Bubble Painting Made Easy (With Any Age)

Bubble painting is a great craft for any age. It can also get really messy very quickly. The good news is that it doesn’t have to. Just follow this method and the simple tips will let you stay in control!

 

Materials Needed:

  • Ready mixed washable paints ( I used these )
  • Washing up liquid
  • Mixed media paper or thin card sheets
  • Plastic drinking straws (5 or 6 per kid)
  • Sellotape
  • Blue tack
  • Old yogurt pots or disposable plastic cups
  • Something to cover your table with, newspaper will work but I like to turn black bin sacks into sheets and use them.

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How To: Bubble Painting…

 

Step One:

Cover your table to stop it getting painty. Newspaper or a cheap plastic party tablecloth work well but Tip No. 1 is to cut the bottom off of a black sack and spread it out.

Step Two:

Tip No. 2 is to use sellotape to tape together five or six straws. This helps small lungs get enough air into the paint to make bubbles without passing out!.

Step Three:

Get your young one to choose their first colour. Tip No.3 – Mix about a teaspoon full each of paint and washing up liquid together in an old yogurt pot or plastic cup. I used the straws to stir the mixture. The paint works best when it’s about the same consistency as milk so you may need to add a teaspoon of water if your paint is thick. The containers get pretty manky during the process so being able to bin them at the end is a blessing.

Step Four:

Tip No. 4 – Put four small dots of blue tack on the bottom of the cup or pot. When you press the pot down onto your work surface it should stop it being knocked over so easily.

Step Five:

Get your youngster to put the end of the taped straws in the cup and blow until the mixture bubbles up above the rim.

Step Six:

Place your paper face down onto the bubbles then lift STRAIGHT UP to take it away. If you take it off sideways the bubble painting will smudge. Tip No. 5– I recommend using either mixed media paper or thin card as they don’t wrinkle when they get wet.

Step Seven:

Repeat step six until you have all the you want of that colour on the page. Tip No. 6 – It looks really good if you overlap some of the bubble shapes. Then put your sheet to dry.

Tip No. 7 – If you want a multi-coloured masterpiece get your young one to make two or three pictures at the same time. Start each with the same colour. The first one will dry while they do the next. Once the third is finished they’ll be able to move onto the next colour with the first picture.  No smudges. This can carry on for as long as your child’s attention span lasts!

Step Eight:

Leave the pictures to dry. This takes longer than usual because of the soap. But they’re usually dry by the next day.

 

Bonus tip!

If you want simple home made presents for your kids to give friends and family      Hobbycraft do basic notebooks with kraft paper covers that take bright colours of bubble patterns well. Open them out, print onto them and BOOM! Pretty handmade gifts.

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I think these are great ways to keep a potentially messy craft under control. Go on, try them and let me know what you think!

Charity Knitting:10 Ways Of Helping The Poor, Sick & Vulnerable

Around this time of year lots of us are thinking of those less fortunate than us.  Chatting with the ladies in my knit and natter group (Yarning) the other day it became very clear that we’ve all run out of people to knit or crochet for. Our confessions amounted to the same thing. That we would LOVE to have new victims, ahem, “recipients” for our yarn-y efforts. That put me on a mission to find groups that want your charity knitting or crochet.

10 Ways of helping the poor, sick and vulnerable via charity knitting this winter.It turns out there are loads of charities who can really be helped by knitters or crocheters. To make things interesting I’ve tried to include a wide range of projects.

It is amazing the hugely inventive ways which charities are using yarn talent.  This list is just a small taste.  “Let’s Knit” magazine features a different charity each month so it’s worth checking their website regularly.

Without further ado, here are my favourites:

(All these charities are actively looking for donations at this time. If you are reading this weeks or months after the original post, December 2016, it is definitely worth clicking on the links and double checking that they are still taking donations).

