Free Paper Craft Download: Truck!

We designed this truck for the Junior League’s Touch a Truck event. Just color and cut out! We made them with moveable wheels by cutting out card stock wheels with a 2″ circle punch and attaching with brads. You could also simply trace circles to make wheels.


Bull City Craft Paper Craft Truck

Cabin Fever Crafts

Let’s face it, some crafts are really for mom and dad. You know the ones–those beautiful, Pinterest-worthy projects that require the adult to do most steps. Those craft projects are great for special occasions and grandma gifts, but for everyday crafting with toddlers, it’s about process and play. I opened my business when my daughter Frances was four months old, so she has grown up in a craft store trying all sorts of arts and crafts. Here is a list of Frances’ favorite crafts: the good, the bad, and the messy!

1. Rainbow Rice

Bull City Craft Rainbow Rice Table

Rainbow Rice is as fun to make as it is to play with. You simply mix rice with food coloring or liquid watercolor and let it dry. Make separate batches of different colors and when they are dry you mix them together. We keep Rainbow Rice in a big tub table meant for sand. Throw in some cups or containers and a few plastic lizards. Frances happily plays with this every day. If you don’t want to sweep up rice spills, set up your Rainbow Rice outdoors.

2. Paint with Water


Paint with Water pads are coloring books that are pre-printed with water soluble ink in patterns on the page. When painted with water, the color patterns blend to create a watercolor effect. We started with these and then moved on to another style that has small palettes of color on the paper that can be moistened and used to paint the coloring sheets. We have even made our own by drawing with water soluble markers and coloring with stripes or dots. Frances loves paint with water activities and I love that they are not too messy and don’t require much in the way of materials.

3. Felt Shapes

Bull CIty Craft Felt Shapes

We have buckets of leftover felt scraps. Literally. Buckets. So I started cutting out small shapes for Frances to play with. I punched holes in some of them which she strings onto pipe cleaners. I’ve also cut out letters and numbers for her. Frances loves sorting and arranging her felt shapes on a sheet of felt. She also likes to glue them to paper. She especially loves dictating new shapes to be cut– “Now make me a yellow circle, Mom!”

4. Paint Glue

Bull City Craft glue paint

A lot of toddlers love to use glue, but then they never actually stick anything onto the glue. They just love squeezing it out! So make it a bit more artful and add paint to your half full glue bottles. Frances goes a bit crazy with this one! It works best on card stock or cardboard because the puddles of different colored glue can get too heavy for regular paper.

5. Tape

Bull City Craft washi tape

Washi style tape is very popular these days and there are lots of colors and patterns available now. It is a great craft material to use with little kids. It is easy to tear or cut with plastic children’s scissors and for really little ones you can cut lots of strips and lay them out on the edge of a table for them to use. Frances loves to just stick it all over construction paper.

Don’t be intimidated by arts and crafts or have crazy expectations for the end result. Just try different materials until you find the ones your child likes, and enjoy exploring them together!

Easy Projects for Using Painted Papers

Bull City Craft: Painted Paper

At Bull City Craft, painted papers pile up. Frances paints a lot, and other children leave behind paintings from Preschool Playcraft. Sometimes the colors are so beautiful, especially the ones with liquid watercolor, that I hate to throw them away, so I’ve come up with a few fun uses for them. Of course, you can also paint papers yourself with these projects in mind. These projects can be made for the holidays, birthdays, or just for fun!

Bull City Craft: Painted Paper LabelsJar Labels

A 2″ circle punch, a hole punch, and some pens can turn painted paper into labels and gift tags. A 2″ paper circle fits perfectly on the top of mason jar lids to dress up gifts of candy or nuts. I used a white Sharpie paint pen to write the labels. A small hole punch turns the circles into pretty gift tags.

Bull City Craft: Paper BannerPaper Banner

Paper banners are so easy and festive. We use them at our birthday parties, but you could also make them in holiday colors and hang them on your mantel or in a doorway. We made one for Frances’ birthday with paper she decorated with washi tape.

