The Ultimate Art and Craft Box / Kit !

How to diy art and craft kitThis is a simple post about helping Moms, new Moms, creative and Non-creative Moms understand, how you can get alittle organized beforehand and make beautiful memories while your little one enjoys spending that special time with you.

I’ve been a craft artist for nearly two decades. I love crafting. It is not only my passion, but it also completes me.

“Crafts” is a tiny term which encompasses a whole range of activities.  Unfortunately most of us, tend to associate it with painting or drawing or probably alittle bit of cutting.  But that’s not necessarily all that there’s to it.

I’ve taught in a couple of schools but several prestigious art institutes.  I’ve held Mother & Toddler classes, Workshop for ladies and classes for youngsters as well.

Today, in this post, I will address one concern that most moms have echoed over the years to me, how they find themselves all over the place when it comes to having some craft time with the kids.

There are 4 things, I’d like for you to remember before we address the craft dilemma :-

  • Please hold your ‘fun craft time’ – as a time to explore new activities TOGETHER. It is a time when you actually MAKE MEMORIES – its supposed to be FUN. Not a task.
  • Please know, that NO ART WORK is ever “COMPLETE OR PERFECT” – it is ALL in THE PROCESS.
  • Please remember, appreciate your child’s effort, no matter how tiny. He is trying to please YOU as well.
  • Long after they have grown, they will still cherish these priceless moments. So don’t try to work on making it “Perfect”.  Remember, “its the imperfection that adds character.”

Here are some of the issues  :-

  1. Insufficient tools
  2. Inadequate know-how
  3. Unaware of places to shop at for supplies
  4. lack of energy to drive around to places for supplies
  5. Packed craft kits are expensive
  6. Packed craft kits have limited supplies

So, I’ve decided to address all of these 6 issues one by one.

FYI, One of my most visited blog post is where-do-you-buy-craft-supplies-from-in-dubai

Moms who have toddlers in their troublesome twos, realize that children need various activities besides toys, to keep them stimulated.  Hence in a desperate attempt to help the little one, they grab the first craft kit that they come across in the supermarket aisle.  However, I agree that most craft kits are aimed at a specific activity and supplies are really limited.

I’m going to advise you on how you can ease the process of crafting with your toddler/little one.

Please remember, children are not just visual learners. They learn by touch, feel, smell, sight, sound and THE PROCESS !

For the first 5 years of their life, they are still getting the hang of the hand and eye coordination – gross motor skills.

They are virtually charged 10 hours of the day to play, practice and have fun.  Thru it all, they are LEARNING.

Adapting to their environment and understanding their own movements.

Let us consider a routine scenario.

Our young first-time-Mum watches this youtube video about 5 easy crafts to try out with little Sarah.  (point2 addressed) [Google and Youtube videos ‘can be” a new Mom’s best friend since they can guide you tremendously around the process of crafting with kids]

She thinks its easy enough to try it out with her little one.  She rushes to the nearest Toy store and searches high & low for a craft kit for toddlers ! { point3 – this mom had the strength and enthusiasm to drive to the Toy store. Full marks to her but (point4) not all of us drive or have a store close by, hence we can buy online as well } Refer here

Realization – most crafts kits are aimed at children older than 5 years !!  Heaps of toys are available – but not craft kits !

FYI – one of the reasons for this is that alot of craft supplies have small objects which can cause choking hazard for little ones and companies do not want to risk getting into such waters.

Ofcourse you can opt out and buy one of those ridiculously expensive painting kits with sponges and fancy brushes (Point 5 is valid and real)  But then of course, Mom can splurge over little Sarah.

So Mom buys it and brings it at home – 2 days of fun and mess later, chances are a few of the brushes ‘may’ have gone missing under the sofa, the paint tub is all but nearly over and our little Sarah has decided, she’s had enough of Mona Lisa. (point6) Most little children have a short attention span. Give them easy crafts to work with. They may work with one painting but once its over, they need something different. 

This is where little Sarah is restless and Mom is getting frustrated too as her she realizes these craft activities are probably not her cup of tea !!

THIS IS WHERE I STEP IN !! Don’t fret and fume Mama.  Read on …. there is relief for you.

We’re going to assemble the ULTIMATE ART AND CRAFT BOX for you so that every time, you want to try out an activity with your child, all you have to do is, spread the ‘drip sheet’ on your table or work space and get the supplies you need, out and voila ! Start your crafting adventure !! You never know – you might discover you really like crafts 🙂

First thing –  Chances are, you might already be having a plastic box, bucket, basket or a large container at home. Its best if it could be large and preferably with a lid. In fact, the large transparent bin with wheels from IKEA is most ideal for this purpose.  Here are a few options :

Here are some of the most basic supplies :-

I highly encourage little children who are still developing their gross motor skills to use crayons or color pencils rather than colored markers.

