Halloween Activities: Crafting with Fabric Paint

I recently scored a free bag of puffy fabric paints from a crafter giving them away on Facebook, so the Dumpling and I have been experimenting with this new material (it’s new to us!) all week. After a quick search online, it’s quite a versatile medium for crafting!

Puffy Fabric Paint Window Cling

Window clings are like stickers, but puffy and not as so annoying to peel off (I hope). The Dumpling had fun sticking and re-arranging these not-so-spooky decorations all over. We discovered that they actually clinged not only to glass, but to any flat non-porous surface!

Materials:

Draw an image onto the ziplock bag with puffy fabric paint—that’s it! You can either free draw or trace the image by placing the design printout under the bag. I tested this step on several types of plastic (ziplock bag, polypropylene plastic bag, and clear plastic presentation cover) but the ziplock bag was the obvious winner in terms of ease of use.

Let the paint dry completely (about 24 hours) before peeling the images off. Waiting was probably the hardest part. Due to my impatience, I actually ruined a few—don’t be like me.

Puffy Fabric Paint Stamps

This was a fun way to make custom stamps, but I found that they didn’t produce the cleanest impressions. They were sufficient for the Dumpling, however, since she didn’t really care about smudges and was just amused by the whole stamping process.

Materials

  • Puffy fabric paint
  • Cardboard or styrofoam (I preferred styrofoam because I got a few uses out of the stamps by rinsing the paint/ink off afterwards)
  • Bottle cap
  • Glue
  • Stamp ink or paint

Draw your design onto the cardboard or styrofoam to create the stamp. After I drew the initial image, I traced over it again with additional paint to create a deeper emboss.

Once the paint dried, cut a square or rectangle around the image to form the stamp base.

Glue a bottle cap onto the back side of the stamp. Creating the knobs is completely optional, but we found that the stamps were easier to handle with them.

Use a stamp ink or apply paint directly onto the stamp with a brush. I found that the latter method created cleaner outlines.

Puffy Fabric Paint Masquerade Mask

The Dumpling has an upcoming masquerade at school, so I wanted to make her a mask for the party. While using fabric paint was a good way to create custom designs, the material ended up being too delicate for toddler hands since she would be pulling the mask off and putting it back on every two minutes.

Materials:

  • Puffy fabric paint
  • Ziplock bag
  • Tulle or mesh fabric
  • Tape
  • Printout of mask design
  • Scissors
  • Elastic long enough to snuggly fit around your head.

Draw or print the mask template you would like to use. Alternatively click here to download my design, but please be aware the mask dimensions measures approximately 10″ by 5.25″ so it might not fit you! I actually scaled the image in several different sizes on screen (one is wider, another is shorter, etc.) and chose the version with the best fit from the printout.

Tape the mask printout onto your work area, then tape the ziplock bag onto the printout, and finally tape the tulle or mesh fabric onto the bag. You really really really don’t want anything to move.

Trace the image with puffy fabric paint.

Let the paint dry (about 24 hours) before peeling the mask off the ziplock bag.

Carefully cut the tulle or mesh fabric following the outline of the mask. Leave a piece of fabric uncut around both ends of the mask that are closest to your ears. The fabric needs to be large enough to make a small slit to string the elastic through.

Halloween Activities: Geometric Tape-Resist and Shadow Puppets

It seems like the Dumpling and I have been waiting for Halloween to come since Janaury! While she still doesn’t really understand what Halloween is, she associates it with ghosts, witches, zombies, vampires, werewolves, etc…all thanks to watching videos on YouTube. Even though All Hallow’s Eve isn’t until the end of the month, we are pretending it’s a month-long celebration in our household.

For our first week of Halloween, we did light and shadow play with some not-so-spooky silhouttes and got super messy with another tape-resist project!

Halloween Shadow Puppets

Materials

  • Halloween shadow puppet printable (click here to download)
  • Toilet paper roll
  • Small safety-pin or thin needle
  • Towel
  • Scrap cardboard
  • Phone flashlight

Protect your work area by covering it with scrap cardboard.

Lay the printable on top of a towel and puncture the image outlines with a pin or needle. I initially used a pin with a thick point and some of the details got lost as a result, so I would recommend using something thin. While the space between each hole isn’t fixed, I eyeballed the distance to approximately 1.5 mm of space apart.

Cut out the circle card for each image.

