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Crafts

  • Very Hungry Caterpillar Pencil

    Today's guest blogger is Cindy deRosier.  She has tweaked one of the projects from our Easy Foam Crafts book to create a custom creation kids will love.

    Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 2.19.14 PM Easy Foam Crafts Book from Leisure Arts

    Hi! I'm Cindy deRosier from My Creative Life, here to share my version of a project from Easy Foam Crafts. When I saw the  Inch Worm Pencil, I was inspired to make a few tweaks to the directions to turn it into Eric Carle's beloved Very Hungry Caterpillar. Enjoy!

    Foam Pencil - Very Hungry Caterpillar

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar Pencil Materials: pencil, craft foam (green, yellow and purple), red pom pom, scissors, hole punch, glue gun

    Begin by cutting the green foam into a long, narrow strip, approximately 9" x 1". Round the corners, then use the hole punch to make a series of holes. (No need to measure anything - just eyeball it!) Cut the green foam scraps to make two oval inner eyes and a roughly gumdrop-shaped nose. Cut two oval outer eyes from the yellow foam, making them just larger than the green inner eyes. Next, cut two antenna from purple foam.

    Foam very hungry caterpillar pieces

    Thread the green body foam piece onto the pencil. Leave the writing end free.

    Green Foam Very Hungry Caterpillar Pencil

    Fold over the end of the body and glue it to the top of the pencil. (If you want the eraser to be accessible, skip this step. I used a color pencil without an eraser.) Glue the pom pom head in place. Finally, add the eyes, nose and antenna.

    Very Hungry Caterpillar Foam Craft Pencil

    -------

    Cindy has written hundreds of creative kids' crafts tutorials, which you can find at My Creative Life. She blogs about many other aspects of her creative life, including scrapbooking, recipes and cooking competitions, birthday challenges, themed parties and much more. If you make your own Very Hungry Caterpillar Pencil, please contact Cindy to let her know!

  • Wildflower Seed Bombs, Gnomes & Fairies!

    Spring is here with warmer sunshine, nature awakening and the calendar countdown to school graduation parties and Mother's Day celebrations. Let's get dirty and prepare for some pop-up  color with seed bombs. Dig in and connect with the dirt; yes, it's another way to relieve stress! Dirt, seeds, color, gnomes, and fairies add up to relaxing, whimsical fun!

    So cute! Gnomes walking around wildflower seed bombs ready to plant. So cute! Gnomes walking around wildflower seed bombs ready to plant.

    Homemade seed bombs, or pods full of seeds, are perfect for sharing and planting; what a fun concept! I was so excited to read about this and was gung ho to try it out. First thought: I wanted some fairly carefree flowers; easy to plant and easy to grow. If I plant seeds in a pot or planter, I could include some magical, woodsy features including gnomes and fairies.

    What a fun gift for sharing with my friends who have springtime birthdays, preplanning outdoor decor for graduation parties, or coordinating garden celebrations on Mother's Day. While researching on Pinterest, I found instructions on how to make wildflower seed bombs. They were inexpensive to make, easy to do for a wide age range of crafters with helpers, and do-able to make at home. All of these qualities equaled a perfect solution!

    Since all types of gardening is not easily maintained, I didn't want me or my friends to fuss over another outdoor task to maintain during the summer. A variety packet of wildflower seeds to mix into the paper used to make the seed bombs seemed like a good match. My supplies included:

    1. wildflower seeds
    2. newsprint paper
    3. food coloring (if desired)
    4. metal cupcake tin or silicone ice cube trays
    5. plastic wrap
    6. old kitchen towel
    7. cookie cooling rack
    8. tabletop tray or other object as centerpiece
    9. coloring book pages to make paper cones for gift packaging
    10. planter(s) of choice
    11. imaginative outdoor setting including gnomes, fairies, mini garden decor, and forest critters
    12. maybe some gardening supplies

    TIP: Consider buying several packets of wildflower seeds as some packets may contain a very small amount (< 1/2 tsp) of seed. HINT: Your finished 'bombs' or pods of seeds will be planted randomly so look for seed packets that state your seeds may be planted with 'scattered' spacing.

    Reading several boards on Pinterest, newsprint paper was used to make the paper pulp; read an example here from Dabbles & Babbles. Other examples showing methods used varied slightly; here is another example using colored shredded paper from Apartment Therapy  who based their post on Made Everyday's Hello Spring! DIY Shredded Paper Seed Starters. Below you can read my summary of the steps I took to create my wildflower seed bombs.

    The basic steps are:

    1. shred
    2. soak
    3. blend/chop
    4. combine
    5. shape
    6. dry
    7. package/plant

    First, I shredded between 18-24 letter sized pages of newsprint paper. Newsprint is inexpensive and a good resource as a scribble pad for toddlers; easy come, easy go, so scribble on Little Ones! After shredding, I placed the newsprint paper in a pot, covered the shred with water and let sit overnight.

