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Pipe cleaners are surprisingly useful for childrens crafts and after thinking up a craft idea for a preschool craft I found it was not that easy to find decent tinsel pipe cleaners. I wanted gold pipe cleaners only but found I had to get a variety of colours because the only gold ones had 10 in a pack for £2. As I needed two each for forty children it was not cost effective. My favourite metallic pipe cleaners are from Paperchase. The packet has ten each of gold, silver, red, green and blue. They bend really easily and I have never bent a pipe cleaner which has broken. The ends are not too sharp but are still not recommended for children under 3. I have cut these but it is quite hard so I don't use my best scissors. Unlike other brands the tinsel stuff doesn't fall off and cover the floor with shiny plastic. They are 29cm long which is a decent size but it doesn't always feel long when it is bent a lot. It is a standard size for a pipe cleaner though. They are sold in a clear plastic packet of 50 for £1.50. I always use these at home but for preschool, as we don't have Paperchase I had to buy Craft Planet as it was the only option. I ended up buying Craft Planet for around £1.30 for 50. They are the same colours as the previous ones and the only difference is the length of the tinsel stuff on the wire. I would have much preferred Paperchase as they are much better quality. I have used pipe cleaners to make arms and legs on angels at Christmas, stars for christmas decorations, shapes for cards and I am currently using them for wheels on a carriage. I would definitely recommend these for childrens crafts. It's surprising how much use you can get from a bendy piece of wire.
Its very handy to keep a small stash of craft supplies at home as you never know when the kids will turn up, moaning that they have art home work they should have done last week, but didn't! Over time you come to learn that situations like these are not one offs and so having a few handy items put away is a great way of making mole hills out of mountains. Its wise to keep, glues and glue sticks, assorted papers, Berol pens, water colour pencils, fine liners and high lighters, sticky ribbons, pom poms, crayons, glitter glues and of course a selection of pipe cleaners. If you always keep a small capsule craft box, then you won't find yourself wondering how you are going to make a 3D sparkly green monster before serving dinner, in order to placate the naughty school pupil, who ought to have made one last week.....especially.......as its due in tomorrow! ********************************************************** So with that in mind I am full of praise for twisty, bendy, flexible, glitter pipe cleaners. There is some thing about the fact of them being sparkly that makes them very pleasing to the eye. Kids love them, as they are full of in your face colour and are not afraid to stand out and make a statement. Tinsel pipe cleaners are very versatile and can be used in any number of projects. We have used them to help make the frame of the afore mentioned sparkly green monster. They worked really well and once his body was shaped he was padded out with pom poms and green crepe paper, till he was a ferocious looking beast indeed. ********************************************************* Another great way to use these is for xmas decorations to go on the tree. Kids love anything christmassy and if you have one of those small 2ft tinsel trees, they look great when covered in lots of tinsel pipe cleaner decorations. They can be bent into lovely silver and red twirly candy canes to hang over the tree branches. The pipe cleaners can also be made into spherical cage shapes which hold a number of pom poms, these can then be hung on the tree, instead of shop bought baubles. The crowing glory of course is always the xmas star for the top of the tree and these tinsel pipe cleaners can look lovely when used this way in gold and silver. ********************************************************* Most of the pipe cleaners are 30cm in length and 6mm thick. They come in a variety of colours. We have had purple metallic, red metallic, silver, blue metallic, gold and green metallic pipe cleaners, although I haven't seen any pink ones I m sure they must make them somewhere. There are also giant sized versions which are 50cm long and twice as thick at 12mm in width. They are just as easily twisted and turned into shapes and can be trimmed with craft scissors or a wire cutting tool. They are perfect for use when crafting and can be used in lots of new and interesting ways. They come in various pack sizes, from one colour packs of 25 pipe cleaners for £1+, to bigger variety coloured packs of 100 for £4 or so. ********************************************************** They come sealed in clear plastic so that you can see what you are getting and very often they can be picked up in 99p shops. The larger sizes do cost more and as ever its wise to shop around for these. Anyone thinking of getting a few of these may want to look here; http://www.littlecraftybugs.co.uk/index.asp The site has an amazingly good variety of pipe cleaners and other craft items within their range. Tinsel pipe cleaners should only be used with adult supervision if young children are using them, as there may be some cutting and trimming involved. When used carefully they are pretty safe to use. Over all I think Tinsel Pipe Cleaners are a sparkly 5 star item.
