paper craft

How to Capture a Kiss…

A Kiss in a Box

On Mothers day this year (which in the UK falls in March), Harry produced a large, wrapped box which he’d decorated at nursery with tissue paper and paint. ‘You can’t open it’, he said ‘But there’s a kiss in it that I blowed before I shut it’. Harry’s very familiar with the notion that kisses can be blown and caught; from when he was tiny we’ve been sending kisses his way for him to chase, catch, and occasionally swallow.  I love the idea of capturing a kiss and keeping it safe, so inspired by my mother’s day gift I’ve made a kiss-catching kit which can be used to transport love through the post or in a pocket, and is small enough to be carried like a secret talisman whenever needed.

Kiss in a Box DIY

The printable wrappers below will cover a small, standard matchbox, which you can then either leave empty (because kisses are invisible after all…) or add a photo in the base.  I blew my kiss into a small glass bottle, but if you’re worried about glass then you could use a tiny bag or envelope, or a simple heart or Hershey’s chocolate kiss instead.  Simply cut out the templates, fold and glue around your matchbox, using pegs or paperclips to hold the wrapper in place whilst it dries.  I made two versions; a hessian-effect wrapper and a suitcase-style cover modelled on this beautiful one from Globetrotter, which will join my wardrobe when I eventually win the lottery (but probably not until then).

How to Capture a Kiss Kit

DIY Matchbox Covers from katescreativespace

Harry’s box is small enough to be tucked deep into a pocket to provide secret reassurance during any moments requiring mild bravery; unaccompanied playdates, sleepovers or Big Days at school – a discreet kind of comfort blanket that can be gripped when necessary without anyone else knowing.

A kiss in a Pocket

My own original box-with-a-kiss sits atop my desk and always makes me smile.  It came accompanied by a Mother’s Day breakfast-in-bed menu, which Harry had collaged by cutting and pasting a variety of options from the pages of a magazine.  He arrived at our bedroom door at dawn in chef’s whites ready to take my order (below), but then swiftly climbed into bed and delegated the preparations to his father, ‘now that I have done the hard work of the menu’.  What a smooth operator…

mothers day breakfast

Have a great weekend!

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DIY Matchbox Covers from katescreativespace

Quick Tricks: Painted Paper Hearts

DIY watercolour hearts for valentines day


Thanks for the wonderful cake ideas last week; inspiration enough to keep us going through till Springtime!  This week has been a crazy one at work (I’m back to full-time now), but with Valentine’s day just around the corner I’ve spent a few minutes making these hand-torn, watercolour hearts to use in various ways.  All you need is a heart-shaped cookie-cutter, a sheet of watercolour paper and some basic paints – and about 10 minutes to spare.  No more artistic skills than that, I promise you… Torn paper hearts Valentines watercolour hearts
Take a sheet of regular watercolour paper, and place a heart-shaped cookie cutter on it.  Cut very roughly around it and snip at each end of the shape to get you started.  Now press the cutter down hard on a flat surface and tear around it so you have a heart shape.

how to make torn paper hearts

making paper hearts

Loosely mix up some red & white paint and swirl until you have a vibrant, watery pink.  Load a big brush and just wash it all over the shape.  You can add areas of deeper colour for an ombre effect.

painted paper hearts

Let them dry (you can paint both sides if you’re using them for a garland), and you’ll find they settle into a beautiful array of different shades and tones, with the colour deepening at the torn edges;

Watercolour hearts for valentines

…and the only thing left to decide is how to use them!  I’ll be using mine to make a Valentine’s card and matching gift tag, and will also use a white chalk pen to scribble our planned Valentine’s day menu on it (I’m cooking for us at home), to nestle on plates on the table.  These would also look great strung together to make a garland, or simply adorned with a love message and then tucked discreetly in your loved one’s pocket to be discovered later in the day… the possibilities are endless.

valentines card



Finally, if you enjoyed my post about watercolour stencilling, try using cookie cutters instead of stencils – it works beautifully (and is great fun with kids…)

Have a great weekend, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing..

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A Swashbuckling Adventure!

It’s Harry’s birthday in a couple of weeks, and once again we’ll be taking to the metaphorical high-seas for pirate-themed adventure.  He’s captivated by a programme called Swashbuckle at the moment; a sort of fast and furious show for under-1os where the kids have to outwit naughty pirates and reclaim their stolen treasure.  We’ve been tasked with recreating some of the games from the programme, and dressing up accordingly; I’ve been combing charity shops for suitably piratical clothing, and glueing metres of gold braid to second-hand coats and old wellington boots.  First things first though; the invitations!

