Paper Paper!

Paper crafts

Love Letters

Ransom Note Valentine's Card

Have you got your Valentine’s Day affairs in order?  To my beloved this year I am giving a tatty old John Grisham thriller, a supermarket newsletter and a page from the Guardian Review of Books.

Well, to be more precise, I am giving him a hand-crafted card declaring my love, snipped from the pages of the above book and periodicals, with carefully scissored words and letters glued into place to form a very unique kind of affirmation that Hallmark couldn’t quite offer.

To make something like this, you can simply riffle through the Sunday papers and snip out useful words, or raid a novel you have no intention of ever trying to re-read (how annoying would that be?  To reach page 96 and find a crucial paragraph has been cut out).  I snipped out some pronouns and joining words so that I had a little pile of ‘I’s and ‘you’s and ‘and’s and ‘then’s … and then found some altogether more interesting and random phrases and snippets to spice it up a bit.  Then I laid them all out and got to work;

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Ransom note Valentines Card

Have fun with the envelope too, and then quietly congratulate yourself on your artistry even as you survey the 249 tiny shreds of newspaper that now cover every surface and skitter gently across the floor carried by the infernal draughts that plague your ancient house.  Ignore, sip wine. Use leftover clippings to craft a series of ransom notes and post to your neighbours under cover of darkness.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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How to make a fortune in just five minutes.

DIY Fortune cookies

Recently we had a Chinese takeaway and Harry discovered fortune cookies.  On a scale of life’s wonders, it briefly ranked RIGHT AT THE TOP. ‘A cookie that actually tells you what is going to happen to you?  Woooah!’

In practice, the cookie itself was a little underwhelming, disintegrating into an explosion of crumbs when snapped and revealing a rather vague fortune about pleasant strangers.  So I had an idea; I’d make my own…

DIY Chinese Fortune Cookies made of paper

The good thing about homemade fortune cookies is that you can customise your fortunes to suit the recipient (these are the ones for my husband; heavy hints wrapped in paper);

DIY Paper Fortune Cookies from KCS

Harry’s contain equally alluring and essential promises;

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Best of all? They are so simple to make.  Details below…

Supplies:

  • Paper.  I used 3 types; a vellum-like paper with a sheen (gorgeous), basic paper torn from an exercise book, and script-patterned gift wrap
  • Circle template; I used the lid of the tin in the top picture.  Aim for something about 10cm/4in square
  • Fortunes; scribble them out onto strips of paper and cut up ready to slip in as you fold the paper cookies.
  • Scissors, pencil, glue

Steps:

Draw around your circle shape and cut out as many shapes as you need from your paper.
Then, using the pictures below as a guide;
1. Fold the circle lightly in half and pinch hard at the crease in the centre, leaving an indent
2. Let the circle open again and lay a fortune sideways across the indent you made
3. Roll the opposite sides of the circle together as shown so that they overlap slightly; this forms a cuff that will hold the paper cookie together
4. Press your finger into the indent you made on the opposite side to push in the centre of the cookie, making the distinctive folded shape
5. Add a dab of glue deep in the fold and either hold for a minute until dry or use the tips of your scissors to anchor it in place to set as shown
6.  Repeat!

DIY Paper Fortune Cookies
Ideas…

  • These would make a beautiful Valentines gift for someone; a bag of fortunes customised for the one you love
  • Or try making a single over-sized paper cookie (12″), containing a letter or poem written out along a whole strip
  • Experiment with materials (I want to try using a piece of tan-coloured leather; you could hide a pair of earrings or a necklace in here as an exquisite little gift)
  • Have fun with the packaging; I used an old tin that had once held tempura mix and made my own label to cover up the original text

Paper fortune cookies

 

Happy folding!

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DIY Cook’s Calendar

DIY Cook's Calendar 2018Here’s a project for anyone slow off the blocks in tackling 2018.  I know many people have their next-year calendar in place from August, or fully populated by November, but perhaps you’re one of those people who just hasn’t got a grip yet (me), or has maybe fallen out of love with the store-bought/gifted calendar you acquired and fancies something much cooler instead.  This is for you.

