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How to make Autumn Bunting {handmade}


or, “what to do with all those conkers the kids keep bringing home!”

Space for the Butterflies - How to Make Autumn Bunting with FIMO leaves and conkers

All through the summer, butterflies have danced across our wall, joined by some doves dangling from branches that the littlest two made at playgroup.  But as the butterflies have gone from the garden so too it’s time to swap our bunting for something a little more seasonal.  I keep trying to find somewhere where we could have a nature table, or some little collection of bits and bobs to mark the change in seasons, but anything on a surface low enough to be reached (and with Kitty that means almost all of them) gets co-opted back into their games, and there seems little point in having it too high for anyone to see.  So bunting it is, hung between the two curtain rails in the lounge, visible, but not terribly touchable for tiny fingers.

I’ve been having a think about what to do for autumn for a little while but when the girls announced their intention to go conker hunting last weekend it all slotted into place. Conkers and leaves, perfect to take us through to Halloween and then the winter.

My first idea was simply to string up the conkers but beautiful though conkers undoubtably are, that’s just not enough colour for us, and as our latest Staedtler Try-it Tribe parcel came with vast amounts of FIMO I thought we would see if we could put it to good use.

Space for the Butterflies - How to Make Autumn Bunting with FIMO leaves and conkers

The leaves are made from Orange, Green and Glitter Pink FIMO, mushed together to make a slightly more autumnal swirl of colours.  We rolled the FIMO out to 1-2mm thick, popped it on a sheet of tin foil (top tip to stop it sticking to the tablecloth), then pressed leaves of various shapes and sizes down into the FIMO.

Space for the Butterflies - How to Make Autumn Bunting with FIMO leaves and conkers

If you very carefully cut the FIMO away around the edges using a modelling tool or a blunt knife and then peel up the leaf you’re left with a beautiful print of all the veins underneath.  For a final step I added two little holes at the top so that we could string them up, and into the oven they went.

Space for the Butterflies - How to Make Autumn Bunting with FIMO leaves and conkers

Space for the Butterflies - How to Make Autumn Bunting with FIMO leaves and conkers

That’s the short version anyway;  I decided to have a first forray into vlogging and make a little how-to video on how to make the leaves.  Does it count as a vlog if you can only see my hands? Anyway, all the details are here

Though it’s obviously me in the video, Kitty and Elma made most of the leaves for our bunting.  Kitty at six could do it all herself, and Elma just needed a little help with cutting the edges away.

With the leaves cooking, we took our conker collection out into the garden and I ruthlessly stabbed them with a braddle to put holes in them.  The holes were just big enough to fit a large darning needle threaded with the green and red stripy butcher’s twine that Father Christmas put in my stocking last year (having previously gone shopping at Berylune), although I found it handy to have my jewellery pliers to hand to pull it through if it ever got stuck.  You do want to use something sturdy like butcher’s twine to string them up; conkers are pretty heavy en masse and even sturdy sewing thread would be unlikely to be able to cope.

Put it all together, and you have a very autumnal bunting.

Space for the Butterflies - How to Make Autumn Bunting with FIMO leaves and conkers

As to how long it will last, well I’ve kept conkers around the house for ages before, but never conkers that have holes in, and realistically I doubt that this is going to last for ever.  I have high hopes (based on childhood conker games) that it won’t rot and fall to pieces before the end of the autumn and then if I need to I can rescue the leaves and use them again next year.

But for now it’s hanging happily along the wall, a little autumn celebration for October.


Crafty Ideas Inspiration

Five for a Tuesday




I’ve never been into football in my life and the closest thing I’ve owned to a football strip is a Celtic shirt that H got for me many moons ago by collecting the ring pulls from coke cans. But he has fond memories of dressing up in football kit to support his teams and his stories must have sparked something in my girls because they both have suddenly got very interested in the England team, and Elma in particular has become obsessed with the idea of having a strip.

