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Archive for the ‘Nature Reserve Events’ Category

Just a quick post to show you the Summer Solstice suncatchers made last weekend!

The Summer Solstice day on the reserve was actually all about food chains and photosynthesis- AKA sun energy. However as well as the food chain mobiles we wanted actual sun images.

I love making tissue paper and wire mobiles. I have used and developed this idea for lots of different creations of my own and for workshop events.
Using coloured tissue or cellophane in a shape to hang against the light is not new- but I now have a simple process that is as easy as I can get it (for drop in events) which still gives great sculptural finished results. The finished pieces are much more of an “art installation” creation than the usual black framed methods.

It made wonderful “suns”- especially with gold and yellow glitter glue! Lush!

Here are some “in development”:-
WonkyGiraffe Summer Solstice Dscn9539

WonkyGiraffe Summer Solstice SunCatcher

I printed some words as well which some of the children used to great effect.

WonkyGiraffe Summer Solstice Sun Catcher

They turned out very well and looked lovely hanging in the tree outside.
WonkyGiraffe Summer Solstice Sunshine catcher

WonkyGiraffe Summer Solstice

WonkyGiraffe Summer Solstice

WonkyGiraffe Summer Solstice dream catcher

WonkyGiraffe Summer Solstice

WonkyGiraffe Summer Solstice

We were working on a “sun energy into the food chain” theme; here is one of the food chain mobiles (sorry about the grotty photo, they looked very pretty).

WonkyGiraffe Food Chain Mobile

Oh and a random giant papier mache snail made by the Education Manager and anyone she could rope in!

WonkyGiraffe Snail Paper Mache

WonkyGiraffe Snail construction

It was made outside, with a giant leaf (also intended as part of the long term food chain display). It wasn’t made on the car – somehow it just ended up there at the day’s end!

WonkyGiraffe Snail Jeep

WonkyGiraffe Snail Jeep

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Lots of activity on the reserve this holiday! ( This scene of tranquillity is a “before” picture ).

WonkyGiraffe Easter Event Dscn7464

The arty bits were held in the barn; which was NOT COLD and filled with the scent of blossom! Yippee.

Wonky Giraffe Easter DSCN7457

There were workshops and the middle “ drop-in” event, which was another “spin into spring” day ( as last years was such a success ). Simple pompom creatures were made into bunnies and springy chicks.

WonkyGiraffe Easter Dscn7340

There were demonstrations of knitting, crochet, and drop spindle spinning. Sadly I was so busy I didn’t get any pictures 😦 that day. If anyone did take pictures I’ll add some later. Between us we managed to teach the basics of spinning, knitting and crochet to quite a few people, including children; boys as well as girls.

We made all sorts of Easter bunny and chick things, in the workshop sessions.
There lots of bunny characters made from painted “dolly” pegs; some had chenille arms

WonkyGiraffe easter pegdoll  Dscn7421

and some had “crocheted chain” arms I made as we went along…

Yes, I am a glutton for punishment! But actually it was another way to demo some crochet to the uninitiated; and was an extra bit of fun. I think I will include this in my peg doll tutorial as it saves using pipe cleaners with little ones.

WonkyGiraffe Easter peg bunny 2011 Dscn7414

WonkyGiraffe Easter peg doll rabbit 2011 Dscn7424

Just look at this funny, sweet couple!

WonkyGiraffe PegDoll couple Dscn7433

We also created some Easter trees made with network wire and crepe paper – These are easy and very effective; if anyone wants a tutorial leave me a comment and I’ll send one. (The PDF is going to end up in the shop as well.)

WonkyGiraffes Easter Tree Dscn7403a

Many of them had a sort of post psychedelic, magic roundaboutish, vibe!

WonkyGiraffe magic roundabout tree Dscn7423

Some had bunny visitors

WonkyGiraffe Easter Trees bunnys Dscn7425

and some had nests
WonkyGiraffe easter tree nest DSCN7442

and amazing illustrations of woodland dwellers added ( look at the base of this one carefully ! )

WonkyGiraffe Easter Tree Dscn7444

I loved this cheeky fox especially! He was peeping out from under a more natural tree. His creator was more of a wildlife purist than some of our younger craftspeople.

