What to do in lockdown when the garden has been weeded to within an inch of its life and you’ve done as much housework as you consider necessary? Well over the last year we’ve accumulated a small pile of bunny blockers that don’t quite make the grade. Perfectly useable but slightly wonky or with a fault in the wood on the reverse side. Louise came up with the cunning plan to decorate them and I got a bit hooked. Who doesn’t like a bit of glueing, sticking and crayoning in?
As I haven’t set foot in a shop for the last three months all the materials had to be found around the house, even so I came up with four ideas and if you have a stash of art materials there must be even more.
In addition to the decoration you’ll need a water resistant coat. For our standard blockers we use Libron Beeswax with turpentine this worked well on the flat decorated rabbits. For those decorated with paper or fabric I gave them a couple of coats of wood varnish. A matt varnish would have been better but a very elderly tin of gloss was all I had.
Make a test on the back of the blocker to see if your decoration reacts with the finishing coat. I was a bit gung ho but didn’t find any problems. Once the top coat is done leave it for a good few hours to dry before use.
All the rabbits come pre-sanded but you may need to lightly sand the edges and any odd rough patch with fine sandpaper. Wipe over with a soft cloth and if the cloth catches anywhere sand those areas again. Once that’s done you’re ready for the fun bit.
So as they say in all the best recipes, ‘first take your rabbit’.
Mr McGreggor’s Nemesis
All you need for this bunny is a standard black biro and the ability to doodle. Start off with light marks until you work out how much definition you need, but with this full-on doodle small mistakes didn’t notice once the rabbits started to multiply. If you’re cautious or if a mistake in your design would be obvious pencil it in first. Erase unwanted lines in your pencil draft with sandpaper rather than a rubber which could leave smudges. To be on the safe side I left the biro ink to set overnight.
This rabbit was finished with two coats of our standard bee’s wax, leaving a couple of hours to dry between coats. Then I buffed the surface with an old clothes brush, you could use a smooth rag or really fine, 0000 grade steel wool. “Bunny Buffing’ is the technical term as coined by Louise.
Has anyone read Miss Mapp by E.F. Benson? Miss Mapp and Diva Plaistow both decorated old frocks with cut out chintz flowers in an effort to out-smart each other – and spend no money. This idea is pinched from them.
First give the sanded blocker two coats of standard matt emulsion. Then using small, sharp scissors cut out sections of pattern from very finely woven fabric. I used a piece of Liberty Tana Lawn, just avoid anything with a loose weave.
Dab the back of the fabric with P.V.A glue, position in place with the help of tweezers and smooth down with a small dry brush. I took a photograph of the layout before I started as I knew I wouldn’t remember the positioning.
This blocker was given a couple of coats of varnish to finish.
Really this should be called stealth bunny as once I’d photographed him hanging in a tree he looked camouflaged. Use any fairly thin paper for this. I would have loved an old comic like The Beano or pages from a vintage children’s book, all I could find was a gardening book a bit thick but it still worked well.
Tear the paper into small random pieces tearing around any images or words you want to keep. Lay them four or five at a time upside down on waste paper and dab the backs with P.V.A. glue diluted half and half with water. Leave for a few minutes to soften so they will mould to the shape of the rabbit. Start gluing at the top of the blocker and work down. Where the paper needs to mould round a strong curve clip the edges before bending them round.
Cover the front and then leave to dry before covering the back.
Because my paper was slightly thicker than it should have been I very lightly sanded a few sharp edges when it was throughly dry before giving it a couple of coats of varnish.
Here’s a chance to dust off your coloured pencils. I’m not particularly artistic so I copied parts of the cover of my notebook. Thank you Dee Harwicke for the inspiration.
First give your blocker a wash of matt emulsion diluted heavily with water. I did a few practice strokes on the back and found I needed to add more water than I anticipated. When dry go over lightly with the sandpaper as the diluted wash will have raised the wood grain.
Sketch in the rough outline of your design then go to town with your newly sharpened coloured pencils. In the end I didn’t really follow my guidelines so I sanded them out.
This one was given a wax finish, the red pencil did bleed very slightly but that only added to the soft washed effect.
Just a few ideas for decoration, there’ll be plenty more, remember your socks should be just damp, not wet before blocking – no soggy socks!