Half Term Art

This half term we’ve been lucky to all have the week off and we decided on doing some new things as a family.

So on Monday we were up and out early for a trip out to the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. I last went there when I was doing my art GCSE, back in around 1987/8, so I was looking forward to seeing all the changes. It was not really a surprise to find it nothing like I remembered. The galleries are really bright and airy, and the exhibitions are full of thought invoking pieces of art and sculpture. One of the most interesting pieces was a large cave-like structure adorned with knitting and crochet. It was very spookily lit, which made us think it was an old cave filled with cobwebs – very appropriate for this time of year. However, we were informed by one of the staff that it was actually the ‘Womb Room’ and with the low lighting inside it felt very warm and cosy.

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As it’s half term, there were several activities on offer for children. We opted for the ‘art hamper’ where we filled a small picnic hamper with art supplies and found an inspiring spot to make our own art. We decided on a bench overlooking the art garden and we all came up with something unique! It was great to do some drawing again, I realised it’s been a very long time since I actually sat down to draw a still life. But we all had fun and came away with our own piece of art.

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We finished the visit with the ‘welly walk’ around the sculptures in Whitworth Park. The weather was glorious, so we made the most of the dry conditions and played in the leaves, collecting some for possible future crafting back home. The walk involved trying to work out which of sculptures to find, using some slightly cryptic clues. We had great fun and particularly liked the out-of-season snowman and the upside-down trees!

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After lunch we headed off to The Imperial War Museum North, somewhere else I have been previously, but many years ago now. On arrival we were met with another menu of activities for half term, and we found ourselves in a studio doing still life drawing! This time of items from the Second World War. It was great that the parents were also encouraged to take part not just the children. So we all had another go with some beautiful pencils, drawing gas masks, goggles and incendiary bombs! This was all part of the ‘Big Draw’ and the gallery of work was pretty impressive – children and adults.

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We didn’t have anywhere near enough time to see all of the exhibitions, but we did do the Horrible Histories ‘Blitzed Brits’ exhibit, which was very popular with my daughter, even if she wasn’t really understanding everything. She loved doing the activity booklet, following the clues and getting hands on with all the interactive exhibits. It turns out I would have been a bomb disposal expert in the war!! Not sure I would have been any good at that, I see me more as a land girl or knitting socks for the troops.

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It was dark by the time we came out of the museum, so we had a quick walk over the ship canal to Media City, looking in vain for the Blue Peter garden, whilst enjoying the lights and the incredible moon. A quick cuppa in the Lowry while my husband set about taking plenty of arty photos in the dark, and then it was time to go home, thoroughly worn out!

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A great day out which we finished with a chippy tea. I would thoroughly recommend looking into any of these attractions and I think we will be going back to them again very soon. It was brilliant to do so much art too, I will have to see what else is on offer for the Big Draw week.

Happy crafting
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Halloween Costume

Half Term is upon us again and this time we have Halloween in the school holiday. We always made more of Bonfire Night when I was a kid, attending an organised bonfire and firework display at the local golf club. But things have become far more Americanised in the last few years, and the shops have been filled with Halloween costumes, accessories and treats for several weeks now.

This year I will be at the Ramsbottom Craft Fair on Halloween itself, so I am thinking about adding some spooky accompaniments for my stall. In the meantime, though, my daughter is having a spooky dress up competition at her dance school, so I have had to think about a costume for her.

I don’t really like all the ready made costumes, but I’m not the best dressmaker. We have bought a couple of costumes in the past, but all the children end up in one of about three outfits!  And with the issues raised by Claudia Winkleman after her daughter was badly burned, I decided it was time to use some imagination and make something a bit more individual. Plus she will need to be able to do her dance classes in the costume, so we needed something simple and effective!

We set about looking through the wardrobe and her dress-up draw, and came up with a purple tutu (a bit short), a headband with an orange witches hat, lots of plastic and rubber spiders, snakes and bats, some spider tinsel and a plastic cauldron. With that we set to work and I orders a black leotard and some purple and black stripy tights. I had lots of fun sewing spiders to the leotard as per my daughters instructions, then we added some more spiders, snakes and bats to the tutu. Finally I hung a couple of spiders from the hat and cut up the tinsel to add to the tutu.

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A bit of gruesome makeup should finish it off a treat. She loves the completed effect, we just need to think about a wand or a broomstick. I did suggest her Dad took her on a walk to find some suitable sticks, maybe this could be a project for the coming week while I get my stock sorted out for the craft fair?!

