it all down in one place. I liked the idea of him having a space that he could put together however he liked, and it would contain things that were important to him. I wasn't looking to make anything too "designy" or beautiful as such. More just a simple, colourful book that he would enjoy flicking through because he'd choosen the stuff that went in it.

The following, therefore, is a very simple, basic tutorial for something that you probably don't need a tutorial for, but it might just give you some ideas.

What You Need
  • coloured card, strong enough to stick stuff to
  • cardboard for making the covers
  • paper for decorating the cover
  • punch hole, craft knife, glue, ruler etc
  • string for binding

I used 3 large sheets of card in red, light blue and yellow (colours chosen by Henry). Cut your card to the size you want - I cut ours in half to make 6 pages. Punch holes along one side of each piece of card; make sure they are exactly in the middle!

To make the front and back covers: the cardboard needs to be about 1cm larger than the card pages on 3 sides. Punch holes in the middle along one side.

Cover both pieces of cardboard with your chosen paper. The inside doesn't have to look great as we're going to stick something on there anyway.

See? Some zig-zaggedly cut and artfully placed scraps of coloured paper hide those unsightly bits in the picture above. This is a good place to put a photo.

Put together all the pages with the front and back covers, thread through the string and tie in a knot. Make sure you leave enough of a loop though so that the pages can lay flat when they're open.

Decorate the front. We will be doing some more work on ours, but so far Henry has chosen to write his name twice, once normally and once backwards, and has done a small illustration (apparently of him in our flat). I can imagine this will look even more funky when we get some stickers on there.

And here's the inside, still blank.

Henry got the idea straight away, though, and was very enthusiastic about the first things we stuck in:

On the left inside cover we put a favourite photo of Henry and a Roman lion statue from our summer holiday, just to get things going. On the first page we have Henry's cinema ticket and I printed off the poster of the movie we went to see. I explained to Henry that he can stick the things in any way he wants, so the layout here is his idea!

I know that there are much better scrapbooks out there, but I think this is a great starter book for us, plus it only took 1/2 hour to make, and I had all the materials at home ie it cost nothing.

I'm looking forward to seeing what else Henry decides to put in his scrapbook, and hoping that it means a few less scraps of paper littering his room!