Homemade Message in a Bottle Pirate Party Invites

I wanted to create something that would feel a bit magical and nautical for Harry’s friends to receive, so used plastic water bottles to create a kind of message-in-a-bottle invitation (we’ve got through quite a lot of Evian over the last few days; I’m hoping my skin will thank me at some point..).  I substituted the screw-top for a champagne cork and strung an eye-patch around each one.  (I’d love to be able to say that we’ve been nobly working our way through endless bottles of champagne over the last few days too, but in fact I’ve been saving these corks up for years in the vague expectation of putting them to some crafty use).  I secured a label to each with bakers’ twine and then set about designing the invite itself.

Swashbuckle Invitation

DIY pirate party invitations

I designed the invite on my PC, then printed a copy and carefully burned the edges away to age it and add a bit of drama, then photocopied the original to produce a whole set.  I fed these through the printer to print all the party details on the other side.  If you have a young pirate at home and want to try this, I’ve uploaded a PDF of the invite you can use at the end of the post.

We filled an otherwise gloomy and wet Sunday with the exciting task of posting these through local letterboxes, emailed invites to those further away and then began to think about costumes.  I wanted Harry to have a pair of proper pirate boots, so as a birthday present I’ve been secretly customising and accessorising these charity shop wellies which I bought for £2 and which are the perfect size…

Pirate Boots Makeover Project

DIY Pirate Boots detail

I used strips of faux leather for the cuffs, then super-glued braid around the edges, adding red ribbon and plastic coin trim around the front for a spot of extra bling (you can never have too much bling, if you’re a real pirate..).  I stitched silver buttons to the cuffs and then sewed miniature picture frames onto a length of wide black elastic for the buckles, and then slipped these over the top of the boots.

Upcycle old wellies into pirate boots

The pirate treasure chest gift box was a fortuitous find at TK Maxx, and will keep these Pirate Captain boots a secret for the next couple of weeks, to be opened on the day of the party and hopefully received with great excitement… we shall see!

Alongside the pirate preparations we’re also starting to think ahead to Christmas, so Harry and I have broken out the glitter and craft paper and are on a roll.  The builders are still here to keep us company, so the house is a sea of sparkly glitter, half-empty mugs of tea and brick dust (who needs dry shampoo? Just plaster a wall and you can wash your hair far less frequently..).  It’s chaos, but we’re still feeling zen and trying to hold on to that holiday afterglow.  In the absence of any aptitude for yoga or meditation, wine is definitely helping with the relaxation.

Ahoy There Pirate Invitation

Message in a bottle labels

 

Lost Arts: Paper Boats

tutorial on how to make paper boats

Do you remember making paper boats as a child?  Or perhaps paper hats?  I was thinking last week about how easy it would be for these oh-so-simple and yet so magical crafts to vanish in the modern world.  I grew up knowing how to make boats and hats, how to write secret letters in home-made invisible ink , how to tie a myriad of different knots – albeit mostly with the aim of binding my  brother to a tree – and how to build bivouacs and signal in morse code using my torch, illicitly, late at night.

It helped that my mother was a Girl Guide leader, and that most Friday nights saw the garden filled with girls flamboyantly  lighting campfires (health and safety be damned..) and practicing outdoor skills.  It was a gung-ho upbringing and I just assumed that all parents knew this stuff and could whip up a sailing boat, a double-half-hitch-crossover-hench-twist* or a series of intelligible smoke signals at the drop of a proverbial hat.

*Don’t try to look this one up; accuracy is not my strong point.

Of course, I have forgotten nearly all of it, so in an attempt to ensure I can create the same delight and awe in Harry, I gave myself a refresher crash course in elementary boat building.  If your skills are similarly rusty, arm yourself with a sheet of letter paper and follow this.  Pause it when you get lost and start-over.  Don’t do this after a glass of wine.

tradewinds paper boat with mast and ribbon flags

I made my boats from map paper and poked twigs and wooden skewers through each to form a mast.  Washi paper tape and scraps of fabric complete the sail, and I used a rubber stamp kit to print random numbers and letters on them.  I christened my boats with suitably nautical names – Tradewinds, Siren Song, Night Trawler et al – and prepared to set sail.

paper boat with sail

Tiny silver bells and paper dolphins accompany the boats as they take to the high seas; these are beautiful if you’re making boats to tuck into bookshelves and on mantels, but obviously won’t survive a voyage across the bathtub.

paper dolphine

If you find you’re having balance problems, try adding an anchor; I used a handful of beads from an old necklace which look a little like ancient maritime fishing bouys.

paper boat with anchor and paper dolphins, and linen sail

And finally if you want to produce an armada to be sailed across lakes, rivers or ponds, try using an old book.  The pages are perfectly thin and work brilliantly for folding.  I found an old book of letters in my local junk shop for 50p and now have a handful of tiny boats that we can practice bombing, sinking and blowing off course…

paper boats made from old book pages

Staying with our nautical theme, we managed a long weekend at the seaside, having a very British kind of minibreak; each day we acquired a smattering of freckles, a dash of windburn and the kind of bracing exfoliation that only frequent, brief hail-storms can provide.  Every time we turned to face each other our hair had been coiffed into evermore improbable positions by the briny crosswinds, and we practised our sprint-starts by racing each other to shelter under the pier when the heavens opened.