Genuine England strip for three small but rapidly growing children is way way way out of our budget, but by pottering around the supermarket looking for school socks I discovered that Sainsburys has stepped into the breach.


The far left shirt is Elma’s, as part of a shirt and shorts set for £11 (the shorts are navy blue with a little England shield on the bottom left leg), the middle is Kitty’s (aged 9!) which doesn’t come as a set but matches some comfy red shorts similar to Elma’s but with white stripes down the side, and Pip’s is the little one, which comes in all sizes up to adult.

Elma’s face when she saw hers was pure open mouthed glee – I don’t think she stopped hopping around the lounge for a full half hour. Alas I was not there to witness the expression of their Scottish grandfather when they all turned up to visit him in England tshirts, but I’m reliably informed that he rapidly asked whether Sainsburys sell Scotland shirts, to which H’s response was “do Scotland still even have a team?”



A little while ago we were sent a review copy of Ocean Tales, by Stuart Lightman. It’s a published on demand little pocket sized story book and in the world where we seem to be being told every other week that real books are struggling (despite my ever groaning bookcases that would argue to the contrary) I love that modern technology is opening up proper hold it in your hand publishing. I’ve got books on my Kindle app and they’re great for always having something to read on the commute, but I could never do away with the pleasure of sitting down with a nice solid paperback; an app can never quite recreate that new book smell.


And speaking of stories – I discovered Sparkle Stories when casting about the Internet for audiobooks for the children. They are American so some of the pronunciation is obviously different but they are lovely gentle stories, especially the bedtime stories which have proved perfect for the times when light evenings make it hard for little eyes to get to sleep. We’ve got a subscription but they recently released a series of podcasts which are equally lovely and a great introduction to their repertoire.


I am trying really really hard not to join in with the Modern Quilters Ireland Rainbow Rose Quilt Along. Really hard. It’s a beautiful pattern and I’ve always wanted to make a single block quilt, and I keep telling myself that I’m already doing the Sugarblock Club, and I haven’t finished the Fishing Net quilt yet (I am quilting it in the evenings at the moment so there is some progress), and I’ve got the bits and bobs I need for the next quilt I’m planning and …..

I should just go and start pulling a fabric selection now shouldn’t I. Anyone want to join me?


This article from the Artful Parent on the perils of colouring books really got me thinking. I can see where it’s coming from; if you are always just colouring in you’re never drawing, you’re never being fully creative, and I would hate it if either of my girls stopped drawing and only did colouring. I can see how a culture of perfectionism could creep in and the concerns that come with it.

But I also know that firstly, colouring doesn’t entirely lack creativity – you still have to decide which colour to use and how to match and blend them – and secondly, it isn’t always a bad thing to let your brain have a little rest.

Kitty does most of her colouring when she gets home from school; it lets her focus on using her hands, on the pretty colours in her crayon box, and on the swirls and loops of the picture in front of her (she’s currently working her way through Lost Ocean), and it calms her and settles her. That she is so tired at the end of a school day that she needs this is perhaps a topic for a different blog post.

I think that there is a place for colouring books, as much as for drawing and painting and sticky glitter and everything else crafty, as long as we know what we’re expecting from them. Colouring in time is not when my children most stretch their creative muscles, it’s a soothing down time to play with pretty colours while someone else has done half the work for you. What do you think?

Crafty Ideas Elma Family Handmade Kitty Photography

Butterfly Bunting {Handmade}


Walking through the woods and watching the children chase the butterflies gave me the idea for our new seasonal bunting. We’ve had watercolour hearts up since Valentine’s Day and they’re so pretty that it needed to be something good to displace them.  But butterflies, fluttering across the wall, in all the colours that imagination can bring you, now that had potential.

And after I spent Sunday morning carefully folding tissue paper to make a whole kaleidoscope of butterflies; reality.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

They are incredibly easy to make, Kitty and Elma both had a go, although their butterflies got taken out into the garden to be played with rather than ending up on the bunting.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

And here’s how.