Cooks calendar with pencil

I used an old chopping board (or source a brand new one from a discount store and soak it in water for two days until it is rough and weathered – ta-da!).  Then I found this free printable calendar online and printed out the year onto thin cardstock – I loved the typographic simplicity of this one – thanks Crissy! – but search on Pinterest for a myriad of other different styles offered for free by generous designers.  I then punched holes in the top of each page and added eyelets, marking with a pencil through the holes where I wanted to bang in the old nails that I’d hang the calendar on…

Cooks calendar detail of rivets

To attach the pencil, two different styles;

  • For a clean, linear look, glue a bulldog clip to the board above the calendar and simply slip your pencil in (these are my favourite Blackwing pencils, beloved of Oliver Jeffers and decades of artists and illustrators)

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  •  If you like a firmer leash on your pencil, tie a length of thin string around the tip and then loop it through the handle of the bread board, knotting it in place where it can hang alongside the calendar all year, resisting casual abduction by other family members.  I also added a decorative vintage baking mould at the top of the calendar, bought as part of a job lot from a local junk store (I’m still thinking about how to use them – they look so pretty..)

DIY Kitchen Calendar 2018and then finally; loop a rope through the top of the chopping board and hang it on the kitchen wall, where your creativity can be admired by all the family, who can also adorn it with tomato sauce smears, greased fingerprints and multiple reminders of their own birthdays.  Honestly, I ask you.

One other style to play with; for a brighter look, try mounting the calendar pages on thick giftwrap, coloured cardstock or watercolour paper with bright splashes of  paint-  I made this smaller set to hang in my office, so that I have two chances of remembering important dates…

Brights calendarBright calendar

Have a wonderful week.

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Simple Origami Crowns

Origami Birthday CrownsIt’s Harry’s birthday  soon, and it seems to me very important that at breakfast-time he should get to wear a crown (because if you can’t be a king on your birthday, when can you?).

In describing these as origami crowns, I use the term fairly loosely; in truth they involve folding single sheets of paper once and then simply slotting them together.  You could do it with one hand whilst saving the world with the other.  I have tried my very best to make this look beautiful and difficult, but in fact it is great fun and one of those rewarding things where you can feel like a genius with very little skill involved. IMG_2508

I used this origami paper because I love the vibrant colours; any paper will do though, as long as it is square (try cutting squares of gift-wrap, or even newspaper for stylishly undone look…)

Take a sheet of origami paper and fold it in half to form a triangle.  Repeat. Slot the triangle into the fold of the first sheet, and carry on, as below…

Making an origami paper crown

When you get to the end (use your head to measure roughly how many pieces you need), simply tuck the last triangle into the first one to complete the circle.  The crowns should be sturdy enough to hold their own shape, especially if you push them together tightly, but you can always add a dab of glue into each fold to fix them permanently into shape.  This is useful if your birthday person is young enough (or old enough, or tipsy enough) to be likely to drop it on the floor and tread on it, or sit on it.

It doesn’t matter which way you fit the triangles together (inside or outside of each other, or alternating) – fitting them together in the same direction gives the smooth striped effect of the crown below:

Origami paper crownOr you can fold the triangles in half again to create a more angled, regal look like this:Pointed origami crownEvery member of the family looks good in these, so don’t let anyone try to convince you that they are too regal to wear a paper party hat.IMG_2289

Good Luck!

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Every Child is an Artist

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Picasso famously asserted that ‘Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up’.  It’s a great question to ponder; why do so many children change from being magnetically drawn to any available paper and crayons to declaring, somewhere in the double-digit years, that ‘I can’t draw’, and never feeling inclined to do so again?

Harry is still at an age and stage where he loves all things arty and crafty, and I’m keen to gently foster this as far as possible.  Here are a few of the things we’ve discovered and loved together…

This book is a favourite, packed with brilliant ideas for drawing projects, like drawing by torchlight, making monoprints and staging an art party.  I can’t tell you how much I love it.  Our first project was a simple fruit bowl still-life, arranged by Harry, that we drew together at the kitchen table.  The challenge was that we had to use oil pastels (neither of us had tried this before), and use a coloured paper background.  Harry won Best in Show for his picture (I was robbed!).  I liked it so much that we scanned it and made it into a set of cards;

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The internet is a fantastic resource both for blogs and for tutorials.  We loved watching Quentin Blake showing us how to draw Willy Wonka, and sat together with our pens and paper, following his pen-strokes and creating some astonishingly passable imitations.  Try typing ‘how to draw a ….’ into your search engine, filling in the blank with whatever you are passionate about (unicorns, pterodactyls, tractors, volcanoes… you name it, someone somewhere will have a tutorial showing you how).

This blog is great for a steady stream of ideas and projects; the Facebook feed is one of my favourites.

