Back in the enamelling workshop for some grown-up adventures: making a button for an exhibition called The Button Project, up in Macclesfield.

So here is my finished piece. I started with two layers of gold flux, and then painted a couple of layers of liquid black enamel on top. It proved quite hard to fire for just the right amount of time - long enough so that the black fused without sinking into the thick flux underneath. I like how the black has a matt finish while the gold is really shiny - also the black is raised so it's quite a tactile piece. 

Anyway, in case you didn't guess... I'm calling it the Power Button. 
Ever since Matthew's first rapturous encounter with a hole punch, I've been trying to think of a nice crafty activity we could channel this passion into. Hm. 

Recently I bought some A5 self-laminating pouches and have been wondering what I could use them for. Hm. 

Bingo! I present you with: self-laminated dotty pictures. I did the shape cutting (obviously. He's 3), and Matthew did the hole punching and thereafter scattering of the dots. It was surprisingly tricky getting the pouches to seal without lumps and stray dots, but by about the fourth one we had it down. 

I think they look pretty good but... that sunflower is a bit rubbish, isn't it. Good excuse to have another go sometime. 
We have a surfeit of pipe cleaners in the house. A glut. An embarrassment of pipe cleaners. I don't know how it happened, but we should probably start using them instead of hoarding them (not sure what kind of situation I've been envisaging in which shedloads of pipe cleaners would save the day?). 

Thought it would be fun to experiment with making animal finger puppets - here are the results. An octopus (actually an octo-alien - he has two more eyes at the back, Matthew was quite insistent about it), a bird and a butterfly. 

I reckon the possibilities are endless though, really, depending on a) how adventurous you're feeling and b) the dexterity of the little fingers you're working with. How about trying mice, rabbits, frogs, lions, elephants... dinosaurs...? 

This week's session at The Little House in the Park was all about Chinese New Year - tomorrow marks the start of the Year of the Snake. So we went snake crazy.

The one on the right is your classic paper plate snake - covered in tissue paper and cut in a spiral. This one has a separate head glued on and is tied to a stick for extra springy fun - Matthew held it on the way home and it twirled round and round in the wind in a very pleasing way. 

The one on the left is a felt bracelet snake, made by Matthew's grandma, who came with us this week (there is NO WAY I would have been able to make that one during the session... far too busy trying to prevent Claygate). I think it involved winding lots of bits of wool round and then glueing a felt face on top. Seemed to keep her happy anyway. 

The clay snake is all Matthew's own work and he's very proud of it. It's just a shame it keeps breaking into bits. His dad looked at all the pieces bemusedly and said "Oh. You made poo at The Little House today."

We made the two little pipe cleaner snakes when we got back home (obviously couldn't get enough of the whole snake thing). Just two pipe cleaners twisted together with - yes - googly eyes stuck on. 

Happy Chinese New Year! 
Back at The Little House in the Park yesterday for some wonderfully waxy crafts to mark Candlemas (today). 

We rolled beeswax candles, did wax-resist paintings and decorated glass jars to make candle holders. But Matthew's favourite activity by far was the candle dipping (because of the danger element, no doubt). He loves these little colourful candles and has been quite obsessed with them since we got home. In fact as I type he's sitting here with them clutched tightly in his hot little hands. It's not going to end well.  

We did a lovely activity at the end of the session, transforming a big tray of water into a magical pool with greenery, rocks, shells, fairy lights and glitter, then floating walnut shell candles and singing wintry and boaty songs. I love The Little House in the Park. *sigh*