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Holidays

  • Dress Up Your Sweet Treats This Valentine's Day!

    Hearts, flowers, and candy galore usually define Valentine's Day. Make your celebration even more heartfelt by including thoughtful special gift wraps or decorative embellishments as additions to your gifts and sweets.

    My idea was simple enough; I wanted to make some animal cut-outs using pages from my coloring book stash. Then I got serious when I saw these super-cute animal shapes by Lia Griffith and just had to do them for Valentine's Day.

    These animal templates for DIY Candy Huggers by Lia Griffith found on Pinterest served as my inspiration. These animal templates for DIY Candy Huggers by Lia Griffith found on Pinterest served as my inspiration.

    My first step was to choose one book from my coloring book collection. I chose Leisure Arts' item #6903 - Art of Coloring Nature after I saw several pages with heart-shapes incorporated into the designs. Plus, I wanted nature-themed pages for my animals.

    A wonderful collection of imaginary and realistic flora can be found in Leisure Arts #6903 - Art of Coloring Nature. A wonderful collection of imaginary and realistic flora can be found in Leisure Arts #6903 - Art of Coloring Nature.

    Here's an example of one page whose heart shapes were very well incorporated into its design.

    The heart shape can be found peeking out among the flowers and birds on this page from Leisure Arts #6903 - Art of Coloring Nature. I've lightly colored some for you to see more easily. The heart shape can be found peeking out among the flowers and birds on this page from Leisure Arts #6903 - Art of Coloring Nature. I've lightly colored some for you to see more easily.

    After enlarging and printing the original templates by Lia Griffith, I modified one so that my three animal shapes included a cat along with the bunny and bear shapes. Once I had a master set of my own templates, I set out arranging them on a coloring book page; I could trace and cut three animal shapes from one coloring book page!

    I arranged my animal templates to ensure all three shapes could be cut from one coloring book page. The red construction paper had already been glued to the back of the coloring book page. I arranged my animal templates to ensure all three shapes could be cut from one coloring book page. The red construction paper had already been glued to the back of the coloring book page.

    I found some heart-shaped candy that I thought would fit under the animals' arms once crossed into a hug; I was anxious to see this project come together!

    Each animal had a foam sticker placed on its body. Then a non-edible treat like a Valentine's-themed eraser, or a piece of heart-shaped candy was place over the heart. Every animal had a foam sticker placed on its body. Then a piece of heart-shaped candy, or a non-edible treat like a Valentine's-themed eraser, was placed over each animal's heart. 

    Now I wanted to place a decorative tie around the arms instead of permanently gluing them together. Because the arms could be uncrossed, and the candy eaten, I always wanted a heart shape to be seen while the paper animal was being used. I adhered heart-shaped foam stickers to each of my paper animal huggers.

    Next, each animal's arms were crossed and held together in a hug by a removable silk cord. Next, each animal's arms were crossed and held together in a hug by a removable silk cord.

    I knew I had to find another type of treat instead of candy. Not every treat has to be edible; sometimes there are dietary restrictions that must be followed for children and adults alike. Don't take the celebration out of the party, just find a suitable fun treat that can be used instead of candy. You can see my solution was a fun mini-eraser!

    Instead of a heart-shaped candy, try using a different treat like this eraser for your "animal hugger". Instead of a heart-shaped candy, try using a different treat for your "animal hugger" like this eraser.

    Here are my animal huggers all in a row atop some festive Valentine's Day paper doilies.

    Here are four of the six "animal candy huggers" made by using two coloring book pages from Leisure Arts #6903 - Art of Coloring Nature. Here are four of the six "animal candy huggers" made by using two coloring book pages from Leisure Arts #6903 - Art of Coloring Nature.

    If you prefer not to make animal shapes, consider dressing up a rectangular-shaped chocolate bar. Look what you can do with some Paper Shaper Craft Scissors and paper flowers (like the ones I made in my earlier post Birthday Coloring Cards & Tea Light Cake).

    Wrap a candy bar, color a few shapes, secure with a band made from construction paper and add some paper flowers. Now that's fancy chocolate! Wrap a candy bar, color a few shapes, secure with a band made from construction paper and add some paper flowers. Now that's fancy chocolate!

    If you have a photo taken every year on Valentine's Day, or have a favorite one in mind to give in a personalized frame, try combining a few decorative ideas into one gift. Because I found a modestly-priced wooden frame it had no glass in its frame's opening to cover a photograph, nor did it have a wooden back to more securely hold an image in place.