With your phone’s flashlight on, place the toilet paper roll directly on top of the light (encircling it completely) and then lay a card on top of the roll. It’s best to do the activity in total darkness and cast the images on an empty wall or ceiling. The Dumpling and I did this right before bed and made up silly one or two sentence stories with the silhouettes.

I don’t really understand the science behind it, but our images were casted upside down (I rotated them right side up in my photos below) and we sometimes saw double outlines. Once the Dumpling is older, we can explore the hows and whys…but for now, it’s all magic!

Colored Bubbles with Geometric Tape-Resist Halloween Silhouettes

Materials

  • Geometric cat and ghost printable (click here to download)
  • White heavy copy paper or drawing paper (the stock needs to withstand the bubble solution but thin enough to see through)
  • Bubble solution (use different bottles or separate into smaller containers for each color)
  • Bubble wands
  • Food coloring (we used a fall colored palette of red, yellow, orange and brown)
  • Painter’s tape (approximately 1/8″ wide)

Lay your copy or drawing paper on top of the printable. You need to be able to see through to the bottom layer as if you’re about to trace the image. You may also want to paper clip the pieces together so they don’t move.

Apply painter’s tape on top of the lines. Before investing the effort in applying all that tape, test peeling off a small strip to see whether it tears your paper. If it does, tape the strip on your shirt first to remove some of its adhesiveness.

Mix food coloring into the bubble solutions.

Blow the bubbles on top of the taped image. I would have preferred to have done this outdoors because it got super messy! Since we don’t have a yard, we did this in our bath tub and I sprayed everything down afterwards. With colored bubbles popping everywhere, the red and brown splatters made our bathroom looked like a murder scene!

Peel the tape off once everything dries completely.

Mid-Autumn Moon Festival Lanterns

One of the biggest holidays in Hong Kong (and many Asian countries) is the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival—the night where the moon supposedly is at its fullest and brightest. Although I didn’t bring the Dumpling to the beach for the local lantern lighting event, we did make our own lanterns throughout the month leading up to the festival. The best part was lighting them up at night with my phone’s flashlight!

“Stained Glass” Lantern

Out of all the lanterns, this was our favorite because of the colorful light shadows it casted.

IMG_8334.jpgTo create the translucent paint, we mixed one drop of gel food coloring with four tablespoons of Elmer’s glue for each desired color. The Dumpling painted the mixture onto four square transparency sheets.

Once the sheets dried, I taped them together to form the sides of a cube. I also added a cardboard base to the bottom so it could hold my phone. We experimented with shining the light from different angles and were rewarded with so many colors!

City Skyline Lantern

Using a stock image of the Hong Kong skyline, I laid the printout on top of a cardboard box and traced the outline by puncturing it with a pin. The Dumpling and I then applied a nice coat of watercolor onto the boxl. The lantern actually looked like a miniature version of the city’s skyline once lit!

Paper Mache Rabbit Lantern

The Dumpling had been practicing cutting with scissors, so we had a huge pile of paper strips that was perfect for making paper mache. We used a plastic bowl as the mold and glued on cut-outs of a rabbit’s eyes, nose, ears, and whiskers once the paper mache dried.

Why a rabbit? Because according to Chinese folklore, the shadows on the moon actually belongs to that of a bunny pharmacist living up there!

Mooncake Lanterns

The Dumpling and I colored in these mooncake templates I found online—we ended up with so many that I glued together a few cutouts to make lanterns.

Happy Mid-Autumn Moon!

This was the only picture I snapped of the full moon. I was in such a rush that I didn’t realize half the moon was covered by clouds until I got home!

Seven Summer Fruit Art For Kids

To celebrate the arrival of summer, the Dumpling and I created an art series featuring a few of our favorite summer fruits! We experimented with a different technique for each—from making paper mosaics to coloring with makeup to stamping prints out of various household materials. While we did the activities side-by-side (with me adding the finishing touches), the dissimilarities in our work are quite telling of how differently we approach each task!

1. Paper Cutout Watermelon

Paper cutout watermelon.

Directions:

Although this was a straightforward activity, working with my two and a half year old brought an interesting twist because her imagination isn’t yet fully bound by how a watermelon (or anything really) is supposed to look like. As a result, our compositions were as literal or abstract as we wanted it to be.