Bull City Craft: Making Banners

For a 9″x12″ sheet of paper, cut it in half, and then you can cut three triangles out of each piece (two facing one way and one the other way in between them). A paper trimmer makes for quick work because you can cut several at a time. Punch holes in the corner of each and tie with ribbon or yarn.

Bull City Craft: Paper LanternPaper Lanterns

I got this idea from Frances’ preschool teacher at Appleseeds Home Nursery. There’s a bit of a learning curve here, but once you get the hang of it, they are quite addictive. The folding is too difficult for young children, but older children can do it, or at least help with the first few folds. You will need a square paper, and 12″x12″ makes a good size for small jam jar candles. Rub the paper with coconut oil, or warm the oil and brush it on. Wipe off the excess with a towel. This will make the paper translucent. Then follow instructions here for folding.

Paper Penguin Craft

Bull City Craft Paper Penguins


Who doesn’t like penguins? Especially when you can give them polka-dotted wings and bow ties! Download our penguin paper craft, color as desired, and cut out. Then punch holes and attach wings with paper fasteners. Penguins are fun to pose!

Shop Independent Durham Week

Bull CIty Craft Durham Skyline Tote
November 29- December 7
Bull City Craft, along with more than 40 other Sustain-a-bull member businesses, will be offering special events and discounts. As part of our week long celebration, we’ll be sending special daily email deals, holiday tips, and craft ideas. If you’re not already subscribed, you can join our email list here.

Best Birthday Party Ever

At Bull City Craft, we’ve hosted hundreds of birthday parties and we’ve learned a lot about how to have a party that is fun for kids and stress-free for adults. September through November is always our busiest birthday party season, and Frances’ birthday is also in the fall. As we plan all of these parties, we wanted to share our tips on hosting parties for kids.

birthday sign

1. A Grand Entrance

Remember that moment when you walked into your wedding reception and all your friends and family were waiting and applauding your arrival? You can recreate that amazing feeling for your child on every birthday by having him or her arrive after the guests. Arrange to have someone bring the birthday child a few minutes after the party starts. The grand entrance gets the party off to a fun start!


2. Time of Day

Start early. Our most frequently booked party time is 11:00am. All the sugar and excitement that comes with parties can be a road to meltdown city for some kids. Younger children especially fare better in the morning before they get too tired or hungry.


3. Length of Party

Keep it short. At parties for younger children, the kids might have the stamina for a three hour tour, but the parents will be ready to go after an hour and a half. For older kids who will be dropped off, parents are happy to let the party go on! Save your own sanity and don’t make it too long.

chalkboard birthday banner

4. Number of Guests

It depends. Does your child seek out quiet corners by herself, or does she love to be the center of attention? Is your son going to get lost in a party of 25 kids? Would he rather just have his core four or five friends at his party? Some of the best parties at Bull City Craft have been a smaller groups. Also consider that until age five, most parents stay at the party with their child and may also bring siblings.

birthday sign

5. Pacing the Party

Provide a balance of structured activities and time for open-ended play. Whether at Bull City Craft or at home, we like to start parties with simple activities that need no guidance, like play dough or toys. Once everyone has arrived and had time to greet each other and acclimate to the party atmosphere, then we move on to more structured activities like a game or craft. Save the cake for last, and don’t forget to take a group photo before the sugar takes effect!

original chalkboard sign

6. Special Touches

You don’t have to plan a Pinterest-perfect party to make your child’s party fun and memorable. Think back on your childhood parties– what you really remember is that feeling of excitement and having all your friends around you. Choose just one thing and make it really special– a spectacular cake, a funny game, or handmade party favors. For us, it’s our personalized “happy birthday” chalkboard signs (pictured here throughout the years). You really don’t have to go overboard on every aspect of the party.

