Bubble Day! A sensory and printmaking adventure

Why is playing with bubble wrap so addictive? There's something about those squishy little bubbles of air. They just beg to be popped.

When we received a postal delivery encased in metres of pristine bubble wrap, I couldn't bring myself to bundle the packaging straight in the bin. There had to be a way we could re-use it for playtime fun. 

So, I declared it "Bubble Day."

First, I cut some of the bubble wrap into smaller pieces.

I put out three flat disposable plastic plates, and spread some paint thinly in each one, using a brush. You could use a foam roller if you wanted a perfect result.

I chose harmonious colours in ocean hues. Harmonious colours are next to each other on the colour wheel. If that sounds too complicated, just think of the order of a rainbow, and choose three colours in a row. For instance, you could choose red, orange and yellow. Or, like I did, green, blue, and purple. When you use harmonious colours, they look good even when you blend or overlap them - they don't clash with each other.

Pat the bubble-wrap onto the paint. (Bubble side down!)

Then pat it onto the paper.

Peel it off! Ta-da! What a fun texture to print with.

We kept printing, alternating the colours and overlapping the prints. The kids were quite fascinated by the patterns they could make this way!

The artists took a few bubble-popping breaks along the way...

Here's a finished print! I had a plan in mind for these - I'll share the gorgeous result next week.

While the kids were printing, I set up another little activity for them. I cut long strips of bubble wrap and laid them in a path on the floor. (If I did this again, I'd tape the strips down.)

Then the kids took turns being blindfolded and had to follow the path, using their feet to feel the way. I told them there was a treasure waiting for them at the end!

They loved the sensation of walking barefoot along the bubble wrap! It was quite hard for them to stay on the path. It was a really good exercise in balance and sensory awareness.

At the end of the path they each discovered a bubble wand, hidden beneath a pile of cushions. Of course, we took them straight outside and got playing!

I just love the facial expressions. Such delight at watching the bubbles be caught by the breeze and whisked up into the air.

Meanwhile, son #2 was busy playing with some bubbles of his own....

It's the simple things, right?

Next week I'll share the gorgeous craft we made using these bubble prints as a base! I also have a couple of big room reveals coming up. Stay tuned!

Let's chat: What is it about bubble wrap, anyway? Any other closet bubble-wrap addicts out there...?


Kids art gallery wall with chalkboard frames

If you took my home tour a couple of weeks back, you'll already know that I promised tutorials, and lots of 'em. And today I'm kicking things off with one of my favourite little DIY projects to date.

But first things first... I really need to say THANK YOU. 

I was completely blown away by the response to my book launch last week. It was almost overwhelming. I have to admit, as excited as I am to have SO many new subscribers on board (over one thousand people signed up in the space of just three days!), a part of me started feeling a little nervous about things. I mean, gosh. That's an awful lot of people. I started having those thoughts. You know... the whole... what if they don't like my blog after all? Heck, what if they don't like me?

So then I had to give myself a little talking-to. I mean, did I or did I not just write a whole book about NOT doing the I'm probably not good enough thing?

Um, yes. Yes I did. 

So, with a deep breath, I'm going to keep doing exactly what I'm doing. Because all I can offer is myself. That's all any of us can do. And truly, that's enough.

If you're new here? - I'm so honoured and thrilled to have you as part of this community. I hope you'll hang around, introduce yourself in the comments, and have a chat. Talking to all of you is the best part of this whole blogging thing. Seriously. I love it. 

Also, I've been hearing some lovely feedback about Your Beautiful Life and how it has already helped or resonated with some of you, and that makes my heart beyond happy. If you're enjoying the book or if you've finished it, I'd love you to drop me a line or let me know what you thought in the comments!

Okay... 'nuff sappy stuff. Onward with the tutorial!

One thing I've been dying to do since the day we moved into this house was make some sort of gallery wall for the kids' art works. We had this awkward blank wall in the playroom that was crying out for some love and attention: 

Also, the kids bring home approximately seventy pieces of artwork each per week, and I had no strategy for dealing with this influx of paper, apart from exclaiming in delight when presented with the latest masterpiece and then secretively stuffing it into the bin as soon as they weren't looking. (I know, I know. Bad mama.) Oh, I did keep some of them that were especially awesome, but with nowhere to display them they only ended up in a drawer. 

To make up for my past foibles, a bit of fuss was in order. What better way to honour a kid's Rembrandt-like efforts than to put it in a frame and hang it on the wall? Only caveat: it had to be easy to change over the artworks. These child-artists of mine are extremely prolific, after all. 