2. Paper Mosaic Pineapple

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Paper mosaic pineapples.

Directions:

  • Print the pineapple template.*
  • Cut yellow and green colored paper into approximately quarter inch tiles. Optional: Use different shades of the same color to create contrast.
  • Glue or tape colored the pieces on. (I used double sided tape.)

This was a perfect example of how the Dumpling and I diverge in interpreting directions—of me giving them and of her following. Instead of placing the pieces one-by-one, she just dumped everything on. It didn’t create the pixelated effect I was aiming for, but she did complete the activity…and it does look like a pineapple.

3. Thumb Print Strawberries

Thumb print strawberries.

Directions:

  • Apply lipstick (paint or stamp ink would work as well) on your thumbs and stamp to create heart-shaped prints.
  • Outline the prints with a mixture of rounded triangles and hearts.
  • Add leaves and speckles for seeds.

4. Wine (or Juice) Stained Grapes

Wine stained grapes.

Directions:

  • Download the grape template* and color each grape with blue, red, and/or purple watercolor pencils.
  • Blend colored grapes with a brush using red wine or juice (instead of water).
  • Drip red wine or grape juice onto the drawing for added effect. If you don’t have a dropper, soak a cotton ball and squeeze the liquid out onto the paper.

(This was a solo activity because I was that possessive of my wine…and I didn’t have grape juice.)

5. Bottle Cap Stamp Cherries

Bottle cap stamp cherries.

Directions:

  • Apply red paint on water a bottle cap and stamp.
  • Add stems and leaves on the berries after the paint dries.

Midway through our fruit series, I realized that I’m learning from the Dumpling as much as she’s learning from me. While I was carefully laying the cap on my sheet of paper in attempt to create perfect circles, the Dumpling just slathered a ton of paint on and stamped away. She used both ends of the bottle cap, creating a combination of outlined and colored-in circles—it was something that I didn’t think of until she showed me!

6. Pom Pom Smash Blueberries

Pom pom smash blueberries.

Directions:

  • Soak pom poms into blue and purple paint and smash them with a toy hammer. To limit the splash radius, cover the pom poms with clear plastic wrap.
  • Draw star on the berries to from the calyx once the paint dries.

7. Bubble Wrap Print Raspberries

Directions:

  • Cut a piece of bubble wrap into an oval-ish shape and glue onto a large beverage cap.
  • Apply pink and/or red paint onto the bubble wrap and stamp.
  • Draw circles to form drupes once the paint dries.

Like the cherry bottle cap printing exercise, the Dumpling’s unstudied approach uncovered another technique that didn’t occur to me. She just stamped and re-stamped over and over again—often on the same spot, which gave her raspberries a layered effect!

This project taught me that I should act more like a kid sometimes. I tend to over-think, over-plan, and over-analyze…while my toddler just does it. She keeps trying and experimenting until she runs out of paper or paint, whichever comes first. While my artwork often turned out as expected, the Dumpling’s carefree method often led to serendipitous effects. In the end, it was my toddler who taught me a thing or two!

* The printables look differently than my photos because my fruits were all initially free drawn; the templates were created after.

Tissue Paper Cherry Blossoms

It seems like I’m have developed an obsession with tissue paper lately. When I saw this pretty cherry blossom piece on Pinterest, I knew the last of my tissue paper tiles leftover from my suncatcher project will have ANOTHER life…just in time for Chinese New Year and spring too!

This turned out to be a great “big kid” project with the Dumpling because it involved multiple steps (technically two, but that’s double the number she was used to following!). Each step also allowed room for exploration (read: deviation) and the end result would still look fabulous. Below is my tutorial modified specifically to working with a two year old.

Materials

  • Printout of a cherry blossom branch (Note: I hand drew mine because I still don’t have a printer yet. I used brown and black washable markers, then traced the drawing with a wet brush to replicate a watercolor vibe. The link of the printout is to an external website.)
  • Red, pink and/or white tissue paper cut into approximately 2-3 cm tiles
  • Glue
  • Plastic tray (optional)

Step 1: Crumple the tissue paper into little balls

I showed the Dumpling how to crumple the tissue paper with her fingers and in the palms of her hands. Unlike the tiny beads needed for the mosaic hearts, the balls can be tight or loose for this activity—both work and produce different effects.

