Tag Archives: Art

Other Worlds at The Story Museum

The Story Museum centre opens in Oxford in 2014 but before then they’ve starting putting on events in the building. Other Worlds is open for the whole of May and is a series of art installations in rooms in what was the post office and telephone exchange. It is somewhere that needs at least a couple of hours of exploring, which I certainly didn’t get with a 3 and 5 year old but here are the highlights of our little exploration.

We visited on Sunday 13th May in the morning because I knew Korky Paul would be there for a workshop. He will also be there Sat 19th May in the afternoon and Sun 20th May in the morning (check with The Story Museum for times).

Firstly, all the staff were absolutely wonderful. They greeted everyone enthusiastically, spent time chatting with the children and were completely approachable to talk to. They made the whole visit a delight (even with slightly clingy small children!) MG spent most of the time saying “can we go now?” until we left when she said “when are we going back?” Typical five year old?! DG explored, she likes exploring. We missed out at least half of the exhibits.

MG’s favourite was the Word Storm. We didn’t go in properly and read the walls but the room with its thunder and lightning was intriguing enough and the peephole in the wall to look through was great for the children.

The second favourite was A Crafty Fag, although I have no idea what was going on because I didn’t get to look for more than five seconds! But the girls climbed the ladder and looked through a periscope to see a video which seemed very curious. I think the ladder was of more interest to my children though!

Both of these were on the first floor, we didn’t go in any rooms on the ground floor but the main entrance had audio and paintings so you walk straight in to the experience. The portaloos (very important when you have small children, we had several visits!) were behind some bean poles with tags that looked interesting and I loved the notice in the courtyard about smoking!

The second floor housed Korky Paul’s PlessieOsaurus and the workshop, where the children were free to draw and paint an underwater scene on the walls and floor with Korky drawing outlines of Plessie and fish for everyone (not just the children) to colour plus giving impromptu advice on how to draw fish, how to make the paint more watery to look underwater etc. He spent the entire time engaging with the children and if I wasn’t totally shy I would have said hello as it was a very informal and intimate workshop. I think there were about 20-30 people there so it wasn’t overcrowded. There was a bit of drama when the Plessie fell over when the staff tried to move it to make space but no one (including Plessie) was hurt.

DG, being DG, happily painted the walls, looking for me when she wanted to change colours and when she wanted to stop. MG, being MG, clung to me at all times and didn’t do any drawing at all (which is a shame, because it is her favourite occupation usually). So MG and I kept out of the way and looked at the other exhibits in the huge room that we were in while DG happily painted, looking out for me on the odd occasion (I kept an eye on her at all times, in case she got stressed.)

There were tables with books spread around (which of course I couldn’t resist) and posters, postcards etc to support the museum. I bought a small handful 😉 It was a lovely trip and although the girls had their ‘bored’ moments while we were there, we did stay for about an hour and a half and they said they really enjoyed it afterwards and wanted to go again.

This review is a tiny taster of what Other Worlds has to offer, it really deserves a longer visit. Other Worlds is open until 27 May on Thursdays to Sundays (see website for details) and costs £3 per person, children under 2 are free.

Maxi Hama Beads Kit – My First Hama Duck Car & Girl Set

[Written: November 2011 for Play Merrily and Craft Merrily, expanded review below]

This box has been a great introduction to Hama to my family. I really don’t know what took me so long to get a Hama kit, I didn’t realise what we were missing out on! The box contains three peg boards which are fairly large, a large sheet of the ironing paper, three designs to follow which are exactly sized to fit under the transparent boards for easy following, and lots and lots of beads.

The ironing paper is folded in the picture, it is actually three times the size.

The beads are surprisingly big, bigger than I imagined as I’d seen the “midi” beads in a local toy shop, which makes them perfect even for younger children (under supervision) and the variety meant that my youngest daughter could happily place beads on a board (she wasn’t interested in finishing anything) while my eldest daughter wanted to follow the patterns exactly.

After my eldest had made one girl and one car (following the colours given on the patterns) I filled the duck (following pattern), car and girl boards with the remaining beads when the girls were asleep to see how far the beads would go and was only 8 beads short of filling all three boards (which could have been lost as my youngest was putting the beads into bags “shopping” and wandering around the house before I did this!) so it looks like you can probably get 5 large models from this kit, or definitely 4 plus a smaller design of your own making. (I did put the beads back in the box after I’d filled the boards, but it was a nice calming activity to fill the boards…)

There were also 6 stands in the kit, which we've not used as MG & DG like to play with the models.

My eldest can be quite reticent to believe in her own abilities, so the patterns were good for her to start to get the idea of this new craft but the ease of making the designs and her delight in the “toy” that results after the beads have been heated have encouraged her to branch out to do things “in my own way” very quickly. We would definitely recommend this kit (or any of the similar sized kits) and will definitely be stocking up on more Hama in the future 🙂

Such a difference between Midi and Maxi bead sizes!

