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Monday, 15 October 2012

Spooky Mobile

Here is the first in a series on Halloween, Bonfire Night and Autumn themed arts and crafts lesson plans to inspire a creative curriculum. I hope that you find them useful.

Brief Description:
Students will exercise their scissor-skills, learn a few things about balance,motion and movement whilst they create their own unique Autumn themed mobile.
Mobile, movement, Halloween (and word related such as ghost, witch, pumpkinetc), spooky, autumn, kinetic,
Alexander Calder
Materials Needed:
Paper, card, pencil, wool or thread, watercolours or felt tip pens,templates, cello tape and pipecleaners

The Hanuted house will make the main feature of the mobile. Ensure this is drawn on card or heavy weight paper
 1. On a piece of paper, plan out the design of your mobile. Think about what your theme is going to be and what objects, images etc you want hanging from the bottom of the mobile. For example you could choose to make a tree with lots of leaves hanging off the branches. These could all have a different words for Autumn written on them; or you could have your central piece as the horn of life with harvest festival items hanging from below. For the purposes of this worksheet I have chosen to work on a haunted house theme.
Sketch out your central piece using a pencil on a piece of card. For my mobile this will be a haunted house.
The children can be encouraged to drawn their own characters as I have above, alternatively you can google clip art to get ideas
2. Sketch out your objects that will be hanging from your central piece on a piece of card. I have chosen to use a witch, a bat and a ghost. You can have as many items hanging as you like but try to think about the balance of the piece and where they are going to hang. If you have a large shape on one side and a small shape on the other the mobile will hang crooked.
I have chosen to have a ghost, a bat and a witch for my mobile
3. For my mobile I have chosen to use water colour paints to add colour. There are lots of mediums you can use such as felt tip, coloured pencils, oil pastels, crayons and even collage materials – the choice is yours.
My witch on a broom stick will hang under the spooky house

I used watercolours to paint my house but you can use any medium
4. Once the pieces are all coloured cut them out ready for assemblage.On the back of all of the hanging items secure a piece of wool with some cello tape. You can staple these on but using cello tape leaves no marks on the front image of the mobile. Using a ruler find the centre point of your main piece (the house) and mark with a dot. Secure one of your hanging objects using cello tape where the dot is.
Cello tape the hanging piece to the back of the house
5. Once again using a ruler measure the distance between the centre of the main piece (the house) to the left edge. Half the distance and mark with a dot. Secure one of the remaining hanging piece to the spot you have marked with a dot. Repeat this process on the other side.
Completed Haunted House mobile
6. Finally add a piece of wool to the top to enable you to hang your mobile. Using cello tape secure the remaining two hanging piece to the dot marks you have made.


Key stage 1: You can use pre cut shapes ortemplates for younger children to colour and cut out. This is a great activityto practice scissor skills, however if you are making a spooky themed mobilethe children can rip and tear the images out giving your rough edges – addingto the effect. Painted hand prints upside down with a pair of google eyes makeexcellent ghosts – give it a try.

Key stage 2: Why not extend the mobile by addingone of more layers to the hanging section? This can be done by cello tapinganother shape to the bottom of the shape above. Once again you have tocarefully think about weight distribution and balance. If you make one side toheavy the mobile will tilt. Instead of using string why not use pipecleaners toattach the hanging images. You can bend the pipecleaners into lots of differentpositions so the hanging images don’t all hang in the same direction.
Analternative method of adhering the hanging images to the central image could beto use a hole punch and tie the hanging images in place using wool.

Gifted and Talented: Think about the use of symmetry withthe mobile design. Imagine there is a mirror held in the centre on the image,both sides should look alike and mirror each other. You can make the sameshapes to hang each side with maybe a slight colour change. Consider colouringand working on both sides of the images so as the piece spins around presentinga 3D feel to the mobile.
Consideradditional impact such as cutting out the windows of the house, having a doorthat opens etc to create areas of interest to your mobile and make it standout.
This is an alternativeidea for the mobile.
Acrostic poem idea
Additional idea:
Why not use this mobile making activity as a creative writing tool?
 You could link this activity to a class project. I have mocked up a version of a mobile based on the theme of Autumn. I have drawn a wellington boot as the central image with a puddle underneath and my poem forming the splashes. I assembled my mobile using pipecleaners which allowed me to bend the pipecleaners to make it look like the boot was jumping in the puddle. I have then used the word “puddle” to make an acrostic poem, writing each word onto a separate piece of card. These pieces have been attached individually underneath the puddle. These look great as part of a wall display.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Spooky Book Marks

Part three of my Halloween ideas brings you these stunning spooky bookmarks. Guaranteed to inspire children to pick up a book and put them to use.