Museums and art galleries are also a favourite and a source of continual inspiration.  But here’s the thing; we whistle through them at a rate of knots, going where Harry’s interest takes us and staying for as little or as long a time as we feel like.  We take a sketchbook and pencils and settle down on quiet spots of floor or benches to draw the things that capture our attention.  Favourites include the V&A in London, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Tate Modern.  On my list for a long time has been the House of Illustration (and how I wish we could have teleported to California to visit this!)

Workshops are also fun; during school holidays I often sign Harry up for classes for a couple of hours to try new things, like Lego animation (a HUGE hit), clay-making (hit and miss) and this most recent triumph; a short class at a local art shop teaching kids how to draw wolves using charcoal.  An unusually specific topic, but for this seven year old it was just about the coolest thing to know how to do.  And the result was awesome.  We framed it and it now hangs, three-foot-wide and howling at the moon, in the snug.

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ps Three ways from the archives to make kids feel ever prouder of what they make; an art desk calendar,  a matching pairs game and these cereal box pegs from yesteryear.

Cereal box pegs

mantel pegs tutorial from www

Happy Tuesday!

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Altered Envelopes

Altered Envelopes cover page

This week’s post involves some of our absolute favourite things; cutting and sticking and mail and books.  Specifically, cutting up and sticking books to make mail.

It all began with a book sale by our local library, selling off old, dog-eared copies of children’s books for 10p each.  10p!! We bought everything we could find with gorgeous pictures, and then – cover your eyes – we cut them all up.

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We cut carefully around all the best pictures and then stuck them onto blank envelopes to make a personalised set of mail for Harry to use…

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In each case, our only rule was that there had to be enough space to write the recipient’s name and maybe attach a postage stamp, which in practice meant we could fit on some REALLY LARGE BIRDS;

IMG_6505 Altered Envelopes- peacock!

And a very friendly-looking elephant!

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A cheeky, cupcake-eating fox!

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A dog who looks like he’d really like to become your pet…

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Really, really like to. Huh, huh? C’mon, let me follow you home!

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Or if you like your pets a bit feistier, what about this fellow?

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He might want to eat you or he might just want to play.  It’s a gamble.

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I used these big round labels to create a focal point for addresses;

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Sometimes a whole picture makes for fun address-writing…

Altered envelopes 1

So now Harry has a stack of altered envelopes and notecards to encourage the forgotten art of letter-writing…and the former library books get a second life.

use old books to make altered envelopes!

p.s.

The cheat’s guide to calligraphy

Marbled paper

Introducing children to the magical art of snail mail

Have a great week!

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DIY Printed Paper Sacks (to hold practically anything…)

Print-at-home paper potato sacks!

Harry, during a mere 7yrs on this planet, has accumulated approximately 9,847 soft animals.

Well, maybe somewhat less than that, though it certainly feels like a lot when you are saying goodnight to them each in turn.  I feel a little like Maria must have done in the Sound of Music when trying to recall all the names of the von Trapp children, though at least hers only ran to single digits.

Still, I am in part to blame; most of the animals came from me, either directly or via my alter ego of Father Christmas.  Now though, they need a home.  Harry’s favourites still warrant a VIP place under the duvet each night, but what the others need is storage.

DIY Paper Sacks

 

I discovered that for a mere £5 you can buy online a handful of giant paper sacks designed to hold 25kg of potatoes.  I am not likely to ever successfully grow 25kg of any vegetable, so instead ordered some to use for stuffed animals, laundry and the myriad of art materials filling every surface of the art room.  And then I decided to see if you can use t-shirt transfers to print on them – and you can!  Instructions below…

Materials:

  • Large paper sacks like these or these; iron them on a low heat if necessary to ensure a flat surface
  • T-shirt transfer paper; I use Epson Cool Peel for most projects, including this one (not the cheapest, but really good results)

Step-by-Step

  1. Design your label and then print it onto the transfer paper, being careful to select ‘mirror image’ on your printer for any text.  Print it out and leave to cool…

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2.  Position the transfer on your paper sack, being sure to leave enough space at the top if you want to roll it over as I’ve done here (I like the contrast between the white of the outer sack and the brown lining).

3. Iron on a medium heat to transfer the image or text; you might need a lower setting than with fabric to avoid scorching

4.  Leave to cool, peel off the transfer paper and admire your handiwork.

5.  Fill with animals, laundry, craft materials, family members *delete as applicable

Printed Paper Sacks

Job done!

