One of the things my children got for Christmas was a crystal making kit (they got one each – I know that they’re not going to, like, share).  So on the third day of Christmas, I spent most of the day making crystals.

Here they are

The children got a bit fed up with this after the first, large, crystal solution had been made.  I like to think that my children are interested in science but most science is just waiting around for stuff to happen which hardly interest anyone.  I was tempted to leave the rest to another day but knew that I wouldn’t have enthusiasm to come back to it – plus I didn’t want a load of open packets of evil solution mixture of DOOM sitting around.

The kit includes lots of terribly serious warnings about the ingredients being terribly dangerous and / or likely to stain stuff.  The crystals also need a spot to sit undisturbed for about seven days, ideally at a temperature above 20C.  So I put them on the side in the library.

The kit came from a place called Cass Art, which is a lovely shop.

Here’s the box


At the weekend, my husband went skiing with a load of other guys so I had the children by myself all weekend.  We took the opportunity to do a picture of Jupiter for my son’s Show and Tell (which is in a week and a half).

Jupiter, Earth and a picture of the Juno probe
Jupiter, Earth and a picture of the Juno probe

The thing with stuff like this is that it needs to be something that your child can reasonably do a lot of themselves.  I bought a load of coloured card and some sheets of white tissue from that art shop Cass.  We drew around a tray that goes in the microwave when we want to use it as a convection oven for the Jupiter circle and drew around an egg cup for the Earth circle.  The relative dimensions aren’t quite right – Jupiter has a diameter which is 11.2 times that os Earth – but it was the best we could do.

To get the lines across Jupiter, we cut out strips of different coloured card and tissue and glued them onto Jupiter.  The tadpole-like shape you see is the Great Red Spot.

For Earth, my son cut out some little green blobs and stuck them onto the blue circle.  The white tissue at the top and bottom represent the polar ice caps.

Shopping for art supplies

This afternoon, my son and I popped out to Cass Art to buy coloured card and tissue paper to make Halloween decorations.

Cass Art Islington
Cass Art Islington

This is actually a brilliant shop – one I don’t go to anything like as often as I should.  It is on three floors and is beautiful in only the way a nice art shop can be.

Look at all the art stuff!
Look at all the art stuff!

The place was also rammed with families – it turns out that what middle class Islington parents do with their kids at the weekend is take them to art shops.  Seriously, there were loads of posh north London children with floppy hair and Polarn O Pyret coats.  To be fair, the basement is actually dedicated to art for children, more or less, and was a pleasure to be in.

The problem with places like bookshops and art shops is I get this warm glow whenever I am in a good one and massively overspend – because it is educational and so cannot possibly be a waste of money.  We ended up buying:

  • three massive pieces of coloured card;
  • eight bundles of coloured tissue paper;
  • new felt tip pens;
  • a Pritt stick;
  • a pack of coloured feathers; and
  • a pair of children’s safety scissors.

They also had some lovely coloured bags which my son was enthusiastic about so we bought a blue one.  It has both short handles and one long handle for going over my shoulders and is just the thing for posing at a farmers market with (if you do that sort of thing, which I haven’t recently).

£1.50 - absolute bargain
£1.50 – absolute bargain

On the way home, we passed Theorem Hair Art, which I’ve never been inside but which sells coloured hair extensions.  My son and I agreed that the dark blue ones were the best.

They sell coloured hair extensions
They sell coloured hair extensions