Showing posts with label Critters. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Critters. Show all posts

16 October 2013

Horse Chestnut Spiders



When I was little, one of my favorite things to do was create critters out of acorns and horse chestnuts. With help of an awl and some match sticks, we would bring all sorts of animals to life. Now that I have a child of my own, I want to pass these simple nature crafts on to her. Unfortunately I have a hard time finding horse chestnuts here in the US. Acorns a plenty, but chestnuts not so much.

Imagine my delight when I stumbled onto some chestnuts the other day when Lola and I were searching one of Milwaukee’s parks for tiny doors. Not only did we find two of the three doors hidden in Humboldt Park, we also found a plethora of nature’s craft goodies. Sycamore tree bark, beech tree nuts, acorns and acorn caps in every size imaginable, and of course, horse chestnuts.

To make horse chestnut spiders, you need just a few things:
  • horse chestnuts
  • pipe cleaners in the color of your choice
  • awl and/or hand drill
  • wire cutters and pliers
  • glue
  • beads for the eyes


Start by poking holes in the chestnut, four on each side. I used my awl for this but found that it was easier to use a small hand drill because my horse chestnuts had dried out and were quite hard. If I had made these spiders as soon as I found the chestnuts, it would have been easier.



Next up are the spider's legs. For one spider, you’ll need two pipe cleaners, one for each leg. Cut the pipe cleaner in four pieces using your wire cutters. Because pipe cleaner points are sharp, I always bend the tip back with my needle nose pliers.

Working on one side at a time, drop a little glue in each hole. I used Scotch Quick Dry Adhesive. It’s perfect for working with paper but glues chestnuts and pipe cleaners just as well. It dries clear, which I like.



Insert the legs in the holes and let dry. Once the glue is dry, bend the legs upwards from the body just a little, and then bend them in an angle about halfway down the leg. Glue on two little beads for eyes and you’re all set.



Lola and I created several spiders which we used in our #spookyspace that we made as part of Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores’ Celebrate the Season campaign. You can read all about that here. There is a 50% OFF coupon to use at Jo-Ann's this month, too!



I will be linking up my spiders at:
Friday's Nature Table at The Magic Onions
Pin Me Linky Party at Diana Rambles
Creative Friday at Natural Suburbia
The Humble Brag at One Project Closer
Happy Hour Projects

12 August 2013

Summer of Jo-Ann: Ice Capades

This post is sponsored by Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.

Walking into Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts the other day, I was struck by the fall and Halloween d├ęcor that dominated the store. I am still in summer mode. Truth be told, it feels like summer has just begun. Possibly because all we have been doing lately is packing and unpacking boxes. We are moving house, you see. My poor daughter. She was so looking forward to a summer of fun filled activities and crafts compliments of Jo-Ann. Unfortunately the craft room looks this:


Lola and I had poured over Jo-Ann’s summer catalog together and picked out a few fun crafts. We were going to sew an alligator, we even have the fat quarters in funky colors. But while there is light at the end of the tunnel, the sewing machine is still very much buried in stuff. I think I have too much of it. Stuff, I mean.

However, we had picked up a Toob of Penguins, some gray, white, and blue felt, batting, and Elmer’s spray adhesive as well. A lovely Antarctic diorama was also on our to-do list. All we needed was some sturdy cardboard to set it up. If there’s one thing that you’ll have a lot of when moving, it’s cardboard. Armed with a rough design, a ruler, and a box cutter, we set out to create our landscape.

We attached a little white tissue paper to our cardboard to cover up some of the brown. Then we added a layer of batting. I found some glitter snow fabric in my stash, but it was not enough to cover the entire scene so we put regular batting on the bottom, and saved the good stuff for the mountains and the rocks.

Once the cardboard was covered in batting, I attached gray craft felt to the back, and the bottom – I get a little carried away sometimes, and hot glued silver ribbon around the edges for that extra icy sparkle.

I used a hollowed out log, perfect for an ice cave, and gave it a felt roof. I cut water out of blue felt, and used various plastic containers to create rocks and a slide.

The rocks are loosely covered with white cardboard and glittery batting, and can be placed anywhere on the cardboard. I added a few real rocks and then it was time to invite the penguins in to play.

Behold our Antarctic diorama:

While I was fussing over penguin placement and pictures, three little ones were watching my every move, ready to jump in. When I was satisfied with the results, I turned it over to the munchkins to play with.

There are so many wonderful projects to make this summer, or later, for every age and every skill level. Just browse through Jo-Ann’s Cape Discovery catalog and see for yourself.

21 December 2011

Birdseed Ornaments

In my pantry sits a tub of lard I bought years ago. It was intended to make birdseed balls with. I am not really sure if lard is suitable for birds, though. Our local Piggly Wiggly sells beef suet by the log. They are ideal for making birdseed ornaments, although I guess you can just hang them outside as is. But where's the fun in that?

We melted the 22 oz. suet log over medium heat and stirred in three cups of birdseed. I set out three extra large cookie cutters partially wrapped in aluminum foil on a baking pan, as well as an assortment of little molds lined with plastic wrap. We poured in the melted suet/seed mixture and set the baking pan in the freezer.

After about two hours I took them out and let them thaw out just enough to make it easier to release the ornaments from the mold. I removed the little pieces of a drinking straw to make a hole and strung the ornaments on some butcher's twine. Aren't they lovely? I have already spotted a little chickadee munching on one.