    Soak shredded newsprint paper in water overnight. Soak shredded newsprint paper in water overnight.

    In the morning, your newsprint will be soft. Leave in pot and remove about 2-3 handfuls of shred at a time, pull apart to make even smaller pieces and place in a blender. Add more water to cover the shred. BE CAREFUL not to stress your blender motor! Use a pulse option or low/medium speed; turn on/off frequently to check on the paper's consistency. After getting a mushy paper pulp consistency, carefully remove the pulp from blender, place mush in a colander to start draining and continue with the remaining shred.

    The paper mush will still be very wet after draining, so slightly push down on it while in the colander to remove more water. Then 'fluff' a little before you add your wildflower seeds.

    After draining and squeezing excess water out of the paper mush, it looks more like wet paper pulp. After draining and squeezing excess water out of the paper mush, it looks more like wet paper pulp.

    Combine your wildflower seed mix of choice. I purchased two different seed packets; here is the first mix as I begin to add the seeds into the pulp.

    Wildflower seed "Mix 1" is added to the khaki-colored paper pulp. Wildflower seed "Mix 1" is added to the khaki-colored paper pulp.

    For some variety, I purchased two different wildflower mixes. For an easy, recognizable distinction between the seed bombs from my two wildflower mixes, I used food coloring to dye my second batch of paper shred. Here is my second batch of paper mush as it is draining.

    For my second round of seed bombs, I added enough food coloring to create fuschia-colored paper mush. For my second round of seed bombs, I added enough food coloring to create fuschia-colored paper mush.

    After removing most of the water from the mush, I will fluff up the paper pulp and add my second variety of wildflower seeds to it.

    The fuschia-colored paper mush is "Mix 2". It is a different wildflower seed mixture than the khaki-colored seed bombs. The fuschia-colored paper mush is "Mix 2". It is a different wildflower seed mixture than the khaki-colored seed bombs.

    While researching the steps for making these wildflower seed bombs, many posts recommended using silicone trays for filling and removing the seed bombs. I do not own silicone molds so I created a different solution. I lined my mini cupcake tin with plastic wrap!

    Line a mini cupcake tin with plastic wrap, place seeded paper mush into each, then flip out onto towel-lined cookie sheet to dry. Line a mini cupcake tin with plastic wrap, place seeded paper mush into each, then flip out onto towel-lined cookie sheet to dry.

    After filling each section, I placed a kitchen towel over the tin, followed by an inverted cookie cooling rack, and finally flipped all over facing right-side up. Then I removed the tin and plastic wrap to reveal my mini seed bombs on the kitchen towel ready to dry. HINT: Food coloring is a dye and will transfer onto the towel while the seed bombs are drying. TIP: Drying can take up to 48 hours so be prepared to wait; start planning your tabletop diorama or gift packaging now!

    In addition to making a centerpiece for my patio table, I want to share my fun project as a springtime birthday present so I prepared a gift package. As part of my gift package, I included two small flowering plants so there was immediate color to enjoy. In order to demonstrate how the seed bombs should be planted in the dirt, I left a few unwrapped on top of the soil.

    The remaining seed bombs were packaged in a plastic bag and placed in paper cones made from coloring book pages (from 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns). I placed these cones, along with gardening gloves, and one of the flowering plants in an empty pot. Another pot included some dirt, seed bombs, gnomes, and fairies, with select fairy garden items demonstrating a magical garden. You can see that the hedgehog woodland creature from my kit is about to visit the Fairy Garden over the bridge and through the arbor! Your imagination will run away with itself by using these kits in your garden or tabletop decor! See below my use of the kits and birch metal planters to make a whimsical garden display or tabletop diorama.

    Diorama complete with wildflower seed bombs, paper cones made from coloring book pages, gnomes, fairies, and birch planters! Diorama complete with wildflower seed bombs, paper cones made from coloring book pages, gnomes, fairies, and birch planters!
    Close-up of birch metal pot spilling over with seed bombs, gnomes, fairies and other woodland creatures ready for your garden or tabletop decor. Close-up of birch metal pot spilling over with seed bombs, gnomes, fairies and other woodland creatures ready for your garden or tabletop decor.

    Welcome spring; bring on your color!

    Martha

     

  • Five Things to Look for in a Coloring Book

    Five_Things

    Have you seen all the new Coloring books on the market and wondered which was best? Well,  we wondered the same thing and when building our coloring books we discovered these important traits in getting the best coloring book on the market.

    1. Fantastic Designs

    Look for a book that has quality designs throughout the coloring book.  Make sure every design is comparable to the cover page.  You'll want to color each and every design in all the Leisure Arts Coloring Books. Our Color Art for Everyone  and Art of Coloring series of books feature 24 designs in each book, while our newest Fun for Everyone to Color! series features 18 designs.

