Thursday, 28 May 2020

Egg carton foxgloves

It's foxglove time of year again, and I love the way they self-seed and pop up randomly in the garden - in the weirdest places sometimes. They're biennials, so they don't flower their first year, but make up for it (with bells on!) the second year.

Egg carton cones are perfect for the shape of the bell-like flowers - add some paint, a few green pipe cleaners and paper leaves, and you have foxgloves to enjoy all year round!

You will need:

10 egg carton cones (2 x dozen cartons or 5 x half-a-dozen cartons)
4 long Pipe cleaners (ours were about 30cm) + 1 for attaching the leaves
Sheet green paper (or plain painted)

1. Roughly cut the middle cones from the cartons.

2. You need to vary the size of the cones - so two big, two a little smaller, the next two smaller again and so on. So you have five sets of two. But honestly, each set of two doesn't have to be exactly the same! As long as all of them range from big to small that's fine.

(Easiest I think to cut them all out the same first - so cut around each cone, just above the bumpy cardboard join and then put two cones aside, and mark the others with a pencil in sets of two, getting a little closer to the cone top each time)

3. Next, you need to angle your foxglove bells, so you can see inside.

Draw a straight pencil line across one side of a cone, roughly a cm or so above the bottom edge, and then join the ends of this pencil line to the two back corners with a diagonal line.

Cut out. Do the same for all ten.

4. Painting time next, and we used a mix of purple, pink and white, to paint each cone, and then brushed white paint around the edge and dots of white inside. It helped to have a real foxglove bell to look at, but you could also use an online photo.

5. When the painted was dry, we added some green paint on the pointy end, but this is an optional step.

6. You will need four pipe-cleaners for this bit - ours were about 30cm long. Keep one aside and cut the other three into three roughly equal pieces (of about 10cm)

Wind one end of the uncut pipe-cleaner around itself to make a kind of knot (so it doesn't slip through the hole), and thread through one of the smallest cones.

(Our cones already had holes on top, you may have to make holes, nails scissors are good for this, or place the cone on a piece of old modelling clay, with the pointy end on the clay, and push a sharp pencil/pen or knitting needle through the inside of the cone, so it pierces through the top. Take care though, as the card can be thin here, and don't make the holes too big)

7. Do the same with all the other smaller pieces of pipe-cleaner.

8. Now, wind each bell onto the long pipe-cleaner, going from small to large.

First, hold the other smallest cone about 2cm or so below the top flower, and out to one side. When you're happy with the position, wind the short pipe-cleaner tightly around the stem. Then hold one of the next size cones JUST below the one you've done, facing to the other way, and wind the short pipe-cleaner tightly around the long stem again.

9. A few cms below, add the next two (in order of size) in the same way, and repeat, until you have three cones remaining.

You want to get these three to be close to each other.

So, do as you've done before, add the next size a few cms below the two above, and bend it so it's facing the opposite way from the last one you attached.

Then add the next one JUST below it, but make this one face forward. Add the last cone JUST below this one, facing the other other direction, winding the pipe-cleaners as you go.

Here you can see what it looks like underneath the bottom three.

And here, how it looks from behind - see the gaps between each set of cones.

10. You will need to move the cones around now - twist any that have moved, so you can see inside, and angle them downwards. Bend one of the bells just above the bottom row more into the middle, so it's more in line with the middle cone on the bottom row. This makes the foxglove look fuller.

11. It would help if you fold the bottom of the pipe-clear up to meet the ends of the pipe-cleaners attached to the bottom flowers. We didn't do this, but it should help make the stem sturdier.

If you don't want to add leaves, wrap a pipe-cleaner tightly around the stem from near the bottom of the flowers to the end, folding in and winding around the pointy tip. Cut off any pipe-cleaner left over.

12. If you do want leaves, don't add the last pipe-cleaner yet. Fold a piece of green paper in half. (Or a plain paper and paint green after)

Draw a long thin shaped leaf and cut out so you end up with two the same.

Wrap the last pipe-cleaner tightly around the stem, to cover the ends of the pipe-cleaners attached to the bottom flowers. (We didn't have another dark green one, but the different colour helps show up the winding!)

13. Once you're clear of the bottom of the flowers, wrap the very end of one leaf around the stem and then wrap the pipe-cleaner tightly around it, to hold it in place. Just below, do the same with the other leaf.

14. Keep winding until you get to the bottom of the stem.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Pretty toilet paper roll butterflies!

I love butterfly crafts, and this is a very straightforward one. A great excuse to use lots of bright colours too!

