Creating Laminated Pennants – Tutorial

I’ve had a massive (ahem, year long) break from blogging – but I feel renewed and full of ideas, so …I’m BACK!!!!!!

The break is a whole other story, and one that I will come back to in a later post… but for now, some fun!

Lately I’ve gone a bit pennant crazy, and I’ve started making paper pennants that I hope to sell. But here’s a fun and easy idea that you can do at home, if you have access to a laminator!

laminated pennant

laminated pennant

Whilst I was making some the other day, I was blotting my paintbrush on some tissue paper and as it dried I thought, “hmm that looks too good to throw away!” So it go me to thinking about all the scrap bits of paper that I create. Also my son had had just been painting and there were a few pieces of paper that I felt were just desperate to be made into something… (So often my son’s do lovely pieces of ‘art’ that just aren’t quite up to being framed, and yet I feel awful at the thought of recycling them.). So I decided to turn the leftovers into something for the boys rooms instead! And so the idea for some fun pennants for each of their rooms was born. I wanted one pennant to have J’s name, the other to have a line from one of our favourite books. It was super easy and fun for us to do together (well mostly, although do take care when using a laminator and craft knife please!!)

blotting paper

 

scrap painted paper

 

All you have to do for each pennant is either leave your scrap art paper whole or cut out you shapes (I wanted to write some text but if your child is old enough to use scissors let them create their own master piece!)

Then simply use  a glue stick to lightly adhere the shapes onto the inside of a laminator pocket and then insert it into your pre-warmed machine.

laminating DSCF0653Obviously take EXTREME care when allowing your little one to ‘help’ you!!

my helper

text in laminator pocket

 

in the window

in the window

You could just stop there – as you can see I cut one of the finished pieces into a heart shape. But for the pennants, keep reading…

(The next part I had to do by myself whilst my ‘helper’ had a snack..!)

Draw and then cut our your child’s name or favourite quote using a craft knife. Make sure you have a cutting mat down! Then you will need some chord or string – I used gold just to be fancy but really anything will do. Trim your pennant to size and cut the bottom into a ‘v’ shape. I made a template out of A4 paper and used a craft knife and ruler but scissors will be fine if thats all you have. Using a hole punch make two holes at the top and knot one end of your chord, thread it through to the desired length and then cut and knot the other end.

laminated pennant

Est voila! You have your very own kids room pennant!

 

 

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DIY Fossils with salt dough

DIY fossils

A super easy craft activity that my boys LOVED. All you need is a simple salt dough and either items found from nature or toy dinosuars (or both!)

Salt dough recipe

  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 3/4 cup hot water (or there abouts)
  • black food colouring

Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Then add the oil. Add about a teaspoon of black food colouring to the hot water water and slowly pour it into the mixture, stirring as you go. If dough becomes too wet add a little more flour, or too dry add more water at a tablespoon a time. Kneed until it is a nice smooth dough.DSCF1216Divide dough into roughly equal sized parts and roll each piece to about 1 cm thick. let your childs imagination take over, as they choose which fossils to make. We went on a ‘nature walk’ to select shells, leaves, and things such as seed pods, and also used a selection of plastic dinosaurs.

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I didn’t manage to get many photos as S needed a bit of help during the process, but I think its easy enough to work out what to do!

Bake them in the oven at 120 c (I used fan mode) for 1-2 hours, I greased the baking tray lightly with spray oil first, and turned the ‘fossils’ every half hour until they felt hollow and seemed thoroughly dried out. It depends on the thickness of your dough. You may need to remove some sooner then others before they get brown.DSCF1226DIY salt dough fossilsVarnish if you like, but we left ours as they were. S took his proudly to his Montessori pre-school where they have placed them in a basket with a magnifying glass for the other children to explore, so we have since made another batch and he seemed to enjoy it even more. x

DIY fabric printing tutorial part 1 – Making stamps

diy fabric printingI have finally got back into printing fabric, its only been, oh, 10 years since I completed my degree in printed surface design… A few things got in the way (ahem..) but the urge to print has finally returned! I thought I would share an example of how to make your own stamps. Fabric printing is such fun and the results are pretty instantaneous and so satisfying, and you can achieve great results without the need to buy expensive equipment. But of course it doesn’t have to be limited to fabric, paper is just as satisfying to print onto and great to do with kids too.

