Thursday, 9 February 2017

Star Wars craft - Luke Skywalker and Han Solo

I've gone a bit old school with these Star Wars figures - they're the classic ones, but if you like, they can easily be adapted to make some of the more recent characters from Rogue One.

You'll need:
Egg carton
Craft scissors
Nail scissors or similar (optional)
Craft glue
Black felt-tip or gel pen
Blue/green straw
Black marker pen (like a Sharpie)

1. Roughly cut out two middle cones from the egg box so they're easier to work with. On one, draw a pencil line around the cone, just above the bumpy joins at the bottom.

2. The second cone is for the head, and you only need the very top part. Either estimate this, or use a pencil and ruler to mark about 1.5cm (1/2in.) from the top on all sides, join the marks and cut out. (If your cone has a hole in the top or you want an easier head option, see the tip at the bottom.)

On the body cone, lightly draw a pencil line around it, about half way up. Don't worry if the line is a little wobbly, it's just for guidance. 

3. Cut up the middle of one cone side to this pencil line, they wiggle and turn your scissors and cut along the line to the corner and just a little beyond.
Do the same on the other side so you've cut a 'T' shape.
Repeat this 'T' shape on the opposite side of the cone.

4. To form the legs, press the cut edges in the middle towards each other and squeeze each one into a more rounded shape. You should end up with what looks like an impressive pair of flares, which seems sort of appropriate!

4. For the arms, cut a thin strip of card from the egg carton lid that's about 5mm (1/4in.) wide and 6cm (21/2in.) long. Round it at the ends for the hands.

5. Either cut the arm strip in half after painting and glue the pieces either side, or, with adult supervision, use the nail scissors to make a hole in the middle of one of the arm sides (keep the scissors closed, press down and twist from side to side.)
Once you've made the hole, snip up to the top of the cone and down the other side. Cut an extra sliver out to widen the gap for the arms. Make sure the slot goes quite far down the body, so when you push the arm strip in, it sits below the top part of the cone (the head will be glued here later)

6. Now, painting time! 

For Luke Skywalker, keep the arms in and paint the body and legs white, and the bottom part of the legs brown for the boots. We gave him yellow/fair hair and made up a flesh colour with a little red, yellow, white and tiny dab of blue, for the face and hands.

7. For Han Solo, keep the arm strip out and paint it a creamy yellow and white colour and use this to paint a strip down the front of the body cone for his shirt. Paint the rest of the top part of the body dark brown (red, yellow and blue) and use this for his shoes too. Make his trousers and hair a lighter brown.

8. While the paint's drying, make a lightsaber for Luke from a blue or green straw. Cut off about 4cm (11/2in.) and colour the bottom end with the black marker pen. Cut small slits in this end so you can slot the lightsaber onto Luke's hand. For Han Solo's gun, colour about 1.5cm (1/2in.) of the straw with the black marker pen, cut this off and make slits as before.

9. When the paint is dry, use the fine black pen to draw on a face and add detail to the clothes and hair (see pics)
Slot Han Solo's arm strip back in (or is you've cut the strip in half, glue the arms either side). Glue the head on.  

Tip: For an easier head option, instead of using a cone, draw a oval head shape on a piece of spare egg carton card. Paint or colour this in with pencils or felt tips, cut out and stick near the top of the body cone.

If your egg cones have holes in the top, brush glue inside the cones and push a small piece of newspaper up to fill the hole.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Spot the difference?

So I've gone and done the thing you're generally advised not to do (again.. )

I did give the pros and cons of a name change a lot of thought though, and hope you'll bear with me! Apart from a bit of a facelift and adding some new social media buttons (too embarrassed to say how long that took), the other important stuff like the URL address is the same, because frankly the thought of starting all over again from scratch and attempting to move my content somewhere else is more than I can deal with at the moment. One step at a time I think.

A few might recognise the new name anyway? Several years back I did start a kids' craft blog called Jumble Tree, but then the books took over, my husband went back to Afghanistan and it got left out in the wilderness with the tumbleweed and all the other deserted blogs. So I stayed with A Patchwork Life, but my blog isn't such a patchwork these days, more of a one (or possibly two) trick pony - and I don't write posts about parenting anymore, now the kids are older. I also think my blog was probably a huge disappointment to people who thought I might have had some pearls of wisdom about quilting. The name was possibly a bit misleading...

Hopefully no such confusion with Jumble Tree - I love jumble of all kinds and it is a pretty good collective term for all the stuff I work with, whether that's old cardboard packaging or secondhand bits and bobs. The tree part I suppose represents growth, ideas and learning.

 The other big reason why I've made the change is because for some nuts reason, all my social media accounts have different names, so I'm going to try to make them all Jumble Tree. Hopefully this will make it easier to find me.