A couple of years ago I decided to make a material advent calendar for a lovely little girl I babysat for. My idea was fairly straightforward- I wanted two large pieces of fabric with loops along the top so they could be hung on a pole. The first piece of fabric would have 25 numbered pockets, and in each pocket, there would be a little finger puppet from the nativity. The second piece of fabric had a fabric stable and manger on it, and was dotted with lots of pieces of velcro. On each day, the child could remove a finger puppet, and place it onto the nativity scene wherever they wished (I had put velcro on the back of all of the puppets). As the days rolled by, she was then able to play with more of the finger puppets. As with all good angels, mine would need halos. I had planned to make these using sparkly pipe cleaners, but I hadn't realised how hard it would be to find them! Usually The Works or Early Learning Centre would have sold these- in fact I have definitely seen them in The Works since I was hunting for them. I thought I was going to have to use normal white pipe cleaners and attempt to cover them in glitter as a last resort! However ebay saved the day, and I was able to get my hands on a pack of 50 of these pretty tinselly pipe cleaners for £3.99 plus postage. The ones I got were made by Berol, but other brands are available, usually for much less. The Works were selling them for 99p a few months after I was trying to find them (that is always the way!). They come in a range of super sparkly colours- obviously you get silver and gold, and I've found these to be the most popular colours, and green and red were also useful, particularly during the festive season. I struggled to find uses for the blue ones, however, and in fact I suspect I still have some of these left now! For anyone who hasn't used a pipe cleaner before, the name comes as these were originally invented for actually cleaning out tobacco from inside a pipe! Pipe cleaners for this purpose are usually white though, and without the sparkles! The great thing about pipe cleaners in terms of using them for crafts is that they are very bendy. This makes them invaluable for a wide range of crafting projects, as there isn't really a similar product on the market that does the job. I found them perfect for making my angel halos. It can take a bit of practice to get the pipe cleaners to bend in the shape you are trying to achieve, but they are very easy to remould if you need to make any alterations. I found them a bit difficult to sew onto my angels, as the middle of the pipe cleaner is too tough to get a needle through. I ended up glueing them on and then sewing them on as tightly as I could to minimise the risk of them coming lose. I was really pleased with the finished effect of my angels, and felt that these fabulous tinselly pipe cleaners added a lovely finishing touch. I only had two angels in my nativity (I do realise strictly speaking there should only have been one, but I had 25 spaces to fill! I also wanted to make two angels so that the little girl could play with the finger puppets with her sister, and I didn't want any fighting over who could be the angel!). You may have noticed the only pack of pipe cleaners I could get hold of contained 50 of them! This then left me pondering what to do with the remaining 48... I popped them in my babysitting bag, and made some lovely Christmassy things with the little girl over the next few visits. We made some simple but effective tree decorations using two pipe cleaners. By cutting them each in half, we made a cross shape using two pieces, which can be simply twisted toegther, and then a second cross and a 45 degree angle to the first one, which again we attached by simply twisting the pipe cleaners. These was duly decorated with lots of glitter glue and other sparkles to transform them into snowflakes, and I tied a cotton loop to the top so that they could be hung from the Christmas tree. With a lot of patience, we also made a little Christmas tree using the green pipe cleaners for her dolls house! The little girl came up with some very innovative uses for them herself, and she made "paper" chains, and some icicle decorations for her room. She really enjoyed playing with them, and because they can easily be smoothed out and rebent if they didn't form the shape she was wanting, she was able to get stuck in and not get frustrated that things weren't working the way she had hoped. Pipe cleaners are not suitable for very young children, as the ends can be slightly sharp, and they're probably not a very good thing to chew either! The little girl I used them with was seven, and she seemed a perfect age, as she was able to get stuck in with them without it seeming babyish for her. I would therefore really recommend tinselly pipe cleaners. They are particularly suitable for Christmas time, as their festive colours lend themselves to a wealth of Christmassy projects. They can be a fun material for children to use to create their own designs and shapes, and because they can be easily re-shaped until you achieve your desired look, there is no need to get frustrated with them! These are a great addition to any child's craft box.