    6807_FC Intricate elephants grace the cover of The Art  of Coloring Animals.
    Art_of_Coloring_Animanls_Turtle_Masking Turtle from Art of Coloring Animals.
    Art_of_Coloring_Animals_Fish Fish from Art of Coloring Animals.

    2. Made in USA

    Look for a book that is Made in the USA.  As soon as you touch our books, you'll notice the quality difference.

    Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 3.58.48 PM Art of Coloring Flowers Coloring Book.

    3. Premium Paper

    Look for a book with thick pages that greatly reduce bleed-through.  The thicker pages gives you the freedom to use markers and gel pens on your pages.

    Art_of_Coloring_Flowers Flowers from Art of Coloring Flowers Coloring Book.

    4. One-Sided Designs

    Look for a book with the designs printed only on one side of the page.  This is important for a couple of different reasons.  First, it gives you even more freedom to use whichever coloring instruments your prefer and not have to sweat bleed through.  More importantly, we know you're going to want to keep your creations forever!

    Back of my coloring page after use of watercolor pencils and colored pencils with petroleum jelly. Back of a coloring page after use of watercolor pencils and colored pencils with petroleum jelly.

    5. Perforated Pages

    Perforated pages allow for easy removal from your book.  Easily tear out your page to display your work of art!

    Build your color intensity by applying more than one "layer" of color. Can you see the differences? Perforated pages as shown in Art of Coloring Mandalas.

    Most of all, enjoy yourself!  There are no rules when coloring.  Enjoy the freedom of this most simple from of art therapy.

    Enjoy and Happy Coloring!

    Veronica

  • Coloring Paper Strips Make Shamrocks

    It is pushing spring with birds nesting, buds forming on trees and daylight lasting longer. Now that the calendar says March, it surely is time for remembering the fields of green soon to flourish all around us. It also means it is time to celebrate St. Patrick's Day!

    Colorful shamrock examples using coloring book pages (from 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone), and scrapbook paper (on left), or construction paper (on right). Colorful shamrock examples using coloring book pages (from 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone), and scrapbook paper (on left), or construction paper (on right).

    The cloverleaf is a simple design that symbolizes St. Patrick's Day better than any other. So deciding on using the shamrock as my symbol of choice was the first step. Next, I wanted an easy design with materials readily available. I turned to Pinterest to get ideas and relied heavily on this post from Sugar Bee Crafts for guidance.

    I wanted my completed project to be a little different than other shamrocks around me so I turned to my stash of coloring books. I chose two pages from Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone (Leisure Arts' item 6704) and only colored selected portions of each page. My first page had a few shamrocks along with other leaves and blooms;  the second page I chose depicted dragonflies, another example of expected blooming, warmer weather.

    Using a gel pen and colored pencils, I added some color to a page with shamrocks in its design; from 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone. Using a gel pen and colored pencils, I added some color to a page with shamrocks in its design; from 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone.
    Another page that reminded me of spring was that of dragonflies. I used a highlighter to color this page; from 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone. Another page that reminded me of spring was that of dragonflies. I used a highlighter to color this page; from 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone.

    Looking at examples of finished paper shamrocks on various social media sites, I knew that I wanted to use either one or two solid colored paper strips when making each shamrock. I relied on construction paper and scrapbook paper for my choices of solid colors. I always try to make a prototype of a project before its final version. So construction paper and any coloring book page whose coloring was an experiment would be perfect for the draft version!

    The measurements for each paper strip were based on the size of the pages that I chose. The coloring book pages were 8.5"w X 11"h, the construction paper was 9"w X 11"h, and the scrapbook paper was a 12" square.  Now I knew that the longest strip would be from either construction or scrapbook paper. I decided to use three paper strips for each section of my cloverleaf. Each strip would be 1"h with three varying lengths of 8", 9.5" and 12".

    Since I wanted to use coloring book pages, I made the measurements for the two smaller strips fit those dimensions. The largest strip was cut from either construction or scrapbook paper. Since I wanted to use coloring book pages, I made the measurements for the two smaller strips fit those dimensions. The largest strip was cut from either construction or scrapbook paper.

    One strip from each length were gently folded over with the ends held flush and stapled together. The two shorter lengths were my coloring book pages and I turned the design side towards the stapled end which will be the center of the shamrock. I did this on purpose so more of the design would be visible.

    I decided to make a three-leaf shamrock; each of the three leaves were made in two sections of three strips. Staple two three-leaf sections together to make one shamrock leaf. See the image before all pieces are glued for better placement of each section.

    Each clover leaf has been stapled and the stems prepared. Each clover leaf has been stapled and the stems prepared.

