Jun 30, 2010

Guest blogging for the first time

I was invited by Isabel over at Alpha Mom to write a post for them with a FIFA World Cup theme. We decided to try hacking together some stadium horns from dollar store hollow plastic bats. The kids are super impressed and are still making a tremendous noise with them, even though the US and England are out of the tournament at this point. So if this sounds interesting to you, and you either have a pair of ear defenders, or can deal with the noise, then pop over to Alpha Mom and see how we made them. Here's the link.

It was very cheap and easy! Plus there's a funny little bonus craft at the end, made from the left overs. I'm sure people that know me in the offline world will find it hilarious that I, with my yoghurt splattered walls am writing for a site called Alpha Mom! One of my mate's kids actually said about our place last week "Can we go round to the messy house?"

I want to take this opportunity to link to a number of people that have tried the projects posted on Filth Wizardry and blogged about it themselves. So many lovely new versions of our crafts springing up around the world makes me a very happy bunny. Thank you to anyone that got in touch to either show me their own versions, or point me to other people's versions that they had seen.

  • Over at Historias de Iraides they had a go at our print out and colour fairy wings from last year. You can see them here.

  • Ali at "found in the Ali" made her own no sew top, and used our iron on plastic bag decals to adorn it. Pretty darn cute!

  • Bea's crowd over at "All join in" had a go at our Lego hole punch dioramas here. The Sir Topham Hat is by far my favourite! Kid drawings rule!

  • Sari's little girls did a cracking job on our tin foil toadstool ring, here at her blog "Two Little Girls". Love the black and white photos with the coloured toadstools!

  • Crystal's family over at "Easy Stay at Home Fun", used our print, colour and cut reef creatures to make their own version of our coral reef livingroom wall, here.

  • Wonder Mom and "The Fantastic Five" had a go at our balloon and torch lightsabers for a bit of light painting photography here.

  • Over at Sternchen Design, they made the cutest little tshirt using our iron on plastic bag method, here.

  • The crew over at "This girl love to talk" made their own version of our stained glass tissue paper and glue window, here.
  • Jean over at The Artful Parent got her crew making several versions of the leaf rubbing and paint mural we did last autumn, only with lovely summer colours. Here is the first one.

  • Regina at "Harmony Blog" asked me to write her a little message for the kids she was teaching at a community Lego class, to inspire them when trying the hole punching card and Lego project. She writes about the class here, and shows some of the other cool Lego projects they did as well as the hole punching, like using rubber bands and making marble mazes! Very cool!

  • Dinorah and her little chap got stuck in making our Wall-E out of recycling together. I've only seen two people attempt this craft so far, and both have come out wonderfully! You can see Dinorah's version here.

If you want to see our projects that inspired these folks then I think each of the posts they have written point back to the specific projects on Filth Wizardry. I didn't want to link to our own posts in here and clutter up the whole thing with links when it's supposed to be about what others have done :)

If you have done your own version of any of our projects and would like me to link to them, or if you don't have a blog but would like to share a photo of a project from Filth Wizardry that you've done then please do let me know in the comments or email me :) I love seeing others trying our projects out, and I'm sure that seeing these other versions around the web will inspire other readers to jump in too!

One last thing...

Not really enough for it's own post, but I thought a few of you might like a heads up that OSH (Orchard Supply and Hardware) have bags of kindling for about $6 that are perfect for little builders. Just like mini planks of wood! My crew have had great fun with a bag of kindling from there this week and a box of nails. They made swords, shields, beds for carebears, some kind of weird crate and pulley device for trapping imaginary things. Lots of fun! and cheap! and reusable! Then you can pull the nails out and have a camp fire ;)

Jun 25, 2010

Care-a-lot from stuff in the recycling bin

I wasn't quite sure where we were going with this when we started out this morning. One kid was dressed as batman and the other as a princess and all they told me was they wanted to make something to play with.