My Favourite 10 Charity Knitting/Crochet Seekers:

  1. Hampshire Hospitals10 Ways of helping the poor, sick and vulnerable via charity knitting this winter. are looking for people to make “Twiddlemuffs” to help people with dementia. They even have a PDF with all the information that you need to make one.
  2. Naomi House and Jack’s Place accept donations to their shops to be sold to raise money for their local work.
  3. Bliss (A Charity For Babies That Are Born Premature Or Sick) have knitting patterns suitable for premature babies. They do ask that you contact your local hospital directly to give your donation. If you don’t feel able to contact your local hospital Preemies UK will distribute your makes if you send them to them.
  4. Knitted Knockers UK recruit volunteers who knit cotton prosthesis for women who have single or double mastectomies. You have to apply for this one!
  5. The Big Issue sponsor The Big Knitathon around November each year. You can find details of how to join in by clicking on the title.
  6. Project Linus supplies blankets to children who really need a sense of safety and security. It’s named after the character in “Peanuts” who is permanently welded to his blanket (how cute is that!).
  7. Oxfam need a range of items, mainly to sell in order to raise funds. They are catering to the trendy festival crowd and can get up to £35 for a nicely made blanket!
  8. Knit for Peace match donations with charities. They send out a monthly email newsletter to keep you posted on where your items are being used and have a range of pattern suggestions for a range of abilities.
  9. Loving Hands is a similar organisation to Knit for Peace but you may choose to go with this one because it focuses on UK charities.
  10. Finally UK Hand Knitting have a brilliant list of charities that need knitted items and links to what they need.

10 Ways of helping the poor, sick and vulnerable via charity knitting this winter.So, Do You Feel Inspired?

Hopefully there’s a cause in amongst this lot that tugs at your heartstrings. Who knows, some of your “downtime” over Christmas may mean a charity knitting boost for someone who really needs it.

If you know of other charities looking for knitters/crocheters (especially in Hampshire). Please do leave the details below or on my Facebook Page.

The Easy Way To Block Your Granny Squares

Blocking knitting or crochet (pinning it out to the correct size whilst damp) is tedious and time consuming. When you have hundreds of granny squares for a project it assumes nightmare proportions. I thought I would share with you today easy way to block your granny squares. The way that I do it saves time, effort and sanity!

This is the easy way to block your Granny Squares to the right size and shape for your projects.

I’ll keep this short, and to the point. You will need:

  • Four knitting needles (metal or plastic ones and make sure they are fairly fine).
  • A fairly sturdy cardboard box (I used one that holds my cat’s food sachets!)
  • A felt tip pen
  • A ruler
  • A craft knife
  • Spare cardboard (heavyweight)

This is how you use them to block your granny squares:

This is the easy way to block your Granny Squares to the right size and shape for your projects.

  1. On the top of your box draw out a square that is the size that you want your finished squares to be.
  2. In each of the four corners use the craft knife to cut a small slot.
  3. Push the knitting needles through the slots, make sure they are straight and mark where the point of the needle touches the bottom layer of the box.
  4. Cut slots in these four points too.
  5. Push the knitting needles through all four slots (both layers).
  6. Having the two layers helps them to stay straight and the right size.
  7. On the spare cardboard mark out two additional squares the correct size.
  8. Cut slots in the four corners of both square for the knitting needles.
  9. Check the squares fit.
  10. Load all your granny squares into a pillow case (this stops things unravelling!)
  11. Wash your granny squares according to the washing instructions on your yarn.
  12. Thread the damp granny squares onto the knitting needles in a stack. When the stack is half way up the needles thread on one of your card squares. Then continue until the needles are full.
  13. Once you have blocked your granny squares it is time to put them on a window sill to dry.
  14. Once you are sure they are dry take them off of the knitting needles. They should be square and a regular size ready to put them together!

No individual pinning onto towels, space saving and inexpensive. This is my idea of easy but I am always on the lookout for ways to make things easier, all tips and tricks welcome!

6 Ways Blogtacular 2016 Inspired Me To Change My Perspective

Nothing in my year excites me, challenges me and motivates me as much as Blogtacular.  This two day creative conference for bloggers sees major names from the creative world speak.  I have come back from the conference buzzing, exhausted and excited to put what I learnt into practice but I wanted to use this post to share what I got from the whole experience.

This year (my second at Blogtacular) really picked me up by the scruff of the neck and shook me. These are the 6 Ways Blogtacular 2016 Inspired Me To Change My Perspective.

6 Ways Blogtacular 2016 Inspired Me To Change My Perspective

YOU are enough.

