This year’s Christmas card designs from the boys.
I’m super excited to be using my new printing press at last, it’s been a long 3 year wait.
Stage one is to print the background colour.
Stage two is to print the black lines and manage the registration based on luck alone.
Allow each stage to dry for 24 hours.
Trim and glue to card.
Hand back to the boys for message writing to loved ones.
It may have been ever so slightly rushed but it was a great project to get started on my press at last.
As we were entering Wolverton’s Scarecrow Festival for the first time last month, we arrived at our idea full of naivety. How difficult could it be to make a tower of three boys out of papier mache and chicken wire?
Three layers of papier mache using just PVA glue and newspaper followed by some shaping with cardboard rolls and cotton wool for extra padding then a fourth layer of papier mache.
Layers of poster paint (mixed with more PVA) to decorate with.
Then comes the fun bit when the eyes are added and the models take on personalities.
I had seven days to work on this scarecrow entry, six days were spent on the heads, leaving 1 day for the bodies.
So having never done this before, the rough idea was to take three of the boys outfits and bulk them out with chicken wire.
which kind of worked to start with…
…but soon became more challenging when extra bodies were added.
I added extra structure with wooden spoons, cushions from the sofa and string but…
…the moment we tried to make the boy tower vertical the main supporting pole snapped in half – and this was 30 minutes before the first tour was about to arrive. We scrambled around hoisting the bodies up with string and supporting with wooden joists and plastic coat hangers. The result was a tower in mid collapse but it brought a lot smiles to the faces of passers by.
Next year we’ll have to do a bit research into structural integrity before tackling such a large scale project. Wolverton’s other 2016 scarecrow entries were wonderful, local gardens coming alive with all manner of creative papier mache & stuffed clothes characters.
Unable to spot a live kingfisher (despite repeated efforts) Willa decided to make his own.
Papier mache Kingfisher resting in Wolverton’s Community Orchard
He used a hollow egg for the main body shape, using a hot glue gun to fix it to a wire base.
With some help from mummy, a head was made from plasticine.
Covering the head in clingfilm, paper strips were stuck down with PVA glue.
Once the glue was dry, the head was taken off so that the plasticine could be removed. The head was taped back in place with masking tape and more strips of paper were glued down.
Then we added shapes for wings and tail.
Mixing bright orange for the Kingfisher’s breast and cheeks.
And applying several coats of poster paint.
Typex is good for bright white patches before adding black dots for eyes and beak.
My next post will show my entry for Wolverton’s scarecrow festival, to be held on Sunday 18th September.
Making finger bowls with air drying clay.
Begin by warming up your clay.
Then roll it out to about 5mm thick and try to keep it even.
Select a stamp and an ink pad and print directly onto the clay.
Then think about any wording you might want to add.
You could just write your name.
Before gently cutting out a circle shape – be careful not to tear or drag the clay.
Gently coax the clay into a bowl shape and leave to dry for 4 days.
And repeat. Seal the colour in place with Mod Podge.
Maybe an improvement for next time would be to make the edges a bit thinner.
So this is what elderflower actually looks like. It can be found growing on trees.
Gather 17 flower blooms, slice two unwaxed lemons and one unwaxed orange. Dissolve 450grams of caster sugar into 850ml of water and leave to cool.
Add the flowers, fruit and 25grams of citric acid to the water, stir and leave for 24 hours in a cool place.
Serve with sparkling water and ice after a victorious game of cricket.
This week I finally became confident enough to differentiate between three of the white flowers that grow in the local hedges and identify which were hawthorn, cow parsley and elderflower without the need to reach for a book or screen. I then found a recipe online, put the ingredients together and 24 hours later we enjoyed our first batch of elderflower cordial. Hopefully there’ll be lots more foraging to come.
I have been wanting to learn soap making for a very long time, I love the idea of making something that is nourishing and natural with a few less chemicals and toxins. I finally got around to it at the beginning of May, using this recipe from ‘the handmade soap book‘ by Melinda Coss. I had to leave it for 4 weeks before I could slice it up and see if it worked. It didn’t look too promising at first, but once it has been used a couple of times it works and looks just like any other soap. I used Trex this time but next time it will be olive oil. Now I just have to stop myself from ordering lots more books on how to make your own beauty products.
A proper day of simple pleasures today. Starting with washing on the line and sewing seeds in both front and back gardens, followed by flying kites in the park and an afternoon film. All to be topped off by a friend’s birthday soiree to look forward to this evening.
will be lavender bath bombs
Start by measuring all of the dry ingredients and mixing them together in a big bowl.
This is the citric acid which was not easy to find. Boots do not sell it but Sainsburys pharmacy does – although we bought their last two packets.
Then add the water, food colouring and essential oil, just before your twin brother discovers that you’re up to something.
Ask him to grab an apron and slowly mix whilst you drip liquid in – trying ever so hard not to set off the baking soda.
Then when it looks like you have a bowl of bread crumbs pat into silicone cases and leave to dry for 24 hours.
We used a recipe from the April issue of ‘The Simple Things’ magazine but have since found another one that doesn’t use epsom salts or corn flour, so we might try out the second one and see which one works out best.
It’s been a long break from workshops, photos and writing due to a heavy workload from TravisBead for six months, so I thought I’d ease myself back in gently with some honeycomb making using Nigella’s recipe…
Starting with 4 tablespoons of golden syrup…
Add 100 grams of caster sugar…
Ask a nearby boy to watch it for 3 minutes…
Until it looks like this when you whisk in one and half teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
Then pour it out onto some buttered foil to cool.
If you’re feeling impatient, pop it in the freezer whilst you drink some tea and eat a left over hot cross bun, then crack into chunks of golden loveliness…
and enjoy (even if the results are more toffee than honey).
Introducing a new craft to young pioneers and their families at today’s MKAC workshop. The results are beautiful.