WonkyGiraffe Cheeky fox Dscn7432

We also made felted eggs, from some wool of the Jacob sheep on site! The coloured wisps were extra bits- we didn’t dip dye the sheep!
WonkyGiraffe easter felted eggs Dscn7412a

WonkyGiraffe Felted Easter Eggs Dscn7397

These took longer than anticipated, and were very wet and messy, but everyone did have a go with a great deal of soapy relish.

Then there were baskets to take it all home in!

WonkyGiraffe Easter baskets Dscn7405

WonkyGiraffe Easter Basket  Dscn7437

WonkyGiraffe felt picture Dscn7435a

What sweet scenes on this one!

The owner managed to sort out these shapes out from a mixture of flowery ones left over from another event! Such a patience and a delicate touch.

Plus of course paper bunnies (morphed from the hares) and lots of marbled egg cards ! ( The marbling was also messy ! )

WonkyGiraffe Easter Holiday Event Dscn7358a

A lovely, sunny, good old fashioned day out.

WonkyGiraffe the view Dscn7456

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MMH event was fun

Nice weather (hurrah) and not too busy (mixed feelings about that).
We made a lot of very mad hares – some were even pink!

It was a bit of a challenge to get the paper engineering simplified for them to just get on and make it work. At first some needed one to one help but then I got into my stride with the prep work, once I saw what they needed to do it themselves.

WonkyGiraffe Mad March Hares

I was really pleased how many quite young children got the concept and were very definite about which of the three movements they wanted.

None chose the easy one I prepared ( ! ) and most did opt for the hidden mechanism – although my colleagues, and most parents, liked it visible !

I really must be a child at heart because I wanted it hidden too! It did put in another step/concept to explain but I liked the effect.
The visible one was needed though, to show what was going on. If it had all been hidden in the device I think it would have seemed too daunting. Here are two with it visible.

WonkyGiraffe boxing hares

Wonky Giraffe hare

And in these two it is hidden behind.
What do you think ?
I wish I had more pictures because some of the background scenes were fab.

WonkyGiraffe hares

WonkyGiraffe completed picture of hares

Meanwhile – whilst all that was going on at one end, the other was filling up with little folded hares. They looked quite a wistful group “en mass” I hope some made it to a nice window with a view.

WonkyGiraffe origami hare

WonkyGiraffe origami folded hare

I wish I had a picture of them all scattered around the room. My camera went flat – a fault I think as it was charged… technology

So I only have a few snaps – but they were some great little hare chaps made, including a lot more finger puppets and stick puppets like this one:-.

WonkyGiraffe paper meets picture

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WonkyGiraffe's Desk

I’ve been making paper mad March hares for next weekend’s event; I love this kind of experimenting and creating.

But…it EATS time!

I started off early, over breakfast! it was a beautiful sunny day and I had a clear(ish) table to work on. Double pleasure; so I got started straightaway with the sun pouring in.

WonkyGiraffe colouring

As you can see by the pictures it got to afternoon and I was still at it. To be fair the ideas and scissor chopping, quick sketching bit is quick and fun. Then trying to make the actual templates and instruction sheets takes ages. I don’t mind doing it but you can find you’ve been an hour on one teeny page (I timed it!). Typing and tweaking and cropping and then redrawing.

This process is not my best bit of a project!

I am – apparently- a “starter instigator” according one of those work teambuilding profile things!

Who knew?

Well anyone who knows me lol!

Don’t get me wrong – I DO finish things- but it is not “my best”.
(Love that quote phrase from The Dollhouse- a weird TV drama, stumbled upon a while ago)

Anyhow I now have a couple of Hare finger puppets, a mad ‘revolving eye’ hare head picture, and an animated boxing hare scene (my favourite). Plus of course (being me) some interesting side diversions too maybe work on later.

My clear desk now looks like this;

WonkyGiraffe's desk

where I pushed it all back like the tide so I could take the ‘how to’ photos for the publisher instruction pages.
Also, I’m wondering if I can rescale the side profile finger puppet to fit the page better; but without a tiny pair of hands to try it on, I’m a bit stuck with that.

However, quite pleased with this little guy.