You will need:
Toilet paper rolls
Paints (we used bottles of poster paints)
Pipe cleaner

1. Paint your tubes first. To get a really nice mix of bright colours, put two or three blobs of colours that work well together on different plates (ones that don't make sludgy brown when mixed!). 

Like yellow and red, blue and white, or blue and yellow, green and yellow, yellow and pink, or blue, pink and white. White added to any of these colour combos looks great. We had some ready mixed purple too, which looked lovely with the pink and the blue.

This is a great way for kids to experiment with colour mixing, using a simple palette of complementary colours. Give them a big brush to paint with (we often use a pastry brush) - this helps with the mixing and with speed.. and then let them loose!

We painted the inside of the tubes as well, but you really don't need to. Works just as well without.

Mixing up the complementary colours gives a lovely marbly or sort of tie-dye effect. But if you wanted to do stripes of colours instead, or add some dots, that's totally up to you!

2. When the paint is dry, flatten a tube with your hand and press along the creases, so it's easier to draw on.

3. Use a pencil to mark the outline of your butterfly - for the butterfly body, mark about 3cm/1in along the crease, on the left-hand-side. To get the proportions of the top and bottom wings right, we drew this body line a little closer to the bottom of the tube than the top.

(As a guide, our TP roll was about 10cm, the body line starts 4cm from the top of the tube, and finishes roughly 3cm from the bottom of the tube.

Draw a curved line from the top of the body line to the top right-hand corner.

Make a pencil mark halfway down the body line on the LHS.

Draw a straight line from the right-hand edge towards this mark, but leave a gap (of about 2cm).

From the end of this line in the centre of the tube, draw a big curve down to the bottom right-hand corner.

Then, from the bottom of the body line on the LHS, draw another sweeping curve towards the same corner, but for fuller bottom wings, don't take this line right to the corner, stop a little before. See photo below.

4. Cut out your butterfly, cutting through the doubled-over card.  With the middle section, it's easier if you cut along the straight line first, then cut along the curve below, starting at the bottom right-hand corner.

5. Cut away a little sliver of the top wing crease. Cut it at a slight angle. See below.

Don't cut off too much!

6. Open up your butterfly. The natural curve of the tube makes a lovely shape.

7. Bend a pipe-cleaner in half and hook it around the middle of your butterfly.

Twist the two pieces together to fasten, then wrap one tightly around the other, to make a head.

When you're happy, decide how long you want the antennae to be and trim the pipe-cleaners, allowing a little extra if you want to bend over the pointy tips so they're not so sharp. Bend into shape.

8. We made so many butterflies we needed somewhere to put them! So we painted some old cardboard packaging brown (you could leave it its natural colour) and cut out a tree trunk and some branches.

We glued them all onto some brown wrapping paper with pva craft glue. But didn't stick down the very ends of the branches, so they stuck out a bit.

Then attach a paper clip to the pipe-cleaner on the underside of a butterfly and clip this onto the end of a branch.

If you don't want to be able to remove them, you could of course glue the butterflies onto the tree.

Monday, 11 May 2020

Flower Power! Collection of flower crafts for kids

Making flowers out of ordinary stuff you can find at home is one of the most satisfying and joyful crafts to do with kids. And the added bonus is they make great Mother's Day or Valentines gifts!

I've gathered a few of my favourite flower crafts here. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Click on the links for the full tutorials.

We got so carried away with these! Very addictive. The house was covered in colourful paper flowers.  Very handy for collages and making cards.

Just one toilet paper roll needed. We made the flowers with tissue paper... sticking pieces on the stems and then scrunching them up so they looked more flower like.

Then we tried paper hearts, which look like tulips!

This meadow scene is simple too - just some zigzag cuts in a toilet paper roll to make the grass, then add any flowers or wildlife you like. You could add things you spotted on a walk, so your little scene tells a story.

Then there's the classic egg carton flowers. You can't go wrong with them. The cups and the cones from an egg carton are perfect for flower shapes.

Here's our Spring Flower Posy

And a sweet bouquet of roses

Egg carton cups are also great for making poppies.

egg carton poppy wreatn

This little bouquet of roses made from cereal box card, paper and an egg carton cone makes a sweet little fridge magnet.

These Tissue Paper Peonies are fun to do and look so pretty.

Printing flowers with stuff you already have at home is a great activity, and perfect for making cards for Mums or loved ones. You can do potato printing, use a toilet paper roll pressed flat to make a petal shape, or you could try some bubble-wrap flowers.

wisteria - bubblewrap art

cow parsley - bubblewrap printing

and last but not least, a tiny bouquet of flowers made from an egg carton cone, just the thing for a doll's house!