    So now I needed to use a coloring book page that could act as the frame's back, as well as, to serve as a nice-looking image place holder until a new photograph was inserted. The page I planned on cutting was from Leisure Arts' item #6905 - Art of Coloring Designs.

    I call this page "Hearts Aplenty" and I used it with my painted frame. This design can be found in Leisure Arts #6905 - Art of Coloring Designs. I call this page "Hearts Aplenty" and I used it with my painted frame. This design can be found in Leisure Arts #6905 - Art of Coloring Designs.

    I painted my inexpensive wooden frame red. Then I glued a wooden ampersand symbol painted black, with a white outline, onto the frame to help signify the unifying feeling of love on this day. As part of the frame's presentation, I placed one of my animal huggers on top of it.

    I painted two inexpensive wooden items and combined them to make a very nice Valentine's gift. The frame with heart-shaped opening along with the ampersand were painted with acrylic paint and then sprayed with an acrylic sealer. A photo can be added later but until then, I chose to use a coloring book page as a placeholder. The bunny is not attached to the frame. I painted two inexpensive wooden items and combined them to make a very nice Valentine's gift. The frame with heart-shaped opening along with the ampersand were painted with acrylic paint and then sprayed with an acrylic sealer. A photo can be added later but until then, I chose to use a coloring book page as a placeholder. The bunny is not attached to the frame.

    Wonderful ideas come together with a little inspiration - and coloring book pages! How do you try to incorporate your coloring into other gifts, stationery, and/or decorations?

    Happy Valentine's Day to all!

    Martha

  • Tags, Bags & Paper: Wrap It Up!

    It's time to wrap your presents. Get ideas and gather your supplies! It's time to ramp it up and make those presents a little more special!

    Here's how you can make a nice presentation to the gifts you have specially purchased for the people around you. Don't skimp on the thoughtfulness of the gift by throwing an unwrapped box in a plain gift bag. You can jazz up your gift tags and wrapping paper a bit from using your coloring instruments to adding a little more flair with needle and thread, or adding other store-bought embellishments. Experiment and have fun!

    Wrapping Supplies: Large Glitter Bags (whose glitter effect does NOT come off - fabulous!), Kraft Paper Tags and Burlap Tags. Wrapping Supplies: Large Glitter Bags (whose glitter effect does NOT come off - fabulous!), Kraft Paper Tags and Burlap Tags.

    The best new paper glitter bags I've used in years - the glitter does NOT come off on your hands, or table, or carpet... Look at these Large Glitter Bags in four fabulous colors!

    I will have both wrapped boxed presents, as well as, bagged presents. Now I'll focus on making decorated gift tags to use on all my presents. I used both the Burlap Tags (item #47564) and the Kraft Paper Tags (item #47563) and was very pleased in the versatility that both of these basic designs offered!

    Embellished burlap and paper gift tags; use as ornaments, too! Embellished burlap and paper gift tags; use as ornaments, too! 

    I had so much fun making these tags. I let my creativity grow from simply coloring an ornament design from the Art of Coloring Festive (item #6945), to making tags that were embellished and dimensional that could be hung as ornaments, too!

    Layer your tags, whether burlap or paper, to have both to/from names and a design.

    Close-Up of layered effect using both Burlap and Kraft Paper Tags for a present. Close-Up of layered effect using both Burlap and Kraft Paper Tags for a present.

    Pairing my completed tags with the Large Glitter Bags.

    Pairing a Large Glitter Bag with one of the embellished gift tags. Pairing Large Glitter Bags with just the right embellished gift tag.

    Here's the most elaborate gift tag that I made. I used two Kraft Paper Tags to complete this ornament. I cut-out an oval shape in my first tag that would act as a window; my second tag was kept whole. The first tag would get a piece of hard plastic (cut from another package's blister pack) to cover its window. The second, whole tag would serve as the background; I glued craft super-mini glass marbles to it. I added my colored ornament on top of the marbles. I aligned the first tag with its window to the second and glued them both together.

    Make a cut-out in one paper tag and layer over another with choice of embellishment. Make a cut-out in one paper tag and layer over another with choice of embellishment.

    The snowflake cross stitch gift tag was completed using a Burlap Tag; it was backed with another burlap tag.

    A simple cross-stitch design on a Burlap Tag does well as the foundation for other dimensional tag effects. A simple cross-stitch design on a Burlap Tag does well as the foundation for other dimensional tag effects.

    Now it's time to wrap some boxed presents. HMM...how could I make the box itself a little more interesting. I went to Pinterest to get some ideas on how to decorate gifts using yarn -- other than using pom-poms. This image caught my eye immediately with its yarn woven decorated present.  Did you know Leisure Arts carries Lion Brand® Yarn?