 WonkyGiraffe cute hare

His head probably could do with a ‘sink fold’ but I’ve tried to get it a simple as possible, otherwise I will end up making them all instead- not the point and no fun for the children ( or me ).

Simple is hard to get to sometimes; people have no idea when they see a couple of folds and cuts, how much you have to actually leave out!

These are just some of the casualties, ( and why I do most of my trials in scrap paper ) poor little paper people;

WonkyGiraffe paper casualties

time to tidy up, but….
… just for fun; this little chap looked quite like he would love to escape his paper world…

hare puppet

look little hare wants to get out into that sunny hillside..

I want to be outside...

there he goes

WonkyGiraffe - hare in the garden

off up the hill!

bounding hare - WonkyGiraffe

Sorry about the laundry, but it was the first sunny day a while…

and yes, I do use one of my own pegbags, he is just on the end of the line that you can’t see.

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Oh poor blog! I keep neglecting you! Just time for a quick update on the last event before the next lot in half term!
Wetland’s day was just that –wet! Well more like damp and cold than wet; it was so cold that the wetness couldn’t even work up the energy to be – wet! It just clung to everything in a slick of frigid dampness. I’m amazed anyone could bear to come out in it!
Even so we did have quite a few brave souls turn up- but nothing like our usual numbers, which was a shame as we had fun things to do.
We had a migration theme but also some simple wetland “plate ponds” for little ones.
They enjoyed making these before, with some more elaborate 3D versions

Wetlands paper creation

more paper activity

WonkyGiraffe paper plate activity

So to give it a bit of a change I made some plaster of Paris fish to paint (courtesy of an IKEA ice cube tray) to add to those.
ikea moulded fish

Much enjoyed, even if they were completely out of scale, so rather shark like!

wonkygiraffe ikea shark like fish

WonkyGiraffe close up moulded fish

WonkyGiraffe plate

For the migration stuff we had maps to complete and a folded paper “migration suitcase” that the appropriate birds tumbled from, in a sort of mobile.
Some guys made a real effort to use the books and pictures to get accurate colouring. This one took ages of much consultation of books and careful colouring .

WonkyGiraffe suitcase

One young man had a back story going on for his carefully selected birds; here he was telling me their names, and which was bigger ( and therefore older!) .

WonkyGiraffe suitcase

On The whole it seemed to get the message across- but as pleasant as it was we were all pleased to get back home in the warm afterwards.

WonkyGiraffe the view

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This post is the update on the last event of 2010, all about getting ready for winter; hibernation and food storing etc.

(As an aside; I am SO over winter… I cannot see to make anything much after 2:30 in the afternoon, it gets so dark because we are in a north-south valley.)

It was a cold day- a bit grim to be honest, but there was a very good turnout and the log burner was great so we were all cosy in the barn! We made frog homes, night and day door hangers, clay and twig hedgehogs, and used a lot of shredded paper in dormouse nests and hedgehogs sticky pictures. Here they are (well some of them).

The frog homes were just flower pots to put in the garden- but they were suitably embellished as appealing homes – with info on what frogs might like! Very popular!

craft painted plant pots

decorated plant pot

This one already has an occupant! (you have to look closely)

We had a heap of old gardening periodicals (not valuable – don’t worry) with lovely mellow aged print. They looked fab shredded (along the font lines) as hedgehog spines and for dormouse nests on the ‘sticky pictures’. The idea was to put the spines on in layers… but this sweet little one looks like he has literally been “through a hedge, backwards”. Hope his creator doesn’t want to be a hairdresser.

paper hedgehog

The door hangers were very simple, and again popular with the younger visitors. They were actually reversible, the two cards stuck together with “day” one side and “night” the other, and suitable woodland creatures in fluffy fabric added.
wonkygiraffe door hangers

For older children we had clay hedgehogs and dormouse nest. Much concentrated effort involved!

Colouring mice
wonkygiraffe colouring

this little girl likes pink- see his little nose.

Then winding nests for them- ranging from minimal, neat and ‘sartorially enhanced’ to ‘everything on’!