For the stamps you will need:

  • blocks of wood, bottles tops, corks or other material to stick your stamps onto (get creative and look in your recycling!)
  • craft foam
  • a pen
  • craft knife and/or scissors
  • strong glue (glue gun or craft glue)
  • cutting board (if using craft knife)

DIY stamps

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Cut out your shapes. For complicated shapes, you can draw your design on paper first, cut it out then trace around it onto your craft foam.

Glue down your shapes.

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DSCF1079 Here I used corks and milk bottle tops for smaller shapes

To print your stamps you will need:

  • fabric paint (I used fastex)
  • plate/pallet or similar for mixing colours on
  • sponge or sponge dabber
  • something to mix paints with e.g paintbrush or small spoon
  • for larger quantities of mixed fabric paint you may want to store leftovers in a clean lidded jam jar or tub.
  • masking tape
  • suitable printing surface*

*I will be adding another tutorial on how to create a printing surface. For small scale projects you can just masking tape your fabric to a table, but bear in mind that the ink make sink through to the table.

DSCF1356Mix your desired colour, and dab the ink onto your stamp with your sponge.

DSCF1089DSCF1358Here I tied and elastic band around a sponge to give it a more ’rounded’ area for dabbing with. (please excuse my claw like hand!)

testing the stampsTesting out the stamps on paper or smaller scraps of fabric first is a great idea…! It will save you wasting your chosen fabric as the stamp may print differently to how you imagined and it takes a few goes to get the pressure right. Also it will give you a chance to see if the colour you have chosen is correct.

DIY fabric printing Here you can see how my fabric tightly stretched onto my printing surface and taped down to keep the fabric from moving as I print.

Have fun! x

Space-dough – Playdough for Matariki

S0221067So this month in New Zealand it’s the Maori celebration of Matariki to mark the start of the Maori New Year. S loves space. Actually he’s pretty much just obsessd with it. We talked about the stars, the constilation of Matariki (also known as Pleiades or the Seven Sisters) and the Solar System. Learning whist playing is by far the best way to learn! So to tie the two together what better then a good old bit of playdough.  Any excuse to get glitter invoved as far as I’m concerned, yay!

This is by far the easiest (and I think best) playdough recipe I have tried (and I have tried a LOT of recipes…) simply because it uses minimum ingreadients, is a no cook recipe i.e. less washing up (fist pumps), and makes the perfect amount.

Best ever, basic NO COOK playdough recipe:

  • 1/2 cup of table salt
  • 1 cup of plain flour
  • 1 tablespoon Cream of Tatar (find in baking section)
  • 1 tablespoon any veg oil
  • 2/3 – 1 cup on boiling hot water
  • food colouring

SPACE-DOUGH

  • foil confetti, glitter, small glitter stars, small balls etc

Method – Place first 4 ingredients in a mixing bowl. Boil kettle and fill cup almost full and add as much food colouring as required For a strong colour about 2 dessert spoons. Add most of the water to bowl and stir thouroughly. If mixtures seems dry add rest of water. If too wet, add about a tablespoon of flour. Take care as mixture will be hot, but kneed until dough forms a ball. Allow to cool. Store in airtight container when not in use. Keeps for 1-2 months.

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For SPACE-DOUGH you will need black food colouring (duh) and I used foil confetti (from $ shop) plus regular glitter, and some larger glitter stars, the type you get in the craft section. Add the glittery stuff just before you kneed it. Save the balls to give to the little peeps, I gave the boys small bouncy balls for planets (again, from $ shop) and marbles too. In the photo you can see beads but I actually decided against using these in the end. 
S0021034 (1)S0031036S0041038 (1)S0081045S0101049S0111050S0141055S0161059It was so much fun to play with, yes I totally got involved, and S even chose different marbles and balls to represent the ‘solar-system’ – see top photo (Only about 1 million questions asked) I happen to randomly know the order of the planets off by heart…phew. But if you don’t after the Sun it’s:

  • Mercury
  • Venus
  • Earth
  • Mars
  • Jupiter
  • Satrun
  • Uranus
  • Neptune
  • Pluto – Yeah no longer classed as a planet but, anyway.

