Monday, 14 October 2019

Simple shape potato printing for Halloween!

potato printing

I'm LOVING potato printing! And there's so much you can do with simple shapes. Perfect for pictures, decorations and cards, and fun for all ages. The theme here is Halloween, but I'll definitely be trying out some other ideas in the run up to Christmas.

Triangles pop up a fair bit! For the witch, cut your potato in half and draw on a triangle. 

Score the triangle - a sharp knife is best, but if your mini-maker wants to do it, it should score with an ordinary cutlery knife. Hold the potato steady for them.

Either cut right down through the potato on the score lines, so you end up with a triangle on the bottom and a chunky bit of pototo to hold onto on top (this might be easier for little ones) 

Or, slice away slivers of potato up to the score lines, to define the triangle - this needs to be done with something sharp so should be done by an adult.

For the witch's face, score a line across the triangle, a few cms from the tip and another about a cm below it.

For this print we brushed on the paint so we could make her face green. Don't put too much paint on or it will squidge around the edges.

When the paint is dry use a black pen to add a wicked witchy face, and a brim for her hat.

We used the side of a piece of coffee stirrer and a mix of yellow and orange paint to print on a broomstick.

The ghost also starts off as a triangle. Draw and score as before. This time it's probably best to cut away slivers up to the score line, to define the triangle - though you could completely cut away the sides again if you want.

Once the triangle is defined, draw and score a line to round off the top of the triangle, then slice up to the score line. Draw and score a zigzag along the bottom and cut across the potato, up to the score line again.

As it's one colour printing, you could make your own stamp. Soak a piece of thin, damp kitchen sponge in some white paint. We put ours in a small recycled clear plastic pot, then you can pop the lid back on to stop the paint drying out too fast. But when you've finished printing let the sponge air dry (it could eventually get mouldy if it stays wet) and just wet with water and add more paint when you want to use again.

Or you could brush on a layer of paint.

When dry use a black pen to draw on a hauntingly spooky face.

For the pumpkin, the shape is there already! You can either carve a face or simply print the round shape and add a face when the paint is dry.

We cut out small triangles for eyes and a nose, and a semi circle for the mouth.

The bat is made from two small triangle shapes. First, draw and score a thin triangle, curve the base inwards, score and cut away.

The second triangle should be a similar size, but wider - use the curved edge of your potato for one of the sides.

Print the narrow triangle first, tip pointing down, this is your bat's body. 

Use the other triangle for the wings - print two either side, overlapping them and make sure the curved edge is at the top.

Dot on some yellow paint for eyes and when dry, add a black centre with the pen.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, 9 September 2019

Fishy business - egg carton fish

egg carton fish

Fish made from egg cartons. Two of my favourite things! I have fish plates, tiles, pictures, crafts all over the house - a fish mobile I made from copper wire, beads and shells years ago is still doing the rounds on Pinterest, so there's obviously a lot of other people who like fish too. And I think if you've popped by here before, you know how I feel about egg cartons! 

egg carton fish

This craft is very similar to the stacking croc and lizard, except easier, because you don't need to hunt for quite so many egg cartons..

You will need:
At least 2 egg cartons
Craft glue
Tin-foil (optional)
Black pen

1. For the smaller fish you will need four egg carton cones. Cut them out roughly first, then more neatly, above the bumpy card join, so you end up with an even edge.

2. Then shorten three of them by about 1 cm - do it by eye, it doesn't have to be exact - the most important thing is that the three shorter ones are about the same height. 

3. Paint the cones whatever colour you'd like your fish to be. A good tip for painting cones is to slot one on top of a spare, roughly cut out cone, so you have something to hold onto while you paint, and hands get less messy. That's the theory!

4. Brush glue inside the larger cone (fish head) and push the bottom end of one of the smaller cones into it.

5. Brush some glue inside another cone and slot it over the top. You could push this right up to the front cone, or leave a little of the one underneath showing.

6. For the tail, take the remaining cone and cut triangles out of each side, going from corner to corner and close to the top of the cone. (You could paint the inside of this cone too, for a better finish) it has a bluebell or snowdrop look...

7. Flatten the top part of the tail with your finger, and the end of the fish where the tail is going to go, and glue together. We found the best way to get the glue to set was to place our fish upright, on its tail, propped up against something so it didn't fall over.

8. Use the triangles you've cut out for the fins. Shorten and trim if you need to, and glue just being the head cone. Dot on eyes with a black pen.

9. For a larger fish, the process is the same but you'll need 6 egg carton cones. This time keep two the original size and shorten the other four.

10. Stack and glue the larger cones together, so you can see part of the underneath cone, then glue and press the bottom end of one of the smaller cones inside.