Halloween Treat

Pumpkin Craft

Free download of pumpkin jack-o-lantern craft from Bull City Craft

Free download! Print the pumpkin (we used orange paper, but you can use white paper and color it). Cut out the pumpkin, the semi-circle inside the pumpkin, and the circle. Punch a hole in the center of the circle and on the edge of the semi-circle and attach the two pieces with a paper fastener. The circle will spin to reveal the different eyes for the jack-o-lantern. For extra fun, flip the pumpkin over and draw your own mouth and eyes, or add a body made from scraps!

Most Popular Camp Crafts

I’ve started planning activities for camps this summer, and it got me thinking about what activities and projects have been the most popular in years past. Here are the kid favorites from each of our camps.

Crafty Critters Camp: Art with Animals

Sure, moms love the cute owls made from paper tubes and hermit crabs made from their child’s tiny hand prints, but preschool aged kids are really more interested in the process than the product. Playing with animal figures in play dough and paint is a fun favorite with our littlest campers.

Crafty Critter Camp Animals with Play Dough Bull City Craft

Color Camp: Fizzy Color Mixing

We do a lot of color experiments at Color Camp, and one of the most fun is Fizzy Color Mixing. I fill trays with baking soda, mix vinegar with liquid watercolor (or food color), and give the kids droppers. As they drip and drop the colors onto the baking soda, it fizzes and bubbles in a crazy color mix!

Color Camp at Bull City Craft

Artist Camp: Ice Cream Puppets

What could be a better combination than ice cream + puppet?! I got this idea from the book Every Day’s A Holiday by Heidi Kenney. I thought it would be a fun way to engage kids with the whimsical illustrations of Andy Warhol and the luscious dessert paintings of Wayne Thiebaud. At Artist Camp, we stash all the artwork away until the end of the week for a big art show and reception, but the kids could not wait to take these home as soon as they made them!


Fashion Craft Camp: Sharpie Mock Tie-Dye

I think the girls could have spent the whole day, and possibly the whole week, on this activity. They loved drawing the circular designs with Sharpies. Watching the designs transform into “tie-dye” was fun too, and the final shirts were gorgeous.


Guest Post from a Wonderful Customer

Okay, true confessions should be first:  I am originally from Durham, grew up there, graduated from Durham High School back when it was still known as DHS.  Now, the confession part, I’m in North Raleigh.  Don’t hold that against me.  I am a believer in Durham, tout its great vibe, good funk, and wonderful variety to any who will listen.  And, I get over there any chance I can.
Almost always when I am in Durham, I will stop by Bull City Craft.  Love to check out what’s new; but, my real reason for being there is to play with Frances and visit some with Franklin.  First, I had to earn Frances’ confidence as, to begin with, I was a stranger.  After a few visits, I was someone she recognized but still wasn’t so sure of.  Then, a magic moment, we both were looking at the wooden pull toys, one of us (can’t remember who) made a rumbly motor sound.  Then, we both started ‘talking’ by using elongated vowels in conversational tones.  The conversation didn’t last that long; but, it was long enough for us to bond.  When I visit now, I can pick up where I left off and just have more art fun with Frances.  Very nice.
It’s always good to see Franklin.  It’s hard to have an on-going conversation with him as customers come in the store and have questions.  Also, the phone is ringing and needs attention.  In between, I get to catch-up with this warm, generous, good-hearted man.  This loving family has created a place that is safe, full of art, and celebrates all that is positive and good about being human.
 I recommend that you visit it as often as you can, as I do.
Deborah Gary Brogden, DHS class of ’67

Frances’ Favorite Crafts

Kinderstil, an online retailer of children’s apparel and gifts based in Raleigh, recently invited me to write a guest post for their blog. I wrote about some of Frances’ favorite craft materials and activities during her first three years. Here’s a quick rundown of the list. You can read the full post here.

1. Rainbow Rice

Bull City Craft Rainbow Rice2. Paint with Water

Bull City Craft DIY Paint with Water3. Felt Shapes

Bull CIty Craft Felt Shapes

4. Paint Glue

Bull City Craft glue paint

5. Tape

Bull City Craft washi tape