Winter woodland windows

Winter Woodland Windows Gallery

wonderful windows from the snowy streets of Buxton

UPDATING ON 21ST FEBRUARY: another week of windows has brought in owls and trees, squirrels and dinosaurs. Thank you everyone!

UPDATING THIS GALLERY ON 14TH FEBRUARY: after a lively weekend for windows here are some more to tempt, tease and entice you out there to have a rummage, find some bits and pieces and make your own. Our blog post , here will help you find out what to do. if you live in Buxton or the High Peak we have added a few more kits to our list (now reached 100 kits out there and are finding enough bits for another 20 we hope!)

Winter woodland windows are appearing……the gallery starts today (7/2/21). More additions will follow!

Winter lights and wonders

Celebrating lights

lanterns in buxton, and beyond

Are you lighting up your windows in February? We still have a few free kits available, (either email:, or messenger through fb @stoneandwater). Visit our facebook page (@stoneandwater) to see the album of windows as they come in. A new gallery will be posted on this blog in the next few days.

Love and Passion Parade, Buxton, maybe 2007

Stone & Water grew from a pursuit of love and passion, on a cold and wintry February evening, when we paraded lanterns around the Pavilion Gardens in Buxton. A night when loss and sadness gave way to hope, passion and celebration, culminating in joy, dancing and music.

We thought we’d look at lanterns near and far, celebrations of light around our world. Lanterns have been used for centuries for many different purposes. They can be made of all sorts of materials.

Originally, they would have been made with naturally occurring things using fats as the fuel often as an open flame. Candles were developed and could be used in a case to protect the flame and cast the light further. Oil lamps gave light for longer and could be better controlled.

In winter, in our dark time, we have nights we can illuminate with glowing lanterns. We can welcome and encourage new light and new dawns.

In Slaithwaite, Yorkshire, the Moonraking Festival happens in February each year. Usually a grand parade of lanterns, this year they will be making window pictures and a “moonshine” trail for bubbles to explore in a covid safe way.

We all know about carving pumpkins at Halloween, but this tradition began through carving turnips or swedes. A child in Scotland or Ireland would be given a teaspoon to perform the annual tedious task of carving a tumshie or neep (turnip) potentially leading to RSI in later life. Crude faces would be carved out and a candle put inside. The smell was … interesting.

Here are a few examples from BBC Scotland ;

The tradition went with Scots and Irish migrants to America where they found more favourable vegetables to carve in the form of pumpkins.  That tradition returned to the UK as pumpkins became more widely available and they became known more widely as Jack O Lanterns.

Even our Celtic neighbours now would prefer a pumpkin to carve, yet some still have a Scottish theme.  Here’s an example from Aberdeenshire by Tracey Menzies and family.

At the Chinese Qingming Festival where family tombs are cleaned, lights are floated in lotus flowers to create a lake of lanterns to commemorate lost family members.

Also, from China we think of paper lanterns at Chinese New Year. Often red in colour as a sign of good fortune.

Near and far, Diwali is a festival of lights, diyas (small clay lamps), lanterns and candles may be burnt alongside celebratory art and dancing.

Old streetlights used to be lit and then snuffed out by someone each day by lamplighters.

You can read more about the history here.

You can still see some lamps like these in Buxton, albeit powered by electricity now.

In. Buxton, we had hoped to lay a trail of tiny bottle lanterns through the woods at Buxton Country Park during the middle weekends in February. That does not feel like a sensible thing to do just now so we thought we would turn things around. Instead of inviting the residents of Buxton to come into the woods, with lights, perhaps local people could bring the woods with lights into their homes. So, we have Winter Woodland Windows

There is more information, here

There are guides for making window panels, here (of course, you might make something other than a tree – we’ve already had one dramatic owl….)

And a guide to bottle lanterns, here

There are “make it yourself” films as well with links from the blog posts above or directly


Bottle lanterns:

Please, share a little glowing joy with anyone wandering down your street of a dark evening at the end of winter…and please send us a photo of your window and we’ll add it to our gallery


To Sarah and Gillian for putting this blog together

To photographers and news posts where we found images



Make your own window panel

Here in Buxton, we had been planning a weekend of lantern walks through the woods in February 2021. It is clearly not a good plan to organise an event like that just now, so we thought we would invite anyone who feels so inspired to bring the woodland into their homes and share their trees with other people by making winter woodland windows!

We have two activities to help with this (you could, of course, invent your own Winter Woodland Windows without using any of our ideas!)

