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Ever since man has been able to lift a club, shoot an arrow, throw a spear or wield an axe, there have been shields.

African shields are oval in shape, made with buffalo hide stretched over a wooden frame and divided in two; one half indicating which tribe the warrior belongs to, and the other half his age. Once a young man has fought, pillaged and killed, distinctive marks are added to his shield by his fellow tribesmen. Painted on with charcoal, powdered soil, ground up bones and blood, circle and semi-circle shapes feature often in shield design as they represent bravery.

1925 postcard

I designed my shields first and researched their meaning later. If you wish to a) design your own shield with b) personalized meaning, see the chart below and choose wisely. With hens legs, wooden combs and Siamese crocodiles to choose from, I kind of wish I had!

making a cardboard shield

Cardboard, sharpie, stencil and paints.


Tigers are a symbol of personal strength. Good choice!


In the garden…

1 tigers in the garden

African Shield Symbols and their Meaning




Mome Raths & Tiger Rabbits

“I find it hard to explain my art, but then it doesn’t really need explanation.
It may seem mysterious or challenging, but all you need to do is to open your
heart to the joy and excitement of a new visual experience, to accept a new
vision of a world full of the unusual, a world of the creative imagination.”
Dahlov Ipcar

deep sea farmer di

Deep Sea Farm

calico zebras

Calico Jungle

True to her word, the art of Dahlov Ipcar is unusual and creative. This one makes me feel like I’ve really fallen down the rabbit hole…

dahlov mome raths and riger rabbits

Mome Raths and Tiger Rabbits

3 leaping tiger rabbit

Inspired by this painting, we made Tiger Rabbit toothpicks. Just in time for Easter. Pop ’em in a muffin.

2 colouring tiger rabbits



 10 cropped

For the baking challenged, Tiger Rabbits on white choc topped sprinkled banana!

6 cropped

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Disney Lambert

 Charley Harper…


Nature is brutal, it’s eat or be eaten as Anaconda and Jaguar battle it out. Charley Harper makes the battle for life and limb look so elegant.


Poor cow, tongue out, eaten alive by sleek black Piranhas as butterfly peacefully flutters by.

At the moment am painting with salt and watercolours. Piranhas with gnashing ferocious little teeth.



Hole punched for daring little fingers!



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Little Indians

Were you ever a cub scout or girl guide? Growing up, I had a friend who was. By the time we were teenagers she had acquired such a skill set, she could MacGyver her way out of any situation. With each newly mastered skill she received a badge, but little did she know of the the scouts shady beginnings.

Ernest in headdress

Back in the early 1900′s, Ernest Thompson Seton owned a lot of land in the town of Greenwich, Connecticut. The local youth were not happy when he decided to fence off his vast hunting grounds (thus keeping all the wild game to himself). They retaliated by vandalizing his property. In the old ways of turning the other cheek, Sir Seton invited this local riff raff over for a weekend campout on his property. Two days, many toasted marsh mellows and Indian lore later, the boys grew fond of Sir Seton, so much so that they nick named him “Black Wolf.” These were the beginnings of ‘The League of Woodcraft Indians’ and eventually ‘The Boy Scouts of America.’

Much like my childhood friend and her treasure trove of badges, Indian tribes had their own system of badges. Their badges were feathers which were earned -acts of bravery. Each feather had special meaning. Once an Indian had accrued a good set of feathers, they would be made into a headdress to be worn with pride.

indian chief photo

My hand made stencil & screen printed Indian Headdress 


The kids colouring them in.


1 our headdress


Helen Borten illustration from Little Big Feather.

1 helen brten feathers


DIY Christmas Gift Wrap

Butchers paper. Not just a cheap and sturdy paper to wrap your chops in, but another way to add a little ‘thrift’ to your Christmas cheer. You Kris Kringlers thought you invented tight, but at $4 a roll, butchers paper is mighty cheap.

Other benefits include setting realistic expectations. Fancy wrapping makes for fancy expectations. How often have you opened a fancy little box, gently peeled back the soft white tissue paper, only to find bath bombs? Really. All that packaging for dissolvable soap.

Imagine how your family members will feel as they rip their way through that waxy, tough butchers paper to see a pair of practical black work socks await. Meets expectation, no?

2 blue holly

So consider this, next time you have handkerchiefs, candles and/ or ill fitting synthetic garments to wrap, go directly to your kitchen, pull out that roll of butchers paper and wrap away! And in the spirit of Christmas, you may even want to personalize your wrapping paper; all you need are sponge cleaning cloths, toilet rolls and paint.

christmas rolls

To keep it a little rustic looking (always thinking to set expectations), small children are good for this. Get them to do the painting and watch your gift wrap turn into a schmozzle of fingerprints and rolling holly. ho! ho!

DIY Christmas Wrapping Paper

holly 123

holly 456

2 gift wrapped ii

DIY Christmas Gift Tags.

2 flowers

Leather, Felt & Metallic Leaves.

