Crafting is good for us!

Great research is coming in proving what any crafter already knows, crafting is good for us ! So make sure you make time for crafting, whether it be knitting, sewing, woodwork, or macrame.  For extra added benefits, craft with nature!  The materials are inspiring and beautiful to work with, and readily available for free.

For more interesting articles check out my Useful Links.

Forest Festival Nature Masks

Had a fabulous time running the nature mask craft activity at NaturePlay SA’s Forest Festival.  Families gathered at Kuitpo Forest, just outside of Adelaide, for 2 days of playing, relaxing, exploring and fun in the forest.  Orienteering, potion making, low ropes, and cubby building, kite flying and the nature masks were enjoyed by all.

The nature masks were made from pre-cut cardboard, with an elastic tie.  Children (and parents!) used sticky tape or staples to attach colourful autumn leaves, sticks and feathers.  Each mask was its own unique and beautiful design!

Nature Mask

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nature Mask at Forest Festival

Autumn Leaf Crowns at Sophie’s Patch

It was a wonderful Easter Saturday at Sophie’s Patch in the Adelaide Hills making autumn leaf crowns with the kids.  Early in the morning I collected baskets of colourful maple, oak, elm and pear leaves,  and the visiting children carefully arranged and stuck the leaves onto strips of cardboard to make their own unique nature crowns.  They looked gorgeous and were worn proudly as the kids explored and played in the garden.

Kate Hubmayer Nature Crafts

Sophie’s special guest at the open garden was Gardening Australia’s amazing Costa Georgiadis who gave three inspiring talks.  Costa the Garden Gnome appeared at lunch time to teach the children a chicken dance!

Costa-Garden-Gnome-Chicken-Dance

Sophie’s garden is at Mt Barker Springs in the Adelaide Hills.  It’s a wonderful example of a child-friendly, Mediterranean climate garden which is both attractive and productive.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting, check it out on this video below which Costa took on the morning of the open garden.  I pop in near the end!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter Craft – Naturally dyed eggs with leaf print

Making dyed eggs is a fun activity to do with your family or class at Easter, or anytime of the year!

Pop outside and pick an interesting shaped fresh leaf.  A piece of fern like this works really well.  Then place your leaf on a white or light-coloured egg and wrap it tightly with an old stocking, and secure it with a rubber band.

easter-nature-craft-dyed-egg
Place the wrapped egg into a saucepan of  water.  Add some dried brown onion skins and boil on your stove for at least 5 minutes.  Then carefully remove the egg with a spoon or tongs and allow it to cool.

Once cool, unwrap the egg and peel off the leaf to reveal a beautiful natural leaf print!

nature-craft-dyed-easter-egg

You can try different dyes using other natural ingredients, it’s really fun to experiment! Try purple cabbage or turmeric to create different colours.  There’s lots more interesting information on natural dyes in my book Nature Crafts with Common Plants.  Check it out!

Easter Craft – Seed Collage Egg

This seed collage or seed mosaic is a fun craft to do at Easter time.  Find some colourful seeds, and glue them onto thick cardboard which has been cut into an egg shape.  If you’d like to hang them, add a hole and tie some string through.  A simple, but really effective craft, and quite cheap too, for when you’ve got a large group of children.

These works of art can also be composted when it’s time to get rid of them!

Easter-nature-craft-seed-mosaic

Nature Craft Easter Bilby

Bilbies

These gorgeous Australian native marsupials have large pink ears and a long, thin tail.  Once common and widespread, their numbers are now low due to habitat loss and predators, and sadly bilbies are now only found in a few desert and grassland areas and in captivity.

Australian-bilby

Fantastic work is being done to protect bilbies, and more information can be found on the Save the Bilby Fund site, and the Rabbit Free Australia site.

Celebrate bilbies, not bunnies at Easter.

Unlike our native bilbies, bunnies are a destructive pest which have eaten native plants and damaged ecosystems across the country since they were introduced in the 1800’s.  Further information on why we should be celebrating bilbies, not bunnies at Easter time can be found in this Australian Geographic article.