As with so many things, I should have done all this AGES ago.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Make Your Own Farm Animals - kids' craft book

kids craft book

A bit of a ta-dah! moment as this is the cover of my new craft book! Hope you like it. Doesn't come out for a bit, but I was sent an advance copy the other day, and although I've been through the instructions and the pictures more times than I care to remember, my heart was beating like the clappers when I opened it. Felt a sort of mix of excitement and a touch of terror that maybe I'd missed something important. Hopefully not! Suddenly it all feels a bit real. Some days that's good, some days I just worry what people will think.

When I'm not whipping myself up into an anxious frenzy I do feel so pleased with how the book's turned out - it's colourful, fun and packed full of farm projects all made from stuff that's easy to get hold of - just like Make Your Own Zoo. All you need to do really, is hang onto some recycling, and build up a small collection of egg boxes, cardboard tubes and cereal packets. Nearly everything in the book can be made from these three very ordinary bits of packaging.

Obviously the book's themed again like the last one, and everything works together, so you can keep adding to your farm, and it can all be played with after.

Make your own farm animals

I am proud of it, especially as there was a pretty quick turn around - less than a year. I came up with most of the projects over the summer, which wasn't always so easy as the kids were expecting to be entertained too. But actually they helped develop some of the ideas - I was a bit stuck on what to use for the bull's nose ring and my daughter cracked that one.

You'll find all the animals you'd expect on a farm, like cows, sheep, hens, pigs etc, and I made more buildings this time, as well as a tractor that took FOREVER, because I was absolutely determined to get it right.

My books are aimed at primary school aged children, to help keep that interest in craft and creating alive, especially now there are so many other distractions. And the projects really are great for grown ups and kids to make together. That precious time is harder to keep hold of these days too.

Make Your Own Farm Animals is out on the 14th March, but can be pre-ordered on Amazon now.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Cork bunny with a heart - Valentine's crafts for kids

Another cork craft idea inspired by my sizeable Christmas cork collection... from something fizzy this time! The shape at the top is perfect for a head, so we thought rabbit - and it would make a sweet present for Valentine's day, especially with a little message written on the heart.

You'll need:
A Champagne/cava cork
White paint (acrylic is best)
Red, pink and plain paper
Black felt-tip or gel pen
Pink felt tip pen (optional)
PVA/craft glue or a glue stick
Old Christmas/Birthday card (optional)

1. Paint the cork white, you may need a few coats - acrylic paint is best. While it's drying, fold a small piece of plain paper in half and draw half a long rabbit's ear on the fold. Make it about 6cm (21/2in long) and cut it out.

2. Before opening your ear up, place it on another folded piece of paper, lining up the folds and draw around it carefully. Cut out the second ear and open them both up - this is the quick way, and should keep the ears roughly the same size.

If you prefer, after cutting out one ear, open up and stick to some spare cereal box card, and when dry, cut out the ear to make an easier template to draw around. Keep the template for extra bunnies!
Use whatever method you find best.

3. For the pink ear middle the quick, easy option is to use a pink felt-tip pen. Draw an outline inside the white ear first, and then colour it in. We decided to use some pink paper. Fold it as in step 1, and draw a shorter (about 5cm/2in) and narrower ear shape that will fit inside the white one. Copy this, by following step 2, then rub glue stick or brush a thin layer of craft glue on the back of the pink pieces and glue them in the middle of the white ears.

4. Brush some glue on the bottom cm or so of the ears and fold them in half lengthways, pinching the glued bottom part so the sides stick together - then glue this bottom bit to the sides of your bunny's head. If they're slipping or popping off - lie on its side with a book leaning on the top ear.

5. While that's drying. cut out a strip for the arms - make it about 1cm wide (1/2in) and 8cm long (2in), though it might need to be longer if you have a big cork.

6. With a pencil, round off each end and cut carefully around the curve for the rabbit's paws.

7. Fold the arm strip in half to find the middle, and brush or rub some glue either side of the fold, leaving the arm ends glue-free. Stick the middle gluey part to the back of your bunny, in the groove just below the head.

8. Use a fine black felt-tip or gel pen to draw on a face - then, while pressing the ears where the attach to the head, use your free hand to press open the top part of the ear, so you can see the pink middles clearly and the ears look fuller.

9. Lightly fold another small piece of coloured paper in half and draw half a heart on the fold - make it roughly the same height as the bottom section of the cork, below the head. Try not to press too hard on the fold so there isn't a heavy crease line on the heart. Cut out and open up your heart shape. This is the time to add a Valentine's message if you want.

10. Dab some glue or rub glue stick on the paw ends on the inside, and attach one to one side of the heart (make sure the pointy part of the heart is roughly level with the base of the cork). Fold the paw around the edge of the heart, pinching together. Repeat on the other side, keeping as even as you can.