I made a commitment at the beginning of this year to push myself beyond my comfort zone and really flourish. I have found what I am passionate about doing with my life but now the devil is in the detail as to how to accomplish it.  I have spent a lot of time feeling a bit like the rug has been pulled out from under me. I am 41 and self employed for the first time. Working from home I have put on some weight (up until now I have pretty much always had jobs where I am on my feet all the time) and there is no-one to blame for any decisions I make but me. I was feeling old, out of touch and frumpy. How I used to define myself is no longer relevant. I am at a big crossroads where I have to choose how the rest of my life will go.

Blogtacular Creative Conference 2016 Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland-91

Blogtacular Creative Conference 2016 Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland-91

In he late thirties our keynote speaker Lisa Congdon found herself, newly single and unhappy in her job.  Lisa joined her brother in an art class and found her purpose in life. She became an artist and illustrator and her colourful, quirky work was hugely in demand.

Earlier this year she reached another crossroads. She realised that she had let her work become how she defined herself. She was perilously close to total burnout. She shared with us Jen Pastiloff’s “Girl Power Manifesto” as illustrated by Emily McDowell

The Girl Power Manifesto by Jen Pastiloff

Words © Jen Pastiloff Design © Emily McDowell

We are bombarded with the work, appearance and opinions of others via the internet.  That makes it hard to hold onto this. Lisa admitted this which took her to her next piece of advice…

Choose the metrics by which you evaluate your success or failure.

“Scarcity tells you that you are not enough now, and you must be more to have some chance of being enough in the future... Being more usually gets translated into doing more. Because you are not enough, you can never do enough to become enough. This leads to an ongoing tap dance of over-commitment, workaholism and super-sized ambition that is never satiated...”

Image © Lisa Congdon Quote © Tara Rodden Robinson

The quote that Lisa shared from Tara Rodden Robinson stopped me in my tracks. The metrics by which I judged myself were all wrong, all skewed, how did I know that? Because I didn’t use the same criteria to judge anyone else, and, most importantly, I hated the thought of anyone else judging themselves like that.

Lisa shared her criteria for measuring her own success and I think they are a great starting point for me (and pretty much anyone), although I expect that they will evolve to become more personal over time.

# Move your body everyday # Get help # If the answer isn't "Hell Yes", say no. # Approach everything as a beginner. # Create space for your relationships. # Embrace your imperfections.

 

Time for a change and to embrace the principle of Wabi Sabi .

Know what you are offering and have a plan.

This gem actually came from Kristobel Plummer’s session on “Blog Business”. Her point was actually made with regards to working with brands for sponsored posts and alike but I feel it fits very well with life in general. Everyone has principles and being clear about what they are equips you to evaluate any opportunity and maybe avoid that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you realise that you are on the wrong path.

Blogtacular Creative Conference 2016 Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland-106

Blogtacular Creative Conference 2016 Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland-106

Be clear and intentional in your communications.

Kristobel also stressed the importance of clarity in all your business communications. You can then manage expectations successfully and build a relationship that is beneficial for both parties. This started me thinking about how clear and regular communication would benefit every aspect of my life.

Sara Tasker reminded me that  not all communication is via words. In her “Phoneography” session. She talked about the fact that “you are only as good as your top 3 rows” (of images on Instagram) and her 126k followers can’t be wrong. By having three words that describe your style. If your image does not fit at least one of these words, it doesn’t make it onto Instagram. ALL my communications  matter and using some of Sara’s visual techniques will help improve mine immensely.

Blogtacular Creative Conference 2016 Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland-195

Blogtacular Creative Conference 2016 Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland-195

When the blurb on the Blogtacular website boldly stated that “Laura Jane Williams believes that none of us is screwing up like we think we are.” I knew that I had to take her writing workshop. I wasn’t disappointed. Funny, bold and brave she had all of us working through three drafts of a piece about a first meeting and she also made the point that words can either paint a picture or move a story along with pace.

Both of these have their place but I need to be clear which I am aiming for.

Laura shared the Maya Angelou quote,

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Blogtacular Creative Conference 2016 Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland-220

Blogtacular Creative Conference 2016 Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland-220

All of this emphasis on the importance of the quality of your communication could have been, quite frankly, terrifying. At the last Laura saved me from paralysis as a result of the expectation placed on me by telling us to write (or communicate) from a place of “NOBODY CARES”. This lets you find your voice while no-one is listening. This is going in big letters above my desk!