Please remember, a scribble made by a 2 year old, might be an entire story from his imagination. Hence please appreciate it and ask him/her questions relating to that. See how his/her eyes sparkle as he describes 3 stories from one picture !!

Avoid buying large A3 size drawing books becoz children tend to use only a partial amount of space. Infact, I keep photocopier sheets handy, which can later be framed or placed in protector sleeves and hung up on the fridge or their study desks.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the humble rubberband.  Also remember to pack a few of the large black paper clips.

Alot of crafts ask for pipecleaners too. From acting as the stem of a flower, to the antenae of a butterfly, pipecleaners/chenille have plenty of uses.

Several crafts require drinking straws. They are colorful, they are easy to manipulate and children associate blowing air or making bubbles with them.

Long after the clothes have been dried, these clothespin will be super handy in the craft box. From the body of an insect to decorating a recycled jam jar, there are endless uses of this innovative creation. An absolute Must-have for our craft box.

Styrofoam balls come in various sizes. Apart from the easy snow man, you will find several sites full of ideas on how to use these, creatively.

Below, you will find tiny sparkling stars in packets,  pipecleaners which are plain and sparkly, styrofoam balls, childproof scissors and glitter tubes.  I would definitely include all of these EXCEPT GLITTER tubes.  They are a highly messy idea and I would prefer the children to be atleast 6 years old  before they get their hands on glitter.

I absolutely LOVE this bumper kit. You could buy the items individually or just add 2 packets of these in our craft box and Voila !  Tip – These could be included as return gifts for birthday parties too !!

If you are not able to get crepe paper, the below tissue gift wrap paper will do the trick just as well. Most crafts for tiny toddlers revolves around tearing bits of pieces of these sheets and sticking it to various items.

I don’t think, any craft kit can be complete without a Sharpie marker. Although the below marker is NOT a sharpie, I think, it might do the job ! Traditionally these are alcohol based hence you can use these to draw on plastic and metal.

The value pack with 25 pieces is ideal.  It is always advisable to use the thicker paint brushes for children.  Don’t expect little fingers to hold tiny brushes. These kits with sponge faces are also fun for little ones. Just drop alittle paint in a paper plate and dab the sponge for endless hours of fun !!

These alphabet stampers are good when you want kindergarten children to practice remembering their alphabets OR sounds. It takes the stress off, from having to write. But they are optional.

 

  • Every mothers nightmare is the aftermath of an art and craft activity – This drop sheet should be able to solve that issue, Mom !

Just spread it on the table or floor and use the spring clamp (in the below picture) to hold it tight to an object, alternatively, you can use the white and blue striped sheet rolls, available in supermarkets. They too are efficient.
One fun item I would include would have to be these Ketchup dispenser bottles.

Use ? – You can find several recipes for puffy paint and these bottles are perfect for squeezing the paint and designing with.

Here are some more tips.

  • A glue gun is a handy tool (almost an essential item for every Crafter) . However, it can be introduced to  children once they are over 10 or 11 years of age.
  • When working with little children, use only paper masking tape. Not the plastic kind.
  • Please don’t buy the plastic scissors for toddlers. It practically NEVER works.
  • If you want to know which is the best brand for erasers and sharpners, kindly subscribe to my blog for the next post which will have details on various brands.
  • Over the years, I have realized, aprons don’t help all that much. It inhibits their movement and if anything, the plastic rubbing against eachother is a bother to most kids. Just get them dressed in one of your husband’s old Tshirts !
  • Red, blue and yellow are primary colors, inorder to attain any other color, you just have to mix, any two of these two colors.  So you don’t need a dozen tubs of colors. A few will do.
  • I have compiled this list considering almost all homes have paper staplers and paper punches !

So there you have it !

All the pictures in this post were taken at Dollar Plus. *However please note,  this post is not in affiliation with them. I am NOT being compensated by ANY Dollar store for this post.

When I share my experience or any information with you over here – it is done purely to help, moms, teachers, crafters, students and people who don’t have the time or energy to research these avenues.  I have NOTHING to gain from it except perhaps some appreciation from people who leave kind words of gratitude in the comments.

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Creative Craft Mornings

Over the past several years, my skills have evolved.  I feel a sense of satisfaction after every completed project. Sometimes, even a little disappointed after a failed completed project – never the less, just the sheer joy of being able to create something with my own hands is exhilarating.