Happy Matariki! x

 

10 Tips for Photographing Children

I’ve done my fair share of photographing children and babies, not only as a professional but of my own (poor over-papped) children. And, as most parents know, its easier said then done to get a decent picture. Still, practice makes perfect and I have learnt quite a few tricks on the way, some of which I thought I’d share so others can maybe take a more ‘frame worthy’ photo of their kids.

They say a poor workman always blames his tools, but with photography it really does help to have a half decent camera, and a basic understanding of how it works… that said, you dont have to spend thousands on the latest SLR, most digital cameras nowadays have settings such as ‘macro’, ‘sport’ and surpressing flash. My best peice of advice is whatever camera you have READ the manual! I know, its dull. No one wants to read the manual. Ok so you probably won’t, but it will save you frustraion in the long run and you WILL get better photos if you know how to properly use the functions on your camera, but to save you time…

Here are my top 10 tips for the novice!

  • use the sport mode…

 Most cameras have ‘sport’ mode, usuallly a speedy looking person (or perhaps zumba-esque?!) like this:sport modeIt will enable you to capture them in at a fast shutter speed, therefore in action. Cos lets face it, kids move, a lot. Better still, some cameras allow for ‘continous shooting’ where by pressing your finger down on the button it will fire off a succession of photographs very quickly so that later you can just scroll though and pick the ‘winners’. Kids don’t stay still so the sport mode is in my opinion, your best friend when it comes to photographing them to maximise your chance of getting a decent photo – especially if you are trying to snap more then one child!! sportmode

  • use a zoom lens…

You will get get a much better photo if a child is (almost) unaware you are taking their photo.. which seems slightly impossible, unless you factor in a zoom lens. Here’s the usual story – you see your kid doing something that would make a great photo, you run and get your camera, but as soon as you darling child spots the camera its game over. Or, you start trying to get your child to ‘perform’ for the camera, they seem to have a uncanny knack of suddenly acting like a celebrity in a scandal – all coy and running away from the mum-arazzi, totally impossible to photograph… So if you have a zoom lens or decent zoom setting back off, be quiet, patient and let them do there thing, and voila, the photo opportunities present themselves.IMG_1851

  • Use ‘macro’…

OK so its a complete contradiction of my previous tip, but if you have a complient child (usually the under twos, or ok, babies) ‘macro’ or ‘close up’ mode is your answer: macroThe little ‘tulip’ icon means macro, basically alowing you to get closer to your subject and still stay in focus. Make sure you have it set and you will kiss those fuzzy close -up shots goodbye. Sooo many people don’t realise what this simple function can achieve.IMG_1111

  • Change photos to black & white/edit/crop…col:bwSometimes, a photo you didn’t think worth keeping can be saved by a bit of basic editing. You don’t need to have the latest photoshop software, you can easily download Picasa for free, or even edit the photo in your local photo printing shop, as most machines have all the basic functionssuch as cropping, B&W etc.
  • Use a different point of view.

Literally, just get down on their level, squat, lie down, and see what they are interested in, or get up high and look down on them, try different things other then just standing at your own hight and snapping away mindlessly!

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  • Think about framing

Guess what, you don’t have to have your subject slap bang in the middle of the photo! In fact, the most interesting pictures are more likely to be ones where the viewer’s eye is ‘led’ into the photo, as in the ‘rule of thirds’. And don’t always thing that kids have to be looking straight at the lens to give you a good picture.IMG_1687IMG_1504

  • Be silly – wear a wig/mask/ears etc –

IMG_0740 (2)Yes, I meant you. Although you can get the kids to do this too, but if they see you being silly and having fun, they are more likely to want to play along. You can ask them “where’s the bunny?” whilst wearing silly ears, or act like a clown in a funnny wig to get them laughing and looking at the camera. Cringe worthy, but you who cares if everybody’s having fun?!