Brief Description: What a great way to inspire young readers - create your own unique book mark. These cute bookmarks have been designed with an Autumn or Halloween theme, but these can be adapted to any theme. Intricate designs can take time to complete to  make this a full lesson or designs can be supplied to make this an extension activity. This activity can also be used for fund raising ideas for school fetes, with children making numerous bookmarks that can be sold to friends, parents, governors and stakeholders

Keywords: Book mark, design, flexibilty, shape
Materials needed; Paper, felt tip pens, watercolours, scissors, crimping scissors, ribbon, laminating pouch, laminator, glue, google eyes.

  1. Decide on the width of your book mark. I found that the average school class ruler is an ideal width. Using a pencil lay the ruler on a piece of paper and draw down both sides
Marked out and ready to add detail
  1. For my bookmarks I have made a “topper” for the top of the bookmark. Ask children to think about their design, connecting with the theme/project given. I have chosen a Halloween and Autumn theme for my bookmarks. Using the ruler as a marker, draw a further column. Draw the topper over the top of the column as illustrated in the picture to the right. Make sure the topper is slightly wider than the column- this will allow the topper to sit on the top of the book page.
Make sure that the images that are going to be placed at the top of the book marks slightly overlap the edges of your ruler marks

Back grounds drawn on ready for painting
 3. Colour in and cut out you book marks. I have used watercolour paints for my examples but you can use and drawing or painting medium for this project. I have also cut out the word “Boo” on my ghost bookmark for additional effect.
I have used water colour paint to add colour to my book marks

Paint your toppers before cutting them out, this marks it much easier - plus if you go over the edge you can cut it off
4. Mount the bookmarks on a piece of brightly coloured card. I have chosen to use a red piece of card to clash against my green bookmark. This will also highlight my cut out lettered “BOO”. Glue in position using a glue stick. When dry cut around the edge of the bookmark leaving a slight boarder. I used crimping scissors but you can use a rota trim, scissor to cut a wiggly line or even rip around the border for rough edges.
Cut out the backgrounds and toppers

Mount the bookmarks onto a piece of coloured paper

I have used crimping scissors to create an interesting edge
 5. Using sticky foam pads (or a piece of cardboard and some glue) adhere the topper to the top of the bookmark. If you want to make your bookmarks more robust, before you stick the topper on place the two parts, the bookmark and topper in a laminating pouch and laminate. You will need to cut them both out again and can still adhere the topper to the bookmark using sticky pads or a small piece of cardboard and glue.
Stick the topper on the top

6.For a final touch add a bit of ribbon to the bottom.
Add ribbon on the bottom for the finishing touches

Why not laminate the bookmark for added protection

Key stage 1: There are lots of websites where you can get pre-printed bookmark designs that younger children can use and colour in (website address listed at the back of this pack). Alternatively you could encourage the children to use stencils and various collage materials on their bookmarks – using wool to create spider webs, stickers of themed subjects, you can even encourage the children to collect a leaf from outside place it under the piece of paper and rub over the top using a crayon to create a unique autumn leaf bookmark.

Keystage 2: Encourage the children to write a short poem on the back of their book mark that will compliment the design on the front. Rather than have just one topper on the bookmark, children could create a series of images to adhere to the bookmark. If the bookmark was a witches broom stick you could add a witch and one end, a cat in the middle and a spell book at the end. An autumn day could have an umbrella at the top, leaves and rain drops whirling around the centre and a pair of wellington boots at the base and so on and so forth.
Gifted and Talented: Think about the use of line, the idea of design and the method of technique in the medium used to apply colour. Ie. If the children are working in coloured pencil or pencil, look at the use of shading and range of colours that can be applied. If using collage materials are they appropriate for the image, do they enhance the piece? You could also encourage pupils to add an intricate border feature patterns, words or symbols related to the centre images, or even use a needle and thread and blanket stitch a border.

Furry Spider

Here is quick and simple idea that is ideal as an extension activity on a busy day or for an after school club.

Brief Description: This is a great little extension activity and if the whole class make one of these, this can create a stunning wall display. Children will use pipecleaners and pom poms to create this furry looking friend.

Keywords: Halloween (and words relating to) , Spider, twist, furry, texture
Materials Needed: Pipecleaners, fur or pom poms, PVA glue, google eyes other collage materials
  1. Decide what colour your spider is going to be. I have chosen grey and collected four pipecleaners and a scrap of faux fur. Alternatively you could use a pom pom.
Make sure you have everything you need prior to starting
 2. Using three of the pipecleaners, roll the pipecleaners in the fabric. Add a dab of pva glue at the end. If you are using a pom pom skip to the next step.