I started them off with a bunch of cardboard boxes that I turned inside out and we hot glued together to make some sort of generic base. As the conversation progressed and they were chatting away whilst drawing all over it with pens, they decided that they wanted to make a Care Bear house. I picked up a few Care Bear things at the local charity shop recently. A stack of early reader Care Bear books that my five year old is enjoying reading to her four year old sister, and a bag full of what I guess must be Care Bear party favour toys or something. They are just little plastic models of Care bears, but the kids have been enjoying imaginative play and reinacting the books with them, so they decided they needed a home for these little dudes. They are so cheap and nasty that the dodgy print registration on them leaves a lot of them looking in weird directions and some with totally red eyes. Freaky!
As far as I can remember from the 1980s the Care Bears lived in some kind of rainbow mad castle type land in the sky called Care-a-lot. There were the pictures in the books to go on, but really nothing specific, so a general theme of "house made from clouds" was what we went for. I've spoken before about how much I love my $1.50 foam cutter from Daiso. It's a fab little tool that allows you to cut crazy shapes neatly out of sheets of styrofoam. My husband now knows that if there are ever any deliveries to his office with styrofoam that's going to get thrown out then he's to bring it home to me so I can play with my foam cutter! With this fabulous little tool I cut out a load of cloudy shapes and we hot glued them onto the box structure. I didn't really have a plan in mind, we just did one bit at a time and let it grow.

Once we'd glued it I put it out in the garage for the kids to paint with white primer. They did a bloody good job! The only bit I had to touch up afterwards was the inside of the cardboard tube turrets.

We left it to dry in the garage and the kids coloured in a couple of rainbow bits to glue on. One was just for decoration, but the other was a rainbow slide.
A parcel arrive while the thing was drying, that contained a load of white styrofoam packing peanuts. Talk about good timing! So we glued a load of those on too and lastly I made a few flags with BBQ skewers to stick on.
We set it up in the livingroom on our blue bedsheet and I got out some of my polyester soft toy stuffing for them to chuck around it.

The kids wanted the little heart and star freinds that live with the Care Bears, so I cut them out of the styrofoam and coloured them with sharpies.

Yes, that is a Care Bear on the can you just saw.

Everybody poops, even Care Bears.

also, I bet you didn't know they had pet rats. I didn't.

I don't know how long it'll last for, but they are really enjoying it. We still have a load of the styrofoam left, so to even out the horrendous sickly sweetness of the Care Bears, I think we might have to make Superman's Arctic fortress of solitude to go next to it!

Jun 18, 2010

Tissue paper and glue window collage

I know there are a bazillion different craft projects for kids around the web that make use of light streaming through coloured tissue paper for a stained glass effect, but they are mostly on a small scale.

I had five little girlies together on Wednesday, and wanted something that they could work on as a team. They ranged in age from two to five years old, so I couldn't do anything too structured, and I wanted something that everyone could contribute to regardless of abillity, like with the autumn leaf rubbing banner.

A while back the pharmacy near us changed from a Longs to a CVS and they had a clearance sale during the transition where I picked up these neat glue pens for 25c each. We used to use them as kids in the UK, but I'd not seen them out in the US before now. They just have clear school glue kind of glue in them, and a fabric tip that the glue squeezes out through like a pad for dabbing glue on.

I got out the pack of coloured tissue paper we had and the girls helped me to rip up bits and then they started to glue them onto the window with the glue pens. These glue pens are just water soluble glue, so I will be able to wash it all off the window with water when I need to, although I think it's so gorgeous that it'll be staying up as long as possible! I guess the project was kind of like a kid's version of decoupage really.

The kids didn't just stick the bits of tissue paper up, they peeled them off and rearranged them and moved them about. Even once the glue had dried it was pretty easy for them to peel a lone one off to restick it. That's how we started off with all three window panels having art on, but then they gradually moved the pieces on the side panes over to the middle one.