This starter kit has been enough for my girls over the past few months, especially with the mountains of Christmas toys in the middle. I’ve managed to avoid “laminating” (MG says laminating for ironing, as we have a laminater for paper so she’s associated the effect with that) many designs but we were coming to the end of the beads (as I said above, there might have been enough for five completed models but we’ve certainly lost some beads over the weeks) and a friend got a bag of 500 Maxi beads for an early birthday present for MG.

I’m glad she did, because we’d also got a starter Midi kit from the local toyshop and from the experience with the Maxi, MG has quickly moved onto the Midi beads. She loves all kinds of art so I’ve got her a Midi activity kit (and some other bits and pieces) for her birthday as that’s definitely what’s interesting her at the moment.

I’m really impressed with how quickly MG had gone from having no experience of this type of art, to copying the designs with the Maxi beads, to experimenting with patterns with Maxi beads, to experimenting with patterns with Midi beads. She is very artistic, and I love seeing all the imaginative drawings she comes up with so I’m excited to see how she’ll develop with these. Although I know I must be patient, as children follow their own path and by her birthday next week she’ll probably not look at the beads for another few months. Although, maybe DG will start being more interested and experiment with the Maxi beads then…

Disclaimer: I was not sent this kit by PlayMerrily / CraftMerrily for review but I have had a discount account with PlayMerrily since August 2011 and therefore paid a reduced price for this product. All my reviews have been written because I loved the products and are for items I freely chose to buy for my daughters, unless otherwise stated. I choose to review for PlayMerrily because of their fantastic and friendly service.

Buttons!

I’m trying to blame the wonderful Clara Vulliamy for my button obsession, which is not entirely fair, as I’ve only been talking to her for a couple of months and this was the state of the button collection before she reminded me of my button obsession:

I forget who it was but someone in my childhood had a button tin. An old biscuit tin that was filled with buttons. These were all buttons that had probably been saved from old clothes over many years, unlike the purpose bought buttons in my collection, but I loved looking through that tin. There were always different things to find each time, it was a mini Aladdin’s cave of discoveries.

The memories of this have never left me so having a collection of buttons seemed an essential thing to have available to my daughters. I used to save all the spare buttons from my clothes from years before I even thought of having children to be honest, a collection of buttons is just in my psyche.

I may have ‘accidentally’ purchased one or two (or seven) hundred more recently… Yes, I’m not sure how it was accidental either!

With the lovely new buttons, I thought they ought to be organised more so sorted most of them by colour:

And then others by shape, material and patterns:

Now there isn’t that huge box for my girls to discover new things each time. Or to use as pretend food in imaginative play. But I like them organised. Ho hum. I can’t see the buttons remaining organised for long, and until then they’ve still got the messy box of ribbons:

I really ought to do something crafty with my girls and all these bits and pieces! Fortunately there’s lots of inspiration on Clara’s website. And lots of buttons. And lots of felt. And…

Timothy Pope, Timothy Pope…

Yesterday evening MG found a cardboard tube and pretended it was a telescope, which led to reading Shark in the Dark by Nick Sharratt for the final bedtime story. “I want to paint my telescope” announces MG. Of course, I say, we’ll do that tomorrow…

So, as soon as she’s awake in the morning: “Can I paint my telescope? I need blue and yellow paint.” Ad nauseum, until I give in (about three minutes later, before we’ve even had breakfast…)

We have a messy art cupboard in the kitchen full of paints, paper and related paraphernalia. That “messy” belongs with “art”, not “cupboard”; it’s probably the tidiest part of the house at the moment. Generally there are things stacked in front of the cupboard door, so that DG can’t help herself to the paints 🙂

MG had her cardboard tube, so of course we had to find one for DG. Blue and Yellow were requested, so that’s 4 paint pots: blue and yellow for MG; blue and yellow for DG…

DG prefered painting on paper, and soon smeared her hands everywhere (she’s left-handed, hence the brush is in her dominant hand: I know she’s a toddler and it’s too early to tell etc but she’s been strongly left-handed from around 10 months old much like MG has been strongly right-handed from around 10 months old…)

MG painted her “telescope” to be like the one in the book, and then painted an empty milk carton before moving onto mixing paints and creating these lovely caterpillars…

…that ended up being smeared onto MG’s hands shortly after I took the picture. The girls were in a tactile painting mood today. Mess turned into running to the sink to wash hands (and bodies); then paint pots and brushes. And when all had finished, it was time for a bath 😆

I’ve recently discovered Amber Dusick’s Parenting with Crappy Pictures blog. This post on art is so true for this household; we invariably end up in scenario two…

Ice Experiment Failures

I’ve been absent from blogging for a few days, partially through feeling too tired to concentrate in the evening and partially from the last couple of art experiments not going down well with MG and DG. As it’s the summer holidays, I’ve been concentrating on outside and art projects with them.

But this blog is Child-Led Chaos. The Child-Led I’m working on; the Chaos we’re good at! So here’s some failures from the last few days…

Inspired by Share & Remember I gave the girls ice cube paints. I liked how bright the food colouring + water paints looked, and that they were given paper and cloth to paint on. MG drew half a dozen designs in about 2 minutes before she announced she was bored and went inside.

