Thursday, 10 April 2014

One-word mini photography project: Yellow!

I have had to juggle several different things lately and sadly this means not as many posts on here as I would like. But today I managed to get out with my camera on a bike ride and see spring sprouting in all its glory :-)

I would love to be a better photographer,, but as well as limited knowledge of technique, etc, I often dont know what to focus on when out and about. So I texted my good friend Karen Harvey, asking her to text back a one-word stimulus to base a day-long photography project around.

She texted back from a train that was travelling though rapeseed fields, saying: Yellow! So off I went with my camera into town, and out again into the countryside beyond. And this is what I found!

Bizarrely, my favourites are: the money shop, the broken voltage sign, and the straw. I love pattern and texture so it was this I was seeking out more than objects, though I think I got an even balance. The tulips one I like only because I lay on my front in the grass next to a busy road to get that shot, that was fun! Also, the one of the yellow wall next to the dual carriageway? I took that whilst riding along on my bike. The camera was held up to my eye and it was the weirdest experience trying to take a picture whilst steering a bike - I almost came off!

I loved doing this and will definitely be doing it again. Having a one-word starting place really gets you focused and looking for things to photograph. I think its best if you let a friend choose a word for you, or else have a selection of words you can pick at random. This would also be a great project to set for kids!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Origami boxes

I had an origami session one night at a youth club, and I was surprised at how popular it was with the teens, they couldn't stop making them once they knew how! But on reflection it's easy to see why this craft is so popular with all ages.

As you can see I ended up with simply loads of them. Put sweets in them, or little gifts such as earrings. If you are planning a crafty wedding, they would look great as favours on the tables for guests. Also if you make two boxes with slightly different sizes of paper, then hey presto! A box with a lid!

Step 1: Fold your origami sheet in half to make a triangle. Unfold and do the same the other way. Unfold your sheet to reveal creases as shown.

Step 2: Fold each corner into the middle, until you have all four corners meeting like so.

Step 3: Now take your square, and fold the opposite flat edges into the middle. Rotate and do this for the other set of edges until your square has shrunk as shown. This is just to make the creases necessary for the next step.

Step 4: Now fold your sheet back out until it looks like the top picture of Step 4 above. The dotted line shows the creases we are now focusing on. Fold these creases in, and as you do so, the sheet should rise up to fold neatly and make your first two corners. It's a little difficult to explain but your box should start to take shape, with the inside starting to resemble an open envelope.

Step 5: Now we're going to 'close the envelope' - that is, fold the top triangular edge down, pressing it into the bottom of the box. You need to fold the flap just where my thumb is in the picture on Step 4.

Your box should be finished! Not only is this is cheap quick and non-messy craft for kids, but also an addictive activity for adults, and useful for making parties or occasions even more special, when filled with little treats or knick-knacks. 

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Crafting and boys

I volunteer at a youth group for secondary school-aged children (11-16 years). Every week for an hour and a half in the evenings, a community centre in my city opens its doors. Some of the kids are from deprived backgrounds or have chaotic home lives. 
Boredom in these kids can be an absolute nightmare so we try to make sure there is plenty to occupy them. For some time now I've been in charge of the craft table, and I've been able to observe the impact art and craft can have on the kids that visit us. The results have been really surprising.

The girls do join in, of course, although a lot of the girls are quite happy to sit and chat, play on their phones or with a tatty card deck we put out. The boys are the ones that really seem to benefit from the craft activity, something I never would have guessed before I started going there.

Funny really, how just having something to do with your hands opens up conversation avenues. I get to chat to the kids in a way that would be much harder if I just went up to them when they are lounging on the easy chairs or round the pool table. A lot of the time, at the end of the night, the boys aren't interested in keeping the thing that they've made, they toss that night's project on the table and walk out. It seems the process itself matters more than the outcome. I don't think this is a problem, as long as they are enjoying the process of making something, that's all that matters. As I start to make a career change into teaching, all this observation is really valuable. It may not sound surprising to those that work with kids full time or have a better knowledge of the therapeutic effects of art and craft, but still, I've learnt a lot at this youth group. I struggle sometimes to think of craft ideas for boys, but I may put together a list soon of crafts I have tried with lads that have gone down well. I'd love to hear from other people with thoughts about this.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Fun with blackboard paint

Hannah, Hannah, Hannah. When did you get so bad at updating? Now Transformers Prime has finished airing I really have no excuses. Britain has been basking in hot sun which has lasted for more than five minutes. That's been nice. I also made a little something for the kitchen: a blackboard, which I've always wanted, out of an old picture frame.

