This craft is inspired by Simone’s super-cute kittens and the fact that we are all a bit cat obsessed in our household too! Inspired by the kittens playing together, cuddling up together and climbing all over each other as kittens do, my original idea for this craft was to make a set of nesting cats – similar to the traditional Russian Babushka dolls – in the end I didn’t quite have enough pots of differing sizes that would ‘nest’ or ‘stack’ (although I did have a couple – see tutorial below), so I’ve adapted the craft to include cat planters – feel free to do either version of this craft, or both, if you fancy!
The basic idea is to upcycle old plant pots that are no longer in use, and turn them into cats or just cat faces – that can then be re-used as a planter, or re-purposed as something else – maybe a pen pot, or little jar to collect bits ‘n bobs, or, as mentioned above, turned into a ‘babushka’ style nesting & stacking decoration or toy (you will need pots in varying sizes that can ‘nest’ inside one another for this option).
This craft involves paper-mache which I always find to be a great craft for summer, since it can be left to quickly dry outside in the warmth on a sunny day. It’s also great as an activity to be enjoyed outside sitting on a warm but shady patch of grass.
I have found over the years that some children don’t always enjoy the sensation of paper-mache – the sticky, wet and cold feel of it can be frustrating (whilst others will really enjoy the ‘messy play’ feel of it!). Some adult help can come in handy if this is the case for your little ones, however, engaging even a little in wet/messy craft like this can also offer an opportunity to gain some gentle exposure and building up a kind of ‘tolerance muscle’ for these kinds of uncomfortable physical sensations – this can then open the door to other art and craft activities that might also have an off-putting sensory element. I personally find paper-mache quite grounding as it is quite a fluid medium, possible to shape and layer, and we always tend to work on the floor whenever we play with this medium (you might want to pop down an old sheet or a messy-play mat).
Whilst we were covering our pots for this activity, my daughter asked me why we had to cover them in paper-mache. I thought that was a useful question!
There are a few reasons – firstly, if the pots are a bit old and broken, any cracks can be easily covered over, and once the paper-mache is dry, the pots will be firmer, stronger, and reinforced. Secondly, using paper-mache also means that it’s possible to securely join the ears, and as you can work in 3 dimensions with paper-mache, you can build the ears up to have any desired effect you like – they could be thick, thin, bumpy/quite 3-dimensional, flat… you can also build other features in 3d (feet, tail, muzzle etc) if you wish, thus bringing you creation to life a little. Also, when it comes to painting and decorating these plastic pots – painting directly onto the pot can give really variable results. Even acrylic paint easily peels and scratches off of a surface like the plant-pots without any covering. The paper-mache ultimately makes it much easier to paint and decorate the pot. You could decopatch the pot to decorate it without the need for any paper-mache, but you would need quite a few layers to hide the original pot and build up the ears.
You could choose to base your cat design on any of your own beloved kitty companions, or you could just get creative and play around with lots of different designs (you could even make different animals!). You could do different fur colours, different base colours, paint some fur, or just use abstract patterns to denote fur. Also, you can play around with the eyes – you could take inspiration from Kawaii and Anime art, and experiment with the size of the eyes in relation to the face, as well as whether they are open or closed. If you want to go for a cute effect – explore some Kawaii expressions on paper first and then translate them onto your cat/s.
Once you have finished your pot/planter designs, and added summer holidays activity could be to plant something like a sunflower seed and watch it grow, or take cuttings from another plant and re-pot into your planter.
Wishing you a wonderful summer with plenty of warmth and…
© 2021 Abigail Cole, find more creative ideas at Abigail’s website Forgetful Fairy Art Studio.
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