    To decorate packages with yarn, I followed the directions as outlined in the above-mentioned pin and gathered two yarns from my stash.

    Share your love of crafts by adding yarn as part of your gift wrapping. Share your love of crafts by adding yarn as part of your gift wrapping.

    Here I am beginning to weave the second yarn - in a different weight and color as suggested.

    Starting to weave the second color in a different weight yarn. But wait; I think I'll make a change to two strands of medium weight yarn per row -- see the finished package! Starting to weave the second color in a different weight yarn. But wait; I think I'll make a change to two strands of medium weight yarn per row -- see the finished package!

    I liked the variation that I made to the initial set of instructions. I just embellished the embellishment!

    Simple brown paper is a complementary back-drop to the warmth of the yarn and use of a paper gift tag. Simple brown paper is a complementary back-drop to the warmth of the yarn and use of a paper gift tag.

    So I had half of my package of Kraft Paper Tags (30 tags / pack) unused. I wanted to find something additional to do with my remaining tags; I happened to fan mine out when it dawned on me.  With simple additions of several pipe cleaners, I had a wreath. What a great idea to do for younger kids to decorate. What would you do with your extras? Make a deck of cards with two packages of paper tags? What about any extra Burlap Tags (12 tags / pack)?

    Get creative with your tags! I made this wreath by adding pipe cleaners to the fanned paper tags. Get creative with your tags! I made this wreath by adding pipe cleaners to the fanned paper tags.

    I'd love to see your ideas come to life! Post some images of your packages and projects. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season -- keep it creative with less stress and more merry!

    Martha

  • DIY Holiday Lights: Easy Gifting and Decorating Creatively

    Expand the use of tea lights and LED candles to craft easy holiday ornaments and table decor. This can be a most enjoyable time of year with all of the holiday crafting and baking, along with its celebrations, gatherings, and functions. But it can be a stressful time, too; especially when it comes to gifting and decorating creativity. Relax and review some of these craft ideas I've gathered for you!

    I saw the first project below last Christmas season but never got around to making any. So this year it was the first craft project on my list to do and share. A benefit to having been delayed a year, there are multiple variations now! This project's main component are a set of tea lights like the ones Leisure Arts sells (#47150). 

    Use tea lights to make ornaments and luminaries for holiday decor! Use tea lights to make ornaments and luminaries for holiday decor!

    The goal is to make Christmas tree ornaments that look like snowmen using the tea lights. Last year when I started gathering supplies I never could find a stove pipe hat so I moved on and chose a felt stocking cap. Luckily I found one misplaced pack of six and bought them. Fast-forward to this year, I followed a Pinterest pin to this post on Tea Light Snowman Ornaments and followed its directions very closely.

    I tried to purchase another set of the felt stocking caps [in the same size] as I found last year, but they couldn't be found in a local brick-and-mortar store. After not feeling positive about my manipulating ribbon and glue to replicate a scarf, I just experimented with pipe cleaners and really liked the result. Here is a picture of most of my supplies; some supplies were added as modifications to the original tea light snowman were made.

    Most supplies needed for Snowman Santa and Snow Lady tea light ornaments. Most supplies needed for Snowman Santa and Snow Lady tea light ornaments.

    Oh, I'm beginning to have a holiday smile on my face!

    Positioning the felt hat on tea light with eyes and mouth already marked! Positioning the felt hat on tea light with eyes and mouth already marked!

    I added a little more personality to each of the light's characters. The Snow Lady has long eyelashes with a warm chenille pipe cleaner scarf. She's wearing ear muffs crafted out of a smaller piece of pipe cleaner and mini poms-poms. Snowman Santa has a gift with him!

    Snow Lady tea light wears ear muffs with her chenille scarf. The battery compartment is still accessible from the back. Snow Lady tea light wears ear muffs with her chenille scarf. The battery compartment is still accessible from the back.

    My next project was also inspired by a Pin I saw last year using toilet paper cardboard tubes to fashion owl ornaments.

    Molding the cardboard tubes to have owl ears. Molding the cardboard tubes to have owl ears.

    I painted my owl a fairly true-to-life color and added details using my black Sharpie marker. As I was looking at the owl's detailed face and feathers, and thinking about its placement on a tree or wreath, it dawned on me to make it a luminary IF a tea light would fit inside the cardboard tube. I had not planned on the owl decoration to be a luminary, so I had to carefully cut slits through the layers of painted cardboard. Next, I used Loctite® Fun-Tak® to hold the tea light in place.

    Angled feather-slits made with a craft knife through painted cardboard tube. Angled feather-slits made with a craft knife through painted cardboard tube.

