I used to think I was allergic to crafting with the kids. The sheer glimpse of an errant few specks of glitter, the loom bands clogging up the Dyson, a small child’s hand mushing together multiple colours of modelling clay into a sludgy brown… it’s enough to give me heart-stopping anxiety.
That is to say that I’m not totally joyless. I’ll happily get stuck in to the once a year Easter Bonnet Making (or at least hand it off to the children’s dad on a day he visits), we’ve attempted the kitchen-made slime (never again) and have created home-made Christmas cards with the best of them.
But the fact is, when you combine my lack of creativity (I’ll spend hours crafting words but actual crafting is not where my talents lie) with my allergy to mess, my poor children are left leading fairly paint and glitter-free lives.
But I don’t want that: I want them to be able to explore their creativity, to learn through messy play and creation. Mess be damned, I want them to learn that it’s good to have fun crafting.
(That’s my story and I’m sticking to it ;)
My ‘Elfie’ masterpiece ;)
Which is where my friends at Hobbycraft come in!
I don’t know one person on this planet who doesn’t love Hobbycraft, even just a little bit. Our local branch in Milton Keynes is next door to Pets at Home – otherwise known as ‘the free zoo’ – so a half term holiday visit to this particular retail park is a great way to while away a couple of hours. The kids go mad for their crafting kits and I love to explore their storage, but Hobbycraft is so much more than that. For example, I used their flowers to decorate my Royal Wedding Lemon and Elderflower cake a couple of weeks ago, and gingerly approached my first crafting project by making these brilliant Pom Pom book marks.
Which is how I found myself in Islington on a sunny day last week, next to the perfect Instagram wall (see above!), ready to meet the geniuses behind Hobbycraft and to learn how to get stuck into more creativity with the kids.
Along with representatives from the store itself we were hosted by the brilliant Elizabeth Scarlett, who’s work you’ll probably know (even if you think you don’t – I had her pineapple make-up bag from last year, as well as the lemon one which was gifted on the day); she makes the most glorious pouches and home accessories, and has even designed a collection for ASOS.
Escaping the hot sun for some proper day-off vibes at Papermill Studios, we sipped on the most beautiful San Pellegrino cocktails (lemon San Pellegrino, vodka and mint = AMAZING) and tucked in to the best buffet spread I’ve ever seen from Grape and Fig. Then it was on to our watercolour workshop, led by Lizzie.
The Elizabeth Scarlett Lemon pouch
As someone who struggles to draw a good looking stick figure, I was a bit hesitant when it came to painting, but as I said to my fellow tablemates (hi, Coral, Lucy, Amy) – “you guys, I think I’ve found my calling!”.
OK, so I have a little way to go before I’m Elizabeth Scarlett-levels of art talent, but boy did I have the most enjoyable hour with my new watercolours. In our crazy-mad connected lives, how often do we get to spend a meditative hour being creative? Not at all: and it was a welcome break.
I painted a watercolour lemon for my mum – which is now in pride of place on a shelf in her lounge, just like when I was little – and a Princess card for Elfie. And it was so much fun.
DING DONG – isn’t this the best buffet you’ve ever seen?
We then moved on to decorating cupcakes, the ingredients for which are sold at Hobbycraft, before a final pre-departure gossip over one last cocktail.
The kids were so happy to see me come home with new skills they can make use of – we’ve had a go at watercolours together since! – and I was so proud of my attempts at art.
Watercolours and cupcakes
Thank-you so much to Hobbycraft for such a wonderful day out and for taking the fear out of crafting for me: now it’s your turn, go forth and create!