Tag Archives: crafting

To craft, or not to craft – Celebrating Shakespeare 400

This year sees the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. To celebrate his life and work, stationers Viking sent me some crafting goodies and asked me to create a craft project featuring one of Shakespeare’s quotes. So I invited my craftiest friend Sarah around for an evening of crafting, chat and at least one bottle of chablis.

Sarah is an accomplished paper cutter and makes the most beautiful paper crafts, so she brought her paper cutting kit and I got my craft box out. To our existing stock we added the crafting goodies Viking had sent for our evening and we mulled over the brief whilst searching for Shakespeare quotes online. Independently we both came up with a similar idea.

Shakespeare

Our craft goodies from Viking

I had some watercolour paints and a couple of spare canvases, we both decided to paint a background on the canvas and then add our Shakespeare quotes. Sarah loves stars and the night sky, so she chose to paint a dusky sky and use a quote about stars. I love the colour teal, so wanted a  teal-ish canvas with a “go get ’em” semi motivational quote for my office.

Sarah began by painting her sky and then left her canvas to dry whilst she cut out some stars.

Shakespeare

Once her canvas was dry she used a silver metallic paint pen to write her quote and then she carefully glued her paper stars and some sequins in a shooting star formation on the canvas, I thought it looked really beautiful.

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves”

Shakespeare

I chose the famous quote from Hamlet “To thine own self be true” and I selected a much smaller canvas with an easel.  After painting the canvas with a few different shades of teal and blue (the photo doesn’t show the colours as well as it should) I left it to dry before using a paint brush and some burnt sienna watercolour paint to write my quote on the canvas.

Shakespeare

It didn’t take very long to do and I’m not 100% happy with it, but I like it well enough for it to take up residence in my office.

Having finished my intended project a little too quickly, I decided to have a play with my new golden feathered calligraphy quill and the little pot of ink. I can’t do calligraphy but I thought I’d have a play anyway.

Shakespeare

It was rather good fun and something I would try and use in future craft projects. There’s a bit of a knack to using a quill and a pot of ink, so it took me a few blobby goes before I got something I quite liked, and I quite liked this.

Shakespeare

And using the metallic gold paint pen I wrote this, a line from Sonnet 116 which I’ve been completely in love with for years.

Sarah and I go to a monthly craft club and we enjoy getting stuck in and having a go, often with mixed results, but it’s all good fun and makes for an interesting evening. This was our first craft evening together where we’ve not been supervised by experts, and I think Sarah in particular has produced something especially lovely. 

We’ve decided to have a few more craft evenings together, mainly because you don’t get wine at craft club I think, but also because it was interesting and fun. 

Note: We were sent products free of charge from Viking to use to create our Shakespearean masterpieces, and also in return for this blog post.

Easy Mother’s Day Crafts

I’ll hold my hands up, when I originally planned this blog post it was all about doing Mother’s Day crafts with my five year old son. We enjoy crafting together, making things that are beautifully wonky and imperfect, but I very rarely spend any time by myself doing some crafting, partly because of lack of time I guess. This month I looked at our box of seasonal goodies from Baker Ross and decided it was time to do some crafting by myself, and the results were very pleasing, at least I think so.

Mother's Day crafts

We were sent a box of ceramic bird flowerpots to paint, these were pretty adorable and we set about painting them in our own style. He wanted to paint his black, but thankfully I was able to steer him towards some brighter colours. I just did whatever I fancied and I was pretty pleased with how it turned out. I’m no artist but they were really lovely to do, especially together. I have bought some tiny crocus bulbs which I’ll plant in them nearer to Mother’s Day.

Mother's Day crafts

The next thing I tackled were these lovely tissue paper flowers. I sat down for a quiet half hour and made myself these lovely blooms. They were incredibly easy to do, everything you needed was in the pack. I just wrapped a pipe-cleaner around the middle of the tissue paper and then slowly and gently teased the paper out to form the flower. 

