Archive for August, 2007

Easy Craft Ideas – Paper (Papier) Mache

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Paper mache is a great easy craft idea, particularly for kids. You can make anything from small models to life size sculptures. I’m sure you have all been to a carnival where they have models of animals, dragons, caricatures of well know people on the floats. Many of these are made from paper mache. I can remember, when I was a kid really enjoying sticking bits of paper together and making something from old bits of newspaper. You can even make things like hand puppet heads such as Punch and Judy.

A simple paper mache model of a head can be made by using a balloon, a bowl, or other suitable object as a former for the main shape. Once you have built up three or four layers of paper, you can then start adding the details such as ears,nose, mouth and eyes etc. For larger models you can use chicken wire as a former. You make the former into the general shape you want and again build up layers of paper mache until you have several layers. Also with larger models, you can make the various parts individually and then join them together using more paper mache.

One of the great thing about paper mache is the low cost of making things. You can make the basic mixture using a flour and water paste and use old newspapers torn into strips. If you prefer it, you could use wallpaper paste instead of flour and water, but this would obviously increase the cost.

A word of warning: Making paper mache is messy. Make sure that you or your kids are wearing suitable protective clothes and you cover any work surfaces with plastic cloths. It is probably preferable that an adult makes the paste, or at least does the heating of the paste.

So what do you need to get started?

For the paste there are several recipes. Here are just two:

Recipe 1

1 cup of water
1/4 a cup of flour
5 cups of lightly boiling water

Mix the flour and the two cups of cold water together until you have an even mixture without any lumps. Gently pour this mixture into the boiling water and stir to avoid lumps. Continue to boil gently and stir for three minutes. Take the mixture of the heat and allow to cool down before using. Use the mixture within a few of days as it will not keep for too long. Store in a cool place such as a fridge.

Recipe 2

5 cups of flour
5 cups of cold water

Mix the water and flour together in a bowl until you achieve a creamy consistency. Use the mixture within a few of days as it will not keep for too long. Store in a cool place such as a fridge.

Making your first model:

Tear long newspaper strips 25 to 50mm wide.
If you are using a balloon as your former, blow it up first!!
If you are using a different object as your former, remember you will need to remove it when you have finished your model. To make it easier to remove, cover it with a plastic bag before starting. Not required if you are using a balloon as you can just pop it when you have finished.
Dip a strip of paper into the paste and wipe off any excess paste with your fingers.
Place the strips on your form, in a criss cross fashion to create overlapping layers.
Once you have completed one layer, allow it to dry for 24 hours.
Repeat this until you have at least three layers.
Once you have sufficient layers and the model is completely dry, you can the remove the former. If it is a balloon you can just pop is. If you have used a different former, you will need to cut the model in order to remove it. You can then glue the model back together using more paste and strips of newspaper.
Now you can decorate your model using water based poster paints.

For more intricate models you will probably want to investigate making a paper mache pulp mix. Have a look at these great books on paper mache.

There are some great examples of paper mache art here .

Easy Craft Ideas – Rag Rugs

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

The history of rag rugs goes back a long way. They have a variety of names such as hookies, clippies, peggy or proggy mats. The making of rag rugs was initially not because people wanted to pursue a craft, but more out of necessity. It enabled families who had very little to make floor or bed coverings from old clothes and other pieces of material. When they were first made has been lost in the mists of time, but it is quite possible that it dates back to the time of the Viking settlers in the UK. Some people think it may have even dated back to early Egypt. In the mill towns of northern England, they used to use old serge material.

When the new settlers arrived in countries like America, Australia and New Zealand they had very little with them. My wife and I traveled to New Zealand a few years ago and in one of their historic villages we saw rag rugs that were well over a hundred years old and were still in good condition, despite being used by the original makers on an everyday basis. Unfortunately, because they were treated as utilitarian and not heirlooms, not that many have survived.

The oldest surviving rag rug in the UK is said to be one made of uniforms worn at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, but two earlier hooked bed rugs survive in the USA, one dated 1763 and the other 1773. Some examples of early rag rugs can be seen at the Beamish Open Air Museum in County Durham and the American Museum in Bath, and also in The Museum of Welsh Life, Cardiff and The Somerset Rural Life Museum, Glastonbury.

My wife has been making rag rugs for some time some of which we have in our house and some have been made them for relatives. They are ideally suited to country style properties, because of the old feel they have to them.

There are may different types of tool available to make them such a “proddy”, a standard rug hook, or a latch hook. My wife prefers uses a latch hook, but it all a matter of personal preference. These tools can be obtained from specialist suppliers, or can usually be found on Ebay at very reasonable prices.


A Proddy


A Hook

Latch Hook

A Latch Hook

Materials can be recycled material for the rag such as old shirts, duvet covers, curtains, dresses or whatever you have available or can scrounge. Cotton is preferable, but a cotton/polyester mix is also fine. You could of course go out and buy material, but the whole point is to keep the costs down. The backing can be made from old sacks such as coffee sacks. If you go to a shop that sells freshly ground coffee and ask them if they have any sacks, they will probably give them to you. If they don’t have any, ask them if when they do get some to put them on one side for you. Again, you could go out and but new hessian, or rug backing material that is used for wool rugs, but it isn’t cheap.