After brainstorming a few concepts, I settled on the simple idea of frames with pegs attached.

The playroom has a soft grey and white colour scheme with splashes of navy, red, green and yellow. I wanted to bring those fun colours into the gallery frames. 

I took a piece of A4 paper and two pegs to the shop to find a frame that would be the perfect size and dimension. It had to be big enough to fit the pegs and the paper, and still have a bit of margin left around the edges for effect. I found six white frames from Spotlight that were the perfect size. In case you're wondering, the dimensions were 34.5cm x 27cm inside the frame (that's 13" x 10" for my American friends.)

Once home, I removed the glass, mat-board and backing boards. Then it was time to spray-paint.

I'm not sponsored by Rust-Oleum or anything, but seriously, I should be. I love the stuff that much. I don't even bother with any other brand now. Actually, that's a lie, I had some leftover navy spray-paint in some obscure brand with a suede finish, and used that on two of the frames to save buying more. Big mistake. The hole clogged and sputtered and spat, even after my best attempts to clean it.  Paint went everywhere, except where it was supposed to. The frames ended up mottled and patchy and sticky-feeling (even weeks later - still sticky), and by the time I finished, my fingers looked like I'd murdered a giant squid with a leaking ink pen. Seriously - it was THAT bad.

The Rust-Oleum, by contrast, goes on with a factory-smooth finish, and seems to always settle flat and satiny, even if you over-spray. Plus, you don't have to prime, which is a big bonus when it comes to saving time and money. While I was at it, I also spray-painted a set of wooden pegs to match each frame.

After painting my frames, I turned my attention to the backing boards. I'd tossed around a couple of options for these - namely, painting each of them the same colour as its frame, or mixing it up and painting them a contrast colour (like a yellow backing board with a red frame.)

I wasn't in love with either option. I thought they might end up looking a bit too much like the circus had come to town. But I also didn't want to paint the backing boards white or leave them out altogether, because a lot of our art happens on white paper, and those pictures would be lost against a white background.

Then I remembered I had some Chalkboard Paint left over from another project - perfect! The black is exactly the right contrast to help the artworks pop against the wall, and I love that the kids can draw pictures there or I can leave them a fun little note if there's ever a blank frame without an artwork to fill it. (Like that will ever happen, right? But in theory - what a fun idea!)

Two quick coats with a small foam roller and some drying time later, and the chalkboards were ready to slide back into the frames.

To attach the pegs in the right places, I used a super-scientific method: I put the pegs and paper in the position I wanted them on the frame, then flipped them over and added a line of clear craft glue to the back of each peg...

... then pressed the pegs into position, and left them to dry. (Contrary to photographic evidence, I am actually married, not just engaged. I used to have a wedding ring, but no longer. I really must amend that one day...)

To make sure the pegs lined up on all the frames, without having to measure anything, I then repeated the process with a new sheet of paper and pegs, lining them up on top of the first to get the placement identical.

Here are the finished frames!

Then... time to hang them! I used command adhesive strips to keep it simple. The frames are lightweight, so that worked well.

The glue on the pegs dried fast and held firm. Even with all the squeezing open and shut to attach new artworks every couple of days, there's been no sign of them budging.

I absolutely love our new gallery wall, and the kids have really enjoyed seeing their artwork on display. It's so sweet to see the pride on their little faces when we hang their art up in a proper frame. Now, when new artworks come in, we remove an older one from the gallery and either toss it out, or slip it into a display folder to keep if it's particularly special. I have a folder for each child now, and it's fun to flip through and see their artistic skills developing. It feels good to have a system (finally!)

Our playroom is such a cheerful and functional space now. I think I love hanging out there just as much as the kids.

Cushions on window seat - One Duck Two
Yellow chevron cushion - Target
Striped Roman blinds - Masters Home Hardware
Rocking horse - Hape

Shop the look:
Just because I happen to have a cushion obsession, I naturally assume that everyone else does too... right? So I rounded up a few lookalikes for your shopping convenience. I particularly love these gorgeous colourful numbers from Zanui. (Australian delivery only). Please note: these are affiliate links, so if you click through and buy, I receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. It's a fun way to support your favourite bloggers who spend lots of time creating free content for you to enjoy.

Let's chat: Do you have a system for dealing with kids' artworks?

Psssst - I'm giving away a FREE copy of my book, Your Beautiful Life, when you subscribe to this blog! Join 1000+ other subscribers and grab your copy today by entering your email address below. Not sure? You can learn more about the book here! xo Karen

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