  1. Bottle Lanterns: little glowing lanterns for a window ledge or a darkened room
  2. Woodland Window Panels: black card, coloured cellophane, a sense of stained glass….


on the weekends of 13 and 14th February and 20, 21st February 2021

Between 6 and 8pm those Saturdays and Sundays (and other days and times if you want!), we invite people to fit a Winter Woodland into one of their windows letting your light shine out so anyone out for an evening stroll (go on, take a carefully distanced wander) might get a touch of Winter Woodland Wonder. If people take photos, we’ll post a gallery of winter woodland windows!

Make a Woodland Window film…


 We have 100 sets of kits to help make both bottle lanterns and woodland windows. These are available free to people in Buxton up to 10 miles away from here. If you would like a set please get in touch:

  • Facebook: @stoneandwater
  • Twitter: stoneandwater3, #Bwinterwindows


You will need

  • *A sheet of black card or paper (our practice ones are on A3 sized card)
  • *Piece of chalk
  • Sharp scissors
  • A craft knife and cutting mat (scissors might do as an alternative)
  • *PVA glue, brush
  • small pot (to mix glue and water in)
  • *Coloured tissue or cellophane
  • Sheet of plastic

*Our kits include these bits. We include a sheet of A2 card (twice the size of the examples here). We have even bigger sheets of black paper if anyone wants to be really adventurous and make a whole forest! – let us know

1. Spread a sheet of plastic on a table to protect the surface. On your black card draw your window picture with the chalk (practice with pencil on paper first maybe). Think about outlines and shapes rather than careful colouring and shading. You need shapes that suggest the outline and features rather than a single big drawing to cut out. Keep it simple! Leave a margin round the edge of your picture

2. Cut out the drawing. A craft knife is easiest. With scissors if you need to cut in from the side of the picture, repair those cuts afterwards with some of the card you have removed from the shapes

3. Done? Look at the shapes: make sure the picture still “works”. If there are large empty spaces, maybe run a few card strips across them so that the whole sheet hasn’t become too floppy and delicate. If you have cut in from the edge, repair those slits with some of the card you have cut out

4. Use coloured tissue or cellophane to fill in the spaces….Try to keep all your working: chalk lines, coloured gluing, on the same side of the picture so there is a front (neat lines, bold colours) and a back (a bit messy)

5. Let every thing dry then lift it up….trim bits of tissue or cellophane if needed

6. Use blutac or similar or sticky tape to fit the picture in a window. Of a dark evening, go outside and enjoy your winter woodland window. If you have made a bottle lanterns, close curtains to frame your woodland picture and have the bottle lantern standing in a dark corner of the same window

looking out through a woodland window in the daytime….

Send us a picture!


Stoneandwater on facebook

Bottle Lanterns

Bottle Lanterns for


Here in Buxton, we had been planning a weekend of lantern walks through the woods in February 2021. That is clearly not a good event to organise now so we thought we would invite anyone who feels so inspired to bring the woodland into their house and share their trees with other people by making winter woodland windows!

We have two activities to help with this (you could, of course, invent your own Winter Woodland Windows without using any of our ideas!)

  1. Bottle Lanterns: little glowing lanterns for a window ledge or a darkened room (this activity)
  2. Woodland Window Panels: black card, coloured cellophane, a sense of stained glass….


on the weekends of:13, 14th and 20, 21st February 2021

Between 6 and 8pm those Saturdays and Sundays (and other days and times if you want!) please light your window so anyone out for an evening stroll (go on, take a carefully distanced wander) might get a touch of Winter Woodland Wonder. If you stand outside yourselves, please take a photo of your own window and send it to us. We’ll post a gallery of winter woodland windows!


 We have 100 sets of kits to help make both bottle lanterns and woodland windows. These are available free to people in Buxton and up to 10 miles away from here. If you would like a set please get in touch:

facebook: @Stoneandwater

  • a used but clean and dry plastic bottle
  • sharp scissors
  • *PVA glue
  • small pot and *paintbrush
  • Pens: permanent for drawings, others will give you exciting smudges
  • *sheet of plastic to protect work-surface
  • *electric/battery tea-light
  • small selection of *coloured tissue paper, wrapping paper, feathers, thin leaves
  • maybe some food colouring
  • * a sheet of wet strength tissue paper

1. Lay your plastic sheet on a table-top. Using your sharp scissors cut off the bottle’s label if there is one. Take off the bottle top and squash the bottle flat to make it easier to cut off the top section (recycle or turn into a different decoration

2. Wrap wet-strength tissue round the bottle to get an idea of the size of piece you will need. Trim tissue: you will need two pieces about the same size

3. Lay 1 piece of tissue of plastic and decorate; draw with pens, work out arrangements of other decorations. Move tissue and all pieces to one side. Drawings in permanent pens should survive the next bit, non-permanent pens drawings will probably turn into exciting smudges. All pens might bleed across the paper. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Don’t get upset.

