The wonderful and dangerous thing about moving house is that without warning you become drawn to homewares catalogues like a moth to a flame. John Lewis suddenly makes a stealth entry into your ‘most visited’ sites lists and ne’er a day goes by without an interestingly large package arriving on the doorstep… or so my husband complains. Still, a happy upside of this retail incontinence is that I find myself with a wealth of large empty boxes, just waiting to be recycled into fetching play equipment. ’Think how much we’ve saved!’ I cry, to an unconvinced marital audience. In this case, a large box (formerly housing a vacuum cleaner, since you ask) has been painted and appended with some mouth-watering clip art to make a simple play shop, through which much money has changed hands in the last 24 hours in exchange for a variety of dented plastic vegetables.
As you can see from the pictures below, the actual cardboard box with just a door and a serving hatch cut into it were just as exciting to the 2yr old in question – the paint and decor just makes it a slightly more attractive addition to the playroom…
In our new house we have a huge open hallway adjoining a large room which is currently empty (the new kitchen arrives in two weeks and counting…). It’s a space just begging for play, and my toddler has spent the last week careering from one to the next, dragging balloons, toys and numerous random household items in his wake. A pull-along train is definitely called for, if only to ensure safe passage for Wilberforce, Leo and Rabbit. Here I painted two leftover packing boxes, joined them with a length of rope and added one for pulling along. The wheels are silver paper plates (bounty from Poundsaver, my retail guilty pleasure), and for the rear I printed up a simple backplate with the driver’s name; I’m discovering that ownership is very important when you’re two.
As you can see from the pictures below, Harry’s train was a hit, and it’s uncertain whether the passengers will ever be allowed to disembark….
Having uncovered a dusty pack of FIMO Air Microwave clay, I today set about rolling, cutting, stamping and experimenting, with a vague notion of making gift tags or hanging ornaments (the Christmas spirit is taking a while to wear off). Initially pliable like clay, the alchemy of microwave and steam rapidly turns each piece into a light-as-air tag or pendant with the rough, organic feel of porcelain but a density similar to cardboard. Definitely a great discovery. Here’s my first attempt at chic gift tags for wine bottles (or anything, in fact…). I love the contrast with the black but taupe or plain brown paper would also look great as a complementary wrap colour. Accessorised here with simple black ribbon and a tiny silver bell – and a piece of heavyweight paper strung underneath for the gift message (it’s hard to write on the finished clay itself, though not impossible).
The good thing is you get masses of cut-outs from one pack, and can cram a surprisingly large number into the microwave at any one time for finishing, so I have enough to hang one on my pinboard as well as a boxful to actually use. Now I just need a party to go to this weekend…
1 pack of FIMO air modelling clay
Black ribbon, bells, heavyweight linen paper
Rubber stamps (I used an italic text block) and beads for embellishment and surface printing