They were so simple to do and really relaxing, I was a bit sad when I’d made them all and the pack was empty. I put them all in a vase which now sits on my office desk, brightening the place up, they never need watering and they’ll never die. I really love them!

Mother's Day crafts

As you can see from our Mother’s Day crafts, there are lots of really cheery, colourful crafts you can do to usher spring into your home. The flowers would make a lovely gift for mum, but if you really love her you’ll make her a cup of tea and let her get on with making them herself!

Valentine’s Day Crafts & Activity Sheets

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, the small boy and I sat down for an afternoon of Valentine’s Day crafts and activity sheets to get us into the spirit of things. Generally Hubs and I don’t much go in for too many hearts and flowers, we’ve been together since 1995 so we’ve seen more Valentine’s Days together than most, but a heartfelt card and a small token gift is always the order of the day. 

We’d already started to make some cute heart shaped decorations using a heart decoration bead kit from Baker Ross. The kits include some nice long pipe-cleaners and lots of colourful beads. You thread the beads onto the pipe-cleaners and then bend into a heart shape. The kit comes with a little bell you can attach to the heart and some ribbon so you can hang it up. It was a lovely, fun activity which we did together. It was also great for helping to develop his fine motor skills which are essential with helping him to learn to write.

Valentine's Day Crafts

A reasonably quick but fun craft we did was to make these heart pets photo frame fridge magnets. Again these are from Baker Ross and they’re really easy to put together. The foam pieces and googly eyes all have peel off backs, so you just peel everything off and stick it together. The small boy enjoyed putting the frame together and making his doggy. He said he’s going to give his frame to Grandad on Valentine’s Day, because he loves him *heart melts*.

Valentine's Day Crafts

Again, the peeling and sticking actions are all great for those fine motor skills, and for exercising his pincer grip, we can’t get enough of that kind of thing at the moment.

Once we’d put our craft box away, we decided to have a go at some of the Valentine’s Day activity sheets we’d printed off from Twinkl, including the Valentine’s Day worksheet and the Valentine’s Day word and picture matching worksheets. These went down very well with the boy, we started with the word and picture matching, he spelt out every word and we looked at the pictures to see which we thought might match the word, he loves this kind of activity at the moment so I was glad we had a couple of sheets of these to do.

Valentine's Day Crafts

The worksheet was a little more challenging for him, he’s not a confident writer, so together we thought about some of the questions and how we might answer them. He verbally listed everyone he loved (dogs first, naturally) and then said his best friend was Daddy. He was getting tired by now, so we called it a day. I didn’t want to push things as that can be counterproductive. It was time for a cuddle and a walk in the park!

Valentine's Day Crafts

We both love our craft afternoons together. It’s lovely to see him focus on a task and enjoy sitting with me. These quiet moments with him are probably the highlight of my week. I think I know who my Valentine is this (and every) year.

Christmas Crafts: Make Your Own Reindeer Crown

Now the weather has taken a decidedly wintery turn I’m starting to get into the Christmas spirit. This weekend was an especially cold one, the small boy had a nasty cold and we decided to stay in, cosy in front of the fire and have a lazy weekend. Keen to get cracking with some Christmas crafts we busied ourselves by making a reindeer crown using hand prints and we were pleased with the results.

reindeer crown

The reindeer crown kits are available from Baker Ross and come in packs of 4 or 16. The packs contain everything you need to make the crown, except for glue, though we used double sided sticky tape because it’s quicker and there’s less mess than with glue.

The instructions are really easy to follow. Draw around your hands and cut out your hand print shape – I did the cutting because the small boy is terrifying with scissors or anything with a blade. The instructions suggest you use glue to stick the cut our hand shapes onto the headband, but I used double sided sticky tape for this. The other pieces, the ears, the reindeer hair and the holly and berries are self-adhesive, so the small boy peeled the backing paper off these and stuck them onto the headband.