Step 2: Glue the crumpled tissue paper onto the branches

To prevent the Dumpling from going overboard with the glue, I poured a thin layer into a plastic plate, asked her to dip the crumpled tissue paper in, and replenished the glue as needed.

It was a game of chance where the Dumpling pasted on the flowers but I did try to direct her attention to the branch ends where they would naturally cluster. When she missed the tree entirely, I complimented on how lovely the falling petals looked. I also occasionally rotated the paper so she didn’t concentrate too much in one area.

When I felt there were enough florals on the tree (which was entirely based on personal preference), we concluded the activity by admiring the tree in full bloom. Yay!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Mosaic Hearts with Tissue Paper

On Valentine’s Day eve, I realized that the Dumpling didn’t have a card for daddy… which really meant that I didn’t have a card for jigg. While it would be easy for me to cut and paste something together, I wanted the Dumpling’s involvement since the card would be from the both of us.

I still had a bag full of tissue paper tiles left over from my suncatcher project, so I re-purposed them into beads to make mosaic hearts.

Materials

  • Tissue paper cut into approximately 2-3 cm tiles
  • Glue
  • Heart cutouts approximately 3-5 cm wide
  • Plastic tray (optional)

Instructions

Step 1: Roll tissue paper into tiny beads

I made approximately 40-50 beads per heart, but the number would vary based on the size of the tissue paper tiles and heart cut out.

Step 2: Apply glue generously on one side of the heart

I spread a thin layer of glue onto a plastic tray and instructed the Dumpling to put the hearts in. Naturally she smeared them around so they picked up a generous amount of adhesive. I  then quickly took the hearts out with the sticky side facing up and hid the glue.

Step 3: Cover the sticky side of the heart with tissue paper beads

I asked the Dumpling to pour the beads on the hearts.

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Alternatively I placed the heart inside a plastic container with the beads, closed the lid, and asked the Dumpling to shake.

As always, I was on the sidelines filling in large gaps where the glue didn’t pick up the beads and making sure the Dumpling didn’t rip the tissue paper off once they were glued on. She actually was too busy pouring the beads from one container into another to pay much attention to the hearts at this point.

Once the hearts dried, I glued them onto a card. We love you, daddy! Happy Valentine’s Day.

Make Lantern Favor Boxes From Red Envelopes

The Dumpling’s playgroup recently asked all of the parents to bring in treats for a Chinese New Year party. Me being…well, me, I spent more time thinking about the presentation and packaging than what to actually bring. It just so happened that jigg brought home packs of red envelopes from work, so I decided use them as the base material for the project. I remembered making paper lanterns when I was a kid—with a bit of tweaking on my end, they turned out to be great goody bags!

Materials

  • Large red envelopes made out of quality paper (avoid the flimsy, small envelopes—they won’t be sturdy enough)
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Directions

Step 1: Cut off the envelope as indicated in the picture below. Discard the envelope flap on top and the very thin strip on the bottom. There are now three pieces to work with: the large piece will form the body of the lantern; the medium piece will form the base; and the small one at the bottom will form the handle.

Step 2: Fold the large piece of the envelope in half horizontally. Optional: Make a vertical fold down the middle to mark where the center is.

Step 3: Cut strips starting from the bottom (folded side) to form a fringe but stop approximately 2 cm from the top edge. Do not cut all the way through! (Tip: To get more evenly spaced strips, first cut down the middle along the vertical fold to create two halves, then down the middle again to create quarters, then down the middle again to create eighths.)

Step 4: Unfold the envelope and fluff the strips outward.

Step 5: Using the small piece of the envelope (from Step 1), open it up like an “O” and glue both sides to the top edge of the lantern.  Optional: Cut open the “O” to adjust for a longer strap before gluing.

Step 6:  Using the medium piece of the envelope (from Step 1), cut open the folds on both sides to create two strips.

Step 7: Glue the strips into a cross shape and loosely fold the flaps to the size of the lantern’s bottom base. 

Step 8: Glue the flaps to the inside bottom of the lantern. The base would most likely not be a perfect fit, so adjust the flaps before the glue dries as a workaround.

Step 9: Fill the inside with several pieces of bite size candy or chocolate coins. Be careful not to overload the lantern—the weight capacity would be dependent on the strength of the paper stock and glue.

