Weekly inspiration- top Halloween paper crafts

Halloween is nearly upon us and it’s the perfect time to try out some simple paper crafts to decorate your home spook out your neighbours and guests!

Here are my favourites:

  • Paper shadow mice

Paper shadow mice

There are some fantastic Halloween crafts to be found on the Martha Stewart site but these simple paper mice are my favourite.

  • Paper pumpkins

Paper pumpkin

You can find the tutorial for these simple and effective paper pumpkins over at

Craftaholics Anonymous.

  • Cloud of paper bats

Bat silhouettes are easy to do and if you make enough of them they can be used really effectively:

Bat cloud - paper

bat cloud 2 - paper halloween craft

Check out this simple template from Country Living.

  • Paper bag puppets

halloween-paper-bag-puppets

Made by painting basic brown paper lunch bags- these look like they’d be so much fun to do! There’s a handy little tutorial here.

  •  Hungry house!

Why not try this idea for decorating the outside of your house: just cut big triangles of paper and turn the porch entrance into a giant mouth!

Front porch teeth 2 Front porch paper teeth

Have a happy Halloween!

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Now on Folksy- 3D paper star gift tags

Just listed these on Folksy! Sets of 4 gift tags- handmade folded cream and white paper stars on a blue tag. The perfect thing to finish off your beautifully wrapped Christmas presents.

Handmade paper star gift tag

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Christmas Craft Fair – Delapre Abbey November 24th

Here at The Craft Fantastic, we’re delighted that we’ve been invited to have a stall at this year’s Christmas Craft Fair at Delapre Abbey, Northampton. It’s a beautiful venue and I’ve heard great things about past fairs.

 

The event runs from 10am – 4pm on Sunday 24th November, 2013. Past years have seen between 2000 and 3000 visitors so it promises to be a really great event!

We’ll be there with our fantastic range of handmade Christmas gifts, including:

  • Gift tags
  • Origami mobiles
  • Paper wreaths and garlands
  • Notebooks/sketchbooks/journals
  • Miniature notebook necklaces

Hope you can make it!

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It was the cover that caught my eye… #16

‘The Diary Of A Nobody’ – the title caught my attention almost as much as the cover, which I spotted on Wikipedia’s homepage today:
Diary of a Nobody 1st Ed.
First published by Arrowsmith in 1892, with the above cover, it’s a comic novel written by George and Weedon Grossmith- and it’s also illustrated.

I really love the colours of this cover, not to mention the little banner at the bottom! If this excerpt from the preface is anything to go by, it sounds like my kind of book:

“Why should I not publish my diary? I have often seen reminiscences of people I have never even heard of, and I fail to see—because I do not happen to be a ‘Somebody’—why my diary should not be interesting.”

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Festive paper mobiles- stars and wreaths

This weekend I have mostly been making lots of these little guys:
Froebel star
In order to make these:
Star wreath
Pretty, huh? These German paper stars, called Froebel stars, are made using four strips of paper. They look as if they might be quite complicated but once you get the basic steps down they’re easy. I found the perfect tutorial here – very clear step by step instructions.

With a Christmas craft fair coming up in November (details soon) I’ve been deciding what things I’ll be making for it- focusing on mobiles and hanging decorations this week. As well as the paper star wreaths above, I have these origami hanging decorations:
Origami hanging decks
Star mobile
Plus lots of little origami lucky stars, which I love!
Lucky stars

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Weekly inspiration – The Big Draw!

It’s officially drawing time, as the 2013 Big Draw – The Campaign for Drawing – kicks off. Well, technically it’s already kicked off, as the official start was October 1st – but panic not, most of the events and key dates have yet to happen. Phew. And relax.

The Campaign for Drawing’s Big Draw is taking place in 15 different countries, from 1st October to 3rd November. They’re an independent charity and the basic aim is to encourage everyone to draw – as they state, drawing is a tool for “thought, creativity, social and cultural engagement.”

Want more info about them? There’s plenty to be had here.

 Country-wide events

You can go on their site and search for events near you but here are some of the ones that caught my eye:

  • Golden Images at the British Museum, London, October 26th. It’s free and it’s for all ages, so there’s no excuse for not joining in!
  • Imagined Cities at the National Gallery, London, October 4th. In this free workshop you get to help create a futuristic paper city!!
  • Autumn Glory: Half Term Family Fun at Harewood House, Leeds- various events from October 26th to November 3rd, including Children’s Crafts, a Literature Trail and a Carved Pumpkin Display.
  • Sandal C’ART’stle at Wakefield Museum, Wakefield, October 30th. This event is for ages up to 11 and they get to create their own shield designs on cotton fabric, using examples from the history of Sandal Castle as inspiration. Awesome.
  • Frankenstein’s Workshop at York House Centre, Milton Keynes, October 5th. An all day workshop for all ages – help transform York House into Frankenstein’s Workshop!
  • Draw Like A Fashion Designer at the Fashion Museum, Bath, 28th, 29th and 3oth October. “Draw your favourite fashions.” ‘Nuff said.
  • Hopscotched at Cambridge University Sidgwick Site, Cambridge, from October 17th.