Once he had finished he very proudly wore it around the house for a few hours, I think these make a nice alternative to the paper cracker crowns we are forced to wear for Christmas dinner, so I might make myself one to wear on Christmas Day.

reindeer crown

There was some parental supervision required with the cutting out of the hand shapes, but other than that he did the rest himself. It was something he enjoyed doing, he likes peeling and sticking things. It was pretty simple, but it kept him interested and entertained for a while. Another good and fun Christmas activity from Baker Ross!

 

Christmas Crafts – Making Snowman Mosaics

It may still only be November but I’m already starting to feel a bit Christmassy, I think it’s probably down to all the planning ahead of time so I’m less stressed later. They must be talking about it at school too as the small boy is all excited and ready to get stuck into the festivities. We’ve been busy baking Christmas cakes and starting to think about presents and decorations. One wet afternoon we sat and made some snowman mosaic coasters which I’ve decided would also look great as Christmas decorations.

The snowman mosaic coaster kit from Baker Ross contains everything you’ll need – a pre-cut snowman with a selection of foam stickers to stick on and decorate your snowman. If like me you want to turn the finished snowman into a Christmas tree decoration you’ll need a bit of ribbon and some sticky tape too.

Snowman Mosaics

Popping the foam stickers out of their sheet and peeling the backing off them is quite fiddly for little fingers, so it’s good practice for the small boy who has recently turned five. He did very well and managed to do most of them himself, only asking me to help him with the white circles, probably because there were lots and lots of them. This is a great task to help with hand-eye co-ordination and to improve dexterity and finger strength, which can really help with learning to write.

It’s a really simple kit and the snowman mosaics look really effective, too good to just be used as coasters, which is why I’m going to attach some ribbon so we can hang them on the tree once that’s up.

The snowman mosaics kits are from Baker Ross and come in packs of 6 or 18. It’s a nice tidy activity to do, it doesn’t require any setting up or any mess, just have a bowl ready to put the bits of backing paper in and you’re sorted. In fact I’ve put one in my bag for when we go out, it’s something we can do together while we’re having lunch that doesn’t involve an ipad. 

The thing I liked most about making the snowman mosaics was the chance to chat. We were both industriously beavering away on our snowmen, chatting away about school, Christmas and his recent birthday, and occasionally bursting into happy song. It was a fun half hour on an otherwise grim November day.

Review: Paint and Play Dinosaurs from Interplay

The small boy has recently been learning more about dinosaurs. We’ve been reading stories about them and watching Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures on CBeebies together. We’ve been talking about what they’d sound like, how they’d walk, fly or swim and what their skin would look and feel like. With  almost perfect timing we received the Paint and Play Dinosaurs set from Interplay to test.

paint and play dinosaurs

The Interplay Paint and Play Dinosaurs set contains three prehistoric dinosaurs to paint, two tiny terrified cavemen, a set of paints, a paintbrush and a dinosaur fact sheet to learn more about the dinosaurs you’re decorating.

paint and play dinosaurs

The set contains a T-Rex, Pterodactyl and a Stegosaurus. The dinosaurs are white and you can paint them however you want. I chose to paint the Stegosaurus and the small boy went for the T-Rex and the Pterodactyl. I chose to copy the markings on the fact sheet as best I could, he chose to paint them in his own inimitable style.

paint and play dinosaurs

We had tremendous fun painting our dinosaurs and talking about the different colours they might be. There was plenty of paint to use and it was all washable (which was good news for his clothes and my tablecloth). There was only one fine paintbrush, so I needed to raid my supplies, so that’s worth noting if you’re going to paint your dinosaurs as a group activity.

Painting them kept us occupied for a good half hour or so, plus there was lots to talk about and the fact sheet helped us find out more about the fearsome beasts we were cheerfully painting purple and orange. We had to leave them to dry before we could play with them properly, so we read some of his dinosaur books while we waited.