And yet, and yet …it was beautiful.

vibrantly coloured doors of houses and seaside photographs

In three brief, heady days we had a ball; crabbing in the harbour with leftover bacon from breakfast; building mermaids and forts in the sand; watching astonishing sunsets with a glass in hand, and gradually amounting a huge collection of dubiously scented seaweed, driftwood and flotsam, which has left a lingering & evocative presence in the car ever since that no amount of ventilation can quite dispel.

postcards 2

We came home, unpacked the car, collapsed in a heap together on the sofa, and then remembered our sunflowers.  A feverish scramble to the windowsill revealed…

..that we have life!!  A magnificent 4 inches of life no less; we are very proud.

sunflower germinating

Have a wonderful weekend when it arrives, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.  It’s a holiday weekend here in England, and for once the skies are blue and cloudless.  I feel a barbeque coming on…

Handmade Memory Books

My love of paper is well-known to anyone who has visited this site with any regularity since I began writing in January; show me a craft knife, a gluestick and a roll of interesting papers and my heart starts to race faster than if Mr Clooney swung by announcing I was his plan for the evening.  Well, maybe not quite that fast, but fast enough nonetheless…..

Where was I? Oh yes, back to far more appropriately maternal thoughts for a moment and this week’s project; a homemade scrapbook for Harry to colour in, fill out and cover randomly with photos of his choosing.  Documenting his friends, passions and a carefully curated collection of his exuberant artwork, it will capture a little piece of his life at 2, and will be a great rainy day project (and we have plenty of rain right now…).

I learned the sublime art of book-making a few months ago at the hands of the serene and wonderful artist Ciara Healy.  Ciara takes a zen approach to paper craft and despite spending her days upto her elbows in PVA glue manages to look effortlessly elegant and well-manicured, without attracting all the bits of discarded paper and ribbon that seem to adhere themselves to my entire body surface by the time I’m done.  The scrapbook or memory book I’ve made above is deliciously simple, and can be made with two sides of a cardboard box, a few large sheets of white paper, a roll of giftwrap and very little else (though you can increase the sophistication endlessly).

The pages for this book are standard size sheets simply folded in half. You can choose any starting size – I used A3 – and decide whether to leave them blank or add text as I did by running through the printer first.  I added headings to some pages ‘my favourite toys’ ‘my best friends’ etc, and left others blank.  When making grown-up books for friends I love to use old maps, diagrams, and textured papers interleaved with regular paper stock to make each book more interesting and individual; you can also add vellum envelopes for the recipient to store keepsakes.

Score and cut your cardboard so that it is 1″ longer than the folded paper at both the top and bottom and 1.5″ wider in total.  Choose some colourful strong gift wrap, wallpaper or even fabric for your cover (plastic coated fabric like tablecloth material works brilliantly for this), and a contrasting strip of book cloth or tape for your centre seam.  Decide how deep you want your seam to be, and then measure and lay out your card so that you have a gap of 0.5″ between the two covers (1).  Apply PVA glue liberally to the book cloth seam and then lay the cardboard in place, scoring down the sides for definition.  Place a sheet of greaseproof paper in the middle and fold the book shut, weighting it down to dry out (this will help flatten any bumps and prevent the cardboard from curling).  Once dry, it should look like this (2); overlay various decorative papers to decide which looks best, and work out which part of any pattern or design you want to show (particularly important with large prints or images). Carefully apply PVA to the back of each sheet of your paper and lay over the cover, overlapping your seam by a fraction.  Trim off the corners and fold under neatly, before weighting to dry out as before, at which point it should look like this (3).  By this time I had become too covered in rapidly-drying glue to take intricate photographs of each stage so have simply described them, but for the visually minded and determined, there’s an excellent online tutorial here.

Whilst your cover dries, stitch together your pages as shown here, using a strong thread that won’t snap easily, and then glue the front and back pages into your board cover, which should leave a lovely decorative border around the side whilst masking your stuck-down edges.  If the thought of sewing makes you want to weep, you can staple your pages together instead, just don’t tell anyone I suggested it…

As a final touch, you can add a closure for your book; I opted to punch small holes in Harry’s book cover and sew on two contrasting buttons, then added a ribbon to the inside back cover (secured with another piece of glued cover paper), as shown below.