    Guess what; a tea light from Leisure Arts was the PERFECT FIT!

    A tea light fits perfectly inside the cardboard tube; it is held in place with some Loctite® Fun-Tak®. A tea light fits perfectly inside the cardboard tube; it is held in place with some Loctite® Fun-Tak®.

    I hot glued a wooden clothespin (Leisure Arts #48158) to the back of the owl so I could perch it anywhere on a tree or wreath. I think the angle of my feather slits need to changed, and the feathers need to be opened more to enhance more illumination.

    A little illumination is visible. Perhaps a different angle or wider slits are needed for more light to be seen. A little illumination is visible. Perhaps a different angle or wider slits are needed for more light to be seen.

    I think I'll experiment with another owl and circular holes.

    A two-tone red owl with pin-pricked holes for better tea light visibility. A two-tone red owl with pin-pricked holes for better tea light visibility.
    The owl's features are done and the tea light is in place! The owl's features are done and the tea light is in place!

    I checked the "better" illumination by sitting my owl in the office's semi-darkened mail room. I think the red owl will look great on a tree with the tea light snow people!

    Sitting in the office mailroom. Sitting in the office mail room.

    Now to show you all three tea light ornaments clustered together: Snowman Santa, Snow Lady and Owl. I like the brighter color used to paint the owl red. I think I'll lean towards making more owls in a variety of folk art colors and add whimsical details around the eyes, feathers and wings.

    On the office tree! Snowman Santa and the Snow Lady both have their lights on. The owl's light is on, too, but the angle doesn't show it very well. On the office tree! Snowman Santa and the Snow Lady both have their lights on. The owl's light is on, too, but the angle doesn't show it very well.
    See the difference in the tea light noses with the light turned on or off. Remember: color the flame orange with a permanent marker. See the difference in the tea light noses with the light turned on or off. Remember: color the flame orange with a permanent marker.

    Next up, more holiday lights on my dining room table at home. I have my LED 3-Pack Candle Set  in a row  atop a table runner.

    The very popular LED 3-pack candle set can be part of a holiday tablescape, too! The very popular LED 3-pack candle set can be part of a holiday tablescape, too!

    I wanted to add to my tabletop candles and decided on making a paper village using my coloring book paper from Art of Coloring  Festive (Leisure Arts #6945) and Art of Coloring Holiday (Leisure Arts #7094). I've just gotten started but am very pleased with the simple, clean paper house design found here.

    The tea lights make paper house luminaries as part of the table decor. The tea lights make paper house luminaries as part of the table decor.

    I looked at many paper house, paper box and paper folded ornament designs but this design by Hello Bee was the best for this project: a house structure to be a luminary and to show off a coloring book design. The paper house on the right has red and green tissue paper taped to the inside of the structure as a line. With the tea light turned on, the tissue paper-lined house was supposed  to give a warm holiday glow. However, it was the heaviest tissue paper I've ever felt and was displeased with the effect; that house will get a renovation! I like the intent of the added tissue paper, but I will need to buy some new (traditionally lighter-weight) yellow tissue paper. When the tea light is turned off, the tissue paper liner masks the appearance of the tea light if you don't like it being seen inside the house.

    In the early Fall, I showed different ways to use and decorate the LED 3-Pack Candle Set for National LED Day. Along with button garlands wrapped around the pillar candles, other embellishments were incorporated to the tablescape that included leaves, more buttons, baskets, etc. Not shown in my earlier post, was the below image of a wintry decorated candle; it is perfect for Christmas and beyond. I made snowball pom-poms (watch how here) and used them along with another button garland to decorate around the largest LED candle in the set.

    These snowball pom-poms look great in holiday colors complementing the ribbon and button garland. These snowball pom-poms look great in holiday colors complementing the ribbon and button garland.

    Candy canes are quite popular to use as part of your holiday decorations this time of year. This home decor candy cane candle project is so festive you could use it in any room for some extra holiday glitz. I wanted to try making a ring of candy canes surrounding a large candle, that I first saw here. It was a great decorative tip or trick, but I wanted to use the largest pillar candle from my LED 3-Pack Candle Set so I would not have to worry about the candle burning down.

    Simple idea - festive look! I'll use my LED pillar candles and won't worry about any flame! Simple idea - festive look! I'll use my LED pillar candles and won't worry about any flame!

    Since I was going to use a hot glue gun to secure the candy canes to each other and I didn't want any hot glue seepage onto my LED candle, I first made a poster board sleeve, or ring, to fit around my candle. Then I glued each candy cane to the poster board and made the candy cane ring. By using the largest pillar candle from my LED 3-Pack Candle Set I don't have to worry about wax getting a bit too warm for plastic wrapped peppermint candy!