    I decided to use my extra strips to make my stem. For extra stability, I used two strips for the stem. The shorter stem strip (inside) was glued to the middle cloverleaf, each end of the longer stem strip (outside) was glued to the underside of each respective outer cloverleaf. See the additional images and close-up to get a better idea of placement.  As you will see in the photos, now is the time to cut four circles, two each in two different sizes; these circles will be the center of the shamrock. Use your judgment as to the size of circles; these will cover the glue that will hold the shamrock leaves and stems together.

    Preparing to use a glue gun to hold all the pieces together. I cut four circles that will be placed in the center of the shamrock assisting in hiding the glue. Preparing to use a glue gun to hold all the pieces together. I cut four circles that will be placed in the center of the shamrock assisting in hiding the glue.
    The gluing has begun with a little placed on the stems onto the sides of the clover leaves. The gluing has begun with a little placed on the stems onto the sides of the clover leaves.

    I have included two close-up shots so the placement of the center circles and hot glue can be seen more clearly.

    A better contrast view showing the center before the hot glue is dispensed. A better contrast view showing the center before the hot glue is dispensed.
    This mound of hot glue helps to hold the ends of each cloverleaf, as well as, each leaf to the stems. This mound of hot glue helps to hold the ends of each cloverleaf, as well as, each leaf to the stems.
    Thank goodness the centered circles conceal the glue (two different circle sizes stacked and glued together). Thank goodness the centered circles conceal the glue (two different circle sizes stacked and glued together).
    Both sides have their center circles placed and glued. Both sides have their center circles placed and glued.

    Now that the construction paper prototype shamrock is constructed, I practice hanging it on a door. I suspended the shamrock by only one of the larger loops. It seems to sag a little, but not too badly.

    One option is to hang on a door. One option is to hang on a door.

    Moving forward, my next step is to make my second shamrock using scrapbook paper instead of construction paper for each of the longest strips. Scrapbook paper is sturdier, so I'm wondering what the differences will be in the design of the final product.

    Second shamrock being constructed. The longest strips are cut from scrapbook paper. One drawback to my choice: it wasn't colored on both sides. Second shamrock being constructed. The longest strips are cut from scrapbook paper. One drawback to my choice: it wasn't colored on both sides.

    GREAT BONUS: I took my coloring book pages from being two-dimensional pages and made them into three-dimensional projects. Now that's taking creativity to the next level -- and it was fun, not hard!

    Use 2-4 coloring book pages for your project. I made my shamrocks from 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone. Use 2-4 coloring book pages for your project. I made my shamrocks from 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone.

    TIPS TO REMEMBER WHEN CHOOSING YOUR PAPER: The scrapbook paper was sturdier than the construction paper so it keeps its shape a little better when hanging by a single hook. The construction paper is colored on both sides; the scrapbook paper that I chose was not.  You can see the differences in color visibility when hanging on a wall.

    Two completed shamrocks used coloring book pages and either scrapbook paper (top left image) or construction paper (bottom right); 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone. Two completed shamrocks used coloring book pages and either scrapbook paper (top left image) or construction paper (bottom right); 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone.
    A straight-on front photo of the shamrocks hanging on a wall doesn't show all the colors well-enough. I think I want a shamrock shower and will try suspending them from the ceiling, but I'll need more shamrocks and some assistance with the hanging of each! A straight-on front photo of the shamrocks hanging on a wall doesn't show all the colors well-enough. I think I want a shamrock shower and will try suspending them from the ceiling, but I'll need more shamrocks and some assistance with the hanging of each!

    Both shamrocks are now done -- yeah; what an easy seasonal item to make! I have not tried suspending my shamrocks by string from the ceiling, or making a paper chain link from which to suspend them, so I still have some experimentation to do. I am pleased enough with this project that I would do it again -- maybe I'll make varying sizes of shamrocks using different colors of green? I have lots of future choices that will make the next round of shamrocks result in interesting variations.

    Enjoy your spring; erin go bragh!

    Martha

  • Shading & Blending: Decisions -- Decisions...

    Where to start? I've noticed several members of our Color Art for Everyone Facebook Group are unsure what/why/how to use a particular medium, what shades of colors should be used and what type of coloring books are preferable.

    Various media examples from which to choose. Markers, gel pens, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, petroleum jelly, water and paint brushes. Various media examples from which to choose. Markers, gel pens, colored pencils, watercolor pencils, petroleum jelly, water and paint brushes.

    I can offer suggestions and some practical advice, but being artistic lets you experiment. Everyone can show artistry. Some people's results may be more refined than others, but it is all part of artistic self-expression. It's up to you to be adventurous and have fun! Let loose and try it out; that's the benefit of stress-free coloring.

    Along with your choice of medium, you may want to (re)familiarize yourself with colors. A good example of how colors can work for you is found by viewing a color wheel. Here is a basic example of how to use a color wheel.

    Understanding colors; from inside cover of books in the Color Art for Everyone Series. Understanding colors; from inside cover of books in the Color Art for Everyone Series.