Till the period we were living at Arabian Ranches, I held craft workshop for ladies and art classes for children. That was, till 5 years back.  And then we moved to Al Warqa.

I missed my routine friendly creative exchanges with ladies and the young ones too.

There is such immense joy, when you have been instrumental in helping someone discover a latent talent.

Hence, moving to The Villa – Dubailand, gave me the opportunity to restart my workshops.

It was one of the best things about 2017, for me – CCM (creative craft mornings).

I was conducting craft workshops for women at my villa.

After a hiatus of nearly 5 years, I restarted this initiative and I was overwhelmed by the response.

In Dubai, we have sewing/quilt/crochet clubs, and we have quilling/papercrafting classes, however, I feel, there are far too many crafts that cannot be categorized and thats exactly, what I was offering.

There were ladies from the age group of 22 right upto 72 years !!  These were ladies, who had the zest to learn, inspite of busy schedules and running a hectic lifestyle, between career and family.   Ladies, who had to pick children from school, prepare a meal, manage their homes, attend meetings and yet they believed in giving the workshop, a chance.

I prefer to address all of them as my friends, rather than my students becoz, in essence, I learnt more from them than I taught them.  If we are really passionate about something, we will find a way to pursue it.  One of my dear friend came from Arabian Ranches and another friend from Mamzar while yet another from Jumeirah Beach Residence !!!

Finding a haven where you won’t be judged or laughed at, is precious. We learn better, we explore deeper, we grow further and we develop faster.

We did a project, where my friends had to hammer nails into a block of wood. I was really surprised to observe how quickly they learnt, steadied their hands and hit the hammer with firmness and not only that, its quite tiring having to hit the hammer 25 – 30 times.

Every project they attempted was remarkable, considering no one had attempted such projects before.

Every one learnt something new, a skill, a technique, a design,  especially me.

I learnt that, making friends with like minded creative people is A GIFT !!  And I cherish these friendships.

I was truly overwhelmed.

Enthusiasm, patience and perseverance are the only ingredients needed to brew any success story.

Needless to say, the results were amazing.

Here are some photos :-

I am determined to restart these workshops again this year as well.

I truly hope to be able to carry on with newer projects here in Mirdif too.

Do you enjoy a particular hobby ?  Are there any workshops close to where you live ? Would you like to join CCM in Dubai ?

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Concrete Mushrooms !! A tutorial.

Every November, I start preparing my garden for some color and delight. Dubai is blessed with nearly four months of pleasant weather ie from November to February. Most of us try to make the best of it by enjoying the outdoors as much as possible.  Also since we were going to play host to a long list of visitors in December, I was determined to add more life to our beautiful courtyards.  The grass story will follow after a few other posts. Meanwhile let me share with you, the other developments and DIY creations that adorned our gardens. This is a pictorial of making sculptures from cement. This was my first experience of playing with this compound (concrete) and there are quite a few mistakes, I made, which I wouldn’t want you to make hence I have outlined my goof ups !! Most sites, talk about premix cement bags. I couldn’t find any so I just hopped over at one of my favorite local hardware store in Hor Al Anz and bought a 25 kg cement bag. Now that is a hugely heavy bag and its always best to keep it as covered as possible. Goof up 1:- Since it was too heavy to carry to the backyard, we kept it at the entrance of the open garage ~ what I never took into account was the frequent rains that we were blessed with this winter  😦

  • Keep all the utencils, spatula, bucket etc ready and on top of some plastic sheet.
  • Gloves are a MUST !! You wouldn’t realize it until the next morning how worn and hurt your hands are going to be. Goof up 2.
  • Since the idea is to give the shape (mold) of the utencil/container to the mixed cement, its best to have everything ready beforehand. Concrete clumps relatively quickly but takes a long period to set.
  • Since we were working on it for the first time, we basically added the cement mix with some tiny gravel and alittle sand with some water. I just added the three and tested with the consistency of the water. Don’t mix with your hands, it will squeeze the muscles out of you ~ use a spatula in the bucket to stir the mix. When I felt confident of the consistency, I placed some hard plastic sheet (u can also use some cling wrap) to a container and fill some of the mix in it. This is where, I wish I would have added some more water 😦  Goof up 3.