Haigh’s Chocolates and Fyna Foods Pink Lady Chocolates make delicious and cute chocolate bilbies, and they donate part proceeds of sales to supporting the living ones!

Haighs-chocolate-easter-bilby Chocolate-easter-bilby

Make your own Nature Craft Bilby

To create your own nature craft bilby, use a large gumnut for the body, a sheoak pod for the head, and attach hakea pods for ears.  A coral gum cap makes a perfect pointy nose, and piece of string can be used for a tail.  No hakea pods?  No problem! You could use small leaves, pistachio shells or anything else that’s about the right size and shape.  Glue everything together with a trusty low-melt glue gun.

Nature-craft-easter-bilby

Nature Craft Easter Bunny

Pinecones make great bodies for all sorts of creatures, including Easter Bunnies!

Just add some Jacaranda pod ears and feet using a low-melt glue gun.

Glue on an acorn nose, and acorn cap eyes (I’ve added little plastic eyes inside), and some twigs for the whiskers.  Done!

Mothers Day Craft – Seed Mosaic Heart

Looking for cheap and easy Mothers Day craft ideas?  A seed mosaic heart is a fun and relaxing activity for all ages!

If you’re working with a large group of kids, first create a heart shaped template.  The kids then trace around the template onto cardboard from old cardboard boxes.  They cut out the heart with scissors, and make a hole at the top with a hole punch.

An assortment of colourful seeds (beans, peas, rice, lentils etc.) can then be glued on with PVA glue to make a pattern.

kids-craft-seed-mosaic-heart-collage

This is a great use for seeds which are past their use-by date, or weevil infected.  Once dry, a piece of string or ribbon can be tied through the hole so the heart can be hung.

This is a fun, inexpensive, nature craft activity for a whole class.  It is also a great way to start a conversation about the diversity of seeds, and can lead to discussion about the need to preserve heirloom seeds.  For more information check out the The Seed Savers Network.

More examples of seed mosaics can be found on page 14 of my book Nature Crafts with Common Plants.

Insect Nature Craft Collage

This collage has been created using an assortment of pressed leaves, sticks and a couple of acorn caps for it’s eyes.  They’ve all been glued onto a black piece of paper which makes the bug really stand out.

wooden-flower-leaf-pressLeaves can be easily pressed in old books, or in a flower press like this, made from two pieces of wood joined with screws and wingnuts.

The leaves are sandwiched between layers of paper and cardboard for a few weeks to dry out before use.

For more inspirational collages, check out the stunning work of Canadian artist Rakou Inoue.

 

Make a cool Dinosaur!

To make this very cool dinosaur, you first have to go on a hunt outside for materials. (This is just as much fun as the making!)

Find a large pinecone to use for the body.

pinecone

And a bunch of Jacaranda pods.  Jacarandas are commonly found in many cities, and their weird, woody pods are great for crafting!

dried-jacaranda-seed-pod

Find a couple of acorns and acorn caps to use as eyes.

acorn-caps

And a stick for the tail.  The legs can be made using acorns, small gumnuts, or small sticks – whatever you can find.

Make your dinosaur

Use a low-melt glue gun to attach the pieces together.  (Don’t touch the hot glue!)  Glue two acorns into their caps and stick them onto a Jacaranda pod head.

Attach the head to the pinecone body, then break some of the Jacaranda pods in half and attach them along the body.  Glue on the stick as a tail and attach four legs.

Take it outside and listen to it ROAR!!!  Maybe it needs you to make it a friend?!

kids-nature-craft-cool-pinecone-dinosaur

(This dinosaur sneaks onto page 2 of my book Nature Crafts with Common Plants)

Drip Sand Castles at the Beach

Drip sand castles are a fabulous beach activity for all ages.  Just dig a hole in the sand until you reach water, then pick up some really wet sand out of the hole using your hand and drip it in a pile to create a castle.  They look like amazing sandy stalagmites!