11. Start stacking the smaller cones - again leave some of the joining cone showing, or push the next piece up to meet the front cones. Try to keep the spacing even with the tail-end cones, but doesn't need to be perfect.

12. Cut triangles out of the sides of the remaining tail cone, flatten the top and the end of the fish and glue together. For fins, glue two spare triangles just under the front cones. Trim the triangles if you like.

13. For shiny scales, we covered a few of our egg cones with tin foil. Just wrap a piece tightly around the cone, tucking it underneath.

egg carton fish

egg carton fish

 egg carton fish

Thursday, 29 August 2019

A snail called Mel that hides in his shell

Sometimes I know how I'd like a project to look at the end, but am not quite sure how to get there... This was one of those! 
We had a few interesting attempts at getting Mel the snail back into his egg carton shell, and this, I think, is the best one. 

You will need:
Egg carton
Sticky tape
Kebab skewer or cocktail stick
Cereal box card (optional)
Green paper (optional)
Glue (optional)

1. The thing about egg carton cups is that on the whole, it's impossible to cut them out neatly with  a nice even edge. Usually there will be two big gaps, where the cup joins onto the middle cone (yes, I spend way too much time looking at egg cartons!) 

On the LHS you'll see how most egg cups look when you've roughly cut them out, and on the RHS, a nice neat round one, the way you'd like them to look, but they aren't always so easy to find...and that's okay!

2. ...because I'm going to use the one on the left and make the most of its weird, gappy shape.

So, neaten around the top edge and simply cut out the messy joins, right down to the base of the cup. 

3. Then paint your shell whatever colour or colours you like. 

If you're using a kebab stick, cut or break it in half, snip off the pointy end and paint one end the colour of your snail shell.

4. For the snail's body, cut a strip of plain or coloured paper about 12cm long and roughly 1cm wide. Fold it in half, then place your stick in the crease, with about 1cm of the painted end sticking out. 

Get your little crafter to hold the stick steady while you cover the strip of paper with a piece of sticky tape (a bit longer than the paper strip). Start in the middle, so you get it nice and tight around the stick.

5. Snip the sticky tape either side of the stick/skewer, and on both sides of the paper strip (try not to cut through the paper), and carefully fold the sticky tape under the strip.

6. Cut off any extra bits of sticky tape at the ends and then make the tentacles by cutting down the strip (about 3cm), close to the edges on either side - fold the middle part back and snip it off.

The shiny sticky tape gives it a slippery, slidey look, which is perfect for a snail!

7. Now, fold the body in half, and tightly roll it around the stick a few times. When you let go it will unfurl a little.

8. Make a hole in the middle of your egg cup shell (use something like nails scissors - keep them closed to pierce the hole - place some modelling clay under the bottom of the cup, so you have something to push against).

Use a black pen to draw a shell swirl, starting from the hole.

9. Unfurl your snail body, feed it into the grooves, so the head and tentacles are pointing up, and push the end of the skewer stick into the hole.

The tail end needs to be snipped now, as it will be too long. When you're happy with the length, take the body out of the shell again and round off the end of the tail.

10. Make sure both ends are through the gaps, the stick is pushed in as far as it will go, and then twist the stick slowly, either way, and the snail will go back into his shell. 

You can simply hold the bottom part of the cup to do this, or blue tack the base of your snail to a table or other hard surface. You will need to take the stick out every time he's gone back into his shell, and thread the body through again, to repeat the action, but this is simple enough to do.

Occasionally wrap the body tightly around the stick again (step 7)


11. We made a little cardboard scene for our snail out of a piece of cereal box card.

We painted the top part blue, with splodges of white for the sky. When dry, get some green paper and cut long, spiky zigzags for grass. No need to cut the paper to size at this stage, just make sure you've cut enough grass! Rub glue stick or brush a thin layer of glue on the bottom half of the card.

Line the bottom of the grass up with the bottom of the blue and smooth the rest of the green paper over the sticky card. When it's dry, cut away the excess paper.

Fold the card at the grass base, glue the egg carton shell in front of the strands of grass, and when the glue is dry, stick another skewer through the hole in the shell, keeping it level with the base, and mark where it hits card. Make a small hole here. (Place a piece of modelling clay behind the card while you make the hole, so there's something to push against)

Now the scene is set! We added a few paper flowers, but do add whatever you like.

Either hold the scene in one hand while turning the stick, or blue tack it to a table. You will need to take the stick out to reset your snail. Bend the card back, remove the stick from the shell, unfurl, feed through the gaps, push the stick back in the hole, and you're ready to go again.