    Peppermint candy canes are hot glued to a poster board sleeve [a 3"-4" ring] wrapped around the tallest LED pillar candle. Peppermint candy canes are hot glued to a poster board sleeve [a 3"-4" ring] wrapped around the tallest LED pillar candle.

    I bought inexpensive candy canes, white poster board and wide ribbon. Since I wanted a long section of each candy cane to be glued down, I cut a 3"-4" wide strip of poster board to act as a protective sleeve around the LED candle. I tied on a ribbon for extra security to assist holding the candy canes in place. Now I have an extra pop of color that can be added to any room -- and this is before the LED candle is lit!

    Fluff out that ribbon -- when you're using an LED pillar candle as part of your table decor! Fluff out that ribbon -- when you're using an LED pillar candle as part of your table decor!

    What a fun and busy couple of weeks I've had preparing and gathering these project ideas for you. I hope they will come in handy and lead you in using your tea lights and LED candles as home decor in different ways than you might have expected - craft on!

    Martha

     

     

  • Make Seasonal Magnets from Bountiful Wonders Coloring Book

    It's great fun to bring out seasonal decorations; let Leisure Arts' #6993 - Bountiful Wonders Color Art for Everyone help to brighten your home with an autumnal theme! The familiarity of old treasures combined with a new season can get one excited for many annual celebrations.  This year, why not try incorporating some newly made decorations along with your love of coloring? Using and sharing your creativity makes your craft come alive! Enjoy your coloring and pass it on: love it, make it, share it!

    If you haven't seen Leisure Arts' new Bountiful Wonders Color Art for Everyone coloring book you haven't seen some outstanding designs. It has gorgeous thematic pages filled with drawings that include leaves, pumpkins, turkeys, gourds, and beautiful decorative patterns. I fell in love with it and knew right away that I must incorporate my coloring in to a new seasonal project. I had saved a pin from Pinterest that was the perfect answer to my search for something new to create.

    Fabulous fall foliage plus harvest homage add a special homecoming for this season of giving! Leisure Arts #6993 - Bountiful Wonders Color Art for Everyone. Fabulous fall foliage plus an homage to an abundant harvest add a special homecoming theme for this season of giving! Leisure Arts' #6993 - Bountiful Wonders Color Art for Everyone.

    My new seasonal creation were magnets using at least one of my completed coloring book pages from #6993 - Bountiful Wonders Color Art for Everyone. But to make it a bit more fun, I liked the idea presented in this pin by Average But Inspired showing how to use small paint canvases to help create your magnet.

    Colored leaves using markers. Add more depth to your images with extra dots and strokes. Colored leaves using markers. Add more depth to your images with extra dots and strokes.

    Small paint canvases shown below are 2-inch square board canvases, or 2.5-inch stretched canvases. The board canvases came in black; the stretch canvases were unpainted.

    Two different types of mini canvases. On the left, a board canvas and on the right, a stretched canvas. Two different types of mini canvases. On the left, several board canvases and on the right, one stretched canvas.

    I got the idea of cutting out some of the finished colored leaves from my page instead of cutting a square section of the page for adhering to the canvas. Having individual leaves lets you decide how the leaves will be positioned on the canvas.

    Images from my colored page were cut and measured for each canvas. Images from my colored page were cut and measured for each canvas.

    Having imagined the finished product, I experimented by painting one of my stretch canvases first with acrylic paint before mounting any of the colored leaves onto it. I adhered my coloring book leaves onto the canvases using Mod Podge® by Plaid. Add at least one more coat of Mod Podge® over the canvases; let each coat dry in between applications.

    Now to make your canvases into magnets...turn them over. You can see by their very construction that they are different from each other. The stretch canvas is truly stretched over a wooden frame. The board canvas is a solid piece of board covered with canvas. Purchase your magnets from a craft store.

    On the back of each canvas, one or two magnets were glue on using E6000. On the back of each canvas, one or two magnets were glued on using E6000.

    Helpful hint: The placement of my magnets differ between the stretch canvas and the board canvases. Why? It wasn't a functional reason; the stretch canvas isn't heavier requiring two magnets. It was a visual reason. If I placed one magnet centered on one side of the wooden frame, I could see the top of it when I turned the frame over facing right-side up. It just bothered me to see the round magnet showing above the canvas. So before the glue set, I repositioned the magnet to one corner and then added another magnet in the opposite corner.