Paint and Play Dinosaurs

Ok, so our dino-depictions may not be 100% factually accurate, but they were 100% fun to do. It was a nice focussed activity which he enjoyed doing, but at the same time worked his pencil (paintbrush) grip, his hand-eye co-ordination and gave us the opportunity to have a discussion all about dinosaurs, where they came from and what happened to them.

The Paint and Play Dinosaurs set from Interplay is suitable for ages 4-7. The small boy is nearly five and I think this is spot on for him. There are quite a few different sets to choose from in the Interplay Craft Box line, so I’ll be choosing something else for him to paint for our next rainy afternoon together.

You can find more information about the Paint and Play Dinosaurs set on the Interplay website.

Note: We were sent the Interplay Paint and Play Dinosaurs set free of charge for review purposes. All images and opinions are our own.

Halloween Crafts – Making Spooky Lanterns

It has become something of a tradition that we have a little Halloween party each year. We schedule it during half term so it gives the kids a chance to get together and have fun, and us mums get to catch up with each other. I provide the house and some basic drinks and snacks, the other mums bring extra snacks, craft activities and games, one even taught a dance routine last year! In preparation for the party we’ve started doing some Halloween crafts at home and making some things to decorate the house with for the party.

We were sent a pack of four Halloween lanterns to make from Baker Ross. They have a really interesting selection of Halloween crafts to make and I particularly like the “day of the dead” themed crafts which might be more enjoyable for older children.

There were four different designs of spooky lanterns in the pack on different coloured card. The designs were punched out of the card and we needed to push out the design and glue the “stained glass” tissue paper on the inside of the lantern windows. This was really easy and good practice for little fingers doing a semi-fiddly job.

My top tip would be to fold the creases of the spooky lanterns where they have been scored before you start gluing and sticking, if you pre-fold them so they’re ready it makes things much easier later on.

halloween crafts

Once you’ve glued the tissue paper stained glass into place you should leave it to dry for a few hours. Then the instructions say to glue the flap on the lantern in place to create the box shape. We glued ours, but in the future I’d probably use double sided sticky tape – much easier, quicker and less sticky. 

Once the glue is dry, following the instructions, fold the lantern together and affix the stick and glittery string. You can pop an LED tea-light in if you like, but I think it looks rather fab on its own. We’ll make the rest of the lanterns and hang them from the ceiling for our party! 

The boy really enjoyed making these with me. The instructions were clear, but he did need a grown up to help guide him and to do some of the tricky folding. He loved the result though and proudly showed off his lantern to everyone who would look. This was a great Halloween craft activity, something different for us to do which we both enjoyed!

Autumn Crafts – Make your own Autumn wreath

We went for a little walk yesterday around the park and we looked at all the different colours of the leaves. It was a mellow, autumnal day, still warm but with a slight seasonal dampness. The slow death of summer and the beginnings of decay were all around us. It was a good chance to talk about change and the seasons. Inspired by this we came home and made an autumn wreath. It was really simple and lots of fun to do. Why don’t you have a go too?

autumn wreath

You will need:
One paper plate
Orange paint (plus paintbrush etc)
Leaf foam stickers
A short piece of ribbon or string
Sticky tape
Scissors

A few days before our walk we painted our paper plates orange, we had to give them a couple of coats of paint and we left them to dry. Once they were dry I cut out the inside of the plate, leaving a ring which we could decorate.

We sat down with our packet of leaf foam stickers from Baker Ross (currently available at a bit of a bargain price), and got sticking. The pack contains six assorted leaf designs in autumnal shades. Which gave us another chance to talk about leaves, autumn and the seasons.

Once we’d decorated our autumn wreath to our satisfaction, I cut a loop of ribbon and stuck it to the back of the paper plate ring with sticky tape, and we proudly hung our autumn wreath up on the wall.

It’s a really, really simple craft activity, but I think the result is quite effective and it’s a lovely way to brighten up the house a bit now the nights are beginning to get shorter. Roll on Christmas! (Too soon?)

