Thursday, April 04, 2013

Baby Chicks and Alberto Giacometti...

We have had a really good Thursday.  The vibe throughout the household has been on a high and enthusiasm    for 'doing things' has certainly risen. I am not sure quite what the reason for the change is, but if I had to guess I would suggest it was due to the sunshine.  This place really does take on a whole different feel when that beautifully bright circle is seen in the sky and its light shines with such warmth and purest joy through the windows.

We are now the very proud guardians of 5 beautiful chicks.  I will take more photos of them tomorrow when the lighting is better, but for now just take a look at these...

Isn't nature just utterly amazing?  Within a few short hours we were witness to this chick fluffing up and transforming into something totally unrecognisable to that scrawny sight that had appeared from the egg.  I don't think I will ever tire of being witness to such a miracle.

There are four very healthy and unhindered chicks.  The breed is cream legbars with are auto-sexing, meaning you can tell by their colouration at birth if they are male or female.  I think out of the five we have there are two boys and three girls.  One of the females (the fourth to hatch) appears to have curled toes on one foot and as it is causing quite severe walking issues, we are working on correcting it.  We tried to make a cardboard 'shoe' like structure to keep her toes straight for a period of time, but it didn't seem to be doing the best of jobs at keep the toes in the required position.  Now we have gone for a thin strip of bandage material being woven between the toes to keep them spread out for the time being.  Poor little girlie, but she is healthy and alert so worth fighting for.  Thank goodness for the internet and the wealth of information out there, it has been such a help when it comes to finding out what to do in such circumstances, and the children have all played a part in assisting to help the little baby.  

Alongside playing veterinary nurse to a poorly chick and ensuring all the other animals are doing ok (the dog, cat, quails, rats, budgie, hens, rabbit, and goat kids...) we managed to do a bit of arty stuff today - after giving the kitchen a good clean!

We were asked to check out a brand new to the market art kit from  If you haven't yet checked out their products, please do run along once you have read this post and take a look.  I have been a Facebook friend with the owner for a long time now and I can say that she is a genuinely lovely lovely lady.

I wasn't told what was going to be sent to us for reviewing.  I was just told that rather mysteriously it would be 'Box 1' and I was very intrigued to discover what the contents of box 1 were going to be.  I knew that it was going to be something to 'have a go at' but other than that my mind was a blank.

The boxes (we were sent 3 so we could all have a go) arrived....

The packaging was well thought out and sturdy.  Upon opening, this was what was revealed...

The contents...

**Note**  Just look at that pretty lidded jar *love*

Now, before I go any further, I will just tell you about something that utterly astounded me with this product.

My 15 year old son is not in the least arty or crafty.  I have tried a million times to get him involved in our crafting days or painting etc.  It has always been met with the same 'no thanks' response as he heads off to read a book or go online instead.  I have always wished he would join in and give it a go, but would never force the issue.  Today I asked if he fancied having a go at a bit of arty stuff and he asked what we were doing.  I explained that we had been sent the boxes and were going to be using the materials contained inside to attempt a sculpture inspired by Alberto Giacometti.  Joe asked what was inside the boxes and I listed the contents.  To my utter surprise (really, I was gobsmacked!) Joe said "Sure, that sounds like fun!"

You could have knocked me down with a flick of your finger!

As already mentioned, Box 1 is based on the art of Alberto Giacometti.  He was an artist born in Switzerland in 1901.  Although he was also a painter, he is perhaps more famous for his long, elongated, thin sculptured figures such as these...

I printed off some examples of his sculptures, including human figures, animals, and faces, for the children to use as inspiration for their own designs.

Following the instructions given in the box, we made a frame for our figures using pipe cleaners.  We then began the process of wrapping small pieces of silver foil around the pipe cleaners. We found that this strengthened the frame really well and it was soon feeling far less flimsy and more robust.  

During this process, Taisia (aged two) sat in her highchair next to us and did some sculpting of her own using playdough instead of clay.  We gave her a few pieces from the kit including pipe cleaners, a piece of silver foil and some matchsticks.  It was great to see her feeling the different textures and experimenting with them...

*Note to self*  Don't give a child chocolate Easter Egg just before a product review needing photos as clothes get mucky!

Joseph created - "Laid Back Man"...

Tomorrow he wants to tighten up the silver foil before painting, but I do love the idea.

Chelsea made 'Tilly'...

And Tiegan made this one, as yet unnamed...

Even I was eager to have a go.  This is mine so far...

Callum had a go but found it quite tricky and was too impatient to allow anyone to help him.  He wants to have another go tomorrow and has requested that I don't show his first attempt here.

Don't you think they look great together?

Can you see that little lump of clay with the matchsticks at the front?  That was Taisia's sculpture. She has called it 'Crown'.

Tomorrow we will be doing more with them. Perhaps following the instructions and painting them using the black paint provided, or some of us may attempt something different for the next stage first and then paint at the end.  I'm not sure, but will be sure to update with the finished sculptures.

I would definitely recommend these art boxes to anyone and really think they fire up the imagination and are suitable for a wide range of ages.  Obviously Taisia was a little young to actually follow the instructions but she loved playing with all the materials and expanding her sensory knowledge and manipulation techniques.  Callum at 7 found things a little difficult but he doesn't really find co-ordination easy and I think he hurried things somewhat.  I'll be interested in seeing his second attempt and what he has learnt from the first.  Tiegan at 11 just loved the whole process, as did Joseph at 15 (he was even trying to help the others as he enjoyed it so much.  I wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't make another one tomorrow).  Chelsea at 17 was engrossed with it, and I, at the age of 37, loved it.

I really like the fact that although instructions are included, you are encouraged to do your own thing and it stipulates that there is no right or wrong when it comes to art and the process of creating such.  It really did allow for freedom of expression and for children to run with their own ideas if they should wish to do so.  The other thing that we noted (and actually Chelsea remarked upon) was that the kit supplies were plentiful.  There was no scrimping on the contents and we had no fear of not having enough to complete our projects.  So often when you buy something in kit form, it appears that you may run out if not careful and I feel that hinders the creative process somewhat.  That wasn't the case with the kits from Woodland Children.

The kit has appeared to have ignited the passion for arty stuff in my family again and as we were creating the sculptures the children were asking if we could do more of that kind of thing and do a study of artists.  I think that in itself is a wonderful thing and I am thankful for the opportunity to see how the product works and what the children were able to gain from it.

The kits will be available to purchase very soon.  Check out the Woodland Children Facebook page for the latest updates.


  1. I LOVE the stick men! Took me right back to when Charley created one - I still have it standing in the corner of the shelf! :) Terrific blog posts as always Julia. All the best. x

  2. I am in love with these sculptures! What a fabulous idea!

  3. I wish I'd read this before we did our Giacometti men... I think I'm going to have to have another go, with pipe cleaners - they looks great! Thanks for the inspiration :) xx