I cleared out some boxes recently and stumbled upon an old riso screen from my days at Bristol School of Art, made from a drawing of red cabbage. Aha, I thought. Just the thing for making some tiles for the Widcombe Art Trail. So that's what I did.

I'm also working on a bigger piece to submit to the Bath Society of Artists Summer Exhibition... watch this space.

Widcombe Art Trail is on 18 and 19 May - we'll be exhibiting at the Paragon School. 
May Day! May Day! Oh OK, it's a bit late, but that was the theme for Friday's session at The Little House in the Park, and we're feeling extremely springy here in sunny Bath this Bank Holiday weekend. 

All of these things - giant flower, May crown and spring streamer stick - are pretty straightforward and self-explanatory really, so I won't go into lots of explanation about how we made them this time. 

It was such a lovely afternoon. At the end we took all the crafts outside into the garden and danced round a maypole, singing traditional songs. It got a bit much for some of the children after a while and we ended up in a big tangly hysterical mess. One of my favourite days at The Little House ever. 
Back at The Little House in the Park today for the first time in ages. We started off in the Holburne Museum to get inspiration from the Painted Pomp exhibition (early 1600s art and fashion), before heading back to the Little House to make some Elizabethan accessories - a fan and some shoe pom-poms. 

To make the fan we printed with gold paint onto pre-cut paper, and when it was dry we folded it, used decorative cutters round the edge, then glued sticks of gold card (with holes at one end) onto the back, using a paper fastener to hold it all together at the bottom. 

The pom-poms are made from lengths of netting folded in half, tied off with a rubber band, and poked through a hole in a small doily. We added silver decorations with paper fasteners, then tied netting under the doily for attaching to shoes. Oh man these pom-poms are cute - Matthew asked me to tie them to his slippers when we got home and he's been prancing about like a dandy ever since.
I was in a multicoloured lolly sticks kind of mood today - luckily we have a bumper pack of them in the cupboard. Phew. 

For the porcupine card, I cut a body shape out of orange card and then we glued that and the orange sticks onto the blue card, added a googly eye and coloured in the nose. 

The monsters on sticks couldn't be easier to make - just wrap pipe cleaners around sticks in whatever shape you fancy and add googly eyes (we used extra big fluffy pipe cleaners). Matthew's passion for googly eyes apparently knows no bounds. 

For the tulips, we painted some bits of card first (quite subtle here but you could go wild), cut out the petal shapes when they were dry, and glued them onto green sticks. The vase is an empty plastic vanilla essence bottle with its top cut off. Matthew took ages decorating it with dotty stickers in an impressively painstaking way. Blimey. This is new. 
It's nearly Easter, so no big surprises here: it's all about the bunnies and eggs this week. 

The woolly egg is something we made at The Little House in the Park. You need a partially blown up balloon, lengths of wool in different colours, and some watery glue. Just dunk the wool in the glue and wrap it round the balloon in lots of layers. When it's all dry, pop the balloon, and voila! A woolly egg. I think we could have done with using a smaller balloon and more wool, but it's still pretty effective and I love this idea. Wonder if it would work with balloon animals...? 

For the card we used paint pens, which dry in really nice pastel shades. Matthew did loads of painting on different bits of paper and then I cut out some egg shapes from them which we stuck onto cream card.

The bunny ears are just cotton wool glued onto pink card cut and folded into ear shapes, then taped onto an alice band. I had to use quite a lot of tape to keep them upright - anyone have any tips about this? 

Anyway - Happy Easter. May your eggs be of the highest quality chocolate. 
Last week at The Little House in the Park we did some book-related crafts, to mark the end of Bath's Literature Festival. The Very Hungry Caterpillar was a good choice - everyone knows it, the story is nice and simple, and there are lots of colourful pictures to draw inspiration from. 

First we made a lovely big butterfly, by blobbing lots of paint on one side of some thick folded paper and then pressing the two sides together to make a mirror print. We cut the shape out when it was dry, and added a pipe cleaner body.

Next we stuffed a stripey sock with scrunched up tissue paper, tied it with wool, and added googly eyes and pipe cleaner antennae to make a caterpillar puppet. (This is Matthew's favourite: he likes bouncing it round the house doing squeaky caterpillar voices and finding new places to hang it.)

Finally, we made our own interactive version of the book. We started with a thin paint wash over both sides of a long strip of folded paper, and when that was dry we stuck the fruit on and cut out holes. The cover of the book is a green felt leaf with a pipe cleaner caterpillar nestled inside ready to take out and weave through the holes. 
We had a busy old session at The Little House in the Park last week. The theme was boxes and we had to make three - one large, one medium and one small - all decorated differently and all with little creatures inside. Gulp.  

I didn't think we were going to get any of it done as Matthew made a beeline for the clay (as usual), but eventually I managed to tempt him over to look at the marbling tray and that got him hooked. 

The boxes are just folded paper (here is a step-by-step tutorial, which uses the same technique). The large one is decorated with collage, the medium one is marbled, and Matthew drew on the small one with crayons. 

Inside the large box is a butterfly made from tissue paper, netting and pipe cleaners; there is a woolly pipe cleaner spider in the middle box; and the two bees in the smallest box are made from netting wings glued onto tiny pine cones wrapped round with yellow wool. 

The most amazing thing - apart from the fact that we actually got them all made (with time to SPARE even) - is that these are all still intact (so far). Matthew likes opening them, saying hello to the little creatures, then closing them again carefully and going on his way. Unprecedented. 
I was trying to think of something fun we could make with paper plates, and came up with this - paper plate picture frames. 

Really straightforward - just paint your design onto the plate, cut a circle out, and tape your picture to the back. We had these Simpsonised photos of ourselves kicking around so decided to do a set of three to hang in a row (fixed together with taped pipe cleaners). Matthew really enjoyed making them and is delighted with the result (so am I!). 

Here are some more ideas: 

- create a pattern with sticky mosaic tiles or beads
- make a collage with tissue paper, petals or lengths of pipe cleaner radiating out
- (for older children) write out a poem or passage from a book in a spiral round the edge
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.