Signage populates our urban spaces, guiding us, affecting our movements around the city. We are told to ‘push’, ‘pull’, ‘return’, ‘access’ or ‘stop’ as though the city choreographs us in a dance. Claire Weetman, an artist based in the North West, will select verbs and symbols from signage around Cambridge, then jet-wash them into the pavement of the University’s Sidgwick Campus. There, you’re invited to be led through the public spaces in a playful way as though you’ve stepped into a board game, or found a new way of playing hopscotch. 

  • Your Park, Your Big Draw at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, October 12th. One of the main events, this fun-filled day for all ages is packed with DIY and art activities!

ypybdw1

 

If you’re unable to get to an event, you can always take part online.

Here are some key dates for your diaries – join in if you can and don’t forget you can donate anytime:

1st October:        Big Draw Starts

5th October:        Big Draw Day!

18th October:      Family Arts Festival Starts

3rd November: Big Draw Ends- last day of Family Arts Festival

6th December:   Drawing Inspiration Awards: submission deadline

Happy drawing everyone!

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New stock on Folksy

Finally got round to putting stuff up on Folksy! Hurrah.

So, mini notebook necklaces, A5 Coptic stitch notebooks/sketch pads/journals and the first of the Christmas stock – festive origami gift tags – now up for sale.

Mini notebook necklace

A5 notebooks

Christmas origami tags

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Weekend baking – raspberry puff pastry parcels

After making a puff pastry topped pie Saturday night, I found myself in a rare situation: I had some leftover pastry. I’d bought a sheet of ready rolled puff pastry and so had a nice even rectangle- quite a substantial piece. What to do with it?

As we have autumn raspberries in the garden, currently ripe for the picking, it made sense to do something with those. My good friend Google came up with lots of recipe suggestions, so I took the bits I wanted and created some delicious raspberry filled parcels.

Raspberry parcel

If you fancy making them, here’s what you’ll need:
Ready rolled puff pastry
Fresh raspberries (roughly a handful will make 2)
Cream cheese
Icing sugar

Preheat the oven to about 175 C.

First, I divided the pastry in two even(ish) rectangles. If you’re using a whole sheet of puff pastry, you’ll probably get 4-6 parcels out of it, depending how big you want to make them. Cover a baking tray with baking paper and but the pastry rectangles on there.
You’ll need a good dollop of cream cheese to go in each of these- mix this in a bowl with a table spoon of icing sugar. Taste, and add more if you want it sweeter. Once I was happy, I spread the cream cheese mixture onto the bottom half of each rectangle.

Pastry squares

On top of this, I put my fresh raspberries. Mine were straight from the garden- it was raining and some were really very ripe, so they do look a bit soft!

Raspberries

Next, I folded the tops over. I’d read a lot of recipes that said to use and egg wash round the edges, to help stick them together. But Martha Stewart’s recipe for turnovers just calls for water, and if that’s good enough for Martha it’s good enough for me! So, a bit of water round the edges, fold them carefully and press together firmly. I was a bit fancy and went round the edge with a fork. I let these rest in the fridge for a bit, and sprinkled icing sugar over the top before popping them in the oven.

Pre oven  parcels

These took about 35 mins. Keep an eye on them though- when they’re nicely puffed up and golden on top, they’re ready! The insides will be very hot for a while. I counteracted this by serving with a nice shot of ice cold limoncello, straight from the freezer. This was a perfect match!

Raspberry parcel

Raspberry puff pastry parcels, limoncello on the side- a perfect Sunday evening treat!

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Lunchtime Lusting- Nancy & Betty Studio

If, like me, you’re the kind of person who thinks the words ‘stationery’ and ‘sexy’ fit perfectly comfortably in the same sentence together, Nancy and Betty Studio is definitely for you. Just click the link have a look for yourself.

Nancy & Betty are an independent stationery design company, obviously really passionate about what they do. They use recycled card and paper. They print using vegetable-based ink. They’re based in Great Britain. They’re designs are simple and fun. Tick…tick…tick…tick… that’s me checking things off my imaginary list of ‘plus points’.

Not only are all the products lovely but every picture is a joy to behold.

Sigh! Pretty things.

 

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Weekend baking – birthday piñata cake!

I saw this wonderful piñata cake on domestic sluttery a little while back. As the husband is a sweet fanatic, I just had to try and make it!

I went for half the quantities they did, as, actually, there weren’t going to be that many cake eaters – this was mainly to see my husbands face light up when he cut open the cake and saw all the sweeties. This seemed like a great plan at the time.

Basic sponge cake recipe:
6 oz caster sugar
6 oz unsalted butter (room temperature)
3 eggs (beaten, room temperature)
6 oz self raising flour

Line two 20cm tins and preheat the oven to 180ºC
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. And the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the flour. If the mixture is a little thick, add a small amount of milk until it reaches a dropping consistency.
Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 mins.

Ta da!

Oh. Hm. My cakes never did rise very well!
The idea was to hollow out a bit of each cake and fill with sweets. But if, like me, your cake didn’t turn out quite right, there is a solution:

Cut up the cake and use jam and butter icing or frosting to build cake walls in which to put the sweets:


Then use the rest of the butter icing or frosting to cover up anything that needs covering up:

I made cake balls from the left over bits of cake, coated them in chocolate, and used them to try and make it look a bit more exciting on the outside:

Piñata time!

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