Fotor030404017 Press and smooth the base of the mix with your spatula. This is the head of the mushroom !Fotor030404445 For the trunk or stem of the mushroom, I cut off both sides of a large 7UP bottle and filled it 3/4 of the cement mix. Fotor030404917

  • Notice the folds on the first mushroom “head”, in the picture below, I wish I would have given more folds with the other plastics in the containers and hence it would add a sense of realism to the whole project. Perhaps goof up 4 😦
  • Leave the containers to strengthen for nearly 48 hours. The concrete leaves the container quite easily once it is set .
  • It would be a good idea to use a little sanding paper to sand off some loose pieces from the edges.
  • Using an xo knife, just cut open the side of the 7up bottle and voila !! It just falls in your hand like a large cylinder.
  • One end is quite smooth and stable while the other end will be quite rough and rugged.
  • The picture below is that of them both (mushroom umbrella and stem) meeting together for the first time. I wanted to see, which head sat on which trunk best for size, support and stability.

Fotor030405330

  • I decided to spray paint the mushrooms, green, that I’ll be keeping in the porch.
  • Now, just a word of caution. Concrete does absorb aloooot of paint.  SO for best results, if your going to spray paint, 2 coats will do the job well.
  • Still, I believe, spray paint is not the best choice for concrete.

Fotor030405723 For the umbrella, my wingman sawaab, used some glossy bright red paint and painted the town red 😉 Fotor030412223 Once the paint had dried, we had different size circles drawn on them and filled it with white acrylic paint. Fotor030411954 Once that was done, a single of coat of modge podge to seal the deal 🙂 Very few glues can join two pieces of concrete except the silicone guns. So here my wingmen are using a lot of force and fun to fill the stem of the mushrooms with some silicone glue. Fotor030410023 Arent the colors such a delight !!! Fotor030410547 The two mushroom stems in the next photo shows two pvc tubes running into them. This was done in the mixing stage so that both these mushrooms could get some support when dug into the grass. We didn’t want the mushrooms tilting or falling off, every time a ball hit them. Only these two were painted white unlike the other green ones. Fotor030410842 And there you have it !! Two little happy mushrooms enjoying the sunshine together 🙂 DSCF6040 Notice how firmly they stand due to the pvc poles holding them deep into the ground. DSCF6044_2 We kept the stems white so as to stand out in the beautiful green grass. DSCF6046 DSCF6003_2 All said and done, I feel, the imperfections added character to these little sculptures. Some were great while some were a learning experience 🙂 DSCF6034 DSCF6040_2 I enjoyed coming out of my comfort zone and trying something unique and new.  As much as I realized the endless possibilities of sculpting with concrete, I am beginning to understand its limitations too. DSCF6041_2 DSCF6043_2 All four of these mushrooms adorn my porch and welcome all my guests. Its purely a labor of love !! DSCF6043 Recyled materials :- 7UP bottle, spatula, plastic sheets used by the movers when we shifted here, pvc pipes from other projects. Fotor0304163059

Please share with me if you have ever attempted playing with cement and how your experience was !! I am sharing this pictorial with the following blog friends and their parties. Totally tasty Tuesdays @ Mandys recipe box

Thank you for visiting me today friends. I hope you found this post entertaining and informative. Please leave a comment or subscribe to my posts and stay updated with my latest posts. Have a beautiful day ! 89CD521B678A2BD781B376927E6E3B02

Frame from recycled cardboard ~ Tutorial

Hi Friends ,

A lot of times, we rush out to the nearest stores in search of craft items we wish to use in a project. In some cases, it is a must, however in other cases, we can try and improvise with what we have at hand. Today, I am sharing with you how to make a frame out of a regular double layer corrugated cardboard. Ofcourse, I’m sure, there are others who may have thought this one out as well.

BeFunky_DSCF6008.jpg

I made this nearly 6 months back for my youngest sons’ room ~ He is an outgoing boy and his room has quite a dash of bright colors, hence I kept the tone very bright and cheerful colors. Since almost all my projects carry a load of recycled materials and also since I am such a firm believer in “waste not” ~ I have decided to leave a list at the end of my post stating the items which were recycled. Materials required :

  • Double layered corrugated cardboard
  • Hot glue gun / White wood glue
  • Blade or xcto blade
  • Cardstock to cover the frame
  • Embellishments include your choice of beads, buttons, cola caps, ribbons etc
  • If you like, you could distress the edges too with some distress ink.

Recycled :- Bottle cap,  patches of scrapbooking paper, buttons, cardboard !

DSCF1025

Roughly cut a square within the large square piece of cardboard with an sharp blade. Cutting a cardboard may seem relatively easy but you have to be very careful with the pressure and intensity with which you cut with one hand and the position of  the other hand.

 DSCF1028

Settle the cardboard on a large sheet of cardstock ~ I have used a handmade paper due to its strength and durability.