See how tall you can build one, or make one with lots of towers. I think they have a rather gothic look to them.

Check out some very cool, gravity defying drip castles by clicking here.

drip-sand-castle-beach-nature-play-kidsdrip-sand-castle-kids-beach-play-nature

Gumnut Christmas Angels

Large gumnuts are found on a variety of Eucalypts, and are fantastic for crafting.  These little Christmas Angels have large gumnuts for their bodies, and bow-tie pasta wings.  The Angel on the left has a sheoak head and gumnut cap hat, while the one on the right has an acorn head and acorn cap hat.  Alternatively, you could use wooden beads for the heads.  Little plastic eyes finish them off, and the pieces are glued together using a low-melt glue gun.

Twig Christmas Tree Ornament

This little Christmas craft is featured in my book, Nature Crafts with Common Plants.  It’s a really simple but fun (& cheap!) craft to do with a class or group of kids, or your own child.  The trunk of the tree is a pop stick and I’ve collected some different sized twigs to use for branches.  While you could use a larger twig as the trunk, the flatness of a pop stick makes it easier to stick the twig branches on.  PVA or any other craft glue works fine.  I’ve added a string so it can be hung up, and I’ve glued on a Crepe Myrtle pod as a star on top.

Nature Craft Christmas Reindeer

Making a Christmas reindeer out of seedpods and sticks is really fun and easy.  This little one has a large gumnut (Eucalypt seedpod) for it’s body, and a sheoak pod for it’s head. Small sticks make perfect legs and antlers, and it’s all glued together with a low-melt glue gun.  Small plastic eyes and a gumnut cap nose, painted red, finishes this little nature craft Rudolf off!

Spooky Halloween Spider

This rather spooky Halloween spider was made using a sheoak pod for the body and gumnuts as eyes.  It’s been glued together using a trusty low-melt glue gun.

Black pipecleaner legs and fangs made from a hakea pod finish him off.  Happy Halloween!

Nature crafts as therapy

It was great hearing about research into the effects of nature based therapy, at the Therapeutic Landscapes Conference in Adelaide recently.  There is now clear evidence to support the belief that spending time in the natural world is good for mental health and well being.  Indoor nature crafts are a way of bringing the therapeutic benefits of nature to people who are unable to spend time outside. The meditative and relaxing process of arranging an assortment of seeds and other natural objects into a mandala pattern is wonderful therapy.  The simple act of handling a variety of natural materials gives multiple sensory benefits. Creating a collage on paper using fresh flowers and glue is another easy nature craft enjoyed by people of all ages.

Here are some photos from the crafting workshop I delivered at the conference.  It was a lovely group of participants, and some were very pleasantly surprised at their own creativity!  I didn’t doubt it, encouragement is all that is needed 🙂

nature-mandalas-seeds-seedpods

The natural materials were arranged in a pattern on a circular mat, a photo was taken when complete, then the artwork was disassembled so the materials could be reused.
flower-leaf-nature-collage-beautiful-craft

 

Festival of Children’s Books, Adelaide

Festival of Children’s Books

I’m excited to be part of the inaugural Festival of Children’s Books in Adelaide this October! It will be in the beautiful grounds of historic Carrick Hill. 

I’ll be hosting a nature craft activity, there will be a variety of author talks, and heaps of books for sale from Shakespeares Bookshop.

 

 

Seedpod Critters

Seedpod Critters

This gorgeous echidna was made by a 9 year old boy named Charlie.  It’s body is a beautiful big dried banksia flower.

I met Charlie and lots of other lovely kids and families at my local Australian Plants Society sale in Adelaide over the weekend.  We had loads of native seedpods to choose from, and it was fabulous to see so many children (and some adults!) completely engaged with creating their own unique seedpod creatures using their imaginations and a trusty low-melt glue gun! Head outside, collect some bits and pieces and have a go yourself!