DG didn’t like the fact that the ‘paints’ were disappearing. She didn’t understand it and it upset her. As for painting on a muslin cloth – oh, no, that was not allowed! Muslins are comforters for both MG and DG and although MG understood it wasn’t permanent, DG was having none of it. Neither girl was impressed or happy, so all in all a failed project. I’ll try it again some other time though!

The second inspiration was from The Artful Parent and Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas. I prepared a few balloons full of water in the freezer the day before but wasn’t going to use them because it was pouring with rain. However, being stuck inside created two very frustrated small monsters, so I set the ice, salt and food colouring out for them.

It was such a failure, I don’t even have pictures… DG tried eating the salt; her expression on spitting it out was priceless but I didn’t have the camera on me. MG piled an entire tub of salt onto her ice block and then coloured the salt with food colouring. The ice didn’t really crack too well under the salt, I think it wasn’t frozen enough? I don’t know what I was expecting but I don’t think it ‘worked’!

Both girls ended up covered in various shades of food colouring and the kitchen ended up smelling as I decided adding bicarbonate of soda and vinegar would make things more interesting for them (it didn’t)…

As I’m doing failures, here’s how the cake the girls made ended up:

So, CBeebies has been winning the ‘child-led’ aspect this week! Onwards and upwards… 😆

Splodgy Cup Painting!

Todays mess art experience was the trusty paper-cup-full-of-paint-with-a-hole-in-the-bottom. It probably has a proper shorter name, but I’ve gone for “splodgy cup painting”. This time MG and DG were involved in the setup so I have no setup pictures as we were too busy doing things to take pictures.

Materials needed: paint, water, paper cups (plastic will do), string (or similar), plasticine (or similar) and pencil.

For the uninitiated: take a paper cup (or three) and punch holes in either side at the top (pencil and plasticine method), tie string (or whatever you have – in our case curling ribbon) to create a hanging cup. Repeat for however many cups you want to use – three was plenty for my two small ones.

If you’re not already outside, relocate out at this point. Or somewhere you don’t mind covering the floor in paint. Or use a VERY large plastic sheet to cover your floor…

Put cups on plasticine balls and make a hole in the bottom with a pencil. Keep the plasticine over the hole in the bottom of the cup. Partially fill cup with paint of your choice – I used premix paint but any paint that can be made into a liquid will do. Add water until the paint consistancy is enough to flow through the hole at the bottom but not too watery. Repeat for all cups, trying to keep the paint contained in the cups until everyone is ready. Spread some large sheets of paper around, let small children pick up hanging cups, whisk plasticine off bottom of cups and stand well back…

Having never done this with the girls before, they wondered what I was up to when we were preparing but soon got into the swing of it (pun not intended :lol:)

This is how i envisaged the finished product looking (I did manage to sneak away one sheet to dry at this stage):

DG decided that extra water would be good in her paint cup, and MG chose to mix the red and yellow to make orange:

The extra water made things wetter and more slippery and after some foot painting I decided that we needed a tub of water to wash feet in. My jumped in with all her clothes, therefore clothes were discarded by the children at that point. DG decided that the foot washing tub was more fun than painting:

MG decided that brushes, and hands, and feet were more fun than refilling the cups:

MG squeezed lots of paint and danced through it but it was very slippery so she fell (not hurt, phew…) and ended up covered in orange from toes to upper thigh – which she happily washed off in the tub when DG came out for some paint dancing. Once they were happy with their work, they washed the bulk of the paint off in the tub, dried and I whisked them into a quick bath (there’s a theme to our art exploration here…)

I’m not sure how other bloggers make art look so neat and tidy. We’re just messy! The aftermath wasn’t too bad really:

I think a teensy bit of preparation, rather than just deciding to do this on a whim and making it up as we went along might have made this a bit less messy… 🙂 Great fun, quick and easy to set up, best done outside in warm weather!

Outdoor Painting

Reading this post on Putti Prapancha reminded me that I set up something similar with MG and DG a few weeks back – and it’s about time I posted about the children on this blog!

For a change, I managed to set up whilst MG and DG were amusing themselves elsewhere (usually they help). Firstly I laid out three long strips of easel roll paper, weighted them down with bricks due to the wind and took the tops off a set of six watercolour tubes (from Poundland). I managed to choose a fairly dull and windy day (British summer!) which meant I had to use a few bricks to keep the paper from flying off.

Once the girls had started, it became apparent that two strips of paper were more than enough, so I removed one. I tried not to influence their painting but they worked out to use their feet and hands fairly quickly!

Later water became involved, to spread the thick paint around more (and mix all the colours). Most of the colours other than black had been used up at this point.

Later still sand became involved, being scattered over the wet patches of the paper – and the water and paint were added to sand on the patio too! Once the paint ran out, I whisked the girls into the bath and hung up the painted strips to dry – the wetness of the paper caused it to tear in places but the wind dried it quickly.

The end result isn’t pretty, but the girls had a great time painting (and then playing in the bath). Next time I think I’ll limit the colours available for them and probably offer acrylic paints instead of watercolour tubes to get a better spread of colours.