This year my garden has been my haven. For the first time in my life I have my own outside space to grow things in and I have been learning all I can about growing vegetables and looking after the abundance of plants and flowers …
A good friend and very special person to me recently commented that she loved the blue tit papercuts I had been working on. They were not intended for any particular project and I hadn’t yet worked out what, if anything, I could do with them. A …
The summer break from nursery is upon us and so we are embarking upon a summer of toddler arts and crafts.
The UK is currently experiencing a heatwave, and the oppressive heat has given us even more reason to stay indoors in the shade and do some nice gentle crafting. What better way to at least make the most of the sun than by making a sun catcher? This butterfly sun catcher is the perfect way to make the most of those rays of sunshine that we rarely see in such abundance.
You will need:
- Black card
- Scissors (for use by adult)
- Tissue paper, assorted colours
- Children’s PVA glue
- Paint brush or glue spreader
- Cling film, clear plastic bag, or large laminated sheet
- Craft Knife and cutting mat (for use by adult, also optional)
- Optional Butterfly Cutting Template Files (SVG for cutting machines and PDF for manual cutting both included), or you can draw and cut your own butterfly shape.
I like to prep our craft activities the night before if I have to create anything in advance, otherwise I tend to prep materials in the quiet moments between breakfast and mid-morning. For this toddler craft activity I prepared the paper butterfly the night before. I actually drew up a computer file to use with a cutting machine (the SVG included in the download) and cut two indentically shaped butterflies. If you have a cutting machine you can use the SVG to do the same. If you don’t have a cutting machine then there is a PDF file included (see below for usage instructions). I cut out two identical butterfly shapes so that the tissue was ‘sandwiched’ between the layers of black card, so it looked the same from both sides, but this is down to personal preference and the project is still great fun with just one.
How To Use The PDF file
If cutting by hand, start by securing a sheet of black card to your cutting mat with masking tape or similar. Stick the print out of the PDF above it with more masking tape, printed side up. Using a craft knife and cutting through both layers, cut out each of the smaller shapes within the wings. Once all of the shapes that make up the ‘windows’ in the wings have been cut, cut along the outside line. This will prevent the papers from becoming misaligned when cutting.
In addition to the paper butterfly, you will also need shapes cut from tissue paper. Older children may be able to cut these shapes themselves, but younger children will benefit from having the shapes pre-cut, or being given sheets of tissue paper to tear. If cutting the shapes for a toddler, use geometric shapes such as squares, rectangles and triangles so that you can have fun naming the shapes and colours as you craft.
Make The Butterfly
Start by laying down a clear plastic bag, area of clingfilm or a large (A3) laminated sheet, This will ensure that you are able to remove your butterfly in one piece once the glue is dry.
Lay one of your butterfly shapes down and let your child or toddler brush glue onto the shape. Do not worry if the glue goes onto the plastic sheet beneath, this will strengthen the butterfly when it is finished. It is OK if the tissue paper shapes go beyond the edge of the butterfly as they will be trimmed later.
Once there is a reasonable amount of glue on the butterfly, have fun laying on layers of tissue paper shapes. Make sure that they overlap and help to fill any gaps if necessary.
Once the entire butterfly is finished and entirely covered with tissue paper, help smooth down any edges with the brush and distribute any large areas of glue.
Leave to dry on the plastic sheet. Once dry, carefully peel up from the plastic and trim away any tissue paper that goes beyond the edges of the butterfly’s wings. You may wish to go over the entire butterfly with another layer of glue to strengthen it further, and you can also stick on a second, identical butterfly shape to so that the tissue paper is sandwiched between two card layers if you wish. Leave to dry on the plastic sheet again.
Once dry, the butterfly is ready to hang. It can be easily taped or blu-tacked to a window, or hang as we have done by piercing two tiny holes with a drawing pin into a ball of modelling clay, tying on two lengths of sewing thread, and threading and tying buttons onto the free ends to allow it to be blue-tacked to the window frame and hung to flutter in the occasional breeze.
Enjoy making your beautiful tissue paper butterfly sun catcher!
If you love to make things, then there is a chance that you like to try all of the new things you can. Maybe not; maybe you are monogamous in your craft. You may knit, or crochet, and find such sublime pleasure in that particular …
We are big fans of Hey Duggee in our household, and Darwin’s absolute favourite character is Betty, the five-legged purple octopus. Darwin’s adventures with Betty are many. She (in toy form) was his companion to his first days of nursery when he needed some comfort, …
Yesterday was Darwin’s last day of nursery for this year, as he has now broken up for the summer holiday. Though he will be back again next year (he actually has another two whole years of nursery ahead of him!), I thought it was important to thank those who have cared and nurtured him for his first year of learning.