Here are some other creations:

kids-nature-craft-spider
Spider
kids-nature-craft-chicken
Chicken
kids-nature-craft-critter
Not sure what this is!

 

 

Book Review – Nature Crafts with Common Plants

Book Review

Great book review of Nature Crafts with Common Plants in the September 2017 Gardening Australia Magazine (page 11).

“Take cues from this book and fill the school holidays by gathering everything you need for art, craft, dyeing and weaving projects.  All the materials come from street trees that are readily grown in urban areas.  This book is great for parents who want their children to connect with nature.”

For more information on this book, including where to buy it, click here.

Wattle Crowns and bracelets

Winter in Australia is brightened by our amazing range of flowering wattles.  Kids (and adults!) just love making wattle crowns and bracelets, and it’s so easy to do.  Just staple a strip of cardboard to make a crown or bracelet, and attach the wattle with sticky tape or staples. A beautiful winter nature craft!

Golden Wattle

The Golden Wattle, Acacia pycnantha, became the Australian floral emblem in 1988, and wattle appears on the Australian Coat of Arms.

Golden-wattle

 

For more information about wattle click here .

Maple Leaf Spiral

A run of cold nights has brought out some brilliant autumn colour in my garden.  My Japanese maple is looking spectacular, and the different shades inspired this pretty spiral.  This type of nature craft, when laid out on the ground is sometimes called Land Art.  It’s easy, satisfying, free and fun to do with kids!

New Nature Craft book – Nature Crafts with Common Plants

My new book has arrived!  The cover features some of my favorite creations, some owls made from Liquidamber pods, with acorn cap eyes and Golden Rain tree wings.  These materials are featured in the second half of the book, along with lots of other common plants, many of which are street trees found in cities around the world.

The book is available now from Yourbooksonline and will gradually make its way to other retailers.

Nature Craft Swan Collage

Nature Craft Swan Collage

This nature craft is super easy, so great for a class of really young kids.  You can make a template of the swan shape for them to draw around, then cut out.

Use a black texta to draw on an eye and colour in the beak.

Glue on leaves for feathers, using whatever leaves you have around. Done!

 Paper plate swan

Beach Mermaid

A sandy beach is the perfect canvas for some fun ephemeral land art.  Use seaweed, shells, pebbles and any other bits and pieces you can find on the ground nearby. Create a mermaid or other sea creature. Take a photograph, then leave the pieces on the ground to be returned to the sea or for someone else to use.

For more inspiration, see the work of Land Artists Richard Shillings and Andy Goldsworthy.

Nature Craft Wreath

Paper plates with the middle cut out make a perfect base for a wreath.  And they’re cheap & easy if you’re working with a whole class of young kids.    Head outside so the kids can collect some natural materials.  I’ve glued on gum leaves, gum blossom and gumnuts to give it a very Aussie touch, but just use whatever plants are available.  A very simple yet effective nature craft activity!

Seedpod Reindeer

Here’s another easy Christmas nature craft which kids love.  Collect some large gumnuts for the body and sheoak pods to make the head.  Small twigs can be used for the antlers and legs.  Glue them together with a low-melt glue gun to form a little reindeer.  Add plastic eyes and a Coral Gum cap for the nose, which can be painted red to turn it into Rudolph.

Gumnut & Acorn Angel

Here’s a simple angel decoration to get your Christmas creativity started.

I’ve used a large gumnut for the body, with an acorn and cap for the head. Bow tie pasta is the perfect size and shape for wings.

Use a low-melt glue gun to glue it all together, and add a dash of gold paint for some sparkle!  Glue a loop of thread on the back if you’d like to hang it.  Voila!

Gumnut angle pieces

 

Pink Petal Girl

Encourage children to pick some flowers and leaves and arrange them on the ground to create their own unique little character.

Explain that sometimes the most beautiful things aren’t permanent, eg. flowers and sunsets, but if we want to, we can capture them with photographs.

Sometimes called ephemeral art, this style of using natural materials has been used by famous British artist and sculptor Andy Goldsworthy.