You will need:

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners
Tissue paper squares – I have a block of tissue paper in lots of different colours that is 16cm square so I just used those sheets torn from the pad but you could easily cut them to size or change the size, two for each butterfly.
Pipe cleaners cut to 15cm, one for each butterfly.
String – I used green and white butcher’s twine

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

Take a square of tissue paper and fold it in half diagonally.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

Open it up and starting at one of the points that has just been creased, concertina fold the paper (folding back and forth) using the previous crease to keep your folds going in a straight line across the paper. You want your folds to be about a centimetre wide.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

Repeat with the second sheet of paper.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

Fold the pipe cleaner in half, stack the two paper concertinas on top of each other and slot into the folded pipe cleaner.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

Twist the pipe cleaner to close at the side of the paper, then bend the ends up at 90 degrees and curl the ends to make the antenna.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

Gently open out the tissue paper folds. For the bottom wings open them out all the way but for the top you can be a little more cautious to get the shape you want.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

And there you have a butterfly.

Make however many of them you need and use a large blunt needle to thread them onto the string. If you thread the string through the back of the fold in the pipe cleaner then the butterflies will face down, which would look amazing going across a room, but if you want them to fly along a wall then thread under the top of the pipe cleaner, about half way across. Too far to the front and the butterfly’s wings will struggle to open and too far to the back and it will be flying downhill again.

Space for the Butterflies - how to make butterfly bunting from tissue paper and pipe cleaners

Ours are all the colours of the rainbow and some more besides but these would look so pretty in pastels, or just in variations of the same colour – an entire flight of butterflies in different colours of yellow would be pure sunshine against an English summer, wouldn’t it!

 It’s the final week of voting for the MADS – I am absolutely thrilled to be a MADs Finalist for the Best Craft Blog category this year so if you haven’t voted yet, please do, all the details are here or click on the banner below


Crafty Ideas Handmade Inspiration Uncategorized

There are parties and then there are parties


I think I now know what theme I want for my birthday parties for the rest of forever.  Part of H’s wedding anniversary present to me was a ticket to Berylune’s Craft Party, and while not exactly the traditional gift, only when you’re parents to a horde of small children can you truly appreciate how much throwing you out of the house for the evening really does say “I love you”.  I’ve been looking forward to it for weeks and last Friday found me out after bedtime, and lining up for a party where it had never seemed more normal to be knitting on a sock while chatting and waiting for a space to make a beaded necklace.

Space for the Butterflies - Berylune Craft Party

I started the evening making envelopes.  It’s addictive.  I don’t send much snail mail, nor can I really think of anything terribly useful to do with hundreds of envelopes but after playing around for a bit with templates and paper I can see why you’d want to make them anyway.  My first attempt, made from an Ordnance Survey map of “Northern England” was for H; a funny sort of thank you present, an envelope with his childhood home on the front but when we were students back in the days of dubious mobile phone reception we used to write to each other all the time through the holidays and I’d have loved to have sent him a letter with “deliver here” and an X marks the spot on it, just to see if it arrived.  Flipping through an old Bunty annual I found the perfect page for my next envelope, a comic strip of a girl falling over wearing heels which was far too close to some of my wobbles in heels to be ignored, and then the final one I made just to see how the concertina template worked out, and then realised that I’d chosen the wrapping paper that matched the tissue paper I used to box up the baby clothes the other week – in my defence it’s a really pretty pattern.Space for the Butterflies - Berylune Craft Party

The bar had pompom making and hama beads and a giant colouring in poster and I was having so much fun just sitting and chatting and colouring a castle in rainbow colours that it took me a while to realise that there was an upstairs.  Oh wow.  Decked out from end to end in triangle bunting and cactus bunting and giant paper garlands and gold balloons, and full of people chatting and people trying out everything you’ve ever seen on Pinterest and wanted to have a go at but never got around to.