    Don't restrict yourself by using only one medium in your drawing. Coloring is about experimenting, as well as, disconnecting from the logical part of life. Here are some good examples of combining different media.

    Different effects created using various media; from inside cover of books in the Color Art for Everyone Series. Different effects created using various media; from inside cover of books in the Color Art for Everyone Series.

    Should you consider what you desire as your end result? Sure; the look may change your mind in what medium to use. Also, are you planning on giving your page as a gift? Does your answer affect your choice of medium? It may; so here's a page showing result comparisons that may assist you in your decision.

    Compare the different results you may get from using various media; from the inside cover of books in the Art of Coloring series. Compare the different results you may get from using various media; from the inside cover of books in the Art of Coloring series.

    You don't need the most or best in your media choices. You can have rich, colored pages emerge if you practice. As a post-baccalaureate student a few years ago, my Photoshop professor reminded the class of layers and applying layers of color as we see in a painting. It was a great example to think of fine arts as applied to digital art for desired results.

    Start with single colors applied multiple times in each design area. Use this idea to create your colored pages. In the example below, I have made my choices of color and have started to apply the first layer. In some areas, you can see more intense colors emerge as I have applied additional layers.

    Build your color intensity by applying more than one "layer" of color. Can you see the differences? Build your color intensity by applying more than one "layer" of color. Can you see the differences?

    In my project below, the page's repeating design reminded me of wallpaper. Continuing with this idea of applying layers of color, I moved on to the next step by introducing several colors to each design area. I wanted to decide on colors that repeated as did the design, but I also wanted to show dimension within each character of the design.

    Add dimension to your project. Use two or more pencil shades to create depth of light and shadow. Add dimension to your project. Use two or more pencil shades to create depth of light and shadow.

    In the next two examples, I have used markers to create a dimensional effect applying several shades of color in each flower; and, experimented with gel pens and watercolor pencils used with (regular) colored pencils in the page showing the many strands of shells.

    Each flower has at least three marker colors for each petal; from Floral Wonders Color Art for Everyone. Each flower has at least three marker colors for each petal; from Floral Wonders Color Art for Everyone.
    Trying gel pens, watercolor pencils and (regular) colored pencils; from Ocean Wonders Color Art for Everyone. Trying gel pens, watercolor pencils and (regular) colored pencils; from Ocean Wonders Color Art for Everyone.

    Now, I wanted to experiment with new applications creating different blended effects. Using petroleum jelly to assist in blending is new to me but has received a lot of attention recently. First, I decided on a page of waves; a page that could express movement from the book Art of Coloring Coastal.

    A different blending effect created by using petroleum jelly. A different blending effect created by using petroleum jelly.

    I started with a simple, light layer of colored pencils in my waves. I then began applying petroleum jelly. There are different methods to apply the petroleum jelly, so do some research and try them out. After my first layer of colored pencils, I dipped a colored pencil of choice in the petroleum jelly and started coloring. The petroleum jelly is used from the pencil tip very quickly, so reapply often. I then decided to return to the area with petroleum jelly and blend by rubbing with a cotton swab. You can see the progression of my page in the following images.

    Emphasize movement by layering multiple shades of dark colors before using your choice of main colors; from Art of Coloring Coastal. Emphasize movement by layering multiple shades of dark colors before using your choice of main colors; from Art of Coloring Coastal.
    This larger wave shows pencils shaded then the beginning use of petroleum jelly. The colors become brighter but perhaps less intense at same time. Decide what effect you want for each particular project; from Art of Coloring Coastal. This larger wave shows pencils shaded then the beginning use of petroleum jelly. The colors become brighter but perhaps less intense at same time. Decide what effect you want for each particular project; from Art of Coloring Coastal.
    Whole page showing both the smaller waves with darker shades of colored pencils only, and one large wave with beginning use of petroleum jelly over colored pencils; from Art of Coloring Coastal. Whole page showing both the smaller waves with darker shades of colored pencils only, and one large wave with beginning use of petroleum jelly over colored pencils; from Art of Coloring Coastal.
    Close-up: larger wave with colored pencil application, then pencil tips dipped in petroleum jelly and finally blended using a cotton swab. Close-up: larger wave with colored pencil application, then pencil tips dipped in petroleum jelly and finally blended using a cotton swab.

    In the two images below I show a close-up, then a summary of steps used to create different looks. First, I show waves using colored pencils as my 'base' layer, with the next layer being watercolor pencils applied on top. Next for your review, I outlined some of the steps by placing notes on my page.