Autumn Crafts – Painting Hedgehog Tealight Holders

It may be September, but the world has suddenly slipped into autumn. Autumn is one of my favourite seasons, full of mellow fruitfulness, crunchy leaves and an excuse to get our open fire lit and roaring. The small boy and I have been noticing the changes around us on our walks, the berries in the hedgerows, the acorns and conkers starting to fall from the trees and the busy squirrels stocking up for the lean winter months. This lead us to start talking about hibernation and the snuffling, shuffling hedgehogs which we rarely see by often read about.

We were sent a box of ceramic hedgehog tealight holders to paint from craft company Baker Ross, so one afternoon after our autumnal walk we sat down and painted them up.

Hedgehog Tealight Holders

The box contained four plain white ceramic hedgehog tealight holders and we used some paint which we were sent to decorate them. A box of four ceramic hedgehog tealight holders currently costs just £4.40, which I think is good value and you can paint them up as presents for people.

Hedgehog Tealight Holders

I chose to paint mine blue with multi-coloured spots and the small boy wanted to paint his black and red. As you can see from the picture he was really focussed on the task and he sat and painted his hedgehog for about half an hour or so. This is a great craft activity which works to strengthen his hand muscles, improve his hand-eye co-ordination and his attention to detail.

Hedgehog Tealight Holders

While we were painting we chatted away about hedgehogs and I looked up a few hedgehog facts for him. Did you know….?

  • A baby hedgehog is called a hoglet
  • Each hedgehog has about 5000 spiky spines, each one falls out after about a year
  • Hedgehogs hibernate in the winter, they eat as much as they can and then find a cosy nest to curl up in for the winter around October
  • A hedgehog is nocturnal and only comes out at night to forage for food
  • A hedgehogs favourite food is slugs – yukky!

Hedgehog Tealight Holders

Here are our finished hedgehog tealight holders. We’re very proud of them. They were easy to paint and I think they look really good. Despite my initial thought that the black and red hedgehog might look a bit gothic, I think he’s managed to create quite an interesting effect. He’s incredibly proud of his creation and loved to show it off to visitors and enjoys me lighting it at night.

Rugby World Cup Crafts

The Rugby World Cup begins on 18th September and whilst for me the excitement might pass me by, for the boys in my life this is a time of odd-shaped-ball delight. Don’t get me wrong, I live next door to a rugby club and I realise there’s much to admire about this noble sport (mainly thighs), so I’m happy to get involved in a bit of pre-tournament joy. To celebrate the Rugby World Cup, the boy and I sat down to make some Rugby World Cup Crafts.

We used the Rugby Coaster Kits from Baker Ross. These kits contain colourful printed foam coasters and foam stickers which you can make rugby themed coasters with. You can get them in packs of 6 or 18 coasters and they’d be a good craft to do for any rugby fan, world cup or not!

Everything you need to make the coasters is in the pack, which is helpful, as there’s nothing worse than sitting to do a craft and discovering you need something extra to complete it.

Rugby World Cup Crafts

The coasters are pre-printed so you know where to stick your stickers, but if you wanted to free-style it you could just turn the coaster over to the blank side and design your own creation.

We started by writing our names on our personalised coasters, this is good practice for him, he starts school this month and has been practising writing over the summer. I decided to make a coaster for Daddy to put his beer soft drink on while he watched the Rugby World Cup. 

We then set to work sticking the foam stickers on the coaster. This is great to improving his dexterity and hand strength as popping the foam stickers out of the sheet and peeling off the backing can be quite fiddly for little fingers, he enjoyed the challenge and did rather well with it all.

Tip: Whenever we do something involving peeling little bits of backing paper off I always make sure there is a bowl to put out rubbish in, it stops the kitchen being covered in tiny bits of paper and it’s much quicker to tidy up, plus it encourages the small boy to be a bit more considerate with his mess.

Rugby World Cup Crafts

As you can see he enjoyed making his Rugby World Cup coaster. It kept us both busy and focussed on the task in hand for half an hour and he’s rather proud of his creation.