4. Mix PVA and water in the pot: about equal quantities. Now paint glue onto the plastic sheet. Lay the tissue with drawing on it onto the glue and paint a layer of glue onto the tissue (building glue and tissue layers). Rebuild your arrangement of coloured tissue and stuff on the sticky tissue. If there is a bright side to the pieces lay them on with the bright side downwards. Lay the second piece of w-s tissue on top of all this. Gentle press tissue down with fingers. Paint another layer of glue onto this top sheet

5. Carefully set your plastic bottle at one end of this strip. Gather up that end of the tissue and glue sandwich, pressing it onto the bottle and gently roll the bottle along the tissue.

6. Stand up the decorated (and wet and dripping) bottle. Gently adjust with fingers if needed. Leave bottle to dry. Leave fingers to dry as well if you like peeling PVA off your hands.

Final touch while still wet (at the end of stage 4 or stage 6): you could dribble some food colouring onto the wet tissue and it will spread in branching stains across the tissue. We use matchsticks to dab food colouring on.

When the bottle lantern is dry, switch on a nightlight, and pop it into the lantern. Turn off other lights and enjoy your own own little winter jewel

These are best indoors. Outdoors the is fine until it rains. Do not put real flame nightlights in these lanterns! Plastic will melt and the paper might burn!

a collection of festive lanterns drying on a classroom floor
a cluster of castle lanterns glowing on an evening walk

Old cards and new scenes

Old cards and new scenes

a festive activity for the winter season

Low card box 83

Having a bit of a fidget?
Nothing to do?
And it’s raining again?

(we posted this activity a while ago but are reposting here our friends at Creeping Toad have just made a little film to promote the activity…)

Why not dig out last year’s Christmas cards from the bundle at the bottom of the cupboard, or stealthily purloin one of this year’s, or the birthday cards you don’t quite want to throw out, or use a cereal packet (good card for making and folding, just maybe not as exciting in images as cards)

Make a little winter a scene to hang on a tree, a branch, a hook on the wall to stand on a shelf, or make a box to put that extra special present  

Low Card box 306(or maybe just the key that makes it go) in

You will need: a card or two, sharp scissors, a ruler, pencils or pens, glue (PVA is good here) and glue spreader, stapler, bradawl (or something for making holes – a pair of compasses would work), thin string

Low card box 91
Stage 1, cut the card in half

1. Cut the card in half along the fold – keep the “plain” half, you will need it later

2. Using the picture half of the card, on the reverse, draw a margin maybe 2 cm from each edge of the card

3. Where the lines cross at the corners, carefully cut along one of those lines to the point where the lines meet

Low card box 94
3, Cut to the corners

4. This card usually folds quite sharply, so now (use the ruler for a straight edge if you want to) fold up along each of those lines and where you have cut in, fold the short bit to make a corner

Low Card box 96
4. folded

5. Before glueing it all together, decide: if you are making a scene, keep the picture on the inside of the box. If you are making a box: you might want the picture inside or on the outside (you could always line the inside with some spare wrapping paper, or make a bigger box to become a lid.). Reverse the folding if you want to change the position of the picture

Low Card box 98
5. Glued and stapled

5. Making sure the sides of your box are sharply upright, glue the corner tabs onto the next side. A staple will hold it all in place. If the outside is too plain, you could colour it in or add some coloured tape. Or sprinkle it with glitter! ( we recommend finding some biodegradable glitter – or using some edible glitter {used on cakes} although this can be distracting….)

6. While the glue dries, prepare the scene to go in the box. Using the other piece of card (from stage 1 above), you could make a little tab to fix a figure to (we used some “embellishments” bought cheaply in a local craft shop), or you could draw your own character. Fix by glueing the tabs into the main scene. Again a staple might help. You might want to colour the tab so it fits into the background of the scenes. Some extra glitter might help again.

7. Use a bradawl or compasses to make a couple of holes (aim for places about 1/3 and 2/3 along the top side – use a lump of modelling clay under the card to protect tabletop or fingers), thread a piece of glittery string or ribbon through, knot it and hang up your scene.