    Depth of space intensifies with larger waves behind the smaller rolling waves. Waves will probably have more color contrasts to suggest their movement. Watercolor pencils have been used with (regular) colored pencils; from Art of Coloring Coastal. Depth of space intensifies with larger waves behind the smaller rolling waves. The taller waves will probably have more color contrasts to suggest surges in their movement. Watercolor pencils have been used with (regular) colored pencils; from Art of Coloring Coastal.
    Notes show some different steps and effects created; from Art of Coloring Coastal. Notes show some different steps and effects created; from Art of Coloring Coastal.

    Another reason why I love our coloring books is their paper. Look how well this page has held up with all of my experimentation using multiple layers of colored pencils, petroleum jelly, and watercolor pencils.

    Back of my coloring page after use of watercolor pencils and colored pencils with petroleum jelly. Back of my coloring page after use of watercolor pencils and colored pencils with petroleum jelly.

    Some tips I have learned: Don't dip too deeply into the petroleum jelly because you'll only get a clump on your entire pencil point -- and it will get too messy on your paper. Re-dipping and applying often is best. Wipe your pencil clean, gently blot the paper with a clean paper towel, and leave your page open to set.

    This post holds a lot of information - and it's incomplete; there's always more! Use your judgment after you try things out. I offer these ideas as suggestions - learn by doing and sharing your experiences with us; join our Color Art for Everyone Facebook Group for the easiest way to share.  If you're looking for new coloring books, visit Leisure Arts today.

    Another thought on the construction of coloring books. Before the resurgence in their popularity, whenever I found a grown-up coloring book, I thought those with spines were better -- until I tried to open up to the page I wanted to color. The spine needed to be broken in order to lay flat; not great for a book's life. For me, saddle-stitched (stapled) books with perforated pages are key! The perforated pages give me the option to remove my pages when done. Oh, yes; I keep my pages intact in their respective coloring book while I'm coloring. I have no difficulty in coloring the entire page because they open to lay flat on any hard surface. My pages in their books travel safely with me -- great transportable entertainment!

    Have fun --

    Martha

  • A Medley of Colors in a Mandala

    I've been doing some coloring lately, and looking through Art of Coloring Mandalas Adult Coloring Book has been a great way to enjoy the end of the day. I started coloring this page a little while ago:

    003I wasn't quite sure how I wanted to color this at first. I'm fine with things that look like plants or animals, but I wasn't sure what colors would look good on something like this Adult Coloring Book Page.

     

    So I went with all of them!

     

    006

    I started with the outer areas, and I'm not sure why.  I'm also not sure why I tend to color in a counter-clockwise circular pattern, either, but here we are.  I had time to notice these things about myself while I was working on this big floral-looking mandala.  That's about as meditative as I got.  I feel like I should be a little more meditative whenever I work in an adult coloring book, especially one with mandala patterns, but sometimes just focusing on coloring in the spaces and choosing the next color brings me plenty of tranquility.   I pulled my colored pencils out of the box in color groupings--the greens, the blues, and so on--and moved from dark tones to light ones as I colored my way to the center.

    008

    I've moved on to this sheet since finishing my rainbow mandala.

    009

    The colors are a little more haphazardly placed, and I thought some of the designs looked like bees so I colored them that way.  I'm using crayons on this page, and it's a more relaxed and silly approach.  Whichever method I use, I know I'm going to have a good time coloring these beautiful mandalas.

  • New Year, New Project Goals!

    Happy New Year!

    I don't have many resolutions for 2016, but there is one that I've been thinking about a lot lately: I need to have a better handmade gift stash this year.

    I like to make things, and I do make a lot of things throughout the year, but it doesn't take much to make you realize that you're woefully understocked when you have more gift events than you do time and you want to give a gift that's handmade and lovely.  Like....say, when three women in your close friends and family decide to have babies in the same month.  Or when your bank balance reveals that you won't be buying Starbucks gift cards for people at your kid's school and you'd best haul yourself to the yarn stash.  Can I knit three cowls and four mittens in the span of a month?  Why yes, it turns out I can! But should I?

    Uh, the muscle at the top of my forearm is telling me I should not.

    I know I'll get caught shorthanded at some point this year, but I'd like for it to happen less often.  My goals for the 2016 Gift Stash include:

    -some baby stuff.  Any ol' baby stuff.  It's all cute, it's all small, and as long as it's machine washable it's all going to be appreciated.

    -some cowls.  Cowls are great, and even noncrafters appreciate them.  I'm working on buying my yarn in a few more neutral colors so I can have some handknits on hand that aren't....generic, but just more readily welcomed by a larger audience.  I might love some handpainted variegated yarn, but not everyone will.  And I want something that just about everyone will love.  Just two cowls all knitted or crocheted up and rearing to go could shave actual metric tons of stress off of my life.

    -a prayer shawl.  I've never made one, and I hope I don't need to give one away.  But I'd like have one ready so that I can quickly wrap it up and give it to someone rather than look for yarns and a pattern while feeling concerned about a grieving loved one.

