We've been wanting to make Walnut Babies and their Mamas for the last two years, ever since we saw them in the Green Crafts for Children...but this book is filled with so many tempting projects that it has taken us a while to work our way around to them.
I have a love-hate relationship with this book: I love the inspiring pictures and amazing crafts...but I really dislike the way that once you embark upon them you realise that the perfect creations pictured in the book, despite having children's hands artfully placed around them, cannot possibly have been made by children alone and that a high level of parental input is necessary...which is fine, because we wanted to make these together, but less fine in that I dislike there being so many stages where they have to defer to an adult and sit looking hopefully at me, dependent on someone else making it work for them (have you ever tried tying a ribbon around a small wooden ball...a tricky business even for an adult). Ditto trying to crack a walnut into two perfectly intact halves...the book says this is easy, but we spent an amusing half hour tapping the walnuts against the utility room floor in an attempt to get them to split into two unblemished halves (which was actually huge amounts of fun and the children loved it).
The walnut cribs have stuffing glued inside, a layer of fabric stuck on top for the bedding, ric-rac glued around the edge and then a ribbon tied at the head, with eyes and mouth drawn on below. We ended up supergluing the heads onto the cribs, as the repetitive decapitation was becoming upsetting. The Mama walnuts use whole walnuts, with aprons and apron ties glued around their middles, and a head scarf glued on above the face. Drawing on a ball is tricky...I love the expressions on the faces of Dinosaur-boy's family though.
Again, the book shows the cribs presumably blue-tacked to the spot, as once the weight of the head is in place the crib will no longer balance...I minded about this alot (inside my head) and they are propped against each other and the wall for the photographs you see here. Happily, the children didn't seem to notice their lopsidedness and in the evening spent several hours acting out stories with them and creating flower gardens for the cribs to rest in.
After we'd finished making the walnut babies, we decided to use the half-shells to make boats. I googled Walnut Boats and found a site called Made by Joel, which details how you can go about making them. In the course of the afternoon they sailed and sank a great many boats and enjoyed the process of making a sail, setting the boat afloat, sinking the boat, watching the colour run into the water from the sail and then...making a new sail again. Over and over.
And finally...Dinosaur-boy noticed that the walnut looked a little mousey when upturned:
And so walnut creatures were born.
While the children were creating flower gardens for the Walnut babies I returned to the Made by Joel site and practically passed out at the goodness I found there....this man is some kind of child entertainment machine (and I mean that in a completely complimentary way...I cannot imagine quite how wonderful it must be to be of this man's children and seeing how he makes something out of nothing for them nearly every day...magic before their eyes...he actually reminds me a little of my husband's father who has always invented things to amuse both his children and his grandchildren). Anyway, having crossed the walnut boats off the list, we can't wait to make these Made by Joel May Day flower baskets, a cereal box marble run and this amazing zip line toy, created from a paperclip, a bobbin and a button! And I found that we have already made freakishly similar dressed up people to those on his site (he made his back in February, so I'm guessing that we weren't the inspiration here!).
My American blogging friends seem to have already waved goodbye to their children...but for those of us in England, we have just one more week of the holidays left...it's gone so quickly...and as I've named new school shoes and sewn on name tapes it has begun to feel like the week is just one big wobbly bottom lip (again, I'm keeping this one inside my head).