It's nearly Halloween - EEEEK! Time to get crafty with the boy...

We were walking through the park the other day and I was looking at a holly bush, and it got me thinking... wouldn't they make fantastic bat wings? 

So we picked some (well I picked some - Matthew wasn't keen on the prickles) and took them home. I found an old cardboard tube and cut some lengths off, folded over the tops to make ears, and then we painted everything black. One of us was more interested in painting their face and hands black. (It wasn't me.)

Once they were dry, we made some holes in the tube to poke the holly stalks through, and stuck some googly eyes on (you can rely on us to use googly eyes - every time). 

They are a bit too prickly to play with, but they make fab Halloween decorations - we have three of them in a line up on a shelf in the kitchen. Looking suitably batty. 
Matthew has started school (*gulp*) so we're in the strange limbo of settling-in weeks, trying to find stuff to do on our half days. This morning we took a rainy walk in the park looking for conkers and things. 

We found these baby pine cones, picked a few and discovered that when you take them off the tree a little halo of pine needles comes off with them too - how cute is that! They were just asking to have eyes stuck on. So we did. Then we got them to stand up by sticking them onto drawing pins. 

They'd also make rather wonderful coconut trees, don't you think? 
So the summer holidays have begun and we've come to the end of our crafty sessions at The Little House in the Park (*sob*). But we're still making stuff at home - and these are our latest creations. 

I had some air-drying clay in the cupboard so we got it out one morning and had a bit of a play. Matthew used some rubber moulds (from Ikea) to make fish and hearts. When the clay was dry we popped them out of the moulds and painted the hearts gold and the fish with glow-in-the-dark paint, sprinkled with glitter. When the paint was dry we glued magnets onto the back to make them into fridge magnets that we can give as presents. 

I made the thumb pots while Matthew was playing with the clay, and when they were dry I painted them with white and metallic enamel paints. 

Shiny happy clay crafts. 
This is something my husband did with Matthew the other day and it kept them both amused for ages, so I thought I'd share.

First Matthew carefully selected which toys he wanted to take photos of, then they arranged them and took the photos. Next they edited them with different colour effects, then printed and trimmed them, and put them in the frame. Plenty there to engage small people. 

We happened to have this slide puzzle picture frame knocking about (and that works really well for added interactivity) - but any frame would do and they would also make good cards. 

We have it up in our kitchen but I'm thinking of doing something similar for Matthew's bedroom because he loves it so much. 
Last week's session at The Little House in the Park was all about eyes, to tie in with the latest exhibition at the Holburne Museum

The activity that Matthew and I loved most was the printing - proper printing with blocks, rollers and printing ink. I did a printmaking course years ago and had forgotten how satisfying it is when you peel the paper back and reveal your bold print.

We made the blocks by cutting out and gluing bits of cardboard and paper straws onto some thick card. When the glue had dried we rolled ink on and then pressed the paper on top. 

Most people are unlikely to have proper printing kit at home, but this works pretty well just with normal paint too, applied with a brush or sponge. In fact that's now on my ever-growing list of things to try with the boy... 
We were back at The Little House in the Park on Friday, celebrating the summer solstice with some seriously sunny crafts.

First we used fabric paints and pens on yellow t-shirts to make summer tops. Sorry, you really can't see in this picture but think yellow/orange/red paints with printing blocks of suns etc and you get the idea. All the kids loved doing their t-shirts - so easy to do. Just a shame I let Matthew wear his later when he was eating spaghetti bolognese for tea... *sigh*

The collage on a stick is meant to be the sun (clearly). It would have worked better if I'd cut the gold card into more of a sun shape first but frankly I was just feeling too lazy.

To make the poppy, first we got a cotton wool ball and spiked it on top of a willow stick. Then we wrapped some black material over it with a rubber band, and tied some wispy bits of black wool around for the stamen. The petals are four pieces of red crepe paper, sort of stretched at the top and taped at the bottom. Then we got a long thin strip of green crepe paper and wound it round and round the stick to make the stalk. Looks pretty good, I think. 

But my favourite thing is the simplest - the oily sun that Matthew's holding up. We cut sun shapes out of orange sugar paper and then just painted oil onto them - not all over but in dabs. When you hold it up to the light it's so effective - you can just about see in this pic. Now I'm trying to think what else might work well using this oily technique. Hmm... Any ideas? 
I've made a series of enamel wall panels based on some drawings of railings. I really love looking at all the railings when I'm walking around Bath. Some of them are incredibly ornate and elaborate, but I like the rows of uniform, plainer ones too. 

Hoping to have some of these on display at the Totterdown Art Trail in Bristol this November. 
First of all, need to say this is not my own idea (nor was it made at The Little House in the Park) - but it's so damn cute I just had to share. 

We went to a children's activity last week, run by Kidzfun as part of Bath Fringe Festival. It was all about magical creatures - lots of small children running through bubbles pretending to be unicorns, that kind of thing. Worth going just for the experience of being in the wonderful Spiegeltent

Anyway at the end of the session we were given a little cardboard door to decorate. The idea is that you stick it on your skirting board and that's the door that the fairies use. Now clap your hands if you believe in fairies...
I've been trying to think of more loo roll craft ideas, and have come up with this nice easy project - a bird finger puppet. 

Dead simple - take your loo roll and bend the edges of one end over, to make the ears. Then cut finger holes at the other end. After painting, stick on eyes and nose of your choice (I would have made a big pointy beak out of card or something, personally, but Matthew wanted to use a jewel sticker, and it is his puppet after all), and then add feathers (we made holes and pushed them in). 

Here are some other ideas for loo roll finger puppets... 

- other animals: lions, rabbits, dogs, jellyfish would work particularly well
- monsters: you could really go wild here and stick all kinds of bits and pieces on to make fantastical creatures 
- robots: add the finishing touch with silver foil or silver paint
Matthew's really into castles at the moment, partly because of Mike the Knight on CBeebies (which has a particularly irritating theme tune that stays lodged in your head all day) and partly because we visited a couple of castles on holiday last month. 

We're going to get him a play castle for his birthday, but in the meantime I thought we could have bash at making one using loo rolls. 

So to make the towers, I cut out notches all round the top of four loo rolls, and then we folded the leftover bits down to make battlements. Then I made cuts all round the bottom of the loo rolls and we splayed them out for gluing later. I also cut two long slots up two sides of each loo roll. 

For the walls I cut up pieces of cardboard box and then fitted them into the loo roll slots. We cut a doorway before gluing the splayed bottoms of the loo roll towers onto a base of stiff card. 

We painted the castle (purple, obviously), and then when that was dry we painted the base. We found a rainbow sticker for the crest over the door, and some bits of material to make flags (glued round toothpicks).

You could easily adapt this basic design to make more complex layouts with more/taller towers and walls.