Thursday, 26 May 2011

Satellite City

Satellite City

Today, our rainy day art-making transformed the things I'd kept from a previous activity into the finished piece above. It's mixed media, and it's a city - a combination of London, Monaco and a made-up place, apparently. Overall, it reminds me of a satellite Google map - hence its title Satellite City.

It's turned out to be an interactive work of art too; the cars have been racing round its roads all afternoon.

Buddy was in charge of street planning; he laid out every last section of road on the city-print cloth.

Buildings were cut out from our previously printed paper and include the Gherkin, St Paul's Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye.

Here's a selection of our printed paper from which the buildings were cut.

And this is the printed cloth that became the city's background.

So how did we previously create our printed materials?

By squelching, stamping and hop-scotching in paint-bottomed footwear - that's how.

Buddy and Daisy have wanted to try this ever since hearing about teacher and author Steve Light; his students accidentally made shoe-print art when they stepped in some spilled paint. I love Anna of The Imagination Tree's brilliant take on this activity too; her daughter ran around the garden on flattened cardboard boxes whilst wearing 'painted' wellies - looked like great fun.

Light went on to use various shoe-prints as collage illustrations for his fantastic book The Shoemaker Extraordinaire. Buddy and Daisy are fascinated by his cleverly created shoe-print world and it's great that we've now made one of our very own in Satellite City.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Beads, buttons and bows

I have only just discovered the fabulous style icon - and nonagenarian - Iris Apfel (pictured above.) Recently, The Women's Room wrote about the upcoming launch of her new range of jewellery. Judging by her love of over-the-top gems and beads, I think I'm going to like it. A lot.

Apfel is a self-confessed fan of 'fun jewellery with big stones - so large they would be untouchable if they were real.' Apparently she used to take empty masking tape rings and decorate them with black markers to make beautiful bangles. Well, if home-made jewellery is good enough for her, then I am proud to show off some of the pieces in my collection. They were, I should point out, all made by Buddy and Daisy.

1. Glitter and Button bracelet

2. Silver Straw necklace

3. Pretty Preztel necklace (edible)

4. Flashy Foil cuffs (made from Easter Egg wrappings)

5. Fireworks tiara

Bold, fun and original; I love my jewellery. And a piece from Iris Apfel's collection would fit right in, don't you think? Not that I'm - ahem - hinting or anything.

[We're playing over at It's Playtime this week. Are you?]

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Dream home

Sometimes, just sometimes, I daydream. I imagine that we have a big house... a playroom... a large garden... oodles of storage space - a garage, an attic, a basement. Then... then I imagine how we store, zone and rotate the children's toys, how we have a nature table, a dedicated messy area, an art studio, cosy reading nooks, a home corner, a tinker table and... my oh my - I do get a bit carried away. As you may have guessed I have a penchant for reading those gorgeous blogs with aspirational child-focussed yet stylish interiors, so it's no wonder I occasionally drift off into visions of a dream home...

But then I think - hang on a minute - I love our home. Yes, it's small; we have no attic, basement, garage or playroom and only a tiny backyard - but when I really think about it I realise that this is the perfect house for our family. I remember how I actually enjoy the challenge of finding the best ways of using the space; ways that nurture play and adventure, learning and working, relaxing and socialising. The rooms have to be multi-functional and we have thrived here - a happy family within its parameters. Its limitations have encouraged us to think creatively and as a result we definitely get the best out of it.

The grown-ups' bedroom is by no means a child-free area. It has, in the last couple of months alone, been a hospital, a lion's den and a snowy mountain, with Arctic animals and Lego snow speeders. And it's the official Trampoline Room of course - but I think all homes have one of those, don't they?

Our spare room is an office, a music studio and guest bedroom. It is not a dumping ground for the laundry, luggage, outgrown clothes and broken toys. It is not.

The dark entrance hall has been the perfect setting for our Little Light Theatre and the landing is simply the place for long HotWheels track set-ups.

By day, the living room is full of train tracks, marble runs, Lego constructions, books, large art installations and home-made dens. It has, on many occasions, been a pet parlour, a general store, an obstacle course, a light-sabre battle zone, a library, a yoga space, a dance studio and a cinema.

Our dining table - where I write - is not only our work station but also our sewing, craft, printing, drawing, painting and spelling-practice surface. Occasionally we eat at it too.

Our little garden is just as versatile; we take all our play out there if the weather is fine, and the wet and really messy stuff goes on out there too. We try to grow flowers and herbs - although I do tend to kill most plants in the end. The squirrels, bugs and birds that find themselves within its leafy confines are luckier - they can leave when they will, but we love to observe their comings and goings.

The kitchen is the one room in our house that sticks to tradition; it is small, so there's little scope for alternatives. Of course we involve the children in the usual cooking and baking, washing up and laundry that goes on in there. The wine drinking and wind-down chat of the later evening? Not so much.

So who needs a playroom? Our whole home is a playroom. And that's just the way we like it.

[We've joined It's Playtime this week. Pop over to see who else is playing.]

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Brighton rhyme time

Have you got a number? Number One.
One helter skelter - in the sun.

Have you got a number? Number Two.
Two deckchairs - for me and you.

Have you got a number? Number Three.
Children and a pigeon paddle by the sea.

Have you got a number? Number Four.
Four beach huts - with colourful doors.

Have you got a number? Number Five.
Five yachts sailing - all in a line.

Have you got a number? Number Six.
Six painted pebbles, no sand or sticks.

Have you got a number? Number Seven.
Stripes on a tub - ice-cream heaven.

Have you got a number? Number Eight.
An eight-foot wave, so concentrate.

Have you got a number? Number Nine.
Pebbles in your pockets - it's skimming time.

Have you got a number? Number Ten.
10/10 - can we visit again?

Changing the words to nursery rhymes and traditional songs is my stock-in-trade - whether I'm at work, singing and rhyming in storytelling and teaching under-6s at the museum - or at home with my own children. This rhyme is adapted from a call and response number-rap that Buddy and Daisy know very well. I shared my version with Buddy this evening, and he loved it. He nodded along with the rhythm of the familiar, but was impressed with how it was totally about our visit to Brighton last weekend. Buddy loved the photographs too - credit must be given to Daddy here; he took the fabulous pictures for numbers Two and Nine.

I wonder what Daisy will make of it?