All you need to make a customised blackboard of your own is the following:

  • Old picture frame
  • Blackboard paint
  • Paints for the frame (I used acrylic)

Buy an old picture frame in a charity shop, or find a disused one in the home, and chuck away the print and the glass (obviously not literally). You should be left with the frame and the wooden backing that holds the picture in.

Paint the backing board with blackboard paint, and fix it back to the frame. I think I gave mine about three coats, and that's basically it. I could try to drag out this simple upcycling post, but theres really no need. I decided to go for a fun, jolly look with the foods, plus food is colourful and kitcheny. Stripes would have looked good as well, maybe I'll sand and re-paint it when I get bored of it. Hope you're having a good summer. :-)

Sunday, 28 April 2013

My Leibster Award

About a month ago, Sabrina from Butterfly Brain nominated me for a Leibster Award. I was moving house at the time so it's only now I've got round to actually sitting down and responding to it.

So, I gathered it works like this. You write 11 things about yourself. Then you answer 11 questions put to you by the blogger that gave you the award. Then you set 11 of your own questions. Then you nominate 11 other bloggers with under 200 followers for their own Leibster Award, and in this way we all learn a bit more about each other, and there's a nice little bit of promotion into the bargain. :-) 

So, here we go...

11 things about me...

1. I'm a huge fan of transformers, as in the cartoons, though I did enjoy parts of the Bay movies. I'm lucky enough to have male friends who let me go on about the merits of having Frank Welker back to voice Megatron, and laugh with me at the crummy scripts and awesome theme tune. My girlfriends tend to nod and smile.

2. When I was a child, I used to say goodnight to all the pop stars in the posters on my walls, as well as to all my cuddly toys on the bed, before going to sleep.

3. One of my best friends is my grandmother. She's 83, and one of the biggest Harry Potter fans I know. When the books were coming out, the best thing was going to her house and discussing the plot with her. (We both guessed right about Snape.)

4. I have a goldfish called Charlie, who I've had for… wait for it… twenty years. My Grandad won him for me at a carnival, back when that was legal. He's a true friend and very beautiful, very social. He's getting a party this year in recognition of his long life. Charlie, you're awesome.

5.When I feel down, scrapbooking makes me feel better. Cutting out pictures and gluing them into a sketch book feels very cathartic.

6. One of my dreams (as in: it'll-never-happen-in-a-million-years dream) is to play Christine in The Phantom of the Opera on stage. Whenever Think of Me comes on my iPod, I immediately picture myself in a huge pouffy dress and diamonds, singing my heart out to an adoring, packed opera house. The reality would be quite different. That's why daydreams were one of God's brilliant ideas.

7. I love notebooks, and tend to buy them because they're pretty. Then I get them home and don't know what to write in them. My mum shares this trait, we are, as she puts it: Suckers for Stationery.

8. One of the best things about my course at university (I studied Illustration) was getting there and finding out other people bought books because they like the front covers.

9. I fancy loads of men off the TV and films, including but not exclusively: David Tennant, Richard E Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch, Philip Glenister (weird older man crush, it's the driving gloves he wears in Ashes to Ashes that does it) Hugh Jackman (who doesn't?) Stephen Mangan, James Nesbitt…

10. I don't know much about them, but planes and flight fascinate me. Flying lessons one day is a must before I leave this earth.

11. I can happily drink about ten cups of tea a day, easy.

Answers to Sabrina's questions...

1- What's your favorite book?

Very hard to answer, but I'd have to say A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Bennett. The prose is beautiful, and the story about triumphing over the odds gets me every time. I go back to it every few years. 

2- Have you ever wished you were born in another time period? If so, when?

Oooh, it would be a hard period, but I'd love to have lived back when Celtic tribes roamed the UK under the Romans. They were very far-thinking when it came to sexual equality, and I also cite Queen Boudicca as a source of inspiration (if you don't know who she is, look her up, and feel her awesome power). 

3- Describe your morning routine on a Saturday.

Set my alarm to get up early and make the most of the weekend, then press the snooze button for two hours. Finally get up, feeling guilty but also sort of naughtily pleased. Wander downstairs, make tea, turn on radio, check emails, then up to the studio for arty fun. 

4- What do you cook (or eat) when you don't feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen?

Beans on toast. Filling, hot, easy, delicious. 

5- What's a good movie you've seen lately?
RED, with Bruce Willis. I laughed a lot. You can't really go wrong with good old Bruce.

6- What's your favorite scent?

