A precious house

As many of you will know, we own a very charismatic little house in Castel Rigone. Jumble House. It is known by many names. The magic house, La casa dei bambini. The house for children. The creative house. It is a very happy house, loved not only by us but by the many families it has looked after over nearly two hundred years. They have all changed it a little. Doors have been removed, a bedroom has been replaced by a bathroom. Where once a little Fiat Seicento was garaged became first a living room and now is my studio. But, it is retained it character. Because we and others love it so much I decided to preserve its image on a decorative bottle . I also made a video of the process. It can be found on my YouTube channel. (Arts and Craft ).

Mrs Spoon

Collecting autumn leaves is fun. They are colourful! Crispy and NOISY!

We love crunching them under our feet and watching them fall from the trees.

I take a magazine out with me and slip the leaves between the pages. That way they don’t get broken on the way home.

Once home I slip the magazine under a rug for a couple of days to flatten the leaves.

Then we’re ready to make our Mrs. Spoon.

Make a Jumble Dragon

Quick, easy, effective. A ‘Jumbles’ Dragon made as all the Jumbles are from 100denier tights, elastic bands and the stuffing from inside a pillow!

The only remotely tricky part is making the wings.

I’ve used a tie dye method to colour the fabric from the cover of the pillow but you can use a scarf or similar.

If making the wings looks too complicated then a couple of bought lightweight fans would do the job just fine!

The link to the explanatory video.

Abstract clock from strips of folded paper. There are paper folding and rolling projects to suit all ages and tastes from simple pencil holders and picture frames to abstract art and clocks. The technique of paper rolling and folding improves coordination and strengthens hand muscles making it a good exercise for young children. With help a four year old will enjoy making simple but attractive and useful pieces. This clock is more of an adult project but you could share the task of making lots of folded paper strips and then the younger members of the family could use some for their own creations while you get on with the clock! I made this clock from torn out pages from some rather dog eared picture books. Pages from any shiny magazine or brochure will work just fine. You could also print out family photos or snaps from a celebration or holiday to make a great ‘memory ‘ clock. The base is a (working) canvas clock which I have fallen out with! The only other requirements are white glue and a pair of scissors. The full video can be found in the Art and Craft playlist on my channel ( click on the link below:

Click here for the video showing you how to make the clock.


Recycling ideas for small plastic bottles.

Not really suitable for young children to make but they will learn a lot from watching and will love the little doll.

Plastic bottles make really good plant holders. Use a skewer to make a small hole in the bottom for drainage.

The doll was an after thought when I was faced with five or six bottle tops! It’s made in the same way with the addition of a polystyrene ball for the head. The tops of bottles also make good funnels and can be used as slow watering devices for the garden if you drill a very tiny hole in the cap.


Papier-mâché projects are great for any age from tinies right up to adults. They are fun learning experience to share with a young child. They also make good group projects.

Papier-mâché is messy so summer days are perfect to enjoy this out in the garden especially during holidays when you find your house full of kids. Papier-mâché will keep them entertained and happy for hours!

The paste:

There are two main types of paste.

  • White glue. For this mix one part glue with two parts water.
  • Flour and water: about equal amounts of white flour and water. I mix with a spoon; first then finish with an Electric beater to make it nice and smooth.

I always use flour and water. It’s cheap. Doesn’t drip as much and dries very quickly. Paste made with white glue dries clear whereas flour paste can be a bit yellow but if the models are going to be painted that doesn’t matter.


There are several but, for children, I recommend sticking to these two:

  • Balloons. Here a blown up balloon is covered with several layers of small pieces of overlapping newspaper. When it’s dry the balloon can be popped leaving a hollow shape. Humpty Dumpty was made using this method.

  • the rolled paper method. Here several sheets of newspaper are rolled and then wrapped in masking tape. Layers of paper and paste are then added until the required thickness is reached. The snake was made using this method.

The Octopus uses both methods.


Some suggestions if you decide to make the Octopus:

  • If you have a group of children doing this give them each a tentacle/leg to make.
  • It’s much easier painting the legs when they are loose. It’s difficult when they are attached to the body. So, if you can decide on colours, medium etc beforehand it helps.
  • An alternative method of decoration could be spray paint. This could be applied once the octopus has been assembled. Small pieces of pegs from a shiny magazine can also be used and stuck on with a dilute white glue which dries clear But this method takes ages ! Again the kegs need to be covered before attaching to the body.
  • After the legs have been attached and while I was waiting for it to dry, I sat the octopus body on a brick so the legs didn’t take the whole weight.
  • The ‘suckers’ need to be attached by a strong glue like Bostick.
  • If you spray the finished octopus with varnish it will withstand quite a lot of rain.

The tortoise above is half a balloon (so you can make two from one balloon.)

The face is a polystyrene ball covered in just one layer of papier-mâché then painted with acrylic mixed with white glue.

The legs are corks.

After cutting the finished papier-mâché balloon in half i wrapped it in masking tape to make a flat side and then added a couple of layers of papier-mâché.

To decorate I painted the shell first in black. Then the coloured hexagons were stuck on and finished with black permanent marker.

Once dry it received a good spray of varnish..