Here are some craft ideas to keep you busy during the Easter bank holiday weekend and beyond. We'd love to see your clever crafty creations so please send photos of them to NotesOnNature@rspb.org.uk . We'll feature our favourites in the 17 April edition of our Notes on Nature email newsletter.
Re-purposing old jumpers as a craft received an unexpected boost this January, after a photograph of Bernie Sanders at Joe Biden’s inauguration went viral. In it, he can be seen sitting alone with his mask on wearing a pair of wonderful mittens: mittens made from an old jumper.
It's not 100% clear from the many (many) internet memes if the mittens are felted or not, but it’s certainly easier to use old jumpers this way, as it stops them unravelling. This process is more accurately called fulling, but fulling or felting, it just means putting a woollen jumper through a hot wash so that it shrinks. As it shrinks, the fibres squish together to form a cloth, which you can then cut up and sew. It’s a particularly useful craft for those of us who accidentally shrink the odd jumper, but it also gives a new life to jumpers with holes in them, which we can’t bear to throw out.
So what can you make? Clothes, bags, hats, mittens (natch), the options are many - how about these cheeky chickens?
Felted jumper chickens - Jenny Tweedie
They’re made along the same principles as simple juggling balls, with two squares of material, with the comb sewn into the hem, and the beak and tail sewn on afterwards. I stuffed mine with bits of leftover felted jumper, but you could use toy stuffing.
While many of us have shrunk jumpers lying in a cupboard, you need to buy some equipment for needle felting. It requires special barbed needles and what’s called wool ‘roving’ (which is essentially processed but unspun wool) both of which are available in craft shops (online).
Needle felters commonly produce 3D models, with animals being a popular choice, but it takes a while to master the art, and models are time consuming to make. What’s faster, and a good place to start if you’re taking it up as a craft, is needle-felted cards.
The easiest way to make these is to take a piece of ordinary craft felt and poke your design into the top of it using the wool roving and your special felting needle(s). To make it even easier, you can buy specific cut-out shapes to use as a template, or make your own out of cardboard, but doing it freehand works just as well. Once your design is done, glue your finished artwork to a card with craft glue.
There are loads of lovely spring ideas to choose from, like flowers, eggs or bunnies. This is a bumblebee card I made for someone last year.
Felt bee - Jenny Tweedie
One word of caution is that this isn’t a craft for young children. Felting needles are sharp and pointy, and it really hurts when you stick them in your finger by accident!
You’ll need eggs, a cocktail stick, a straw (metal or paper preferably!), and material for decorating: acrylic paints, marker pens, glue, plain or coloured paper, googly eyes, feathers etc.
Please note, this craft involves blowing raw eggs, which is best done by an adult. Make sure you wash the egg and your hands thoroughly before and afterwards, and be very careful not to get raw egg in your mouth!
To start with, you’ll need to ‘blow’ your eggs: with a cocktail stick, make a hole at either end, one slightly larger than the other. Then break your yolk with the cocktail stick. Use your straw to blow through the smaller end into a bowl, until the contents of the egg have been removed. Wash the shell and leave to dry. (You can use the blown egg white and yolk for baking.)
It might be helpful to fasten a thin strip of paper or card into a small circle, and then stand your egg on this base to stop it falling over.
Now you can use whatever you have available to decorate your eggs. Try using acrylic paints to create a design, or use permanent markers (you can sketch your design out in pencil first). You can also glue on additions to your egg to make it into a characters, or a bird. For example, cut out or create blue wings and a tail, with a crest to make a blue tit. You can use googly eyes in the appropriate place if you have them, or simply draw them on.
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