Some quite natural looking.

mouse house nest

mouse in a nest

some less so!
wonkygiraffe mouse nest
WG mouse nest house

and some very well housed indeed , LOL!

mice nest

The nests were shredded paper and odd bits of wool etc, glued on, wound around, and in, plastic globes. These were mainly Activia yogurt containers, and some laundry soap measure balls. Not that it mattered because you couldn’t tell what was inside once they had been enhanced!
However they all turned out to be really cute.

As did the twiggy clay hedgehogs.

hedgehog and mouse nest

clay hedgehogs

some of whom had a very piratical air!!

wg hedgehog

this one is actually called Sidney Black Eye!

sidney

At the end of the day we were very pleased to hear that is was a good way to educate children about hibernation.

Result! Thank you that daddy 🙂

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I ‘m a bit out of step with the blogging of events- what with the festive season etc, so here are a couple I prepared and didn’t finish (last autumn- oops). I’ll do the next one later on!

I love autumn, and this yearly, countrywide, celebration epitomises all the beauty and bounty of the season as far as I am concerned. Plus I love it that Apple Day events actually spread out over several days – so, depending where you are, you can get to at least one.

We had a smashing event on the reserve, lots of traditional games, trails, orchard talks, stories, tasting, planting and cooking tips and, of course, arty stuff.

apple day

There was Apple Printing (very popular with toddlers, bam bam bam!) with extra printed ‘appley’ poems and words for older children to embellish their work with.

apple print pictures

We made an apple game –a simple blockade game called horseshoe- a bit like noughts and crosses. The visitors (even grandpas) liked it even more once they worked out the winning move. There were several “Ta Da” moments when the penny dropped!

apple games

We used disks of apple wood to make coasters and pendants with (sawn from branches cut from last years poor old dead tree- but much better than burning them).

I apologise for this poor photo; it was the only one, a shame because some were lovely. The green cylinders are laundry “softener” bottle tops with thin foam shapes stuck on as print blocks.
apple circles

Then there were hanging apple decorations; super easy and endlessly variable. I will post a tutorial on this idea (later on!) as it would adapt to Christmassy shapes too.

paper apples

Lastly, local orchards supplied masses of traditional English apple varieties for tasting and local supermarkets donated apple juice for sampling. (Very popular!)

apple tasting

Sadly no cider LOL, probably not a good idea anyway in combination with all the children, paint and water.

In true British fashion it was wet and windy but we were all very cosy inside the barn.

I am not sure the story teller in his yurt felt too cosy, poor man; we had to thaw him out with hot tea…

A good day.

apple day view outside

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Another lovely event at the reserve.

Bug in a bag (there is that alliteration thing again).

The children love this one. I use my paper fold box/bag net with some printing on. These are easy; my original best idea (one of them anyway, she said modestly) for a really versatile event activity.

I’ve adapted the box net for loads of different things;

they can be decorated flat (Sooo much easier!) then assembled (OK, usually by “moi”) when done.

bug in a bag

This time the children made a little bug (more about that in a mo) and popped it in to the bag to carry home. The bag gave them scope for naming their bug and adding some facts (or even a back-story!!) and also an opportunity to think about habitats etc.

bug in a bag montage

Neat. More stealth learning.

For the bug to go in the bag we wanted a different bug instead of our normal paper and wire versions, and thought of making things using wood from the site.[ It’s great that we have different styles – together inspire each other and come up with all sorts of different things.]

My friend spent ages sawing and sanding bits of twig to use as the bug body; and we used up lots small scraps of nice card we hadn’t been able to bring ourselves to throw away.

So as a bonus it was practically free… if you don’t count labour 🙂

They turned out F.A.B !

A step up from the first idea! Add in the children’s natural creativity, and voila!
Bug in a bag, extraordinaire.

bug in a bag

bug in a bag

As you can see the children were very inventive, although we did have a lot of the ubiquitous butterflies they seem to love above all else!

bug in a bag

We also had a neat life cycle disc; mounted on recycled CDs for the older guys. Plus caterpillar bookmarks…

bug in a bag

…and one very LARGE caterpillar!

This little chap laboured on; working his way patiently through some old, almost exhausted, felt pens (we need more cash!)

to finish this Opus Magnus.

caterpiller

And we found these abandoned when we tidied up!