The line looked shortest for the rubber stamping so I started there; all the stamps were pre-cut but it was amazing to see how different everyone’s pictures turned out; on one side of me a girl was making patterns in gold stars and on the other an entire mountain took shape, all black ink and thunderous clouds.  My imagination conjured up a night sky with three colours of stars, and though I’d thought about clouds or the moon, in the end I stuck to stars, and houses, and trees and I love how it turned out.  Kitty is quite determined to claim this as her own so we might have to see about a frame for the girls’ room before too long.

Space for the Butterflies - Berylune Craft Party

From stamping I tried a little jewellery making; there were so many pretty colours of beads that choosing just nine for a pattern along the pin was all but impossible.  Making the necklace itself was actually very easy and I love the way it turned out, I’ve chosen colours that will go with some work clothes so that hopefully I’ll get a chance to actually wear it.

Space for the Butterflies - Berylune Craft Party

Leather work was completely new to me, but I can see why it would get so addictive; I love the origami of this little purse and I’m seriously tempted to try to replicate it in patchwork using some leftover snaps from making knitted baby bibs; the girls love having little pockets and bags to put tiny treasures in so I suspect that they would happily embrace all failed prototypes.

Space for the Butterflies - Berylune Craft Party

The little notebook was my next creation; it’s made from marbled card and the gold stripes are all colours of sticky tape.  By this point we were starting to get towards the end of the evening and with a hopeful queue around each table there was not exactly a pressure to be quick but certainly a group willingness to make sure we all got a turn, and I actually found it quite fun.  When you don’t have too long to overthink things and you just have to let your hands start making it’s the crafty equivalent of just sitting down to write whatever pops into your mind, without feeling like it has to be right or good, and just like the writing exercise it usually means that I end up with something I really like.  My notebook is a bit of fun and rather sweet and I have every intention of putting it to use.

By the time I got to doodling a mug I’d seen a fair few absolutely stunning designs being produced throughout the evening.  There were some very very talented artists making mugs that evening, especially when you start to draw yourself and realise just how hard it is to make a straight line on a curved surface.  I leave most of the drawing to H in our family, but there is one thing that I can draw and get the proportions roughly right: boats.

Space for the Butterflies - Berylune Craft Party

And so boats it was, perched on top of some unlikely looking waves and a few fish, with just the one lone seagull looking down.  I baked it over the weekend so hopefully the pattern will last as long as the mug (which is being very carefully kept away from small children).

Space for the Butterflies - Berylune Craft Party

And last but by no means least, a little modge podge, a little washi tape, and a silver tipped moon.  It’s another make that I’m going to be wrestling back from the children and I’m glad they like it because decorating wooden brooches with washi tape is definitely something we’ll be doing together sometime soon.

Space for the Butterflies - Berylune Craft Party

And then all that was left was to head home, far later than I have been out of the house in years, to discover that H had somehow quite miraculously managed to persuade all three children to go to sleep without me (a treat in itself) so that I could sit with him, tell him all about the evening, and unpack my amazing goodie bag (and yes that is a chocolate cactus).

Speaking of chocolate, Creightons were making personalised chocolate bars and it seemed only fitting to get one as a better thank you to H than an envelope.  I could have put his name on it, but “Go Paint!” seemed a more fitting response to the evening, and an instruction that has been duly followed ever since.

