Just before Christmas, in the midst of a little flurry of Christmas shaped parcels, arrived one red box. We are thrilled to be part of Staedtler’s Try it Tribe again this year – playing around with art materials, it’s a hard job but someone’s got to do it – and even the tiniest peek in the box told me that we were in for a lot of fun.
And right at the top of the box were Staedtler’s latest FIMO modelling kits, Form & Play. We had so much fun using space moulds to make our working model of the lunar eclipse back in the autumn and the girls were itching to get at the new kits. Whereas the lunar eclipse used moulds to make the shapes, these kits are more about making it yourself, with a little bit of help along the way. Each kit contains four packets of FIMO (one of them sparkly), an cutting and shaping tool and a little booklet with step by step picture instructions to make the models on the front cover. Or not if you don’t want to. One of the reasons that I love giving my three art materials to play around with and get messy is because I love to see what their creativity can come up with. Our house is pleasantly sized but not massive so every toy, every paintbrush, every box of crafty stuff has to earn its keep, and these kits tick the box. If you want to make the cover kit you can, or if you want to change it up a bit, swap the colours around, add a section, loose a section, you can; there’s a lot of scope for imagination.
So with Pip mostly distracted by his hammering bench and a long line of pegs to put in it, Kitty, Elma and I sat down with two kits between the three of us to have a go at making Space (Elma and me) and Seaworld (Kitty), both level 2 kits. The packets say that they’re aimed at 8 year olds but Kitty loves her arts and crafts and the pictures in the book set out exactly what you need to do without necessarily being able to read detailed instructions so I helped her to open up her FIMO packets and then left her to it.
The shark, which she is absolutely certain is a whale, and the crab are entirely her own work and she is rightly proud of them. They don’t look exactly like the pictures on the cover, but when do models ever look like the cover photo, and I was really impressed both by her modelling skills and by how easy she found it to follow the instructions without needing any input. She did most of the turtle too but it was suffering from a slight case of very over flattened to the point of pancake-like so we worked together to poof it up again, and then we made the seahorse together.
And while she worked away on one side of the table, Elma and I conspired on spaceship construction on the other. Our space rocket may be more “inspired by” than a true copy but that’s part of the fun of it and Elma loved chopping up the FIMO and rolling it into balls and cones and wiggly lines and squishing on the circles to make portholes. The rocket and the flying saucer are genuinely a 50:50 effort although she lost interest a bit when we got to the shuttle and just helped with the portholes.
In addition to the bits and pieces in the kit I found it really helpful to keep a packet of baby wipes on hand and a straw. The baby wipes are because the colour of the FIMO comes off on your hands and if you don’t clean your hands between colours, especially after playing with the black, it comes off on the next colours and rather muddies their vibrancy. The straw we found really helpful for punching out the windows to make proper portholes and for making patterns on the back of the turtle and the tummy of the seahorse.
We found that you needed to be quite gentle with the rolling out; FIMO is very malleable and it was very easy to overall, particularly when making cones and then need to start again. But, if you do make a mistake or find you have a bit of an odd lump, just stroking it very gently will quite often smooth everything out again.
Into the oven for half an hour and then the playtime begins, because inside the cardboard wrapper of each packet is a backdrop perfect for showing off your new creations.
And you could leave it at that – but where’s the fun in that? Why not use them to set up a puppet theatre?
And so, without further ado, I hand you over to Kitty and Elma for the tales of “Under the Sea Bed” and “Space Ships that Don’t Fly”. The plot is at times largely incomprehensible and I think Kitty makes up a few words because she’s trying to recreate the patter of a poem she’s read about Planet Earth and Planet “P” at school this week but that doesn’t really matter, the fun was in making up stories and seeing it back on film:
We still have one kit in our box, the level 3 pirates, but given that Kitty has already been asking to get it out and make it I foresee many tales of swashbuckling adventure in our future!