  • Props or activities

Use bubbles, ride on or pull along toys, fairy wands, suggest they climb a tree, give them a pile of leaves etc etc… Get them doing something, and you will get a better photo. Here’s where ‘sport’ mode really comes in handy!DSCF8125 - Version 2

  • Turn off your flash.

Find the surpress flash button and use it. Flash kills emotion in a photo, often you can use the natural light available, and if indoor photos are turing out blurry, its more then enough of a reason to get outside! IMG_7556IMG_0761

  • Dont say ‘cheese’… say ‘cheesy feet’…

Kids are pretty easy to make laugh. And if that fails, tell them to scream. Enough said. DSCF5530

I hope this post may have given others some new ideas to try, I will follow it up with tips on photographing babies soon!  If you still don’t think you can take a decent photo, check out and like my facebook page Phoebe Gander Creative and you can get me to come and do the hard work for you!!! x

Robot Party Piñata

I am not the type of mum who goes ‘cray cray’ about organising a themed party – you won’t find matching plates, table decorations, party bags etc at my kids b’days, (if you do then hats off to you but seriously I do not have that much time on my hands, of frankly the money) but we have started family tradition of sorts that whatever The Cake is we also have a matching Piñata. So far we have had a ‘Space Rocket’, ‘Monster’ and the latest, ‘Robot’ theme.

You’ve got to love piñatas, seriously in my book a party is not a party unless you have a thing to bash that contains sweets/lollies/candy… For J’s party I thought, he’s two, he does not care for nor need pass the parcel, pin the tail on the donkey, musical statues to name but a few of the traditional games that bring out the stress in me… but a piñata, oh yes, he needs one of those! I love them, but I do not love the $$$ price tag that goes with them in the shops when I know that their main function is to be destroyed. So of course I make my own!

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This year, The Robot was actually quite simple.

  • A cardboard box
  • a few cardboard tubes
  • a bit of string
  • tape
  • glue
  • some silver or grey spray/craft paint
  • paper & scissors
  • decorations of choice such as milk bottle tops,pipe cleaners, stickers etc
  • something to fill piñata with (important ha!)

I didn’t spend too long making it ‘perfect’ the only bit of effort required really was cutting out the bottom of the box and loosely taping it back on using paper strips, this was so that two years olds would not find it too hard to make the goodies inside escape. I then got my husband to add the tube arms using string and glue on the ‘eyes’ (at this point I was busy making The Cake) and spray paint the whole thing with leftover silver spray paint we had in the garage. In the morning I filled La Robot with lollies (I am going with lollies since I am in NZ but I would normally call them sweets) and also party blowers. FYI kids LOVE party blowers. my ears however do not. Final touches were the pipe cleaner antennas, stickers and mouth from a bit of paper. All that we needed to do now was hang him up, let each kiddo have a turn with the bat and wait for the lolly explostion!

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Who had the most fun?! Oops that would be me.

Here is the cake. I only took one crappy photo of it with my not so flash phone (tad annoyed with myself for this) But you get the jist. I totally just copied it from here

IMG_4167Less then 6 months to the next party. Yay!

x

 

DIY Geo Board for kids

IMG_4578Saw a similar thing here (WOW I am sooo excited that I just learnt to do a hyperlink! Sorry, I am a total techno-phobe mostly, and my husband – mega geek – just showed me and I almost did a little dance! Sorry, I digress…)

Back to the Geo Board – I didn’t have a pin board but I did have a couple of cork mats that I use for putting hot pots/pans on so I thought that will do just nicely thank you! Add to the mix a packet of rubber bands and a box of push pins and you have a fun ‘game’ that will keep your child entertained whilst also teaching fine motor skills and shape recognition. Oh and S obviously thought it was amazing since it contained PINS, an item usually forbidden due to their ability to inflict pain and damage! (yes, he did take them out and scracth the table but…meh)

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Little J even got involved and thought it was great fun! I MUST stress that adult supervision is required at all time!!!! (unfortunatly not one to bring out while making dinner, sigh)

Improvise with your choice of board, any kind of notice board will do, the bigger the better!

x