    -hats!  You can make them big, small, slouchy, cabled, plain, tight, long, short--it doesn't matter.  I feel like there's no wrong way to go with hats.  I've been in an earflap mood, and I've discovered to my unending delight that people who wear hats to keep warm really don't seem to mind if their hats look goofy.  You can't go wrong with hats!  (Unless you give them to someone who's either unappreciative or just not a hat person.  But that's a different set of problems entirely.)

    So!  Here's what I've got to get me started.  This is a baby blanket that I finished earlier this week:

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    It's Square #49 from 99 Granny Squares to Crochet.  I've made three blankets with this pattern and I don't know when I'll get tired of the way front post crochet stitches add some texture to these simple squares.  I love this.  I made thirty squares and stitched them together in five rows of six squares.  I crocheted a couple of rows around the edge and now I have a pretty big baby blanket in my arsenal and I don't even know anyone who's pregnant!

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    I feel so good right now!

    Next up is the Martha Cowl from Crochet Scarves and Cowls:

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    Forget what I said about more neutral colors.  This is a pattern I've wanted to try for several months that looks really great with a mix of colors and I really liked this yarn.  It's the Folklore colorway from Loops & Threads Impeccable Ombre, and it's really lovely in addition to being trusty ol' acrylic yarn that's ready for some hard living and careless washing habits.

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    The pattern is pretty easy to keep up with once you get the hang of it.  It did take me a while to get the hang of it, though, which is fine.  This looks like it was fine, right?  It was fine!

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    Since I wasn't crocheting on a deadline, I wasn't too perturbed at having problems following a pattern while being interrupted every 15 seconds by my daughter asking questions or saying "Hey, look!" because 1) like I said, I was in no rush and 2) it is impossible to do much of anything when you're being interrupted every 15 seconds by someone saying "hey look!" and then you actually have to look and come up with fresh and inventive compliments for that someone's Lego-building skills.  That's the biggest reason I want to be more intentional with the TV and crafting time I enjoy so much after my little girl goes to bed (although that sore forearm thing is a close second): I have Lego creations to compliment and games of Candy Land to lose.  I've decided that 2016 is going to be the year I enjoy myself and I'm just not the kind of person who enjoys that rush of adrenaline you get from weaving in your ends ten minutes before you give your project to someone.  What I do enjoy is going about my regular mom life while I think about my fabulous gift stash like I'm a dragon with a cave full of treasure.

     

    I'd better get back to that cowl!

  • There's Always Something More to Color!

    Sometimes when I'm coloring, I get into a rush to hurry up so I can see the finished page.

    But other times, I catch myself wishing the project would last a little longer.

    Flower coloring page

    This was a lovely colored page!  I will miss it!

    flower color page

    But wait!  What are those little circles in the background?

    Orange color flower - Adult Coloring BookI don't know what they are, but I know I'm going to color them and I'm glad this page has a few more details for me to enjoy.

    When you're having such a good time, it's nice when there's always another detail to enjoy.  I'm going to have a lovely time taking a little more time to add a little more color.

  • Make Coloring Book Pages into More

    As I have said over the years, I love to color! It is a natural outlet of creativity for me. A new box of crayons, pencils or markers always made me smile.  Coloring was never a phase for me; it was something that made me, me!

    Paper pumpkin from coloring book pages. Paper pumpkin from coloring book pages.

    The mass appeal of coloring has reignited! You know you can color by yourself as a means of entertainment or meditation. But don't forget coloring can be done in a group as a play date or coloring party. Whatever your preference, just relax, be imaginative and have fun!

    Holiday crunch time is here with Thanksgiving right around the corner! Families and friends will gather. They may need an outlet for their pent-up energy and excitement, especially if the weather is uncooperative for outdoor play. Coloring fits the bill. It is an activity that is not too demanding, does not require an organizer, and is not food-related.  Added bonus -- it can be done in a group setting! What a great way to offer your group gathering a stress-free, decorative and interactive activity!

    I saw similar projects to my finished paper pumpkin posted on Pinterest. I kept playfulness in mind, as I experimented with pages from my adult coloring books to make decorative paper pumpkins. After I had fun coloring, I found what worked best for me and now I'll share my steps with you.

    I used two pages from Jungle Wonders Color Art for Everyone; one page had areas colored with markers, the second page was uncolored. I'll show you how I made my paper pumpkins.

    Colored page using markers. Colored page using markers.

    I knew that I would be cutting my two pages into strips so even the colored page did not have every part of its design filled with marker. I used colors that were more fall-like to match my other seasonal decor.

    Uncolored page. Uncolored page.

    Getting my pages ready...

    Pages cut into strips - see other image for dimensions. Pages cut into strips - see other image for dimensions.

    Each coloring book page would yield five 2-inch strips, measuring the page when it was turned horizontally (landscape mode). I used two pages to make one paper pumpkin.

