Newest Review: ... not cost effective. My favourite metallic pipe cleaners are from Paperchase. The packet has ten each of gold, silver, red, green and blue.... more
Your sparkly flexible friends!
Tinsel Pipe Cleaners
Member Name: tina_teaspoon
Tinsel Pipe Cleaners
Advantages: Very flexible and can be smoothed and rebent if required, lovely festive colours.
Disadvantages: Hard to sew onto fabric, the ends can be a bit sharp.
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.
Summary: Great fun for making Christmas decoration with!
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