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If you are in or around North Lincolnshire on Friday 1st of November there are still places left on my Spectacular Spellbooks workshops at Normanby Hall Country Park.

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The workshops are suitable for anyone, whether adult or child, who is interested in learning two simple bookmaking techniques. First, you’ll make two origami books, each created from a single piece of paper with four basic folds and a cut. We’ll be making a blank ‘spellbook’ to fill with your own ideas…

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…and also one where you can collect and record fascinating facts and superstitions about some ‘magical’ medieval ingredients which I will have on display.

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You will also be able to make a third slightly bigger blank book…

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…with a cover created from random papers and a twig binding that can be decorated with fancy threads, beads etc.

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Then just add your spells!

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I’m providing the materials to make all three books which you take away with you at the end of the session.

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Please note that Park entry also applies, or please display your annual membership.

Places may be booked here. I am really excited about this workshop and looking forward to the ‘awe and wonder’ moment when with one last fold, the origami book suddenly appears in your hands. Never gets old, that one. :o)

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My youngest, to my eternal shame, and unlike her older siblings, has never had what I call a ‘proper’ handmade/homemade birthday party. My excuse is that as a teacher, my workload now eats an astronomical amount of my time, compared to what it was when the other two were primary school age, and I simply could not spare the time to plan and prepare a party for her. Shocking really, that the demands of a job end up coming before your own child. :os

So after the Easter holiday I’m reducing my hours to 3 days a week. It’ll be ‘interesting’ financially, but for my own sanity and health it’s something I have to do, and one of the first benefits is that my little one, whose birthday is at the end of April, will have a handmade/homemade birthday party.

Together this week we planned and I made birthday invitations for her five best friends.

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It was so good to be doing something creative, and her face when she came downstairs the next morning to see them laid out on the table cloth like this, was a delight.

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I really enjoyed using up scraps of fabric and paper for the bunting,  fabric and cupcake.

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There are two different designs purely because I only had three white card blanks left and could only find three of the iridescent butterflies!

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The cupcakes were such fun to make.

I happened to go into a charity shop in Lincoln last summer and they had a mass of crafty stuff for sale – first time I’ve ever seen anything like that in a charity shop and I had to exercise extreme restraint to not buy pretty much the whole table full! The paper for the cupcakes came from a brand new pack of decorative papers which cost me the princely sum of 99p. The textured brown is perfect for the cake part.

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Then the cream colourway.

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The silver needle shows up better on the cream background.

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Lilacy-pink iridescent butterflies – very girly!

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I’m told they went down very well indeed. I’m already on with planning the crafty activities, games and the food for the party, which will be on a day when I’m not working. That sounds so good.

 

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After teaching 10-11yr olds for almost all of the last 14 years, it was a bit of a culture shock to take on a (large) class of 7-8 yr olds in September but I was determined not to let this stop me teaching them to embroider. I can’t physically get round 29 children to knot their threads, thread their needles and finish threads off, so we had a rigorous session on how to do these basics (no licking the thread, under any circumstances!) and then a starter activity couching down thread around a leaf shape. It went well enough that I dared plan a blackwork activity to fit in with our work on the Tudors.

I showed the children samples of blackwork, both virtual and real ones, demonstrated how to use squared paper to create a geometric design and held my breath.

The children rose to the challenge. After they had each produced their own repeating border design, they used cream binca and black soft embroidery thread to stitch them.

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I kept my input to a minimum. I demonstrated back stitch and how to keep their place in the design. I unpicked when they couldn’t, and helped them to work out where on the binca to start, but I didn’t stitch for them, so some were wonkier than others, but they are the children’s own work…

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…and that’s the important thing.

I can’t show all of them (and some were superb) as most of the photos I have are of the children holding their blackwork-turned-into-calendars up in pride (child protection issues etc. etc.)  but these five are a good cross section of what was produced. Three by 8 yr olds and two by 7 year olds, all entirely their own work.

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I gave the children who stitched these, some blackwork patterns I’d found on the internet, fine black perle thread and a piece of aida and sent them away to stitch. Their delight in what grew under their fingers was magical.

Which reminds me, I must encourage them to get finished!

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Over the last month I’ve been teaching two classes of 7 to 9 year olds how to make felt. Singlehandedly. Yes, it was… interesting but very worthwhile. To see looks on their faces and hear the gasps of amazement when we removed the layer of net from the felted hanging and they could see what they had made was a real ‘awe and wonder’ moment.

One class created brightly coloured prefelts in the shape of hot airballoons.

Then they laid out a bath sheet sized layer of fleece with green at the bottom for the ground and various shades of blue at the top with white clouds for the sky. The prefelts were laid on top and then the whole lot felted together by relays of willing and enthusiastic little hands.

The other class made prefelt fantasy fish.

We used the same procedure to make an underwater scene with sand, rocks, seaweed and darker turquoisey blue for the water.

The children are over the moon with their communal pieces of art and the staff, for whom this is all completely new, find them fascinating.

I asked the children to respect the hard work they had put into the hangings by not touching the felt now it’s up on display and then I find it’s the adults in the school who are the ones surreptitiously stroking and feeling them!

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