These would also look gorgeous at Christmas as personalised gift sacks (and require a little less effort than these!).

Have a wonderful weekend…

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DIY Bear Bag (made from a paper sack)

Resurfacing! (and The Shipping Forecast…)

Well, it’s certainly good to be back.

A crazy few weeks of work, business-travel and a greater than usual number of plates to spin and balls to juggle has meant that creative things have taken a backseat of late.

But not anymore; the days are long now, with August just around the corner bringing a welcome reprieve and some headspace once more.

So let’s begin again…

paper sculpture by katescreativespace

Remember the old shipping maps, that I found in a vintage shop of a couple of years ago? One evening last week I unfolded a map, took out my trusty craft knife and had a go at creating a paper-boat seascape, setting a fisherman out to sail;

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Here it is!

The Shipping Forecast by Katescreativespace

Close-up of Shipping Forecast paper cutting

I began by making a simple paper boat (instructions here).  Paper boat-making is about as close as I come to origami (apart from these stars, which are just as simple), but it’s a very lovely throwback to childhood and simple pleasures.  Then I cut out the base for the paper sculpture; three tiers of paper waves, with a sliver of foamboard glued between each of them for definition and layering.

Layering paper in paper cutting

And now the hard bit; I used a sharp craft knife to carefully cut out one side of the boat cabin, and then cut a similar-sized piece of translucent paper to glue in its place.  Freehand, I lightly drew and carved out shapes of a fisherman, wheel, lantern and a small shoal of fish, before sticking them into place.  As a final touch, I pushed a battery t-light into the folds of the boat…

Turning paper cutting into luminaries

 

To create a mantelpiece luminary!

Paper boat luminary

If the paper-cutting feels prohibitively complicated, stick to making simple paper boats which still look beautiful with a battery light inside them.  A fleet of them down the centre of a dining table at night, or an armada of tiny paper ships floating on a pond or a pool if you have one would look lovely!

p.s., popcorn boats, Driftwood boats, and a ship for the littlest pirates.  Plus another way to make luminaries.

popcorn boats

Have a wonderful weekend!

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A Drawing Wall!

Wall-hung drawing paper rolL!

When we updated Harry’s room earlier this year, there’s one more thing that we added – almost as an afterthought – that has proven to be a HUGE hit.

Whilst rummaging in the loft, we found an old wooden curtain rail which we cut down to size and threaded with a 20m roll of brown parcel paper.  We mounted it on a spare sliver of wall in Harry’s bedroom…

How to make a drawing roll

..added a simple painted wooden baton at the bottom the hold the paper in place, and hey presto; a drawing wall came to life!

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It’s become a kind of collaborative family art space and messaging board.  We practice numbers on it (times-tables, exhaustively…), see who can draw the best elephant or sea monster or ice-cream flavour* (*me; Harry; Dad).  When Harry won an art prize at school, I sneaked upstairs before bedtime to leave this trophy in pride of place…

Brown paper roll for family messages

Here’s a few tips if you’re making your own..

  • Source your paper roll first before cutting the curtain pole down to size.  Paper tends to come in standard widths, so start with the end in mind.  Amazon and office supply stores are great for white and brown paper rolls.
  • Choose paper strong enough to withstand pulling down and pressing on, but not so thick that it won’t roll easily or tear off when you’re done – we used inexpensive 100gsm parcel paper.
  • To roll the paper onto the curtain pole, tape along one long edge to hold it in place and then roll up, positioning it so that the roll is to the front and the paper drop to the rear as shown (like a toilet roll!)

Wall-mounted drawing paper roll

  • When you’ve filled a length of paper, you can either tear it off or roll it up again at the bottom, pulling down to create new space.  If you do this, you can ultimately rewind it facing the other way to create a double-sided roll.
  • We used art pastels initially on the paper which gave great vibrant colours, but do tend to rub off on fingers (and wall, and floor, and duvet cover) – then I found these bright chalk pens which work beautifully and give rich colours without the mess.  You just have to be disciplined about putting the tops back on again afterwards.

Harry’s works a treat in his bedroom, but this would also look great in a kitchen for shopping lists, family messages or general creativity. Enjoy!