Low Card box 39

Experiment with papers, colours, tapes, sequins. Try different places to hang them: from your ears? on your fingers (and create a fabulous dance around them)? a snowman’s nose?

Send us a picture and

we’ll post a gallery of scenes!


Oak logs will warm you well

Oak logs and pine wood

a final couple of firewood poems!


no words for lime trees?

Our Ash Trees project has been a little quiet over the opening weeks of winter but as the snow closes in on Buxton again today it feels appropriate to return yet again to thoughts of  firewood. Not that we are encouraging you to go out and forage for fuelwood: the fallen branches in our woods are an invaluable resource for wildlife but you could sit by your wood-burning stove, feeding sawdust nuggets to the flames and recite some of the assembled poems we’ve found that talk about the qualities of wood for burning. Some of us will have to make-do with a candle and radiator but we can still enjoy the poems

This little detour has probably gone on quite long enough but I’m going to add a final two “firewood” poems

The first has similarities with Honor Goodhart’s “Logs to Burn”. I don’t know if it is a version of Goodhart’s one – or maybe t’other way round. I first met it labelled as a “Traditional Devon Rhyme” a lifetime ago. It also turns up titled “The Woodcutters’ Poem”. What it doesn’t seem to be is sourced from “The Poem Book of the Gael” as some online sources claim. I have this book and the only firewood poem there that I can find is different again! I’ll add “The Song of the Forest Trees” after Fire Woods…and on this over-extended note I’ll stop posting firewood poems as we have new activities coming up next week!

Fire woods

Oak logs will warm you well.

That are old and dry;

Logs of pine will sweetly smell

But sparks will fly.

Birch-logs will burn too fast,

Chestnuts scarce at all;

Hawthorne-logs are good to last

Cut them in the fall.

Holly-logs will burn like wax,

You may burn them green.

Elm-logs like to smouldering flax,

No flame to be seen.

Beech-logs for winter time,

Yew logs as well,

Green elder logs it is a crime

for any man to sell.

Pear-logs and apple-logs,

They will scent your room,

Cherry-Logs across the dogs

Smell like flower of broom.

Ash-logs, smooth and gray,

Burn them green and old,

Buy up all that come your way

Their worth their weight in gold.


any thoughts on maple wood?

O man that for Fergus of the feasts* does kindle fire,

Whether afloat or ashore burn not the king of the woods.

Monarch of Innisfail’s* forests the woodbine is, whom none may hold captive;

No feeble sovereign’s effort is it to hug all tough trees in his embrace.

The pliant woodbine if thou burn, wailings for misfortune will abound,

Dire extremity at weapons’ points or drowning in great waves will follow.

Burn not the precious apple-tree of spreading and low-sweeping bough;

Tree ever-decked in bloom of white, against whose fair head all men put forth the hand.

The surly blackthorn is a wanderer, a wood that the artificer burns not;

Throughout his body, though it be scanty, birds in their flocks warble.

The noble willow burn not, a tree sacred to poems;

Within his bloom bees are a’sucking, all love the little cage.

The graceful tree with berries, the wizard’s tree, the rowan, burn;

But spare the limber tree, burn not the slender hazel.

Dark is the colour of the ash; timber that makes the wheels to go;

Rods he furnishes for horseman’s hands, his form turns battle into flight.

Tenterhook among the woods the spiteful briar is, burn him that is so keen and green;

He cuts, he flays the foot, him that would advance he forcibly drags backward.

Fiercest heat-giver of all timber is the green oak, from him none may escape unhurt;

By partiality for him the head is set on aching, and by his acrid embers the eye is made sore.

Alder, very battle-witch of all the woods, tree that is hottest in the fight –

Undoubtedly burn at thy discretion both the alder and whitethorn.

Holly , burn it green; holly, burn it dry;

Of all trees whatsoever the critically best is holly.

Elder that hath tough bark, tree that in truth hurts sore;

Him that furnishes horses to the armies from the Sidh* burn so that he be charred.

The birch as well, if he be laid low, promises abiding fortune;

Burn up most sure and certainly the stalks that bear constant pods.

Suffer if it so please thee, the russet aspen to come headlong down;

Burn, be it late or early, the tree with palsied branch.

Patriarch of long-lasting woods is the yew, sacred to feasts as is well-known;

Of him now build ye dark-red vats of goodly size.