TIP: You could stick the paper heart to some spare cereal box card and when dry cut out to make a heart template. Use this to draw around on some old Christmas or Birthday cards to make a more patterned, colourful heart for your bunny to hold. 

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Cork lovebirds - Valentine's crafts for kids

I'm not a big fan of Valentine's day, but I am partial to a good hearty craft, and unlike most Valentine's stuff, it probably won't cost you! 
These little lovebirds certainly won't - they're made from corks (saved up over Christmas.. I have many.. ) They are quick and easy to do and can be turned into a useful gift, like a keyring or a fridge magnet. Love a useful craft. You could also write a little Valentine's message on the heart if you want to.

You'll need:
A cork
Coloured paper
Hole punch
Glue stick
Craft glue
Black felt tip or gel pen
Feather (optional)
Mini eye pin (optional)
Keyring (optional)
Small magnet (optional)
Strong all-purpose glue (optional) 

1. Paint the cork any colour you want. 

2. Fold a small piece of coloured paper in half and draw half a heart on the fold. You want it to be roughly half to two thirds the length of the cork - and make it narrow too. (We made the heart a bit bigger for the penguin)

 3. Carefully cut around the shape and open it up.

4. Rub glue stick on the back of the heart (or a thin layer of craft glue) and glue it to the cork with the point almost touching the bottom edge. Cut a strip of different coloured paper for the wings - make the width about two thirds the length of the cork. If you're making a penguin, leave out the wing strip.

5. Line the strip up with one side of the heart and the base of your bird and wrap the rest around the cork - cut away any extra paper where it touches the other side of the heart.

6. Rub glue stick on the top half of the strip only and glue in place, so the bottom of the wings stick out slightly.

7. For the eyes, use a hole punch to punch out some circles - rub a little glue stick where you want the eyes to go on the cork, wet your finger to help pick up the little circles and stick them in place.

 8. Use a black pen to add the pupils.

9. For the beak, cut out a small triangle from yellow or orange paper (or colour in some plain paper), rub glue stick just below the eyes, wet your finger to help pick up the triangle, and glue in place.

10. Paint on claws on the bottom edge with yellow paint and leave to dry.

11. To add a feathery head plume, make a hole on top by screwing in a small screw, nearer to the front. Take the screw out.

12. Choose a feather, dab a little glue on the pointy tip and push it into the hole.

13. To make it into a keyring, screw a mini eye pin (seen in step 11) into the top of your cork and attach a keyring. Or, for a fridge magnet, glue a small magnet to the back of your bird. Use strong all-purpose glue like UHU.

I got these little magnets on Ebay - they're a great size, weren't expensive and are seriously strong. Nothing worse than a fridge magnet that doesn't hold stuff!

To make them more durable you could give your lovebirds a coat of clear varnish. If you don't have any, try clear nail varnish instead.

Linking up with Trash2Treasure 

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Easy Darth Vader figure - Star Wars craft

Darth Vader kids craft
Come over to the dark side....

Darth Vader is back...
And if you have any young Star Wars fans in your life, then you might want to have a go at making this easy little mini figure.

You'll need:
Egg carton
Craft scissors
Black paint
Silver metallic pen (fine/medium nib)
PVA/craft glue
Red/pink straw
Black permanent marker (like a sharpie)
Nail scissors (adult supervision needed)

1. Roughly cut out two middle cones from an egg carton so they're easier to work with.

2. On one of them, draw a line all the way around the cone, just above the bumpy card joins at the bottom. Cut along the line and check the cone sits flat and even. This will be the body.

3. For the head, take the second cone, and use a ruler and pencil to measure and mark about 2cm (3/4in.)  from the top on each side. Join the marks with a rough line. Cut out the head - a good way to do this is to cut up two adjacent corners to the line, bend back the card flap and cut it off. It's now easier to cut along the rest of the line.

4. Glue the head onto the body. Cut a strip of card from the egg carton lid for the arms - make it roughly 0.5cm wide(1/4in.) and about 5cm long (2in.)

5. Paint the body and the arm piece black.

6. While that's drying, cut about 4cm (11/2in.) off the end of a straw and use the black marker pen to colour in the handle of the light sabre.

7. Use the silver marker to add detail to Darth Vader's head and body, using the picture here as a guide.

8. When the paint is dry, bend the card strip in half and cut along the crease, then either stick the arms on each side of the body with glue, just below the head - or, make slots either side using the nail scissors (keep them closed, press down and twist - once you've made a hole, cut slots to fit the arms)

9. Make small cuts up the handle end of the light sabre (with the nail scissors), so you can slot it onto the bottom of Darth Vader's arm, and he's ready for action!