Family art wall in a kids bedroom

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The Odd Egg

The Odd Egg

With Easter fast approaching, Harry and I have been busy making an enormous egg.  Heaven knows what bird might have laid this egg, which is just short of 3 foot in length; it is certainly not a bird I would want to stumble across accidentally or whose nest I would want to unwittingly disturb.  Come Easter Sunday, it will hang from a tree in the garden filled with sweets and chocolate eggs, and be smashed, piñata-style, by an army of small egg-hunters.  Till then, it is safe and majestic atop a rather unsubstantial nest.

We began by inflating a large – huge – balloon.  Well actually, in truth we watched my husband inflate it and made encouraging noises as he turned slowly purple with the effort.  Team-work. Then we covered it with two layers of newspaper dipped in a mixture of white glue and water, pausing only occasionally to read the newspaper stories.

Paper mache balloon egg layer 1

And then a final layer, this time of white paper (we used two sheets of flipchart paper, torn up), so that we could see when we’d finished an entire layer.

Paper mache egg layer 2

And then I painted it with some pale grey leftover tester paint, before dabbing on circles and speckles of paint, in brown and copper colours….

Painted paper mache egg

It looks pretty convincing!

pinata egg

It’s very light, at least until filled with chocolate…

Giant duck egg pinata

Once it was completely dry, I cut a circular hole in the back (don’t cut it out entirely – it’s much easier to seal this way).  Harry filled the egg with chocolates, using an ‘add one, eat one’ policy and thus adding to the brown smudges around the egg.

DIY fillable Easter pinata

At Easter, we’ll thread a rope up in through the egg and tie it to the old apple tree in our garden that’s currently filled with blossom.  Until then, we can just admire it…

p.s. two more of our papier-mache projects; the hot air balloon and the moon.

Have a great rest of the weekend!

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DIY Paper Marbling with Metallics

DIY Shaving Foam Paper Marbling

I’ve always loved marbled papers, ever since a trip to Venice as a teenager when I stumbled across a tiny paper shop called Il Papiro that was filled from floor to ceiling with hand-decorated sheets in every hue.  Even then (especially then!), they were way beyond my price range, so I admired them and reluctantly left them behind.  Finally, an unimaginable number of years later, I discovered how to make marbled paper at home.  The trick?  The cheapest shaving foam you can find.

In truth, I am pretty sure that this is not the secret ingredient that Italian marblers have been using since the fifteenth century, but still – it works a treat.

DIy marbled paper from KatesCreativeSpace

Firstly, go shopping for several cans of shaving foam.  Ignore the strange looks that this provokes; try not to appear as someone wresting with a secret, hidden, hairiness.  Then find yourself some disposable foil trays, food colouring and a syringe or baster / pipette.  Latex gloves too, if your fingers will appear in public soon afterwards; temporary staining is a potential hazard.  Let’s begin…

Fill your tray with spray-can shaving foam.  Make sure it’s the old fashioned cheap foam and not hipster shaving gel; you want plenty of ‘bouff’…

Foil tray filled with shaving foam (DIY marbled paper)

Then using the syringe or pipette, squirt drops of food colouring randomly around the tray.  Here, I used two shades of blue food dye (a turquoise and a deeper blue), and also some gold paint;

Mixing foam with food dye for marbling

Using a wooden skewer, gently stir and swirl the dye around until it’s mixed loosely together and there are no big pools or stripes of colour.  Don’t blend it in completely; you just want it stirred together, like this;

DIY shaving foam paper marbling

And then quickly lay your piece of paper on top, face-down, and push it gently flat so that all parts of it are covered by the foam mix

DIY paper marbling step 4

Lift up the paper and lay it down flat.  It will look deeply unimpressive.  You will be covered in foam.  You will despair.  But wait.  Wait just a moment, because this next bit is where the magic happens…

DIY foam paper marbling

Take a clean ruler and place it along your sheet, and pull down smoothly, wiping the foam away.  It’s awesome.  You will feel like an artist…

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Use kitchen roll to wipe away any residual foam, and leave the paper to dry.

You can get a second print from the tray, but it will be a bit blurrier and less defined than the first.  Try different colour mixes and experiment with using shaded papers.  My favourite is pale blue paper with blue food dye and silver paint; it gives an ethereal and delicate marbling pattern that’s perfect for making writing paper…

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Deeper and more vibrant mixes are great for making gift tags, or cutting out as envelope liners like below;

DIY Marbling Envelope Liners

Make sheet after sheet, and use them in everything you can think of…

DIY Paper marbling with shaving foam

Oh, and happy Sunday, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing! (Do this now; do this instead…)

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