You have a tribe and many of them will be struggling with the same things you are.

This year I decided to jump in with both feet and apply to get onto one of the organised photowalks on the Friday afternoon, attend the party at West Elm on the Friday evening PLUS the big event itself (9 1/2 hours plus travel time) on the Saturday. I used the last of my tax rebate to fund two nights in a hotel and off I went. During the course of the two days I chatted to a LOT of people. As we Photowalked, at the West Elm Papermakers Party and during the conference itself, and do you know what I found?

Quite simply this tribe “gets”me. They understand an outgoing introvert because a lot of them share the same traits. Some of them went through far more than me to get to and get through Blogtacular. As we talked they shared the same insecurities about blog post frequency and quality and there was loads of excited “me too!” moments. Even the speakers seemed to be kindred spirits. Lisa’s “vulnerability hangovers”, Kristobel’s regret that she hadn’t educated herself on business matters from the get-go, Sara’s belief that life is messy and your images should reflect this, just about everything that Laura said and Enid’s office with the “Done is better than perfect” poster on the wall!

I lost count of the number of times that I heard other bloggers say that they didn’t think they were posting enough or that the quality of posts wasn’t strong enough. I read a lot of these blogs for pleasure and I would totally disagree. I hold their blogs up as examples of what I want to achieve and how I wish I sounded. Everyone looks at themselves and their work with a very distorted lens. Being able to discuss our issues and insecurities in person was liberating.

Blogtacular Creative Conference 2016 Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland-181

Blogtacular Creative Conference 2016 Image Courtesy of Mollie Makes © Will Ireland-181

Be brave and be flexible.

In my opinion all of the speakers were brave for just getting up in front of the crowd and sharing their stories. As if this wasn’t enough they all put themselves out there in a very personal way via their chosen creative outlet.  That requires a huge amount of bravery just to keep “showing up”. As Lisa explained it was about balancing the potential they have for great creativity against the risk of exposing themselves to trolls. That takes bravery.

All the speakers showed that they have all evolved from their starting point into what we see before us today.  Something has helped them do this. Enid Hwang spoke of the importance of having a process to help you deal with change. This flexibility allows a creative person to roll with the punches and find a way to get around the reach of the person throwing them. Being flexible gives you the capability to keep showing up.

In conclusion.

What the other 349 (ish) attendees took home from Blogtacular (aside from an awesome goodie bag) I would be really intrigued to learn. I know that some of the things I picked up on certainly weren’t explicitly spelt out and were a result of where my head was at just before the conference. It was the message I was ready to hear and the one that Blogtacular gave me.

It really helps that the conference is sponsored by brands which really “get” the importance of fostering creativity. West Elm, Mollie Makes, Sudo, Microsoft, Annie Sloan and Pinterest all sponsor and most of them are returning for at least the second year. That helps make Blogtacular a “safe” space for all attendees to get the most from the experience.

Thank you Kat and Team and thank you sponsors for charging my batteries for another year.

How I Felt Before And After Blogtacular

Image ©Claire Reynolds

 

I am not affiliated in any way with any of the products used during this article. I have received no compensation (monetary or in kind). All opinions are my own.

Cute And Easy Bunting Jewellery To Show In The Summer

Summer is on it’s way (no, honestly, don’t laugh!) and getting rid of the thick jumpers and scarves is just the excuse I need to indulge in some costume jewellery. If you love outfit coordinating jewellery and hate spending lots of money on it, this is the tutorial for you. It uses Polyshrink (Artists Grade Shrink Plastic) and basic jewellery findings to make a range of bunting jewellery products so you can have one for every outfit!

Use heat shrinkable plastic to make this cute bunting jewellery to co-ordinate with all your summer outfits.

Materials You Will Need to Make Bunting Jewellery:

To make this bunting jewellery you will need: Polyshrink Artists Grade Shrink Plastic, A length of chain, necklace clasps, coloured pencils, fine grade sand paper, jump rings, a pencil and sharpie markers

 

Tools You Will Need To Make Bunting Jewellery:

The tools you will need to make this bunting jewellery are: Paper scissors, two pairs of pliers, a heat proof surface, a heat tool or oven, wire cutters and a single hole punch.

