This is a post about how bad I am with reusing and recycling. It all started when we got a dryer at the new house. As any dryer-owner knows, you are supposed to clean out the dryer lint filter after every use. That lint looks surprisingly like raw felting material. So I googled if you can actually do any crafts with it. Most results were about creating fire starters out of dryer lint but apparently there are people who use it to felt, provide material for bird nests or as a filler for cuddly toys. That last one sounded quite appealing, as I have fallen in love again with my hot glue gun and using some left-over poor quality acrylic “felt” sheets I made quite a few quirky beetle-like (the insect, not the band) stuffed toys for Loulou Maya.
So the obvious next step was to create something more elaborate. Now, Hillegom, where we currently live, doesn’t have much in terms of hip concept stores but it does have a big hobby store with a wide selection of supplies. So I left there with a bag full of FIMO (sort of clay that you can bake in the oven and it hardens) and good quality felt sheets. In other words, I bought approximately 647589324 times more new materials, in order to reuse just one clean-out worth of dryer lint. Go me!
I have been a FIMO lover since I can remember. I must have been five or six when my parents saw I was creating those very elaborate miniature furniture out of the wax that’s on the outside of snack cheeses and they got me the first set of polymer clay. And for that I am forever grateful, as playing with polymer clay is really a form of meditation for me and I am not the meditative type. Luckily for them, I have always been the miniature type though, which means that my creations would always fit nicely in small boxes and they didn’t require tons of material either. Which is a good thing ’cause good polymer clay isn’t particularly cheap. And that brings us to the one and only challenge of this project: explaining to LM that this is mama’s clay and she can only have tiny pieces and no matter how many times she tries to mix all the colors together, they will end up in a muddy gray.
I will soon stop with all the blabbing about the project and just present it to you via pictures, but first a couple of things to keep in mind, in case you decide to try and make one yourself:
- I would say it is suited for kids 3,5-4 and up. Loulou Maya (who will be 3 in June) is luckily quite good with delicate movements and not the destructive type so far, so she does play gently with the pieces, but she still needs some encouragement from me to start with the role playing.
- For the felt parts: If you have a toddler or young child that loves to test the strength of things, you might need to sew the bigger pieces together. I ‘ve gotten away with hot-gluing everything and three days later we had no damages, even though it has been played with a lot.
- For the polymer clay parts: Try and think like a toddler, if you are making it for one. Very delicate elves/fairies/tiny animals etc are highly likely to suffer from limbs and wings that will soon snap off, intentionally or not. If you love detail, try to incorporate it through patterns and different colors, not through lace-like detailed structures. I dared to give my carrots some basic leaves and two are already gone. We don’t even know when it happened. It’s just clumsy little hands playing.
- Try not to overload your playscape with details. Leave room for your kid’s imagination. Hiding places, moving parts, some different terrains are fun to have, but leave space for “events” to take place as well.
The dimensions of the playmat are approximately 40 by 35 cm with the tallest house being 20 cm including the smoke coming out of the chimney. The hand that is used to show scale in the detail pictures is mine while the person wearing the orange shirt, playing, is Loulou Maya (so you get a right idea about the scale of the whole thing).
Now onto some close-ups. These are really easy to make, I swear. They might look tricky if you haven’t worked with polymer clay/ that scale before, but they are so easy and fun, they are really worth a try.
Loulou Maya also made a bowl full of chocolates (poor kid.. deprivation at its finest..) and a pan to fry stuff. She is very proud of them and I am quite proud of her as well.
Following are some general pics I snapped during our play. It seems that what LM enjoys the most is to set up very specific scenes, that revolve A LOT around feasts. “Let’s do a picnic at the beach!”, “Let’s make a farmer’s market and then cook what they bought!”, “Let’s set up a party around the pond”. And it goes on and on…
I think it took me around 10-12 hours to do the whole thing, including cutting, gluing, clay work. It was in small chunks though and I had LM “help” me out, so my time estimation might be off. Definitely doable in a weekend in any case, if you have any birthdays coming up and are looking for a special gift.
Let me know if you try it out 🙂