    Two-inch wide strips. Each with two centered punched holes, one at top and bottom respectively, one-half inch from edge. Two-inch wide strips. Each with two centered punched holes, one at top and bottom respectively, one-half inch from edge.

    With the cutting done, I marked where my punched holes would be on either end of each strip. Next, I stacked my strips and got a 12-inch long pipe cleaner ready.

    Two stacks of coloring book pages; uncolored on left, colored on right. Plus, a 12 inch long pipe cleaner. Two stacks of coloring book pages; uncolored on left, colored on right. Plus, a 12 inch long pipe cleaner.

    Making a spiral at one end of the pipe cleaner helps to secure it as the base of the pumpkin. All strips will then be placed on the pipe cleaner.

    Make a spiral base at one end of the pipe cleaner. Make a spiral base at one end of the pipe cleaner.

    Decide how you would like to order your strips. In a random order or in a sequence to create a particular design pattern. I alternated between uncolored and colored strips.

    Slide each strip onto pipe cleaner - right side down. Alternate uncolored page with colored page, starting with the bottom hole. Slide each strip onto pipe cleaner - right side down. Alternate uncolored page with colored page, starting with the bottom hole.

    After all the strips are stacked by their bottom holes onto the pipe cleaner, feed the pipe cleaner through their top holes.

    Now weave the pipe cleaner through the top hole of each strip. Now weave the pipe cleaner through the top hole of each strip.

    You might have to bend your pipe cleaner above the spiral base in order for it to stand up straight. Repeat as necessary while you are fanning out each pumpkin strip, as described in the next step.

    From the side, slide your strips down until a nice arch forms. This angle will become your rounded pumpkin shape. From the side, slide your strips down until a nice arch forms. This angle will become your rounded pumpkin shape.

    Rework the pipe cleaner as necessary so it stands up on a tabletop as you are fanning out the strips making your pumpkin shape.

    Fan out each strip from the stack starting with the innermost strip. Fan out each strip from the stack starting with the innermost strip.

    After all the strips are fanned out, and you are satisfied with the pumpkin's look, curl the top of your pipe cleaner so it looks like a stem. Wrap your pipe cleaner around a pencil to get a great curlicue shape!

    After all the strips are fanned out, curl your pipe cleaner into a stem. After all the strips are fanned out, curl your pipe cleaner into a stem.

    Yeah, all done; transformation complete. Just think how much fun making paper pumpkins would be during your Thanksgiving celebration! Young and old(er) friends and family could be coloring pages and constructing paper pumpkins at the same time.

    Finished paper pumpkin! Adult coloring books can be used to make seasonal decor! Finished paper pumpkin! Adult coloring books can be used to make seasonal decor!

    Everyone's participation creates seasonal remembrances, tabletop decor, or make-and-take gifts to be carried home. Relax during the holidays, have fun and color!

    What other fun art projects will you do with your coloring book pages?

  • Using Coloring Pages for Another Craft

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    What do you do when you finish a page in a coloring book for adults?  I was going to be flippant and say "You're an adult. You do whatever you want with it.", but now I'm curious about what you do with your own coloring books at home.  Do you stick pages on the fridge you own because you're an adult?  Use a page as a bookmark in a coffee table book on your grown-up coffee table? I decided to turn one of my coloring pages into a craft.  Here's a page I colored a while back.  It's a nice leafy-looking page from Natural Wonders.

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    And here's my gratitude tree.

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    I n case Pinterest hasn't told you, a gratitude tree is a fun Thanksgiving craft where you write down what you're thankful for on scraps of paper and then affix them to a branch.  I found this branch on the sidewalk while on a walk last week and brought it home just for this.  It's a little bit too large for our table, but my little girl thinks the seed pods look like bats and she loves it just as it is.  I cut out some vaguely leaf-shaped pieces of paper with some scrapbooking paper and she's been practicing her handwriting while we think of all the things we're thankful for.  Last year, we did 3 or 4 leaves a day and it was a lot of fun.  I also really like emphasizing all the people we love and all the good things we have before the season of Christmas advertising and the subsequent begging for every toy in sight begins.  Look closely! There's a leaf on the right that says "Mom"!  She's thankful for me and I have it in writing now!

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    So back to my coloring page.  It has leaves.  I have a tree. So  I cut out a few pieces of leaves.

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    And wrote down a few things I am thankful for.

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    And as for the rest of the paper?  I cut out some vaguely leaf-shaped pieces.

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    It's good to have a stash of leaves.  I've even gotten ahead of the game this year and added some yarn loops by threading a tapestry needle, pulling it through the paper, and tying the ends together in a knot.  You can use Christmas ornament hooks or a hot glue gun and it will work just as well.  Because we're all adults here, and (at least when it comes to crafting) we can do whatever we want.

    But for real, let me know what you do with your finished coloring sheets if you feel like sharing!

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