As I walked with my little boy to his nursery this week, we talked about the changing seasons. He was given a perpetual calendar for his birthday, which also records the time, weather and changing seasons, so we have enjoyed watching the almost daily changes […]
The first Christmas decorations have gone up in our house in the form of our Christmas stockings. In past years I have hung the two stockings that I designed and knitted; (Star Stocking and Cool Stocking) for my husband and I. I love those stockings so […]
We have a tradition of giving each other a small, but personal gift to each other on Christmas Eve. My husband and I have done this since our first Christmas together, and when our son was born we included him in this by buying him new pyjamas to wear each Christmas Eve.
When I was younger I used to receive a little colouring book or family film for Christmas Eve to occupy those exciting hours before I tried to sleep through my excitement of Father Christmas visiting that night, and this is a little tradition I would like to pass on. As well as being a nice little jolt of memory and tradition for me, I also think it has some part in dispelling a little of that nervous excitement before Christmas Day. If those hours can be occupied with some colouring, or a wholesome film, then maybe it adds just a little to a more relaxed evening. I hope so, anyway.
My little boy has this year started to show a little of the interest in Christmas, talking of when Father Christmas might visit and a great interest in sending him a letter, so I thought as well as giving him his Christmas pyjamas this year I might also include a little sticker and activity book, or magazine of one of his favourite characters.
I usually wrap the Christmas pyjamas, but as the idea of Christmas Eve boxes has been a popular one these past few years, and I am trying to make my way towards a more sustainable and thoughtful season, I thought I would make a wooden box that can be reused every year and later used to store memories of our family Christmasses together.
I put this little box together in stages, first deciding on a design and layout for the top, then cutting the vinyl, lacquering the box, applying the vinyl, then re-laquering. As I already had the vinyl and lacquer, the only outlay I had was the £4 for the wooden box, which I bought from The Works (they also have a 2-pack for £7, which is even more bargainous if you wanted two!)
Of course, a design could be drawn, painted or stuck on in many, many forms. These boxes could be fabric-covered or embellished in all manner of ways. I chose vinyl because I thought the finish would be sturdy and long-lasting. And I already had some.
I had seen a wooden box that I quite liked, that was left neutral, with a picture of Christmas trees on the front, so took that as inspiration. I was going to draw each of the trees, and did indeed make a whole selection of them for use on a Christmas card, but decided on a style change at the last moment and used two sets of trees from Miss Kate Cuttables: Christmas Trees and Retro Trees.
I layered the images of trees up to work with a limited palette of colours that I had chosen, and added text and a few circles for snow, before cutting my vinyl pieces and stacking the colours in layers to make the multicoloured trees.
Once the vinyl pieces were all stacked and arranged on a piece of transfer tape to apply in one piece to the box, I gave the box a couple of light coats of a clear acrylic lacquer spray to prime the surface and give a slicker, less absorbent surface for the vinyl to adhere to. The vinyl transferred like an absolute dream, all in one single motion. The lacquer spray made a massive difference.
Once the vinyl was applied I gave the entire box, including the vinyl, one more spray coat with the lacquer spray, and this quick and easy, but personalised Christmas Eve box was complete.
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 […]
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 […]
Since Darwin was a few months old I have always tried to encourage him in mark making and exploring colour with art materials. We have progressed on somewhat from our first experiments with making baby-safe cornflour paint, and now that our young one is less inclined to eat all of the bright colours have a huge drawer dedicated to nothing more than bottles and bottles of bright, ready-mixed paint (thanks, Nana and Grandad, for encouraging his messy, colourful side!)
We’ve always hung Darwin’s artwork on the walls of our home, because it is bright and full of happiness, but we decided that our hall needed a bit of a refresh, and that we’d replace the gallery of paper-plate crafts that we created at the library playgroup with something a little more permanent.
Over spring, Darwin became enthralled with the tree just outside of our living room window, watching it spring to life in a cloud of pink blossom. Every morning he ran straight to the window to check on the blossom and to tell us all about it. Then, one morning, after a particularly rainy and windy night, he threw open the curtains and slowly said ‘blossom… gone…’
It was actually almost heartbreaking the way the words came slowly and sadly across the room. So, we decided to explain to him (as best as you can to a two year old) about the seasons, and trees, about blossom, the green leaves of summer and the reds and oranges of autumn.
So I quickly sketched out the basic shape of a tree trunk and bare branches, four times over. As I drew them quickly, and freehand, mine are all a bit different, but if you wanted to have four identical tree bases then I have put together a simple and free Four Bare Trees Printable Template.
Older children may wish to paint the sheet while it is whole, but younger ones will probably benefit from being presented with each pre-cut tree template in turn, as well as the corresponding selection of paint colours (or confetti, small pieces of tissue paper, or whatever seasonal decorations you are applying).
We used a small cotton bud dipped in the paints to apply the blossom/leaves/frost to the trees, but fingerprints would give another personal and unique touch, especially when making a gift. If you have a larger family then the fingerprints of each member might form the tree decoration. Babies can be guided to gently make fingerprint leaves by helping to gently push baby’s fingers onto a paint-saturated sponge and then onto the paper in turn. The template provides a lot of open-ended possibility to create colourful scenes. Older children may wish to add birds, or snow and autumn leaves on the ground.
Once Darwin had painted his trees and left them to dry we went to find the four-aperture frame that I had some vague notion that I had lying around. When I found it, it had three apertures. Of course it did. My memory betrayed me again. My husband suggested we could just have spring, summer and autumn. My inner voice screamed what are you thinking…how could you live with that?! at him, but my outside voice said ‘well, let’s just go to the shop and buy one!
Yeah, so, they don’t exist. At least not in the shops I went to. Three? Yup. Five, a-huh. Six, seven? Sure thing. Not four. So, I panic-bought these:
A matching 3-aperture and single frame. I had the genius idea of hanging it around a corner.
Apologies for the picture quality on that one. It’s our entrance hallway and very short on natural light. Now it looks like I purposefully wanted a three aperture frame and a single one, for design purposes, and not like I panic bought these at Wilkos because I was hungry and wanted to go home.
So, whether a rainy-day activity, or artistic work worthy of a wall and a dash to buy the nearly perfect frame, download and print up a few of the free tree templates and see what you come up with.
PS: four aperture frames definitely exist by the way… I could have had one the very next day if I was patient (I’m not) and sensible (nope) and less fond of ‘creative’ solutions to problems.