Ferdedh, thou faithful one, wouldst thou but do my behest:

To thy soul as to thy body, O man, ‘twould work advantage

Trans: Standish Hayes O’Grady

*Fergus of the Feasts: find him in the stories of the Tain Bo Cualinge

*Innisfail: ancient name for Ireland

*Sidh (pronounced “shee”): sometimes means the Faerie peoples but here probably also means the hollow hills where the Sidh live

Ash logs: worth their weight in gold

cold enough to need those logs

“they’re worth their weight in gold”

Firewood songs, 2

Celebrating Ash Trees

In our ongoing collection of firewood songs and poems, a slight change of sequence and here is “Logs to Burn”. You can hear it sung at the link below. It feels like there is a whole woodpile of these poems and songs that all carry echoes of each other, some claimed as “traditional” (like one I met years ago as a “traditional Devon song” that has some similar lines to this one and differences elsewhere) while others are identified with individual poets. A nice bit of detective rummaging for someone there…..

Logs to Burn,

by Honor Goodhart and first printed in Punch, 27th October 1920

Logs to burn; logs to burn;
Logs to save the coal a turn.

Here’s a word to make you wise
when you hear the woodman’s cries;
Never heed his usual tale
That he’s splendid logs for sale
But read these lines and really learn
The proper kind of logs to burn.

Oak logs will warm you well,
If they’re old and dry.
Larch logs of pinewoods smell
But the sparks will fly.

Beech logs for Christmas time;
Yew logs heat well;
‘Scotch’ logs it is a crime
For anyone to sell.

Birch logs will burn too fast;
Chestnut scarce at all;
Hawthorn logs are good to last
If cut in the fall.

Holly logs will burn like wax,
You should burn them green;
Elm logs like smouldering flax,
No flame to be seen.

Pear logs and apple logs,
They will scent your room;
Cherry logs across the dogs
Smell like flowers in bloom,

But ash logs all smooth and grey
Burn them green or old,
Buy up all that come your way
They’re worth their weight in gold.


Our Ash Trees project has been a little quiet over the opening weeks of winter but as the snow closes in on Buxton it feels appropriate to think about firewood. Not that we are encouraging you to go out and forage for fuelwood: the fallen branches in our woods are an invaluable resource for wildlife but you could sit by your wood-burning stove, feeding sawdust nuggets to the flames and recite some of the assembled poems we’ve found that talk about the qualities of wood for burning. Some of us will have to make-do with a candle and radiator but we can still enjoy the poems

Fit for a queen: ash tree firewood songs

Fit for a Queen

firewood songs

Our Ash Trees project has been a little quiet over the opening weeks of winter but as the snow closes in on Buxton it feels appropriate to think about firewood. Not that we are encouraging you to go out and forage for fuelwood: the fallen branches in our woods are an invaluable resource for wildlife but you could sit by your wood-burning stove, feeding sawdust nuggets to the flames and recite some of the assembled poems we’ve found that talk about the qualities of wood for burning. Some of us will have to make-do with a candle and radiator but we can still enjoy the poems

We’ve found a number of these firewood songs so far which we’ll post over several days now. The first was forwarded by the team at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery. We can’t find an original writer of this – there is a very similar but not quite identical pieces by Lady Celia Congreve which we’ll post next. Then there is the Logs to Burn song by Honor Goodhart.

We’ll start with this one as it places Ash Trees as “Fit for a queen”

Fit for a Queen 

Tall Ash Trees at King Sterndale

Beechwood fires burn bright and clear

If the logs are kept a year.

Store your beech for Christmastide

With new holly laid beside.

Chestnut’s only good they say

If for years ‘tis stacked away.

Birch and firwood burn too fast

Blaze too bright and do not last,

Flames from larch will shoot up high,

Dangerously the sparks will fly,

But Ashwood green and Ashwood brown

Are fit for a Queen with a golden crown.


Oaken logs, if dry and old

Keep away the winters’ cold.

Poplar gives a bitter smoke

Fills your eyes and makes you choke.

Elmwood burns like churchyard mould

Even the very flames burn cold.

Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread

So it is in Ireland said.

Applewood will scent the room,

Pear’s wood smells like a flower in bloom,

But Ashwood wet and Ashwood dry

A King may warm his slippers by.


We hope you enjoy these first firewood words….more kindling to follow!



Shoebox Pantomime!

Make your own

miniature pantomime!

Shoebox theatre kits to give away

And what if….

