Keepers of the Flame!

With less than 4 weeks to go until the Olympic Games begin, the torch is weaving its merry way towards the stadium here in London. 8000 torchbearers are helping to transport it along its journey, and having been inexplicably overlooked by the selection committee, Harry and I have decided to take matters into our own hands and create our very own Olympic outfit and torch, ready for a ceremonial lap of the back garden….

For the Olympic tee you’ll need….

1. A plain white cotton tee shirt or vest, 2. Fabric paints in red, green, black, yellow and blue, 3. Ring-shaped objects for stamping; we used Play-Doh lids, but toilet rolls work well too, though they produce thinner rings.  Have a quick look in the kitchen cupboards and you’ll find all sorts of likely candidates! 4. Paintbrushes, to daub paint on your lids for a neat finish, and to fill in any gaps after stamping. Finally, a piece of card to place inside the shirt to keep the fabric flat and in position, and to stop paint leaking through to the back of the shirt. Oh, and wet wipes.  A mountain of them, if your toddler is as frisky as mine. Now you’re ready….

When you’ve finished, fill in any gaps with a dab of paint, using your paintbrush, then leave to dry before fixing the fabric paint according to the manufacturer’s instructions (usually a quick iron under a protective piece of fabric) …and admire your handiwork!

For the Olympic torch you’ll need…

1. A sheet of gold card, any size you like, 2. A variety of brightly coloured tissue paper sheets 3. Paper fasteners or double-sided tape to hold your torch in place.  Simply cut out flame shapes from your tissue, twist them together and fluff them out, then tape to hold in place.  Roll your card into a cone shape and stick or hold with paper fasteners (I found these best as my sparkly card caused the tape to give up quickly).  Put a dab of glue or piece of tape on the bottom of your flame bouquet and push it down into your cone – voila!

This would be a great crafting project to do with older children, who possess the hand-eye co-ordination to have a good shot at positioning the rings in roughly the right place.  Whilst I made this vest and tee for Harry, he experimented flamboyantly with his own Olympic ring design using finger paints and toilet rolls, proving that there’s an Olympic craft for everyone. I expect his hands and face will still be stained lightly red,yellow,blue and green by the time the Opening Ceremony commences…

The Lost Art of Letters

As a child I was completely obsessed by beautiful stationery. The dark, furry space under my bed reserved for Special Things To Be Kept Safe From My Brothers was stuffed with papery treasures given to me at birthdays and Christmases, but which I deemed far too precious to use; gift sets of paper and envelopes, 5-year diaries in which my most important thoughts would be captured for posterity, and so forth.  I would regularly take these out and admire them but rarely actually used them, lest they run out.  Or, in the case of the diaries, in case my thoughts turned out to be not quite important enough after all.  A hopeless case, as you’ll agree…

Now, as a mostly-grown-up, I love making stationery to use myself and to give as gifts, and with a printer and a cupboard full of paper to hand, I’m less inclined to stockpile.  As a parent, I also want Harry to be able to say a proper ‘thank you’ for presents and the kind of general loveliness that frequently arrives from relatives and Godparents. So when the Easter Bunny delivered big time, bringing not only chocolate but also, awe-inspiringly, a fire engine, I made him these cards to send out as thank-yous.  Big enough for a crayon scribble on the front from H, and small enough for a brief but heartfelt thank you from me, they do the trick nicely, and also make him keen to join in the fun…

Even for younger children and babies, it’s nice to have something personal; I made cards like these for a friend’s daughter on her first birthday, both to make her mother’s life easier and to give something a little different to the norm.  Tips and notes for both projects below, for those interested in giving this a whirl….

Here’s what I used for the two projects above:

1. craft edging punch for the ‘Amelie’ paper; this one from Martha Stewart 2. A selection of A5 coloured, textured card – Papermania does great packs in different sizes. 3. soft bristled brush for removing loose glitter 4. coloured triangle cut freehand from scraps of card 5. Glitter – any type will do, though Martha again has a great range 6. Glue pen (for precision) and craft knife, and finally 7. Paper tape – not shown in these projects but great for accessorising home-made notecards and paper.

Making the Monogram Cards:

1. Choose your letters and colour combinations.  I used a die-cutting machine for these but you can buy pre-cuts shapes in craft shops and on Ebay, or simply draw and cut out freehand. 2. draw a half-circle for your bunting; I used a glass cloche so I could see both sides of the line. 3. Add your bunting triangles alternating colour; use a glue pen for neatness. 4. Find a toddler and scribble away!

For the faux-letterpress Nursery Notelets:

1. Print out your chosen wording onto an A5 sheet, centring on the page. 2. Measure and cut your card to fit the size of your chosen envelope 3. Use an edging punch to carefully decorate the top edge (this is MS’s Birds on a Wire, from Amazon) 4. Carefully glue one of the birds and sprinkle liberally with glitter before brushing off. 5. Admire. Decide these are too pretty to use. Store carefully under the bed and accidentally forget about them.

After all this careful snipping and sticking and sighing at how zen and restful such crafting can be, especially when one’s son and husband are exhausting themselves with much shrieking on the new trampoline, I decided I wanted to make some of these for myself (below).  The final version of course has my address, but I thought that might just be over-sharing, so here’s the website instead..