I decided a sentiment that reflected this would be important to include in some manner, and decided that it fit very well with one of the topics that Darwin has most enjoyed at nursery this year: gardening, and care of flowers and plants. So, I decided to decorate a few plant pots and give one to each of the six nursery teachers along with a plant. I wanted to keep costs down due to the number of staff at the nursery I was making for, so off I went to Ikea, which is one of my favourite places for crafting materials and craft blanks.
Bingo. These Papaja Plant Pots are a nice medium weight ceramic pot and came in three bright and vibrant colours, for just £1.50 a piece. These are the 12cm circumference pots. There is an identical but smaller 9cm pot in the range for just £1, but the extra 50p buys a lot more pot, and makes the application of lettering a lot less fiddly. Armed with my bag of pots, I set off home with lots of ideas but no actual clue as to how to achieve what I wanted.
I wanted to use permanent vinyl to attach to the pots. Similar to the contact paper people line drawers with, adhesive vinyl arrives in sheets or rolls with a sticky-backed vinyl sheet, placed on a peel-off backing sheet. There are many makes and brands available, but I used Arteza Self-Adhesive Vinyl in a variety pack of colours and finishes.
I decided on a sentiment ‘Thank you for helping me to grow’, and that I wished to include each of the staff members’ names. The pots were all bright colours, so I decided to keep the majority of the text in a matt black, skinny font, but to highlight the teachers’ names in a foiled modern calligraphy font.
I browsed the internet for tips on applying vinyl to curved surfaces, specifically plant pots, and noticed something immediately; the text was smiling. A lot of the tutorials on the internet seem to not take into account the flare of the pot towards the upper edge when setting out text. So, armed with a piece of paper and some maths, I made a template. You can download the template to allow for the placement of your own text – just follow the curves by applying an arc transformation to your lettering in your graphics program.
The template will only work on this specific size and shape of pot as other pots will have a different ratio of upper to lower edge circumference, as well as a different height and size. Once text takes on this slight curve, it allows it to remain an equal distance from the top of the pot, rather than dipping in the middle of the line.
Applying the vinyl was relatively straightforward, but included an extra step in comparison to the heat transfer vinyl that I used last week. Unlike heat transfer vinyl, the Arteza self-adhesive vinyl is cut with the colourful side up, and isn’t mirrored as when using the Arteza heat transfer (check your own brand, though, as I believe that application details can differ). Firstly, excess vinyl is removed from around the lettering and all the little bits within letters (the circles within Os, and little pieces from within the Ps, etc. Once you are left with only your lettering a wide piece of ‘vinyl transfer tape’ is applied, sticky side down, straight onto the lettering, and rubbed all over with a scraping tool, fingernail or credit card to get the letters to stick to it. Some transfer tape looks like book covering film, which some users say can be used as a replacement, but the brand I used was more reminiscent of painter’s masking tape, but 30cm wide.
Getting all of the letters to stick to the tape was not easy. The UK was experiencing a long and drawn out heatwave, and it was extremely hot and humid. I couple of times I lost a letter or two and had to apply them by hand, but for the most part, it worked as intended. The transfer tape is placed down on the post and then rubbed all over again with the scraper or credit card, pressing firmly. The transfer tape is removed, et voila, you have transferred your lettering.
By all means you can load up the transfer tape with all your lettering at once before making the transfer, but I found it far easier to apply line by line: top, bottom, and then name in the middle, to give best fit. If transferring the whole design at once you’d want to copy the image of the curvature template onto your transfer tape to ensure the curvature was kept aligned.
Once I got the first pot finished, the rest were a breeze. I found that putting the transfer tape on, burnishing really hard with the scraper and then lifting the tape off carefully but quickly meant that no letters were left behind. On a less humid day and with less spindly lettering, this would likely not have been a problem, but the process sped up quickly once I had the first pot complete, and the rest I finished in a production line manner.
All that remained was to pop back to Ikea to pick up six appropriately sized plants, which came in at £2.50 each. I labelled the cellophane wrapper of each plant with a greeting from Darwin before giving them to the teacher. I had considered putting ‘love from Darwin’ in very small letting on the bottom edge of each pot, at the back, but thought even inconspicuously, that I would rather the sentiment be entirely for the carer. They are the carers of many children, and hopefully it will be a reminder of the gratefulness of their care for all our little ones and that their job is recognised as important.
Thank you to all teachers and staff of schools, nurseries and other childcare groups for your work this year.
As I wanted to keep costs down, here is the final cost total:
- 6 plant pots @ £1.50 each: £9.00
- 6 plants @ £2.50 each: £15.00
- 2 half sheets of vinyl, calculated to 36p per sheet: 36p (remainder can be used again)
TOTALS £24.36p, or £4.06 per pot and flower.