Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Making Mini Jack-o-lanterns

We collected so many chestnuts over recent weeks that we’ve been able to do lots of different Autumn crafts. One of our favourite was making mini pumkins. My son loves pumpkins, they are his favourite thing this time of year. We wanted to try to cover chestnuts in wax to use in our crafts. We used chestnuts, wax and cocktail sticks to make some of our chesnuts into mini jack-o-lanterns.

We used hot wax. Please supervise all children if you do this.

To coat the chestnuts in orange, we needed a fair amount of wax. We made a mixture of candle wax and an orange crayon which we melted in an old jam jar in a hot pan of water. Then we put the wax pot  in a large plastic tub, we stuck cocktail sticks in the chestnuts, dipped them in the wax and set them on kitchen paper. 

Dipping the Chestnut in Orange Wax

Adding the Second Coat of Wax to the Chestnut

We found the wax gave a lovely smooth finish once dry, especially when we gave the chestnuts two coats.
Contrasting Chestnuts

Mini Jack-o-lantern waiting for a face


Then we drew faces on the chestnuts with a permanent marker. They look good enough to eat! Although this is a disadvantage when around small children, I‘m hoping they‘ll look less appetising as part of a candle or wall decoration.

Mini Jack-o-lanterns sitting in a row
Tip: when you take the cocktail stick out, twist it first so that it doesn’t take all the wax with it!

This can be quite dangerous as the wax is very hot. All children need supervision.
With care and patience children learn many things about wax, shape and temperature. I loved the result and am looking forward to trying this again with other colours to suit the changing seasons.

Do you have any ideas for coating other things with wax? I’d love to read about them, and try them. Please comment and/or leave links to your blog.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Autumn Leaf Decorations that last more than a day.

Autumn is one of my favourite times of year. I love to walk through the park as the leaves fall and the sun shines through bright seasonal colours. I often collect leaves and imagine all sort of decorations for the home. Unfortunately they crumble quickly in the central heating and are left forgotten, broken and brown on the balcony. So this year I decided to find ways of keeping the memory of autumn leaves in my home longer.

I have been playing around with wax in recent weeks and we thought it would be fun to try to coat the leaves with wax. Unsure of what the result would be, we steamed ahead with an improvised candle melter. We put white candle wax in an old jam jar, put it in a pot of hot water on the cooker and watched it melt slowly. Then we put the hot wax in a litre sized plastic bucked to do the dunking.

We carefully dipped each leaf and lay it on cardboard to dry. This is quite dangerous and needs lots of supervision.
Dipping a Leaf in Hot Candle Wax

Then we simply tied the leaves to a piece of string and hung them from a lamp. Lovely.

Even a few days later the leaves look great and aren’t falling apart. They look like they may last all year.

On another day, we spent some time looking at the different shapes of the leaves and we drew around a few different ones on coloured paper. We cut them out, folding the paper a few times to make the process quicker. Then I stuck them to string to hang by the windows. The result is a simple paper decoration to cheer the windows up on dreary days.

Paper Leaves Cheering up my WIndow