 

How To Make Your Bunting Jewellery:

Step One:

Take your sheet of Polyshrink and sand the surface on one side with a fine grade sandpaper. That allows your printer ink to stick to the sheet instead of running off of it. Make sure that you get all areas.

A tip; the harder the lead in your coloured pencils, the rougher the sheet needs to be for it to show.

Use a fine grade sandpaper to sand the entire surface of your sheet of shrinky plastic

If you want to make all the options of this jewellery you will need to prep two sheets of plastic for printing. If not you will need to print accordingly.

Step Two:

Draw out your bunting flags. I used pencil and a ruler and mine were 4.5cm wide (at the top) by 4.5cm long (along the centre line. I used a penny to be the outer line of the peace logo.

Use a pencil to draw out your bunting jewellery. Mine was about 4.5cm wide by 4.5cm long

Step Three:

Use your coloured pencils to colour in the pennants that you want for your piece of jewellery. My advice is to enjoy this bit with a glass of wine in front of the TV!

Use coloured pencils to colour in your bunting jewellery.

 

Step Four:

Use scissors to cut out your flag shapes and diagonally trim off the corners so that they don’t rub a sore spot whilst you are wearing the necklace.

Use paper scissors to cut the shapes out and trim off any sharp corners so that they don't rub whilst wearing.

Step Five:

Use the single hole punch to punch holes in the corners of each flag. Don’t put the holes too near the edges as this will distort the shape when you shrink it.

Use a single hole punch to put holes in each corner, but not too close to the edge.

Step Six:

I then used Sharpie markers to colour the edges of my bunting flags to match their main colours, (excuse the appalling photo quality, I had to zoom right in and set the timer!).

Use co-ordinating Sharpies to add colour to the edges of your bunting jewellery

Step Seven (Version 1):

Pre-heat your oven to  177º C/ 300º F.  Place all your flags onto a baking tray on top of some baking parchment. Place in the oven. You will find that the plastic curls up as it shrinks and then flattens back down when it is fully shrunk.

You need to keep a close eye on the tray because occasionally the plastic curls up in such a way that it sticks to itself. If that happens you’ll need to sort it out.

The Polyshrink website says:

“Expect PolyShrink to curl and move during baking. Occasionally a piece may stick to itself as it shrinks. To separate, allow the piece to cool slightly and pull gently. You’ll hear a “snap” as the joint comes apart. You can now reheat the piece and finish shrinking”.

Step Seven (Version 2):

Use an embossing heat tool to heat the piece of plastic and heat proof tweezers (or disposable chopsticks!) to secure the plastic in place and apply heat as shown in the video below.

Step Eight:

Using pliers twist one of the jump rings to open them (don’t pull apart as they never line up again, and besides twisting is easier!) thread two of your shrunken flags onto the ring and then use the pliers again to close.

Repeat this until all your flags are linked.

Step Nine:

Use a jump ring to link one end of your chain to one end of your row of flags.

Use pliers and a jump ring to connect your chain to one end of your bunting jewellery.

Step Ten:

Position the row of flags into the position that you want to wear them around your neck. Loop your chain around the back of your neck and figure out where you need to cut the chain to get the look you want.

By placing the chain around your neck you can get a more accurate idea of how short to cut the chain of your bunting jewellery

Cut the chain using wire cutters and join that end to the opposite end of your bunting with another jump ring.

Use wire cutters to trim your chain to the right length for your bunting jewellery

Step Eleven:

Find the middle of the chain section of your necklace and cut on that spot with the wire cutters.

Lay out your bunting jewellery and find the centre of the chain. Cut it with wire cutters

Step Twelve:

Use a jump ring to attach the clasp to one side (which one you will prefer depends on whether you are right or left handed) and attach a jump ring to the other side.

Use pliers again to securely attach the clasp and a jump ring for it to attach to.

Et voila! Your necklace is complete.

Quirky and cheap bunting jewellery with very little time invested and maximum impact, enjoy

If you want to make earrings you can hang shapes from a ball wire or kidney wire fitting or you can use glue to stick shapes to studs.

 

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