Probably someone’s idea of what we looked like by the end of the day.

finger bugs

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( it feels like I should write “Tra la la” after that !)

WonkyGiraffe Tring BBOWT

We had beautiful day for a great event with beautiful weather, loosely woven (sorry) around Sheep, Wool and Spinning.
There was a spinning wheel to have a go on, drop spindles to try and of course sheep.
Meanwhile, in the barn we made woolly cords using lucets, with my nifty idea of using clothes pegs. (click here for free pdf tutorial folks)

WonkyGiraffe Lucet Thread

Baa Baa Black Sheep Star Books

WonkyGiraffe Baa Baa Black Sheep Star Book

and lambs on a spring (get it?) on a jam jar.

WonkyGiraffe LambJar

Because.
I thought winding wool around little card sheep would be cute, and we gave them the working name of “woolly winders” (we love a bit of alliteration in our titles).
Then after using it for a bit, and some slips and giggles later, we quickly decided we needed a name change as that tongue twister might not be the best name… hang on for this…

WonkyGiraffe Wooly Lamb

WonkyGiraffe Woolly Lamb

Then we needed some weight on the base.
Stones? Lids.!..
No! Whole jam jars!
Well mainly because I had the jars, and yes I really did have enough
(70+ !) lovely retro Bon Maman jars stashed, to do this activity.
Not to mention lovely versatile stripped network wire.
I told you I needed to de-stash my “useful stuff”.
Now maybe you believe me. lol
[I have also disposed of my, much smaller, collection of pickle jars for someone actually pickling, so that was quite a good week’s result de-clutter wise.]

Hence lamb jars- see what we did there (don’t groan)!

We do get into the zone a bit with planning these events.

The “Lamb Jars” went down a storm; with lots of boin-gy lambs on their “grass” filled jars.

WonkyGiraffe BonMaman Jar

Some were slightly more woolly than others,

WonkyGiraffe Sheep

and some were a rather surprising pink, snaffled from the “decorate spring branches” table!

WonkyGiraffe Sheep Jar

WonkyGiraffe BonMaman LambJar

Some were collected later…

WonkyGiraffe LambJars on shelf

Perfect end to a perfect day.

WonkyGiraffe Tring BBOWT View

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Very busy over the Easter Holidays, including two big events: the first at the museum.

Visitor stats – 3000 on the Sunday and 5000 on the Holiday Monday!
Not all came to make butterfly chains with me and my lovely volunteers, but it was rather busy…

Museum Volunteers - WonkyGiraffe

We made butterfly strings, to tie in with the end of an exhibition.

WonkyGiraffe flutterbys

I would normally put this activity out for children when I am not around, but they said ‘keep it simple – it will be busy’… and it was!
It’s such a simple activity but strangely (to me anyway) lots of children like just “colouring in” butterflies.

WonkyGiraffe flutterbys

WonkyGiraffe flutterbys

Sticking them on a string gives an extra creative element, so they can make it into something; to wave about, decorate their room,

WonkyGiraffe flutterbys

or as you can see on the older girls –

WonkyGiraffe flutterbys

to wear!

I will make an “Art Pack” of these (with extra bits in), for the shops, as lots of people asked me for copies of my instruction sheet and templates to use for parties and holidays.
Not too much appeal for boys ‘though, even with bees.

WonkyGiraffe Bee

So I couldn’t help myself taking extras for the second day, and we had lots of caterpillar bookmarks and bugs.

WonkyGiraffe Beetle String

WonkyGiraffe Beetle

I also made this chap

WonkyGiraffe Guardian

The guardian of the cash tin!
I didn’t think him very worthy, (I’m always disappointed with clay!)
So, like a brave grown up, I let him return to the clay bin once he’d finished guarding for the morning!
Now I feel kind of betraying, seeing his cheerful face…
but at least a kind person took his photo for me!

I was inspired by the talented potter, Bird Wallond * after seeing these cute owls she had made.

Bird Wallond Owls - WonkyGiraffe

She and her helpful sons (who helped me lots too) ran a “making clay heads” workshop with the children.

*Leave a comment if you want to contact her – I tried to persuade her to set up on Etsy or Folksy as she sells them!

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