After the Wedding, the Dwarves come to visit Snow White and Prince Charming for Christmas? The Dwarves have never had a Christmas before and do not really understand what is going on….Sneezy is found stuck up the chimney where he had climbed to see if he could find Santa. They had never met the tradition of socks hung up on the mantelpiece so they thought that some kind person had left those out as hats for Dwarves and look! there was even room at the end for a satsuma and some chocolate coins as an emergency picnic if a Dwarf woke up hungry in the night….


If you live in Buxton or the High Peak or the Staffordshire Moorlands and would like a pantomime box please contact us directly and we’ll sort out getting one to you

Easiest route is to talk to Gordon directly:

Or Facebook: @creepingtoad

This year, sadly, there will be no pantomime at Buxton Opera House. So, we at Stone and Water, as makers of things and creators of celebrations, and with help from our friends at the Opera House and the Babbling Vagabonds, are inviting you to make your own!  We have a stack of about 50 Shoebox Theatre kits to give away (you don’t need one of ours – you might have all the bits you need already) and invite you, challenge, prick your finger with a needle, release a dragon upon you and invite you to create your own pantomime!

You can watch the quick version of this post on youtube:

put on some music, sit back and scribble on your own sheet of paper..what are your story ideas?

Your might make up a whole story or just a single scene. You might invite your family to attend (there are tickets in the download pack you could use). You could film the wonderful event and send it to us (facebooK; Stone and Water or, and where we can we’ll share those films so we can have a Town Pantomime with characters, stories, scenery and silliness from all over Buxton and the High Peak and the world beyond those boundaries!

first steps

Getting Ready For Pantomime

Standing outside your theatre

What theatre will your pantomime happen in? Will it look like your house at home (maybe put a drawing or photograph of your house on the box?) Is this going to the Miniature Opera House? (use the picture in our download pack?). Can you cut a picture and the box so that it opens to let visitors look in?  You might want to issue tickets to your family (there is a ticket sheet in the download pack). You could set up spotlights with torches. You could use someone else’s phone and find some exciting special effect noises….the sound of a hungry giant’s rumbling tummy perhaps, or the noise of 1000 gold pieces falling down the stairs….

Try searching for Sound effects

Good start here:

Making your theatre

1. Starting your story….

a tiny shiny dancing witch might be helpful

Take time to think: maybe choose your favourite traditional fairytale or similar story and think about what might happen next. Who knows what “they lived happily ever after” really means?  What were they happy about? Didn’t they just get bored? This can be fun with the rest of your family. Just bounce ideas around. Listen to all the ideas: the first one isn’t always the best! Write them or draw them on a sheet of paper. Choose one. Try cutting those notes up and jumbling them around so they become parts of a story. Maybe there was the time that Peter Pan taught Saffra, Aladdin’s Camel, to fly…..

O, didn’t I say: there was that time the pirates tried to hide their stolen doubloons in the wardrobe in Wendy Darling’s bedroom but tripped up on the landing and spilled the gold coins, bouncing down the stairs….

Someone finds Cinderella’s glass slippers in a box at a car boot sale and then…..

Fairy Godmothers (good, bad and ugly) decide to have a party for the middle of winter but start arguing about whose magic is strongest…

How do you help a giant (or a dragon) with toothache?

What does a troll’s toothfairy look like?


Basic kit:

  • A shoe box (or something like that)
  • Sharp scissors
  • A sharp knife (use a grown-up for the knife bits)
  • A cutting mat to lean on
  • White card to draw on: a few bits, postcard sized or smaller
  • A magazine with colourful pictures of exciting places
  • PVA glue
  • Lollypop sticks or barbecue skewers (with the sharp ends snipped off)
  • Pencil
  • Coloured pencils or pens
  • Felt pens and ruler
  • Small pot and brush for glue or maybe a glue stick

Useful other bits that might be exciting

  • A picture of a theatre front
  • Some pantomime characters to colour in and use*
  • 2 or 3 Small torches
  • Several lumps of modelling clay
  • Oil pastel crayons
  • A theatre ticket outline to write on for your show
  • Small pieces of cloth (for curtains?)
  • Shiny bits, fringes (looks good for the edge of the stage)

Pantomime sheets: we have a pack of downloadable and printable stuff: a line drawing of Buxton Opera House, some old Opera House tickets to customise, drawings of a few pantomime characters (if this link doesn’t work, let us know and we’ll send the sheets direct to you!)