Add a dab of glue on the faux fur and role the pipecleaners up
 3. Using the remaining pipecleaner, wrap this around the centre of the fur bundle and twist close to the fabric. This will secure the pieces together. You can then fluff the fun to cover the join. If you are using a pom pom, lay three of the pipecleaners on the pom pom and use the fourth one to wrap around as above.
Wrap the pipecleaners around the faux fur or pom pom
 4. Bend the legs into the position required.
Legs all bent into position so the spider will stand
   5. Finally glue the eyes into positions and your spider is complete
I have chosen to add 4 eyes on my spider why not look up on line how many eyes a spider has?

The completed spider

Key stage 1: An alternative method of making the spider could be to twist the four pipecleaners together roughly in the centre. The children can then move the legs to the required positions. Try to encourage them to create shapes with the legs like a reverse letter “r” or a “L”. Children can glue either a piece of fur, pom pom or some wool on the top for the body part and finish with google eyes.
Keystage 2: Children can experiment more with pipecleaners by twisting two different colours together for the legs. This will make the spider more colourful and dynamic however this will make to joining of the pom pom slightly more difficult due to the added thickness of the pipecleaners. Children could try adding a pom pom or piece of fur on the end of each leg for a foot.
Gifted and Talented: Children can be asked to consider other materials that they can use or add to their spider, such as sequins, feathers, wool etc. Encourage the children to think very carefully about how these materials will enhance the spider rather than adding materials which could make the spider look busy. 

Basildon Art Trail 2012

I love drawing. For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed drawing, painting, cutting, sticking, gluing and so on and so forth. As part of this year’s art trail I wanted to go back and explore drawing and painting for my work.
I was invited to create some pieces of work inspired by The Green Centre at Wat Tyler Country park – or to be more precise with The Essex Field Club based at the centre for this year’s art trail.
Works unwrapped and ready to be hung
The Essex Field Club has an impressive range of resources that can be accessed by the public, this includes Internet files, specimens donated form the Natural History Museum and localised specimens that the field club collect and collate.
Cytherea, Acrylic on Canvas

Murex, Acrylic on canvas

From Within, Acrylic on Canvas
Orchidea, Acrylic on Canvas
I decided to create a series of paintings exploring natural form images such as shells, flowers, patterns in nature inspired form images seen at the centre. I liked the idea of created textured canvases with bold and beautiful colours that would jump out and grab the viewer.
You'll feel it in my kiss, water-soluble crayon on paper

Too late to go back to sleep, water-soluble crayon on paper

That's a real good looking boy, Water-soluble crayon on paper

And she's watching him with those eyes, water-soluble crayon on paper

She's got big brown eyes, Water-soluble crayon on paper

Somewhere only we know, Water-soluble crayon on paper

In the time we are here, Water-soluble crayon on paper
Installation view at The Green Centre
In contrast to this I was intrigued at the specimens of bugs, spiders and insects that the centre has. I for one have often fled like a small child from a spider, a wasp or unknown creepy crawlie. But when you look at them up close they are an engineering phenomenon. They have stunning structure, colours, detail and are...dare I say actually quite cute! Using water-soluble crayons I created a series of six drawings depicting these creatures up close. The bold and bright colours, fine lines and frottage compliment the paintings colours and textured surface.
These pieces will be displayed at the centre until mid November, so if you are in the area pop in to view the works, and don’t forget to take some time to explore the diverse range of resources exhibited at the centre.
For more information about any of the pieces pictured in this blog please contact

Introducing David Smith

As part of this year’s Basildon Art Trail, I managed to convince my husband to finally exhibit some of his amazing photographs. For over 20 years he has been taking pictures for me to use for drawings, paintings, reference etc; and as you can image he has quite a collection. He has an eye for capturing the essence of the day, the space the subject in his work. So here....for the first time are some of his glorious photographs.
Installing works at Gallery 2

Winter 2012, Greets you as you enter the venue

Installation view of David's pictures in the Green Centre
 David says

I have always been a keen photographer; wanting to capture that specific instance in time that would never be repeated.
It may have been a sunset, a summer’s day, an eagle in flight, or a field mouse gathering food. For me, it is nature that holds my attention; the shape and form that is so dramatic and beautiful.
I hope that my fascination with the natural world comes across in my work. I have no formal training and my Photos have not been digitally altered. What I photograph is what appears in the picture.

The Lake 

Lake District Boats

The Needle



Coughton Court

All pictures taken on a Canon Powershot S5 IS

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Comments book break through

This may sound a little shallow (which I do not mean to be) but every week I check the comments book in the BEA gallery to see if anyone has left a comment about my work - I know that I am not the only one that does this!!!!!
So this is just a short and sweet blog to say I finally had comments left about my work in the comments book at the BEA Gallery Yeah! Thank you lovely people.
Lovely comments in the BEA  Gallery book

Little b. little d - table cloth