As far as design goes, this is only limited by your own imagination. You can either make you rug with completely random colours (that will go together), or you can draw a design on the backing and work to that. Some examples of the rugs in our home are shown below.

Rug 1

Rug 1

Rug 2

Rug 2

Rug 3

Rug 3

Rug 4

Rug 4

Rug 4 Rear View

A Rear View of Rug 4

Rug 4 Rear View Showing How Rag is Looped Through

Section Detail of the Rear of Rug 4

How do you make them? This is really beyond the scope of this blog, but basically with our rugs, the material is cut into strips about 25mm wide by 80mm long and then is hooked through the backing material. With cotton or cotton/polyester it is best to cut the material on the bias. That is, don’t cut it where it would normally tear, but on an angle. This will stop the material from fraying too much once the rug is in use. I have read that with wool you cut it straight, but we have never tried it.

If this has whetted you appetite for making your own rugs, then I would advise you purchase book on the subject. There are a great number of titles available from here.

Easy Craft Ideas – Craft is for all ages

Monday, August 20th, 2007

No matter how young or old you are, what your gender is, there is a craft for you. There is such a wide range of easy craft ideas which you can choose from. Obviously a lot will depend on how much you want to spend, but there are a lot of crafts which will cost you very little.

The following quote is from Sandra Hedditch:

“Craft is good for elderly people as it keeps the mind active and passes time, it is great for mentally disabled people as it helps with learning, socializing and coordination.

Craft is also a fantastic teacher to children it helps with math, English, coordination, they learn how to use tools such as scissors, paint brushes, pencils and of course glue. Making collages also teaches about different textures and painting teaches colors and what primary colors make when mixed together, plus they find out how nice it is to share with others.”

To read the full article, go to the website:

Many crafts from the past are now making a comeback and a lot of these were traditionally made by people who didn’t have a great deal of spare money to spend. Before recycling became fashionable people were recycling old clothes, bottles, pieces of metal and more. A great example of this is rag rugs. The only items you need to buy is a rug hook. The other materials you need are old clothes cut into strips and the rug backing which could be an old coffee sack or something similar. Other than that, all it will cost you is your time.

The next post will give some examples of rag rugs. If you really can’t wait, then click here and browse the great selection of books available on rag rugging.

Easy Craft Ideas – Crochet is Back in Fashion

Monday, August 20th, 2007

Crochet Made Easy

If you are looking for easy craft ideas, then crochet must come near the top of your list. The great thing about crochet is it need not be expensive. All you need are the crochet hooks, the yarn and a pattern and you can get started. Most people will start with a small item such as a mat to stand a vase on, but if you feel really ambitious, there is no limit to what you can make. A christening gown makes a wonderful present to someone who has just had a baby.

The following is a quote from Ruth Talbot of

“Crochet has finally come into fashion. Go shopping and it will not be long before you find crocheted bags, shoes, clothes and coats and don’t be too surprised to stumble across crocheted swimsuits or flip flops.

Crochet has not been this popular for a very long time. But when we use the word crochet, what do we actually mean? The Encarta English Dictionary states that crochet is: ‘a form of needlework used to make clothes or decorative items from wool or thread, by looping it through itself with a special hooked needle crochet hook.’ However this description only briefly scratches the surface.”
There is an excellent book by Wenny Puspadewi, Crochet Made Easy easy which I would highly recommend, particularly if you are just starting this easy craft idea. For crochet supplies, Ebay is well worth a look.

Once you take up crochet, you will be hooked!! (Pun intended) You will never run out of things to make as once people see your work they will be asking you to make things for them.

Easy Craft Ideas – Scrapbooking is for everyone!!

Monday, August 20th, 2007

Scrapbooking Made Easy

Scrapbooking has recently become one of most popular hobbies. People, old and young have joined the scrapbooking world. An easy craft idea that can be totally absorbing. Most adults can remember when they were children having a scrapbook. You used to collect postcards, stickers, and many other things and paste them into your scrapbook. I can remember making my own paste with flour and water. (It was a long time ago.)

Where do you start?

Maree Galt, The author of The Secret To Creating Simply Stunning Layouts says:

“You’ve got all your precious memories bundled away in a box under the bed and you really want to enjoy sharing them with family and friends. You know it would be fantastic to have them all in a beautiful scrapbook that you could proudly share with friends and family, but you just don’t know where to start.

At this point you’re probably feeling the pain and frustration of “scrapbookers block” so you go down to your local scrapbooking shop for inspiration, but all this does is compound the frustration because the myriad of choices available is so overwhelming.

Having spent ages looking around, you are no further ahead, just more confused. Unsure of what you need and what you don’t, and totally daunted by all the options, you end up leaving the shop having bought nothing, going home feeling frustrated and a failure having achieved nothing.”

Ebay is a great source of supplies for scrapbooking. You can find just about anything you want and it is usually at reasonable prices.  Check out our bookstore for even more scrapbooking resources.

The fact is, that anyone can have fun with scrapbooking and pass on precious memories to future generations. Scrapbooking is one of the best easy craft ideas ever.