Space for the Butterflies - Berylune Craft Party

I am absolutely thrilled to be a MADs Finalist for the Best Craft Blog category this year – I would love your vote, all the details are here and voting is open until 27 May


Crafty Ideas Elma Family Kitty Photography Pip

Messy Science: Non-Newtonian Gloop


It started with a conversation in the ballet class waiting room.  Quite how or even why we were discussing walking on custard I really have no idea, but the topic came up and with it the mention of YouTube videos showing just what you’d have to do to walk on a liquid.  I knew the theory; if you make a non-Newtonian liquid (which means Birds’ best custard powder custard not the sort you’d actually want to eat) then the impact of your feet hitting the custard renders the liquid a solid and you can skip right over the surface; but sometimes seeing has to be believing, and so really remarkably soon after we got home from ballet, the girls are I were glued to the screen watching this fabulous piece of mad science:

I think after that Kitty was ready to flood our patio with custard and spend all afternoon dancing on it but we don’t have quite the same machinery available for the making of the gloop, our patio isn’t terribly well draining, and her father believed that custard is for eating with jelly and ice cream and not for dancing on (he is right but only if it’s real custard not cornflour and sugar).  But the idea of making gloop for them persisted, especially when I realised that it’s actually been a little while since we made it last, and Pip has never been old enough to have a play.

Space for the Butterflies: Messy Science - Non Newtonian Gloop

Cue one table moved outside onto the patio, and the ingredients assembled:

  • Cornflour (cornstarch)
  • Water
  • Food colouring
  • Three very eager children armed with plastic spoons

Space for the Butterflies: Messy Science - Non Newtonian Gloop

I find that a rough measure of a heaped cup of cornflour to a cup of water produces nicely runny but solid gloop, but it’s always useful to keep a water bottle on hand because it does dry out as you play with it, and you sometimes need to give it a bit of a splash more to get it moving again.  We start with a mound of cornflour straight onto the table, make a well in the centre and then fold the sides in by gently stiring with our fingers.  Spoons and bowls are all very well but because the gloop will resist any strong motion because impact turns it solid, I find it harder to actually stir it than to just splodge it together.

Space for the Butterflies: Messy Science - Non Newtonian Gloop

Gloop is definitely one of life’s simple pleasures.  We started just by pushing it around and picking it up, and Kitty’s old enough now that she can grasp that if she wants a bit to stay solid she has to keep it moving.  There’s just something so weird and wonderful about holding a solid ball that you’ve been rolling between your hands and watching it melt and drip through your fingers.

Space for the Butterflies: Messy Science - Non Newtonian Gloop

We could have kept playing like that for ages but I’d brought home three little tubes of gel food colouring for the trio to have a little fun playing with; because it’s gel rather than a watery liquid it sits on the gloop rather then being immediately absorbed by it which means that you can swirl it into some incredibly gorgeous marble patterns and then move two colours together to make green and an orange that matched the loveliest of blush roses.

Space for the Butterflies: Messy Science - Non Newtonian Gloop

Space for the Butterflies: Messy Science - Non Newtonian Gloop

This was admittedly the point that I realised that really old clothes might have been a better idea – Pip’s shirt and vest are currently having a nice long soak overnight to draw out the food colouring – but it was worth it to see how much they enjoyed just getting stuck in and pushing it about.

Space for the Butterflies: Messy Science - Non Newtonian Gloop

We played together for ages, and then when Pip started to loose interest he and I went to play in the rest of the garden and left the girls too it and they played for ages, right up until it rained! But before then they’d make gloop spirals, run it through each other’s hands and scooped it all up into the cup measure to make what they told me was a gloop swimming pool, presumably for a teeny tiny gloop person.

As you can see from the pictures, gloop is, in our house at least, definitely an outdoor science; all three children went straight in the bath once we’d finished! The rest of the clean up though is pretty simple; the spoons went in the washing up, the cornflour went back in the cupboard and Kitty rinsed the table down with the garden hose – a job I think she enjoyed nearly as much as the gloop.

It’s definitely a science we’ll be bringing out again during the summer and I’m starting to think about ways to tweak it – I wanted to try sprinkling on popping candy but couldn’t find any, and my substitutes (extra strong mints and refreshers) did nothing but provide a slightly strange smell.  Do you think popping candy would react to the water in the liquid, or just sit on the top and look at me? Or is there anything else to do with gloop that I really must try?

Space for the Butterflies - how to make Non-Newtonian Gloop - Messy Science for Kids