Polymer Clay Key Chain

Get in early with this Chrissy Gift Idea!

It is that time of year again when we all start to think about gift ideas for friends and family for the festive season. I always like to give my close friends, colleagues and neighbours a little something to show how much I have enjoyed the year we have spent together and to show some appreciation for their assistance, friendship, and love. However buying lots of little gift surly adds up and at this time of year it can be hard to find the right items or stick to a budget. This year I have not had to spend a lot of time thinking about what to buy or what to make as I think I have come up with the perfect gift idea.

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I had just packed up my left over polymer clay beads and clay packs to make room for another project on the go but found myself getting this all back out to experiment with this little fun and super easy gift idea. I do enjoy the feeling of working with this clay and the idea of a fast and effective present, a quick afternoon is all it took.

Polymer Clay Key Chains. 

All you will need is:

-Polymer clay in your choice of colour. I have experimented with what I had left over but will be heading to the shops today to get some new colours. Experiment with as many different methods as possible, mix the colours, cut things out, stick it back together. After all it is like adults play dough. Use it like a child would.

-Polymer clay tools. I like to use some of my sewing tools like punchers as I call them. These make good holes, but a skewer or a sharp pencil works well. I also use a rolling pin (Nonstick), backing paper, wooded board for woking on as some colours will leave a mark.

-Paint or nail polish to decorate or add details. I love spray paint as it is fast, bright and easy to use and super quick to dry. The spray paint brands from art shops are best even though they are a bit more pricy, they dry faster and give a nicer coverage.

-Oven and tray.

-Keychains, rings and rope (String or leather cord)

Get started:

Getting started is super easy. warm up the clay with your hands until it is of the correct constancy, you will know as it is easy to work with and roll out. Depending on the shape of the bead or keychain you may either use your hands to roll a ball or a rolling pin to roll out a shape. As I’m sure i have mentioned before I am far from a perfectionist, I like my beads to look handmade and a little variation is charming.  You want your friends to know this item was handmade with that look of shop bought. Cookie cutters are super for getting a range of shape such as circles and hearts. And they save time.

When you have created the desired bead shape place it on non-stick paper on a baking tray and follow the directions on the pack. Usually a cool oven for about 30 minutes. Let dry and decorate or leave and thread. I tried a few different ways of looking and knotting. See which one works for you but make it tight so they don’t fall off.

I string my beads up with leather strap or a cord. Use something that is heavy duty and will with stand strain. You want your gift to last the distance.

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Mono Printing with Children

There are so many fun ways to crete art with children. I love how children don’t see things as they are. For example a box holds endless possibilities for their imagination. Recently my toddler has become a box enthusiasts. We have things made from boxes all over the house. I have begun to hid them so we can reduce the amount of clutter they all bring. But to see him riding his box horse called Pebbles or sitting in his fire truck is the best part.

The other day however I wanted to experiment with some extremely messy printing work with him so I prepared the room. Drop sheets, plastic table cloth, art smock and all the tools ready at hand so I didn’t have to leave him with the paint while I went looking for equipment.

I had bought some Gelli pads from my classroom and let the older students go nuts with them. They couldn’t get enough and neither could I. It was the easier and quickest was to get a solid, bold print. The gel pad holds the colours and the ink so well. Using the water based acyclic paint you have at home woks wonderfully. It is easy to set up and easy to clean up.

I was surprised at how well my toddler went using the roller, scrapper tools and paint as well as the printing with paper. He had a ball.

The outlay for the pad is the most expensive part at approximately $50 for a small one. I believe it is worth if for the hours of fun you can have. IMG_3910IMG_3911IMG_3915IMG_4037 (1)IMG_3933

Weaving on a Circular Loom

I stumbled across the most precious little circular loom. It was laser cut out of wood, small and delicate and had the most natural smokey smell. As soon as I saw it I knew it would make a lovely travel craft tool. Fit in your pocket, take with you easy to store craft items are always hard to find.

I begun to weave using a range of different wools, strings and threads. Anything i could find or source from a thrift shop (Such a fantastic range of wool that has been unwanted, and oh so cheap).  I already had so many ideas of what I would use these mini weaves for. Gift wrap decorations, christmas decorations, decorations to hang with my larger weaving and more decorations.