1. Have a look at your shoebox: does the lid come right off or is it attached at one side? If it is attached, could you let that fall open and become the front of your stage? Sit the box on its side. We need some slots in the end walls of your stage where we can slide scenery and characters on sticks in and out. (see the Decorating bit below before you do this!)Use a ruler and a pen to mark where you would like slits to go: we need maybe 2 on each side (they don’t need to line up across the box unless you want them to). Draw them: they should run from the bottom almost to the top of the side but they only need to be 5 -7 mm wide

Cut these out with a craft knife. A sharp kitchen knife would also work but maybe get a grown-up to do this bit

2. Decorating the outside: you could cover the outside of your theatre with colourful pictures – or maybe pictures of bricks! If you close the box the “front” of your theatre could look like the front of the Buxton Opera House (or somewhere almost as glamorous). You could print out one of the Opera House pictures, colour it in and stick it on. Do you need a sign saying what show will be on tonight? If you want to cover the sides, you might want to do this bit before you cut the slots

Inside: look at the “floor” of your theatre – leave it plain? Add some colour? The back wall? A big picture of where your adventure is happening might be good?

Stick pictures on with PVA – or glue sticks. If you use PVA diluting it a little and spreading it on with a brush is good. Try not to get your box very damp or the card will curl. You could use a glue stick instead?

3. Scenery

While the glue on the background is drying, take some of the white cards and make some scenery. Simple shapes and bold colours work best. You don’t need many pieces: what would help your story? Some spooky trees?  A house. Maybe make enough for two scenes: so perhaps we need that spooky forest and then we need an indoor scene: a table and chairs, a big oven for cooking children in? if you have oil pastel crayons they are good for colouring in quickly – not so good for fine detail but excellent for bit areas of colour and mixing colours as you go

When they are finished, glue your scenery pieces onto lollypop sticks. Attach the stick to the lower edge of the back of the piece of scenery so it can slide in and out through slits in the box with the lollipop stick leaning against the wall of the box and keeping the scenery upright. When the glue is dried you could turn the scenery over and draw it again (or something else) on the back so that it could be used from either side of the stage

Alternatively, you could draw your scenery with a margin at the bottom which could be cut, folded to make a stand and then glued onto another card to make a more solid base. These pieces can then be placed on your stage

4. Characters

Either use some of our download characters or draw your own or cut out pictures from magazines or old greetings cards. Colour them in and if they are not on card already stick them onto some. Then glue a barbecue skewer or other thin stick onto the back to the figure. Do this so the stick sticks out straight from the side of the card so you can slip the puppet in through one of those side slots and onto the stage. This means that the character only really works from one side of the stage. With the download figures you can choose the reversed character, colour that one in and stick it on the other side of the stick so that your character can enter from either side.

Our little character drawings are all unfinished: they need hats and faces and things to carry….

In our pictures, we have a sort of Cinderella girl and a boy who has turned into a Not Quite Robin Hood (maybe more Robin Bobble-hat) with his friendly squirrel…

Your pantomime!

Now, we have characters!

Now, we have scenery!

Now, we have a theatre…what else?

Look at your bits and pieces: do you want curtains? Can you make some? Extra shiny bits (a bit of gold and shiny always looks good in panto)….some tinsel round the top? Exciting shapes cut from old greetings cards

small torch held in place with modelling clay

Lights? Small torches held in place with modelling clay can add an extra touch….really good for a dark room and spotlighting your action




Just about there. Now, close the door. Shoo everyone away. Close the door again. Find your sound effects. Recruit a friend to help with the puppets. Have a practice. And you do need a practice because when you perform you really need to be behind your theatre – not at the front looking in!


Remember: “he’s behind you!” or maybe “she’s above you!” or even “You’ve just eaten it!”, “Oh, no I haven’t”….and so on

Write your tickets!

Make a poster!


Find a sound effect for fanfares of trumpets to announce the start and you are ready to get your audience in place!

a darkened room and a stage lit with torchlight

Please, please, please send a photo or a couple of minutes of film of your pantomime to us!


Facebook: Stone and Water


We would like to thank the individuals and companies who have given us the bits for these boxes!

  • Buxton Opera House
  • the Babbling Vagabonds
  • Telltale Interpretation
  • Buxton Museum and Art Gallery
  • Peakdale products
  • Creeping Toad
  • Two Left Hands
  • and our own Stone and Water team













Plastic birds and Twirling pictures

plastic bottle lantern

In our town of Buxton this year there is a strong recycled theme running through Christmas and seasonal plans. The Friends of Buxton Station and Buxton Junior School are aiming to decorate the Train Station tree with 200 decorations made from recycled materials. We thought we’d add another activity turning a plastic drinks bottle into a selection of decs….These are all designed to hang. We do lovely freestanding plastic bottle lanterns with tissue paper and electric nightlights but that can wait for another day

You will need….actually you probably won’t need all of these (we get carried away). Read through the activity first and see what you could improvise within your own home!