As in perfume? Not sure, but one of my favourite smells is cut grass, can I have that? 

7- Coffee or tea?

TEA. Tea tea tea tea tea. 

8- What is your greatest accomplishment?
My independence.

9- What is your favorite season, and why?

Autumn – I love autumn because firstly there are bonfires, colourful leaves, grey swirly skies, it's just very atmospheric. But also I always get a sense of excitement in the autumn, as if something is about to happen, or I'm about to go on an adventure. A friend said it might be because as kids we went back to school in the autumn, and the feeling remains. 

10- Are you an introvert or an extrovert?


11- What is your favorite color to wear? 

I wear a lot of navy at the moment, it's quite forgiving. To make sure it's not too boring I pile the accessories on.  

My Questions:

1. If you could be a character from a book, who would you be?

2. Are you a morning person or a night owl?

3. Favourite meal when eating out?

4. What's the best, and worst thing, about running a blog?

5. Where do you go to find inspiration?

6. Who is your hero?

7. Imagine you're a dish. Would you run off with the spoon?

8. What's your earliest memory?

9. Do you have a 'photo face?'

10. If you had a superpower, what would it be?

11. What would your ideal job be?

And my lovely nominees:

Thursday, 25 April 2013


I have moved! Welcome to the new space where Have A Go Hannah will be operating from, from now on. I have much more space and I’m scared at how easily I’ve filled it already. Also - it turns out spare rooms are perilous for dumping stuff you can’t be bothered to unpack. I need to work on that.

In other news: I hosted a St. George’s Day party which involved flags, red and green jelly and sword fights in the garden. In the UK poor St George tends to be a bit unsung, probably not helped by the fact he doesn’t have a huge beer company pouring money into his special day. Lots of people apparently write to the Prime Minister every year asking if he’ll think about letting us have the day off. So far no luck.

Next year I may share some St George tutorials with you from stuff I learnt this year - like how making a lance from cardboard seems a great idea in your head but actually all that happens is it ends up a mess of tape and floppy cardboard. We had a lot of fun though.

I’ve also been nominated for a Liebster Award, which I had to google in order to find out what it was (Thanks Sabrina, I promise I haven’t forgotten about it). Which is really lovely, and next post I’ll go along and answer the questions accordingly.  

Have a good rest of the week!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Happy Easter!

Easter will soon be here, and with that in mind, welcome to my ham-fisted attempt at painting real eggshells. Why? Because polystyrene ones feel like cheating. This craft was in an activity book I had as a child and it's one of the first crafts I remember doing. It was one craft I was desperate to do as well, perhaps because it carried a certain amount of risk and responsibility, but nothing a child couldn't handle. And the sense of satisfaction when you finished your egg without breaking it and felt the fragile, beautiful weightlessness in your hand couldn't be topped. This blog post is the first one I photographed using my new Nikon  D3100. Hooray!

You'll need:
Free range eggs
A pin
A glass bowl
PVA glue (to varnish if you want)
Cocktail sticks

So, first of all you need to make a small hole in the top and the bottom of the egg. The hole in the bottom needs to be slightly bigger to allow the egg to come out. Now the tricky bit, (and I'm NOT providing a photo of me doing this): you need to blow through the top of the egg to force the contents out into a bowl. Use the egg to make cakes, omlettes or any other egg-based deliciousness you fancy.

Now that's done, run your eggshell under cold water just to make sure all the egg is out, although what's good is that there's usually little to no residue left after you've finished blowing (stop giggling). Now you're ready to paint!

Plasti-kote craft paint came to the fore once again. Poster and acrylic paints are also fine. I sponged my eggs all over in pale colours, then painted all over using stronger tones for the patterns. I was slightly cowardly and went with simple patterns for my eggs, but I was pleased with the overall effect, especially when they're viewed altogether. 

Saying that, there are examples online that just blow mine out of the water. I'm sure with practise I'd get better, I'd also love to try other concepts, like painting portraits onto eggs like these by Brittany on Craft Phesine.

To hang your eggs, you simply cut cocktail sticks into approximate one inch sections, and tie thread around the middle. Push your stick into the hole in the eggshell, and you're left with a secure  hang for your egg.

Oh, and if you're wondering why there's only two eggs hanging in this last picture... it's because when I was trying to hang these on my wall for a nice white background, two fell off onto the floor... and smashed. Fail. At least it happened at the end of the shoot! So, to conclude... polystyrene eggs are easier, cheaper and won't break. But I still loved painting these. Try tying yours to an ornamental tree branch or hanging them somewhere safe at home. :-)