Tip: I churned out over a dozen goody bags during the Dumpling’s nap time. The trick to mass producing these quickly is to make one lantern from beginning to end to get familiarize with the process. Then I did everything in assembly line fashion—meaning, I did all of Step 1, then all of Step 2, and so forth.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Colorful Ice Hearts

The Dumpling recently painted on ice as an activity in one of her playgroups and absolutely loved it. To replicate the activity at home with a Valentine’s Day twist: I set out to make heart shaped ice. I didn’t have ice molds, so I experimented using my trusty cookie cutters instead—seems like I have done everything except bake with them!

Materials

  • Shallow plastic tray that is bendable (I upcycled a plastic food tray)
  • Plastic heart cookie cutter
  • Water

Instructions

Step 1: Pour several millimeters of water into the plastic tray with the cookie cutter inside. Please note that using too much water will make it hard to break off the excess ice later.

Step 2: Freeze on a flat surface.

Step 3: Gently break off the ice along the outside edge of the cookie cutter. The entire sheet of ice should come off the tray easily but be careful not to remove the cookie cutter.

Step 4: Put the cookie cutter back in the tray and add more water to the inside of the mold. It’s okay if some water leaks out. Optional: Add the ice that was broken off from the previous step to create a jagged effect.

Step 5: Freeze on a flat surface.

Step 6: Clean off the ice around the heart and gently wiggle/bend the mold free. If it’s stuck, wait a minute and try again.

Activity Ideas:

Color the Ice

Instead of painting directly on the ice, I also sprinkled salt over it at the start of the activity. Salt lowers the ice’s freezing temperature, so crevices will form where the ice starts melting. When the Dumpling painted food coloring on, the colors ran into the cracks for a beautiful effect.

Once the ice started turning brown, I rinsed it with water for a clean slate again.

Color with Ice

Once the ice soaked up enough food coloring, I asked the Dumpling use it as an “ice crayon” to color with it on paper.

Or just add food coloring before freezing.

Making Tissue Paper Suncatchers With a Toddler

I love asking for the Dumpling’s help in my arts and crafts because it’s a great way for us to work together…even if she’s more troublesome than helpful most of the time. Now that she’s older, I began involving her in more steps throughout the process whereas in the past, she was only responsible for only one task (or the entire activity consisted of only one task).

One of the first “big girl” projects we did was making suncatchers out of tissue paper for Valentine’s Day. There are many tutorials online—I just tweaked and combined steps from various ones to suit the needs of working with a two year old.

Materials

  • Tissue paper cut into squares
  • Scissors
  • Plastic tray or plate (make sure it’s bendable)
  • Elmer’s glue diluted with equal amounts of water

Notes Before Starting

Whenever the Dumpling is involved, I always do the prep work behind the scenes beforehand. For example, I had the tissue paper cut and the glue diluted at the start of the activity to avoid dealing with my daughter growing impatient.

I brought out only the supplies needed at each step. For example, I had the tray and tissue paper out during step one and kept the glue hidden until step two. Otherwise the Dumpling would fidget with the glue prematurely.

I also learned that activities often don’t go as planned with a toddler. If I ask the Dumpling to do X and she ends up doing Y, then Y it is! Even though it’s frustrating at times, I have come to accept that exploration is more important than results at this stage.

Step 1: Layer the pieces of tissue paper onto the plastic tray

This was actually a good exercise for the Dumpling to practice her fine motor skills since the tissue paper required gentle handling—she crumpled and ripped a few, but casualties were expected. I was on the sidelines spreading clumps apart, filling in thin areas, and putting the pieces back into the tray because she kept taking them out after she was done.

Step 2: Drench the tissue paper with the glue mixture

I put the diluted glue in an old plastic sauce container for the Dumpling to pour in. To prevent her from taking the now wet tissue paper out (yep, she was still at it), I took the tray away immediately and thanked her for a job well done. Yay!

Yes—that’s it. She helped with two steps.

Step 3: Let the tissue paper dry completely and peel off

The entire sheet should come off easily without tearing.

Step 4: Cut into hearts or other desired shapes

The Dumpling was quite pleased with the results, but it took her a while to realize that these are fragile (the epiphany came after destroying the fourth one) and needed to be handled with care.

Craft Idea #1: Instead of taping the hearts on a window like traditional suncatchers, I strung them into a mobile and hung it inside the Dumpling’s tent.

Craft Idea #2: Use them in Valentine’s Day cards.