Harry is rightly proud of his new book and marches around clutching it possessively in the manner of a trainee Traffic Warden looking to note down infringements.  I am attempting to follow closely behind and impound the gluestick before all important bits of household paperwork become irrevocably adhered to its pages. Wish me luck…

Champagne on Ice, Dinner at 8…

Some friends you just know are going to be in your lives for the long run, and our former neighbours fall firmly into that category. In the space of just a couple of years we’ve camped out in each others’ kitchens, set the world to rights more times than I care to remember,  celebrated some of life’s great milestones and donned a myriad of fancy dress costumes whilst sinking an inordinate number of bottles of wine – all the usual stuff that bonds you and transcends the superficial differences in age and life stage.  So it was a no brainer that they’d be the first people invited to dinner the moment the new cooker was connected, and last weekend we celebrated in style.

Of course, anyone who has ever had a new kitchen fitted will immediately recognise my amateur error above, namely to throw a dinner party without having even idly flicked through the 368 page cooker manual beforehand, and indeed such a laissez-faire attitude was foolhardy to say the least. The food was certainly eye-watering, but not alas because of its grandeur and finesse but because of the smoke which billowed from the oven and created an atmospheric if throat-constricting backdrop to the evening.

Still, the champagne helped, and the table decor distracted – I made these personalised placemats earlier in the day using a basic graphics programme and some vintage cutlery clipart, before adding a touch of silver leaf to the knife and fork to catch the light from the candles on the table.  Stencilling the initials of our friends on these slate tags below with a chalk pen made for unique (and wipe-clean) napkin rings, into which I tucked a sprig of rosemary for a flash of colour and a hint of barely discernible scent. Tips and techniques below…

 

For the placemats (I used Powerpoint, but adapt these guidelines for your chosen programme)….

  • Draw a simple coloured square for your background colour, and choose font colour
  • I googled an online dictionary and copied the phonetic layout and invented appropriate descriptors for each guest
  • Either paste your clip-art directly onto the backdrop or carefully print, clip and paste on to each
  • I printed these onto UK A3 sized paper – using recycled paper gave a great matte finish, but normal copy paper would work fine
  • Rub the clip-art image lightly with low-tack glue (I used Pritt-Stick) and brush on a little silver leaf, using a dry brush to remove any excess.
  • Save the template – you can use it infinitely and just change names and descriptors each time – ta da!

 

Lepidoptery for the Lily-Livered

As a child on holiday in Cornwall, I remember scuffing my way along the hedgerows in Summer and finding seemingly hundreds of butterflies which had quietly met their last and were now decoratively, if a little sombrely, adding a flash of colour amidst the green.  We’d gather them up and head home, carefully cupping our deceased quarry as if it might still fly away.  But here the nostalgic reminisces grind to a halt because I cannot for the life of me remember what we did with them next.  Even at the age of 10 when one’s barbaric tendencies are at a peak, the idea of pinning them to a board or glueing them into a macabre holiday craft montage  seemed a little, well, unnecessary. So instead I imagine they  sat on the kitchen table, shedding and gathering dust in equal measure, until swept to their ultimate doom by my mother in a fit of domestic zeal.

This week I discovered a far more humane way to reignite my brief flirtation with the world of lepidoptery; a cheap and cheerful craft punch, which has proven to have a multitude of uses.  I worked my way through some leftover gift wrap, then experimented with watercolours and finally some old walking maps, which my husband had unwittingly left lying around.  I am mildly apprehensive about the day when he confidently whips one open when lost on a Yorkshire moor and finds that there is a butterfly-shaped hole in the place where the footpath was once shown, but I’ll endeavour to not lose any sleep over it.  A word of advice on maps; if using the more mundane modern versions like me, rather than the romantic olde worlde versions, do check what map detail you are stamping out before attaching your butterfly irrevocably to a card; I had to prise a fluttering ‘Public Sewage Works’ butterfly off and start again…

Close-ups, tips and tools below.

A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies on pastel paper. If you had the time or inclination to keep going, these would look beautiful en masse in a box frame. (Fact of the day; a kaleidoscope is indeed the beautiful and apt collective noun for a group of butterflies…)

Map butterflies glued to a square of mount board with a watercolour wash

Fun layering with leftover gift wrap – this would work well on tags or headed notecards too

A wallpaper butterfly on mount board as before, this time with a dash of glitter glue

Materials:

  • Hobbycraft small butterfly punch (£3.99)
  • Decorative paper scraps and maps
  • Gel craft glue or hot glue (glue sticks like Pritt will work fine for flat butterflies but are not quite strong enough if you’re folding and mounting at an angle)