When I had finished the weaving I unhooked my final piece and was a bit disappointed as it all curled up like a mini bowl. As it is a circle shape and was so tight I found that they always ended up in this bowl shape. Still cute but not what I had planned. I was a little disappointed with the end result but still found them to be cute as christmas decorations and for gift wrapping. They where quick and easy to make on the run or while watching tv. Give it a go and see for yourself. IMG_3855IMG_3856IMG_3859IMG_3860

 

Screen Printing Workshop

A few months ago I attended a Screen Printing Workshop. I have always enjoyed screen printing and dabble in the arts occasionally. I have a little screen, a paint scrapper I use as my squeegee and some small pots of paint that I update every so often. I had my eye on a course for a while and finally thought I should just shout myself for my birthday.

The course was designed so students could get all of their Christmas presents out of the way and have a number of lovely handmade gifts to share with friends and family. This was the selling point for me.

I also love to mingle with creative people who share a love of creating, learning and experimenting.

The course was at an old warehouse turned large shared art studio space in Brunswick West, Melbourne, Victoria. The space is called ‘Home Work’. The space is lovely, light and filled with creative inspirations. It makes you just want to create.

Over the span of two days we had the chance to cut stencils, print, design and print. It was super fun. It was a great course for all ability levels from beginners to experienced screen printers. Especially those who lack the space, time or enthusiasm to get started.

I also left with some beautiful christmas cards, pillow slips and tea towels. They made fab Christmas gifts. I’ll definitely be thinking about taking another course soon.

God’s Eye Tutorial

I have always loved Mexican art, Frida and the colours and styles of the architecture. They are very expressive and bold with colour, texture and images.

While planning an art unit for some students I wanted to create an activity where the students have to create an art items by looking at pictures with no written instructions. The idea of students creating a God’s Eye fitted into our textile unit.

Here are the images that they students will be following. I hope these inspire you to do some weaving and create one of these special pieces that warn off evil. Im sure we could all do with something like that in our houses.

Art on the Road

I always pack a selection of art and craft items when I travel. The amount and type vary depending of where I am going and how I am getting there. On a recent trip to Queenscliff I didn’t take anything as I didn’t think I would have time to do any art. When the weather turned bad and some of the activities fell through I was annoyed with myself for not being prepared. I started seeing inspirations everywhere and wanted to record them. I found myself looking for an art supply shop or a newsagent to buy something to get me by. A pack of watercolour pencils, some felt tip pens and a new mini sketchbook was all I needed.

So when I am prepared and know I’m going away for a while I have a few go to items that I pack.

A small pack of watercolour pencils is essential as well as a pad of paper or a journal. I also pack a travel watercolour pallet, some brushes, felt tip pens and a nice set of lead pencils. A pair of scissors, washi tape and some glue will also allow you to glue, cut and add to your journal along the way. These items will also add some fun and can be used if you want to scrap book your travels.

It will really depend on your art style as to what you will be taking on your travels however if  this is all new to you or if your packing for children these items would be enough to inspire them to get creative while on the road.

When packing for my toddler I always pack some safety scissors, glue stick, fat pencils or crayons and my instax camera so I can capture the adventures and let him create his own postcards, travel diary or posters. I love to then add these to my visual diary as a memory of his age and his art creations at the time.

Making an Outdoors Play Space

My toddler has decide he just wants to stay home and play. When asked if he wants to go swimming, go to the shops, even playgroup he replies with ‘no mummy, play outside’. This is fine by me as we all love our backyard and working in the veggie patch or garden is a supper fun hobby of mine.

So over the weekend we decided to have yet another working bee and add some features to the toddlers cubby house he got for christmas to make him a proper outdoor play area.

We had been given some fake turf in a rang of colours as well as having some free left over from another project so decided this would be the basis for our design.

After a trip to the hardware shop and a sausage in bread for the meat eaters we headed home in some wood and screws in tow.

We didn’t really know how this project would turn out but I did have an idea in my head for what i envisaged. Many hours spent playing dinosaurs with leaves, twigs and building caves with rocks and old opts. The image seemed so fun. So we started the build. Lucky the toddler headed off for his nap leaving the adults to work away at an alarming rate to get the area ready for the spurs reveal after the afternoon snooze.

The end result was pretty similar to what I had planned. But as aways as we worked away more and more ideas come to our minds on what the areas needs, so we will be spending a few more weekends out on the tools turning the back corner into a toddlers paradise.

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Weaving on a Loom

I recently purchased a loom from the other side of the country. I wanted a loom that was made of wood, looked cute and had some fun accessories to accompany it. It is lucky that we have so many great online shopping sites that allow us to purchase items from anywhere we like.