DSCF1029

Mark the center ( roughly) in the square ~ as already marked above and cut out four triangles.

 DSCF1031

Snip off the end of the triangles if its too long. Glue the ends on the backside of the frame. Cut off the corners of the other end of the paper and glue it backwards. The regular white glue or a hot glue gun can be used here.

DSCF1033

Once the papers are all glued the board ~ your frame is ready. After this, its really a matter of dressing up the frame for the party.

I’ve embellished the frame with a couple of pinwheels, the initial of my sons’  name, a bunting using scraps and a paper rosette. This project, totally uses up all your scrap and recycled materials ! Voila ! BeFunky_DSCF2127.jpg I could have given the frame a backing, but I preferred to let it remain empty so that the color from the background would let the shades on the bunting, pop even more.

BeFunky_DSCF2124.jpg

BeFunky_DSCF2126.jpg

BeFunky_DSCF2271.jpg

BeFunky_DSCF6010.jpg

Notice how the same frame shows up differently in 3 different backgrounds !  Mr E was super excieted to have something “MADE” all for himself. Being the youngest, he is quite accustomed to getting the hand-me-downs 🙂   Although, I did not finish it off with a matt modge podge, I am happy to report that its been over 6 months and all the embellishments look neat and tidy. So there you have it ! I am linking this post to the following parties :-

I’m curious, are all crafters like me, well how about the ones who visit me ?

  1. Do you like to recycle ?  Yes / No
  2. How often do you try to improvise rather than buy brand new stuff ?  Always / Never / sometimes
  3. Do you feel a sense of achievement when you have made something from complete waste ?  Yes / No
  4. Do you feel, sometimes you have gone overboard with collecting stuff to recycle ? Yes / No

For me that’s a ~ YES, ALWAYS, YES, YES  !!! So if you have a similar reply, you just won yourself a twin on the other side of the world !! Thank you for visiting me.   I would love to hear how you liked this ridiculously inexpensive frame ! Have a beautiful day and drive safely please ! 329847D06DC776810690945E262E8BDA

Checkered Get well wishes.

Yeeeeeellow Ladies !!! And how was the month of May for you ? I hope with all the chaos in the world, we creative souls are taking good refuge burried under a pile of DS, copics, stamps and … list is too long.. {you get the picture, dont you ??}

Jokes apart, honestly, sometimes, its such a relief that ” we  ”  { ladies who are nurturing and devoloping  our creative desires} are so blessed to have found a fullfilling channel to keep us occupied constructively and help us release our emotions. I cant imagine how time consuming and boring it must be to sit infront of the idiot box for hours or worse, spend hours gossiping in social kitties or perhaps even worse, not be able to enjoy or afford any hobby at all !! 

I have found so many dear friends thru the www world that have reached out for my friendship and really kept me going when at times you feel so lost and in despair.

Also many thanks to the scores of dear friends and visitors for always leaving such thoughtful comments behind. I look forward to them and read each one of them. They are such a joy. Infact, I know alot of people give out blog candies for number of hits on their blog, or the number of followers, they have, but for me, those comments make all the difference. Infact I think, it is getting time to probably make a candy, one of these days, probably when I reach xxx number of comments !!!! 

The last two weeks have been so gratifying (artistically speaking !!) I have a heap of completed projects that I am going to share with you very soon. Some altered art, some wall hangings, some bookmarks, some new techniques and some cards. Ofcourse they will follow in posts, one after the other.

For today, I have a Get Well Soon, easel card with plenty of layers. I completly love the design paper which I am using for the first time. I used a lovely sketch from Mojo Monday which, I did not realize would be alittle tricky, but in the end, I am quite pleased with the effort. [ and ofcourse I am too late to submit my card for that challenge 😦  ]  A beautiful fence digital stamp with two flower pots paper pieced to it. 3 Brads and a simple ribbon knotted around the sentiment. Ofcourse this is my new MS border punch, which I have absolutely completely insanely fallen-in-love with !! For those of you who own it, isnt the design simply fabulous ? and for those who havent picked them up so far, whats keeping you from them ???

I have made a deliberate effort at keeping the look more masculine with more muted colors and lots of distressing.

I hope this card brings a smile to the souls feeling under the weather.

Here is the slide :

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This card enters quite a few challenges. However since I am guest DT for Clear It Out! – I am entering this card for their paper piecing challenge.

 And here’s a list of the other many challenges, this card enters :

I hope you liked this card. Please feel free to browse thru more of my projects. And ofcourse if you would leave a comment, it would add to my joy 🙂  Thank you for your lovely visit.

Cheerio then  Friends. Will be seeing you soon !