    Pretty and useful home decor with a seasonal touch - marvelous leaf magnets! Pretty and useful home or office decor with a seasonal touch - marvelous leaf magnets!

    This project made me happy; it made me smile because I transformed a coloring book page that I truly enjoyed creating into something else that could be shared. Even if the magnets are not given as gifts, by using them in your home or office setting you are sharing them. You are giving a bit of your artistic self to others for everyone's enjoyment.

    Now I have my eyes set on making more themed canvas magnets. Can't wait for the next season coming up!

    See you next time -

    Martha

  • Light Up Your Fall - National LED Light Day!

    October 7th is National LED Light Day -- so light up your surroundings! Fabulous fall decor from colorful leaves and pumpkins, to flying bats and ghosts, who couldn't use an extra candle or two, or three, to add a little glow to their seasonal surroundings? Leisure Arts has an LED 3-Pack Candle Set just for you - and it's being offered at a reduced price! These candles are fake, or faux, and are a great solution for ease of use and enhanced safety; fake means no candle flames ignited or melted wax! Look at what's included in the LED 3-Pack Candle Set along with some of our decorating ideas for you to incorporate into your seasonal decor!

    LED 3-Pack Candle Set includes a remote that offers 12 different color settings, two timer settings and a flickering-light mode. LED 3-Pack Candle Set includes a remote that offers 12 different color settings, two timer settings and a flickering-light mode.

    This is the first "fake" set of  LED Light candles that has gotten me excited to use. Not only do the faux candles feel like wax, each can be illuminated in a different color using the included remote. The remote control offers so many options, including two timer settings.

    LED Light - Unboxed 3 Set The candle heights are 3.9" (10 cm), 4.9" (12.5 cm) and 5.9" (15 cm); the diameter for each is 3" (7.6 cm). Each candle requires three AAA batteries.

    I like the fact that I can decorate each LED Light candle individually and use them as a coordinated theme, or display them separately around the house, or on the covered porch, or other area to be determined by my seasonal decor.

    Decorated LED Light for Fall Decorating each candle with a button garland. No need to worry about this decoration melting!

    As your decorating theme or mood changes, so can the color of the LED Light candles so that you can project your feelings or home's ambience as is suited from moment-to-moment!

    A beautiful amber glow setting LED Light for an evening setting. A beautiful amber glow for an evening setting.

    I have started with a simple tabletop decoration. It projects the change of the fall season into early winter by using leaves and ribbons in different colored patterns, along with the additional  button garlands I used as additional candle embellishments.

    A beautiful LED Light trio displaying various embellishments to use with your tabletop decorations! A beautiful trio displaying various embellishments to use with your tabletop decorations!

    Have fun exploring what type of seasonal decorations you can enhance by incorporating this LED Light candle trio into your lifestyle!

    Martha

  • Halloween Tote: Reflective® Finish

    My last blog entry told you about my trials and tribulations while learning how to crochet in the round. I shared with you my swatches and what I learned from each example.  I was very anxious to get started using the yarn specific for the project, Halloween Tote.  The project is one from Leisure Arts' item #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions.

    All projects in Light-Reflecting Fashions (Leisure Arts' #75526) use Red Heart® Reflective® yarn. All projects in Light-Reflecting Fashions (Leisure Arts' #75526) use Red Heart® Reflective® yarn.

    All the projects in this leaflet use Red Heart® Reflective® yarn.  October 31st is fast approaching so let me make one more review of my project instructions and off I go to get started!

    Having crocheted multiple swatches earlier, familiarized me to the pattern instructions, as well as setting my expectations of working with multiple strands of yarn. Not that some unexpected twists and turns couldn't happen, but I thought I was prepared. Oops; a snag!

    I'm so excited to start the bottom of the tote with Red Heart® Reflective® yarn. Uh-oh; there are two frayed, snagged areas so I'll be careful! I'm so excited to start the bottom of the tote with Red Heart® Reflective® yarn. Uh-oh; there are two frayed, snagged areas so I'll be careful!

    Both of these snagged areas looked worse than they were! I could easily tuck any loose fibers in between all four strands of yarn. I finished the bottom and was pleased that I did not have large holes in the composition of each stitch.

    The range of crochet hook sizes for the Halloween Tote project. I chose the middle hook marked Size P, 11.5 mm. The range of crochet hook sizes for the Halloween Tote project. I chose the middle hook marked Size P [11.5 mm].

    I chose to work with the middle hook as pictured above. The size stamped on it says Size P [11.5 mm]. This is smaller than the millimeter hook range as listed in the book's project instructions (SizeP/Q [15 mm]) but I was pleased with the results and the hook was comfortable to hold.