I helped them find gaps and paste down little rogue edges that were sticking up. We made pretty good headway with it, and when our three little friends went home, my two wanted to continue. At this point I started cutting more shapes for them like hearts and flowers and leaves. My five year old wanted to add details to the shapes with black sharpie, so at this point the tasks kind of split up with me and her cutting, her drawing on them and my four year old doing most of the sticking.

They Kept at this for ages. I think they were excited to see it grow as a piece of art, and really wanted to cover the whole window. There wasn't enough time to cover the whole window before bedtime, but this is how far they got.

The next morning they were back up at the window sticking and cutting, still in their PJs! I had to get the step stool out for them to reach the top.

Later on they came back to it again and I had to get a taller bench out for them to reach the top.

I think this is my favourite piece of art that they have created to date. The colours are just lovely, and when the light streams into the livingroom in the morning it's going to look beautiful!

It also looks really cool from the outside of the house at night :)

When someone says "why not let your kids loose with glue and tissue paper all over your windows", it does sound like a recipe for messy disaster, but surprisingly it really didn't make that much of a mess. I covered our futon couch with an old bed sheet and made sure the curtains were tucked out of the way, so apart from having tonnes of scraps of tissue all over the livingroom for a couple of days, there really wasn't anything much to clean up afterwards, except windexing off any left over glue that was on the two side windows. I think a lot of this was down to how the clear school glue went on really well with the sponge top pens, so we didn't need brushes and pots of glue to do it. These glue pens allowed the kids to get a good amount of glue on the window without it dripping everywhere and another cool thing about them is that you can unscrew them and refill them, unlike with traditional glue sticks!

Be honest, you want to make one yourself don't you? I certainly do! I know it's going to fade over time, but fingers crossed that won't happen too quickly. I like that they chose to do leaves and flowers and hearts, but if you look closely there's one single butterfly and a couple of boiled sweets in there too!

Jun 10, 2010

Colour fun with our DIY lightbox

After the fun that the kids had with the lightbox we made for sand art outside, I thought it would be fun to bring it indoors and see if we could play with it in a different way.

I've seen light tables with coloured transparent perspex shapes at a couple of children's museums in the past, and the kids have had a great deal of fun with them, so I thought it would be nice to see if we could have a cheap home version.

I set up the table top I made in this post in the kid's bedroom on top of two old wooden draws that we keep their books in. This made a sort of kid level worktop for them to kneel on the floor and play at. We only had one light that was safe to put on the carpet beneath the table, but that gave plenty of illumination. It was a bit cramped in their bedroom, but that's the only room in the house that I sewed black out curtains for. If we do it with more kids than just the three that I had over today then It may be easier to do it in the garage, that only has two small windows that I can tape some cardboard over. I'll certainly get it out next time we have a sleepover!

We only had a couple of bits of transparent coloured plastic (acrylic stencils), so I had to find some alternative colour sources for the light to shine through. Coloured tissue paper worked really well. I also found the bag of glass nuggets that we'd used way back in the playdough mermaid kingdom. Some coloured plastic popsicle sticks also worked quite well.
I thought about getting some scrapbooking velum stuff, but that was a bit pricey, so I opted for ironing flat a load of coffee filters and letting the kids draw on them with markers and cut the drawings out. These worked surprisingly well.

The fridge magnet letters also let enough light through to be quite cool.

The really big glass nuggets were big enough to draw pictures on, like flowers, fish, planets etc...

It was a nice way to show colour mixing too.

and of course we could use the lightbox to trace things, which my five year old is quite interested in. We've done shadow puppet theatres before, but this seemed to get much more interest over a longer period of time from the kids, because there was so much more to the experience. Having everything down flat made it easier for them to work and being able to draw and colour characters was much more exciting than just having silhouettes, as with a traditional shadow puppet set up.

I don't think you'd even have to go to the effort of making a wooden crate set up like we have, because if you got the right sort of transparent plastic storage tub, then taping white paper to that would acheive just as decent sized area for creating on. I'm sure a lot of people even have them under their beds already!