Archive for Textures and Patterns

Ice garden


This is a very fun thing to do with a collection of flowers and/or stones from a walk or from the garden…


Arrange them in a tupperware tub,


fill with water and freeze overnight. Then sit the tubs for a few seconds in a larger bowl or the sink with a couple of inches of warm water, to release the ice block.


So beautiful! We kept it in the freezer for ages…





Sam decided it made a perfect home for these critters…


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Simple Paper Flowers

We got inspired by the arrival of Spring this week at our Crafty group. I wanted to work out a way to make paper flowers which were so simple that the children (4 and 5 year olds) could do quite a bit of the making themselves…

You’ll need various colours of tissue paper, pipe cleaners, odd buttons, and plastic bottle tops (the flat ones – as in the back of the photo below).

This is the most fiddly bit: first push a short end (about 1.5cm) of the pipe cleaner through one or two buttons, then fold it over and carefully push it back down the other hole in the buttons. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just fairly secure.

Now cut various colours of tissue. you can cut a few layers together, or individually. Try experimenting with different scissors, or different shapes – they don’t have to be round. Children could cut their own shapes and it really doesn’t matter if they’re not perfect, it’s more about the effect of the layers.

Now push the pipe cleaner roughly through the centre of the circles (or whatever shapes you’ve got). If you’ve made a lot of layers, you may need to do this in stages, so it’s not too tough to push through. If you hold the papers secure, children should be able to push the pipe cleaner through…

Make a small hole in a plastic lid. I used the pliers’ point to do this, or you could use a bradawl.

Then push the point through from the inside of the lid, to open up the hole a little from that side. Make sure it doesn’t get too big, but is big enough to be able to push the pipe cleaner end through.

Thread the lid onto the pipe cleaner, with the cup side heading toward the underneath of your flower, as shown here.

When you get up to the paper…

…continue to push a little further, and the flower will bunch up!


You can fiddle about with the layers a bit to get a look you like…

Happy Spring!

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Spin Painting with Ink

If you have a spin painter, you might like to try using watered down ink instead of paint.

We put our ink in pippet bottles to make it easier (and more fun) for Sam to use.

We got some really nice results which were a little different from the painted experiments we have done with the spinner in the past.

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Indian Block Printing

We made these beautiful Indian Block prints using acrylic paint and printing blocks.

First we tried printing with an ordinary black stamp pad,

which worked fine, but we wanted some colour…

We didn’t have any block printing ink, but I had heard you could use watered down acrylic paint:

We made a sort of ‘pad’ using folded kitchen towel in a little dish

and watered the paint to a creamy consistency.

The dish needs to be big enough for your stamps or blocks.

After a while the colours started mixing together on the blocks, which gave a really nice effect…

Sam painted the larger blocks, partly because they wouldn’t fit in the dishes and partly to get better coverage.

We put a folded old tablecloth under the fabric to provide a cushion and help to get a better impression.

If you don’t have any carved blocks, you could use old bottletops and other found objects instead. In fact I think we might try that next time too as it sounds really fun!

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What’s in Black Ink?…

To discover what colourful wonders are hidden in an ordinary black felt tip pen: Draw some dots in the centre of a coffee filter or piece of blotting paper. Push a pipe cleaner up through the middle, and extend the other end down into a cup of water. Wait…

…and the colours won’t take long to separate…

We tried other coloured pens too but as you can see the black seems to contain the most colours.

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Marvelous Marbling

Recently we have had a lot of fun paper marbling. We got some gorgeous results (above) pretty much straight away.

I chose these marbling inks, not because I think they’re the best, but because the website I bought them from stated they’re suitable for 3 year olds, whereas the other makes didn’t seem to say.

First put an inch or so of clean cold water in the trays. Then just let the children drop on the colours straight from the bottle. They can choose whether to stir with a stick or not – each gives a different result…

Drying takes about an hour or so as long as the ink’s not too thick.

Really chuffed with these ones:

You can cut out shapes before or after marbling. Again, each gives a slightly different result.

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Spun Paint Suncatchers

We wondered whether our paint spinner would work with acetate instead of paper…

We used inkjet acetates sheets from an office supplies shop, which are designed for use with an inkjet printer, so they take wet ink. And paint, it turns out!

We used artist’s acrylic paint, but I’m sure children’s acrylic paint would work just as well. You get brighter, more intense colours with the acrylic than you would with watercolour, especially on this non-porous surface. Which reminds me, this activity provided a good opportunity to talk some science as well as art. We discussed how some surfaces are porous and some are not, and how and why the non-porous acetate would take longer to dry than paper…

Once it was dry however…

…time for the art!

I am happy to have yet more colour around the house during these rather dingy winter days…

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