    As I approached Round 11 I took a closer look at my rounds and was pleased, except...except for the joining stitches! I couldn't understand why each stitch looked so loose on several rounds. Then I counted my most recent round and had one too many stitches! OUCH! I was very frustrated because I thought I marked the proper first single crochet stitch and managed the tension successfully while holding four strands. Quite the contrary!

    I did some research about the joining of rounds and what pitfalls crocheters experience. The reply by Karen of Colour in a Simple Life to one of her reader's problems addressed this issue. Karen showed a marked photograph, as well as a written explanation, which solved my dilemma; read it here in the blog entry, Colour in the Winter Blues from 2013.  Thank you, Karen!

    I do not have a picture of the ugliness of the five rounds before I ripped them out. But I was relieved to know that there was a solution -- and it really worked. I'll show you several pictures of the corrected rounds with their joining stitches looking neat and blending in with the other single crochet stitches quite nicely.

    The end of this round; now I clearly see my first single crochet marked with a stitch marker. The end of this round; now I clearly see my first single crochet marked with a stitch marker.
    The joining stitches for each round now look much tighter and blend more easier with the other stitches than my first try. The joining stitches for each round now look much tighter and blend more easier with the other stitches than my first try.
    Even looking at the joining stitches close up, they look consistent and neat. There could be improvement, but I am happy with each round. Even looking at the joining stitches close up, they look consistent and neat. There could be improvement, but I am happy with each round.
    Marked my first single crochet at the beginning of a new round. Marked my first single crochet at the beginning of a new round.

    I was happy to continue with my orange for the tote's body. Soon, I must change colors to black for the top section which included making handles. Another challenge since I had never done anything other than a flat pattern. It's tricky to work with dark colors because it really is challenging to see the stitches. Thank goodness I wasn't learning a new stitch on top of using a dark color for the first time!

    Almost done; I just joined the black yarn. Dark colors make it harder to see each stitch! Almost done; I just joined the black yarn. Dark colors make it harder to see each stitch!

    I did have to rip out the first handle once, but after that I "saw" the stitches more clearly and could complete the handles successfully. If I was an experienced crocheter, I might have opted to make the handles thicker. I say this because if this tote bag will be used by an avid trick-or-treater who might gather multiple pounds of candy, while swinging the bag to-and-fro, I might try to add another round to the handles.

    It really looks like a tote bag! Now for the finishing touches: the spider web and spider! EEK! It really looks like a tote bag! Now for the finishing touches: the spider web and spider! EEK!

    Okay - let's make this tote bag Halloween-ready...

    Voila; now I can more safely walk the neighborhood for trick-or-treat fun! Voila; now I can more safely walk the neighborhood for trick-or-treat fun!

    The spider web was not difficult to do. Just count the number of stitches/spaces to determine where to stitch your web in a fairly symmetrical placement on your Halloween Tote. Ta-dah, done! I love it, and not in a braggadocios way, but in an accomplished manner. It is a very compact and sturdy tote bag.

    Have fun getting revved up for October 31st by planning your decorations, costumes, and trick-or-treat travel route. Happy Halloween!

    Martha

     

  • Halloween Tote: Swatch Ready

    Aren't these silly questions: Do I really need another tote bag? Do I really need more yarn? I laughed out loud when I saw this Dory comic saved by Knitting Paradise on Pinterest. I have new Light Reflecting Yarn and a pattern for halloween tote, time to get started.

    For the love of yarn; found on Pinterest. For the love of yarn; found on Pinterest.

    I've only been learning to knit and crochet on-and-off for two years now; I've been coloring a lot the past 12 months! In this short amount of time, even I have accumulated five bins of yarn. However the lure of a new project, or a new color or texture of yarn, certainly inspires me to try something new. Plus, if the project is seasonal...BINGO, count me in! 

    Latest goal: I want to make this super-cute seasonal Halloween Tote. It is pictured in Leisure Arts' item #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions, using Red Heart's new line of Reflective yarn. What makes this tote unique is the promise of it being reflective; a silver grey reflective thread is spun with the other yarn fibers. This yarn and tote seem perfect for nighttime trick-or-treating while walking under the street lights, visiting neighborhood houses for treats.

    GOAL: To make a Halloween Tote Bag like the one pictured in Leisure Arts' item 75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions. GOAL: To make a Halloween Tote Bag like the one pictured in Leisure Arts' item #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions.

    Crochet and knit projects require one to learn the language of the craft. In addition, the crocheter and knitter must try to learn the stitches. Once the mechanics of making the stitch(es) is mastered, the crocheter and knitter must work towards having consistent gauge. Gauge is why every project has the measurements for a swatch.

