• junk-art-collage
    Projects

    Magnetic Art Junk Pictures

    Junk seems to proliferate in our house – by junk I mean those small items or bits and pieces, often unidentifiable, which seem to appear on surfaces, and which if left, seem to multiply as if breeding.  It’s tempting to throw them away, but if you are so rash as to actually do this, you can guarantee that shortly after you will find that the unidentifiable piece of junk was actually an essential and irreplaceable part of a piece of household equipment.  So not wanting to tempt fate, I tend to put them into a ‘holding device’ of some kind, a pot, box or drawer, just in case, which gradually…

  • Autumn-Leaf-Suncatcher
    Autumn,  Nature,  Outdoor,  Projects,  Seasonal

    Last of the Autumn Leaves

    They say the Autumn colours have been better than ever this year.  I live in an area with lots of tree-lined avenues, and the sight of the gorgeous colours, particularly when the sun is on them, has found me collecting stacks of leaves with the kids.  Having got them all home I then had to decide what we were going to do with them all, so here’s what we did with some of them.  You do need a laminator for these activities I’m afraid, but if you don’t have one, they’re not expensive and come in very useful for all kinds of things – not to mention art and craft…

  • Materials & Techniques

    Decorative Paste Papers & Cards

    I came across this technique over at Art for Small Hands where there is a detailed tutorial for undertaking this as a classroom activity.  It’s a traditional technique, which, like marbling, was often used in the 18th and 19th centuries for decorating the endpapers of books.  As an activity it’s cheap, easy and a lot of fun, but (be warned) it is potentially very messy!  It’s also something that is suitable for all ages, with even the youngest of children able to get ‘hands on’. The paste is prepared in advance using rice and wheat flours, water and small drops of glycerine and washing-up liquid.  The mixture is cooked and…

  • artful kids directory
    Features

    Damage Limitation

    I’ve read and heard a few things recently which have made me realise how scared of mess many parents are. Quite a few have told me that they never do any art or craft work with their children at home, not because of any lack of interest or inclination, but simply because they’re afraid of the mess and clearing up involved. The opinion seems to be ‘lets leave that to school or nursery‘ or at best, to the proliferation of art activity clubs that have sprung up. Other art activities I have come across are expressly designed to be as unmessy as possible. This again is for the parent’s benefit…

  • Autumn,  Freebies,  Projects,  Seasonal

    Halloween Shadow Art

    This is an idea which I first developed as a kids holiday workshop about 10 years ago or more now.  It was very popular at the time, so I thought I would resurrect it here.  You can make it as simple or as sophisticated as you like, depending on your inclination and the age of the kids.  For young children you will have to supply them with a range of cut-out shapes that they can arrange on the page themselves, and to help with this I have added a range of free halloween motifs of varying complexity below. Just click on the image itself to open it, then right click…

  • Features

    Colouring For Big Kids

    I’ve never been a particular fan of colouring books or sheets for children in general terms – I’d always felt that they are not especially creative, and that while useful perhaps for younger children, the doodle books which encourage children to draw and use their imagination are better.  I think perhaps I have been something of a colouring snob. While a part of me still believes that in general terms, I have come to feel that colouring books and sheets do have an important place of their own – I have found that some children – especially younger ones, or those perhaps lacking in confidence to draw themselves, do appreciate…

  • Projects

    Super-Hero Comic Collage

    Ever wondered what to do with a stack of old comics?  Why not try recycling them into a piece of comic collage artwork?  It’s really easy to create something effective, and you can produce them in whatever size you want.  Kids can also join in or create their own. All you need is a pair of scissors and some glue, and a pile of old comics. I created this one on a piece of mountboard so that I could frame it if I liked, but if you used spray mount (which is a non-permanent spray glue that won’t damage the paintwork when the artwork is eventually removed) you could apply…

  • Materials & Techniques,  Nature

    Experimenting with Natural Paints

    This time of year is good for experimenting with natural paints and pigments.  It’s easy to forget that in the not too distant past, all dyes and paints had to be obtained from the natural world, directly from animals, minerals and plants. The resulting colours may not always have been as bright as those obtained from chemical sources, but they have a beauty and subtlety of their own.  As a teenager I got heavily into experimenting with natural dyes – I think I was not only an unusual teenager in this respect, but had remarkably tolerant parents who were willing to put up with the foul smells from pots of…

  • Display,  Projects

    Box Lid Frames

    I’m always on the looking for new cost-effective ways of displaying children’s artwork, and I recently devised this one.  I’m sure it’s not original, but I’m quite pleased with it nonetheless, so thought I would share it here.  It simply makes use of shallow boxes or box lids to act as a frame.  They need to be made of good quality, stiff board to look their most effective, and they can either be used as they come, or sprayed a different colour.  Likewise the inside face of the lid which will be visible on the wall,  can be either left the same colour as the edges or lined with a…

  • Display

    Inspiration from the Past

    Sometimes the old ideas are the best. Paper frames for the wall are far from being a new idea, but have become quite popular again recently along with decorative stick on ‘decals’ in general.  They were especially popular in the 18th century, circa 1750-1800, when ‘print rooms’ were all the rage. Unfortunately, few original examples have survived, but there’s a really good rare survival you can visit at Calke Abbey (National Trust) in Derbyshire, where caricatures, instead of the more usual classical prints, were collected and pasted to the walls.   Collectors of prints were able to purchase decorative printed borders by the length, and these could be cut and applied…

  • Nature,  Outdoor,  Techniques

    Experimenting with Sun Prints

    For this post I decided to have a go at Sun Prints with the kids.  The proper name for these is Cyanotypes, and it is a technique first developed in the early days of photography by Sir John Herschel in 1842.  In fact they are the original ‘blue-prints’. They’re really simple to do if you buy the prepared paper, and the effect is almost ‘magical’ for children.  They are particularly effective using leaves, flowers, plants, feathers etc., but you can use cut out shapes, or any flat household objects which will leave a distinctive silhouette.  I love the resulting ethereal, almost ghostly quality that you get with them.  It’s a…

  • Projects

    Shadow Box Art Materials Display

    Take me to an art or craft shop, and I’ll be there, drooling over the rows of coloured paints and pencils, the sparkling glitter, bright beads and reams of paper.  The myriad of shapes, textures and colours is intoxicating to me, so when I came across one of these box frames divided into compartments, which had been reduced to half price, it seemed quite natural to fill it with some of the art materials which we have so many of at home.  Of course you could fill one of  these with whatever you want – it doesn’t have to be art materials, you could give it a different theme such…