  • • A plastic bottle – 1./5l is a good size, washed and dried
  • • Scissors: sharp ones or tufcuts for cutting plastic and small ones for paper and bits
  • • Sharpies or other permanent pens
  • • Awl or darning needle
  • • Copydex or other rubber glue (PVA does work but not as well)
  • • Cotton buds*
  • • Narrow Double-sided tape
  • • Thin string
  • • Lump of modelling clay or blutac
  • • Sheet of paper to draw on
  • • Cutting board or similar to work on
  • • Bits for decorating: some of these:
  • Tissue paper
  • Foam shapes
  • Silver foil
  • Wobbly eyes
  • • Left-over greetings card
  • • Small balloon light (tiny battery-powered light

*Think of the environment. This activity is about recycling so do think about the resources you use. We use cotton buds with rolled paper shafts so they will decompose. We avoid plastic glitter (you can use biodegradable/edible versions). Most of what we use is stuff lying around

1. Cut the wrapping off the bottle. Take the top off and squash the bottle flat. Use strong scissors to make a first cut through the side of the bottle. Then let the bottle spring back and cut. We usually use tufcut scissors for this phase but any strong scissors should do the job (maybe a job for a grown up here)

Divide the bottle into three sections: a base (maybe 4 or 5 cm deep), the main body of the bottle and then a bell shaped top section

Cut the middle piece so it will open out. You can leave it curling up if you want or try flattening it (see below)

2. Flatting the sheet of plastic: if you can heat this and press it flat it should become a bit more manageable. Another job for a grown-up here. A) heat the plastic (wear gloves!) – a hairdryer will do it or plonking it in very hot water. Put the sheet between some sheets of newspaper and put a heavyweight on it for a few minutes. Use some books, or maybe get a friend to stand on it. You can iron it between sheets of paper but if you got carried away and the plastic melted there might be unfortunate consequences

3. Hanging picture:

Use the base section. Trim the open edge if you want to. Decorate with permanent pens. Or use the double-sided tape or glue to stick things on. In our example we drew with pens, stuck on shiny foil with the tape and used the glue to stick on some tissue strips (applying the glue with a cotton bud)

Insert a picture if you want: we cut a circle out of an old card – measure with the edge of the bottle and then cut the disc smaller. We fitted it in place with some card brackets held in place with tape (pr glue). You don’t need to use a greetings card. Shiny card works well or maybe a disc of cooking foil

Make 2 holes about 2cm apart: use the awl to pierce the plastic cup, leaning against the blutac so you don’t stab the table top. You might want to use a finger to test the balance of the cup before you stab it (the bottle, not you finger!). Thread a piece of string through and knot into a loop.

4. Hanging flower

Use the top section of the bottle

Again, trim the edge if you want to: petal shapes look good, or a wavy line, or just neaten up your original cut. Again, decorate with pens or tissue or foam

Think about where your finished decorations will go:

Indoors: tissue paper works well

Outdoors: tissue will disintegrate in rain or snow. Foam and foil best here

Hanging flower: tie a string round the neck of the flower: you could always have some streamers cascading out of the open neck of the bottle.

Adding a light: if you use a balloon night, thread this on a string and hang it in the mouth of the bottle so it hangs in the middle of the bell-flower

5. Bird (or angel or tree!)

Use the flattened middle section of the bottle. You do not need to do the flattening bit. The bird we’re showing here was made with a curly bit of plastic. You can work with it like this but it is tricky, often annoying and you end up with a decoration that keeps rolling up!

Press the sheet flat on a piece of paper and mark out the size of your plastic.

On the paper, draw the shape of the decoration you want to make. Fold the paper in half so you can cut out a symmetrical shape if that helps. Asymmetrical shapes don’t need cutting out.  Lay the plastic back onto this and trace the shape onto the plastic with permanent pens. Cut out the plastic shape

Decorate as before

Add some eyes if that feels right

Hanging: where should this shape hang from: birds: a wing tip maybe or by its shoulder; a tree from its topmost point.

Hang your decorations and applaud

your messy creativity!

celebrating the people and wildlife of the Peak District