Happy Halloween
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A touch of Autumn Colour

This week I fancied a bit of relief from all the Christmas bits and pieces in my craft room. I finished reading the latest issue of Craftseller and decided to use some of the papers that came with it to make a couple of Autumn themed cards.

There seems to be no end in sight to the trend for woodland themes, so I thought I’d make these cards using the lovely leaves and woodland animal prints. It’s lovely to use some different designs and colours.

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It’s really starting to feel like Autumn as the nights are drawing in and we’ve just started to lose the leaves off the trees. I expect we will get some strong winds soon and the rest will descend to the ground all in one go. But for the time being I am enjoying the beautiful colours and the glorious Autumn sunshine.

I am very lucky to live close to farmland and there are lots of trees in the area too.  While I sit in my craft room listening to the radio, I can look out on several very mature trees.  We have a fabulous horse chestnut tree over the road which always seems to have a squirrel in it – he’s a real little terror, dropping conkers on passers by!  These papers are the perfect accompaniment to watching the squirrel running around.

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The colours work so well with some recycled kraft card.  Mixing the brown natural cardstock with bright white really makes the colours of the leaves pop.  A lovely chance for some Autumn colour.

Happy crafting
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New Christmas Cards

I feel like I’ve been in full-scale Christmas production forever! It’s amazing how quickly the festive period sneaks up on you, and with my craft stall being only a couple of weeks away, I am pretty much in Christmas card mode exclusively. I made a few Christmas cards from this contemporary Hunkydory kit a few years ago, and I love the colours, so I thought I’d make some more.

These are all different concepts for me, very 3d in their design. I started with some little snowglobe style cards. These are so cute and have a little stand at the back.

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Next is the little row of houses. These have lovely glittered roofs.

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This is a square card where the decoupage stands out on a zigzag to give the dimension. They give a great perspective effect and these might be something I explore further at a later date (I have added it to my ever growing list of things to try further).

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Finally I was left with loads of fabulous designer cardstock and images to use. So I put together a few individual cards. I love this stylised Christmas fairy – as does my daughter.  She’s a definite winner with the girls.

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Time to get back to the Christmas makes.

Happy crafting
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Christmas Cracker Cards

This year I have decided to get going with my Christmas cards a little earlier than usual. I made some poinsettia cracker cards from kraft card a couple of years ago and really loved the idea, so I thought I’d expand on it for my cards this year.

So I’ve been delving into my Christmas crafting box to see what I have in there. It’s amazing how much stuff I have accumulated and completely forgotten I have! It was nice to have a plan for a change though, so I was looking for ideas for making and decorating crackers.

I found some kraft card DL card blanks so started with those and decided to use up some of the craftwork cards kits I have purchased over the last few years.  The paper and card quality is fabulous and I loved the more muted colours in these kits. I also used some of the paper bows to add detail on the sides of the toppers, it was great to make some of them up and mix them with the papers.

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It was nice to make different cards for change, using sentiments as the main focal point of the card instead of images. Having made this I was eager to make some more in a slightly different style, so I made some little owls again. This time using some papermania Christmas papers and mixing the designs up has given some interesting effects. The colours here are a little more contemporary than the first set, but equally as stunning I think. I toyed with some options for the bows, using bakers twine or ribbon, but as I wanted to co-ordinate I decided to make the bows myself using the leftovers of the matching papers.

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This has now started a bit of a production line of different styles of cracker cards and really got my imagination going, out came the stamps, dies and papercrafting kits. I have a fairly large paper and card collection which have been saved for a ‘special occasion’, but I thought it’s time to start using some and I made some of my own card blanks as well. The patterned card makes a great backing for some handcut toppers too. I really love poinsettias at Christmas and making them up in different colours is great fun.

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I’ve been a fan of the Hunkdory cardkits for some time and have loads of them. The cardstock is so gorgeous though that I’ve always wondered what to do with it to make the most of the images. Now I’ve found a way of using some of the cardstock. So I’ve gone for some traditional images and as a compromise, there are some cute animals and some contemporary images too. There is such a great choice of colours too, ranging from very cool and crisp to the warm and cosy. I could just snuggle up by the fire with the little cat on the cushion!

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Finally I found this gorgeous Christmas kit. I have no idea where it came from but the colours are just gorgeous.

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The joy of making my own Christmas cards is that although the overall design is very similar, each one is individual. Once I’ve used up each paper design that’s it!

I will be taking all of these cards along to the Ramsbottom Pre-Christmas Craft Fair on Saturday 31st October, so they will be for sale. If you are in the area, it would be great to se you.

Happy crafting
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