Twenty Minute Makes

Remember the ‘Ninety Minute Makes’ post? Well, while I was in New York, I had an e-mail asking me to come up with another activity for the autumn craft night just a week later. As before, it would have to be inexpensive and achievable for both beginner adults and older children, with fairly foolproof results. Also, someone else would be demonstrating how to recycle a man’s tie into a mobile phone pouch and if the crafters wanted to have a go at both activities, mine would need to be super quick.

Back in July, a friend and I went to the CreateandCraft TV Summer Crafting event.  This was one of the best value shows I have ever been to, just £5 entry with lots of goody-bags and free ‘make-and-takes’. Here she is with Jenny from the Great British Sewing Bee making a fabric corsage.


The point is, these were all quick makes, suitable for a mixed crowd, so perfect ideas for our craft night. One of my favourite demonstrations had been by the extremely enthusiastic MDFMan who showed us how to cover blank shapes with scrapbooking papers. Here’s how mine turned out.

IMG_2640They are so easy and effective with no special kit required. Pick the right paper and it does all the work for you. MDF blanks come in all sorts of shapes and sizes so you could develop the idea for clocks, boxes, letter racks etc. I paid well under £4 for a bag of 10 large shapes with pre-drilled hanging holes. The MDF Man is demonstrating at shows throughout the UK at the so do check his website or Facebook page for where to see him in action and have a rummage through the shapes on his stall.

I tested the instructions for the technique as far as I could remember on my nine-year old ‘volunteer’ before going live at craft night. First she chose her favourite paper. We used good quality thick scrapbooking paper but wallpaper off-cuts might be worth a try too if you wanted to co-ordinate a colour scheme.


Squeeze on a dollop of PVA glue (I like Anita’s Tacky Glue) and spread it evenly around. The MDFMan swears that fingers alone work best for this! Just have a pack of baby wipes handy to keep your work clean.


Put the MDF shape face-down on the paper making sure there’s no creases. Make sure your paper is on a clean flat surface and of course the right way up! (If you are more discerning than us, you might want to consider where your areas of pattern will fall, or how you can arrange shapes for minimal paper waste). Give the shape a little wiggle to help it stick.


Next cut roughly around the shape. No need to be neat about this at all.


The paper edges get their neat finish by sanding. We wrapped a 6 inch ruler with some sandpaper. Fine or medium grade seemed to work well.


Hold the ruler at 45 degrees to the top surface and sand the paper off in a downwards motion. Don’t see-saw or this will lift the paper up. You can be pretty rough with it and the paper will drop of itself leaving an impressively neat edge. (Apparently it’s impossible to complete this stage with your mouth closed!) If you have any awkward angles on your shape, then a nail file might be helpful to get into the grooves.


While the glue is still wet, poke a blunt stick gently through the hole from the back to the front. A thick darning needle worked well. Then turn it over and wiggle from front to back (the needle that is, not you!) IMG_3721

You might decide to cover both sides of the shape. My volunteer decided she wanted to and repeated the steps above.

If you want to give the surface a more distressed look, you can give it a gentle rub with a sanding sponge. This tends to look more effective if you concentrate around the edges and particularly when you use darker papers. Do be careful that the paper is not still wet though, especially if you overdid the glue or you could drag chunks of the surface off.

That darning needle will come in useful again once you have chosen your hanging thread. IMG_3724

Then you can embellish the surfaces however you like. You could sponge colour around the edges if you don’t like the edge of the MDF or want a more antique effect. We kept ours simple this time, just with little ribbon bows stuck or tied on. At the show I also bought some Christmas bauble shaped blanks. They will definitely be getting some extra sparkle and bling when we have a go at them in a month or so and I like the idea of stringing them up together like bunting.

Here’s the finished heart below, along with a couple of others I used to demonstrate on the night. I’m pleased to report everyone who had time wanted to make a second after they had finished their first one.IMG_3726 IMG_3727 IMG_3728


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