This item came handmade from Russia. There was something that drew me in when I read the ‘handmade in Russia’ label and saw the whimsical photos that accompanied. Photo’s of a youngish girl wearing a long dress, sitting in a field of wildflowers weaving with pastel wool. She had such lovely long wavy hair. You couldn’t see her face but just new she was a natural beauty. Straight away i pictured myself sitting in this field, enjoying the sunshine, smelling the flowers and weaving until my heart was content. What a craft girls fairytale.

The packaged arrived on a sunny afternoon. wrapped in old fashion brown paper that was ripped open in an instant to reveal my wooden loom in three pieces. My heart sank. What had happened during the shipping process. All of a sudden my image of sunshine, wild flowers and pastels faded to broken wood splinters.

I just stood and looked at the loom. I really didn’t know what to do. Where to start. Lucky for me the hand guy I live with (My husband) took the many pieces of the loom to the man cave and returned with it an hour later all fixed with a bit of love (liquid nails and tiny screws).

The fairy tales returned. I headed outdoors for a tad of plein air weaving.

My weaving aim thus far is to use only wool that has been discarded, thrown away or purchased at a thrift shop. Some projects have been on hold during the course of wool finding. Others are waiting with their matching wool groups for the perfect fit. It is a slow process but there is something challenging and exciting about finding the right fit and using something that has been discarded. Also the wool I buy is only about $3.00 and not $20 plus. A Bargain. Working with natural fibres is also very enchanting, the feel and the process excites me.

The next step is to hand dye some natural wool I bought at a country market.

Here are a few of my weaving projects so far, as well as the one waiting on the loom for my next wooly find.

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Easter Bunny Masks

Working as an art teacher I am always pre planning fun activities that relate to special events that are celebrated during the year. Especially events that children enjoy. I love handmade gifts, decorations and items that engage children in these events that they love so much.

As we approach Easter I have been busily cutting (also hired some helpful parents) to cut out approximately 100 bunny masks. I choose felt as the medium as the texture related to the soft fur of a fluffy bunny. I love using felt and try to expose children to a range of mediums and textures. It is good for their sensory development. Felt also lasts longer when little fingers are taking on and pulling off their masks over and over again. My third reason for choosing felt is that it a great surface to glue on to using a regular glue stick.

Use the scraps that are left over from the cutting out of the mask as these are great for gluing on to the mask. You might also like to try cotton wool balls and any other craft items you may have. This will make the masks more personal and fun!

I used a hole punch to put two holes in the mask where I tied on some hat elastic. You might like to sew the elastic on.
 

 

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Poly Clay Bead Making

Poly Clay is an oven bake clay mineral clay. It is not actually made out of natural clay rather a mineral material. It is easy to use and quick to bake. It has a similar consistency to plasticine and is slow to dry out in air. To get the best of your clay it should be stored in an air tight container out of direct sunlight.

I have been playing with Poly Clay or Polymer Clay lately. I have tested out a variety of brands and experimented with the best ways to make different shape beads and jewellery. Different brands feel different and some seem better for children than others as they are softer and easier to work in to different shapes.

It is extremely easy and a fun way to create a lovely item to wear and show off. Also a great gift for a loved one.

The clay is easily moulded when it has been heated up and worked with your hands. It is then shaped to create the ideal item. To create a perfectly round ball roll your hands close together in small circles. These can then be flattered out or kept circular. I am not a perfectionist and like items to show their imperfections especially if they are original handmade one off items.

There are a range of tool on the market that can make make perfect beads easy. Bead rollers and trays can help to make perfectly circular beads. this may be something you look at if you wish to make a rather large necklace with all the same size and shape beads.I found a range of items around the house that I knew would work to get me started.  I used a non stick rolling pin, sharp knife, skewers, tray and tin foil to hold the beads up off the surface so they held their shape.

Since beginning to experiment with the clay I have found endless ways to create patterns, designs and to decorate the individual beads.

I have since bought some tools to make the job a little easier and to experiment with. I bought a cheap set of very cute dotting pens, a sharp art knife and sharp hole puncher.

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It is fun to experiment with mixing colours together in different ways to create patterns, designs and new colours or tones. To make the swirls roll out two long skinny sausages and then twist these colours together until you are happy with the design. Roll out as beads. The beads below where constructed in a similar way. Roll out a sausage to the size of the beads you want. Cut out shapes from a different colour and stick them on. Roll the beads out gently.

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The clay is then baked in the oven following the brand instructions for a short amount of time. usually 25-30 minutes. If the oven is too hot the clay will bubble and burn.

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