1 making red rose

1 red rose ii

2 making white rose



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Halloween Window Display

Dancing in a red dress, out on the wiley, windy moors, Kate Bush eerily sang the haunting tale of Wuthering Heights…
Heathcliff, it’s me–Cathy.
Come home. I’m so cold!
Let me in-a-your window.

Inspired by the Emily Bronte novel and an Elena Originals Cathy Doll, I set about making a haunting Halloween window display.

cathyStarted off by sketching Cathy onto tracing paper then transferred her to brown cardboard. Used stencil knife to make a Cathy stencil.

1 draw and stencil

4 cathy stencil

Lightly glued the stencil onto a large sheet of butchers paper and made a black acrylic paint and water mix (1:10) and sprayed over the stencil. The ghost of Cathy, tormenting Heathcliff to his dying day…

6 black spraypaint cathyThe brown cardboard bled into the backing paper. Cathy was turning into a vampire!

halloween window display 2

A banner and a bunch of hanging garlic later and this is what will greet my trick or treaters this year!

halloween window display

Next post will have photos of Halloween decorations and a few how to’s. Here’s a taste..

How to make little witchy hat, click here…


1 wearing witchy hat


Cowboy Craft table

I looked down at La Mesa disapprovingly. It looked back up at me, all doe eyed and floral flanked.

Its’ beetles, bugs and butterflies sparkled silver in the afternoon light…

Deer table

Hmm. You do not do, you do not do, anymore black shoe (aptly put Sylvia Plath), however I am not talking about a black shoe, but a mesa…a table… specifically my daughter’s craft table. Appropriately whimsical when she was a toddler, her daily reminders of what a big girl she is, made me soon realize that it was time for a craft table makeover. I refurbished this table about a year ago. As she will be sharing it with a brother within weeks, it manned up in the nick of time! Out with the reindeer and in with the raw hide.


This was originally a plain pine table that I refurbished into a girls craft table: see Oct 2012 post ‘Doe a Deer.’

1 Painting table in Kosciosko pebble

Firstly I painted the table top with left over house paint (Kosciusko Pebble) and rubbed it back to a light white colour before spraying with one coat of copper coloured spray paint. Randomly rested horse shoes on table surface. In the absence of real horse shoes, cardboard stencils would suffice.

2 place horse shoes on table

With thick brush strokes, painted dark blue oil paint round the horse shoes, diluting the paint with linseed oil for quicker and thinner coverage.

3 light copper spray then paint around horse shoe

Dabbed a cloth in methylated spirits and randomly rubbed back dark blue paint on table top here and there to reveal light blue and copper colours underneath.

4 the horse shoe table

With a stencil knife and book covering contact, drew and cut out Yee-ha boots. Peeled paper backing off and placed sticky side down onto clean and dry table surface before painting stencil in with lime green oil paint.

5 cowboy shoe stencil

Just add children and chairs. H-yah!

8 six chairs around table

rawhide cowboy

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Where’s my Robot?

According to the Jetsons, the future is filled with robot maids…  where’s mine?
Jane Jetson and Rosie

I see them disarm bombs in war torn countries, they traverse the surface of Mars and manufacture cars. All very impressive but where’s my robot? Is it too much to ask for a comforting robo-maid who talks like a pack a day wise cracking waitress as she whips up my bacon and eggs, packs school lunches and waves husband out the door? Instead I live in a present where all domestic drear housework and child rearing is done by me, without the slightest whiff of robotic assistance! About a year ago, my daughter got hooked on the idea that she needed a dress up robot outfit. I hurriedly made her one from an old whipper snipper box and marker pens. It kept her happy for days. This year I wanted to attempt upgrading my robot making skills.

boy and robot


Robot stencil

Robot raw materials

1 Robot front and back labelled

1 Black and silver robot front and back labelled

1 Robot front and back with dials and ribbons

make your own robot mask

Insert child and Voila!

 robot girl


Make your own Retro Space Wrapping Paper

The jetsons and Rosie

Meet George Jetson! He lives in the future. He works a 9 hour week and travels to work in a spaceship car that folds up into a suitcase. Rosie, his humanoid robot is both housekeeper and child care, which leaves Jane his wife ample time to shop. His son Elroy has school excursions to the moon, while his teenage daughter Judy has a digital diary but no face book account: the internet does not exist. Ironically print media still does!

George jetson reads newspaper

I grew up watching re-runs of the Jetson’s. The 1960’s look and feel of the show was so playful and optimistic. For an upcoming birthday, have bought the birthday boy a Space puzzle and thought to attempt a retro style wrapping paper using hand-made stencils and paints.

retro space stencils

I made two types of paper: one in blue/green, the other in silver/aqua tones.

retro spaceships giftwrap

The two for comparison…

two retro gift wraps

I ended up going with the silver. Here it is in all its’ gift wrapped glory…

silver space 021

If only dinner were a Push button away!

mrs jetson cooking