    Challenge No. 1 - Gauge: I've only made projects that were more lenient when it comes to gauge, i.e., dishcloths, a bandana, and fingerless mitts.

    Challenge No. 2 - Multi-strands held together.

    Challenge No. 3 - Working in-the-round.

    Understanding and doing are two different things; my comprehension of the instructions was one thing, my performance was another. I ripped out my first swatch after three rounds. I realized I was adding a chain stitch before every single crochet. Lesson learned: don't try to fit a new project into your schedule if you are tired.

    Here is my second swatch using four strands of Bulky weight yarn. This is NOT the yarn that will be used for my Halloween Tote, but it is the correct weight and number of strands held together. I definitely needed to use stitch markers!

    In-the-Round Swatch No. 2 - Using four strands of Bulky weight as called for in the directions. Oh, boy; the swatch is lopsided! In-the-Round Swatch No. 2 - Using four strands of Bulky weight yarn as called for in the directions. Oh, boy; the swatch is lopsided!

    I discovered that I was not recognizing the correct stitch when ending a round or joining; this resulted in too many stitches. I resorted to doing another swatch holding one strand, making my stitches very loose and using a Light weight yarn. I wanted to see each stitch very clearly.

    In-the-Round Swatch No. 3 - Back to one strand in Light weight; trying to see the construction of each stitch. In-the-Round Swatch No. 3 - Back to one strand in Light weight; trying to see the construction of each stitch.

    I learned where my error was occurring: I was not recognizing the first single crochet at the beginning of each round. When I finished each round, I needed to join the last single crochet to the first single crochet with a slip stitch. Instead, I was joining to the chain made at the beginning of the round. Okay; I learned my error. My fix was to use a stitch marker so I would not question the location of the first single crochet when I needed to finish the round by joining with a slip stitch.

    I didn't like the uneven open spaces that Swatch No. 3 had in some portion of the rounds. Granted I was still experimenting, but I decided to make another swatch. I didn't have any more of my practice Bulky weight yarn, so I chose Super Bulky yarn to make my next swatch. I would be more careful with the construction of my rounds with the hope of having tighter stitches.

    In-the-Round Swatch No. 4 - Using one strand but in Super Bulky weight. Okay; better gauge and count is correct. In-the-Round Swatch No. 4 - Using one strand of yarn but in Super Bulky weight. Okay; better gauge and count is correct.

    Alright; I think this is better! The stitch count is correct with their construction and gauge being more consistent. I felt like this was a major accomplishment -- three cheers for me! At least this was recognizable or passable as the bottom of a tote bag.

    I'm as ready as I can be; now it's time to open my new Reflective yarn and begin. I am a bit tentative, but I will get continual inspiration by looking at the finished Halloween Tote as pictured in Leisure Arts' item #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions.

    This Halloween Tote is one of the featured projects found in #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions. My goal is to make one for this season! This Halloween Tote is one of the featured projects found in Leisure Arts' item #75526 - Light-Reflecting Fashions. My goal is to make one for this season!

    Wish me luck; I'll keep you posted on my progress!

    Martha

  • Crafters - Make a Yarn Basket from Your Stash!

    I have always used yarn in some sort of craft even before I "learned" the basics of knitting and crocheting as an adult. Two memories encouraged me to crash-the-stash of yarn and get weaving! When I was a Brownie Girl Scout, my troop learned how to craft a God's Eye or Ojo de Dios; a cultural symbol showing a woven motif created by using several colors of yarn wrapped around twigs. That is the first time I recall being amazed how several objects by themselves look and function one way, but used together in a different manner created an entirely new object! It was a magical transformation of sticks and yarn into a beautifully patterned piece of art. When I was an older Girl Scout, I made a woven basket. It took two weeks of soaking and weaving, soaking and weaving, until the basket was completed. It's funny how images from a current book can take you back in time, inviting you to revisit a past passion. Whether you discover the uses of yarn for the first time, or rediscover the transformation of your supplies into new objects, it's time to create a yarn basket project!

    The small project that caught my eye was the woven basket on the outside front cover of Leisure Arts' item 6758 - Yarn Crafts. Not only was it cute (small, compact, and uncomplicated), I could fit this project in to my schedule of other items on my to-do list. Plus, I had [minimal] weaving experience -- come on, decades' old hands-on knowledge still counts, right? Right - I immediately jumped on to making this project!

    This cute woven basket on the front cover (Leisure Arts' sku 6758 - Yarn Crafts), looks perfect for some discontinued yarn I gathered from our yarn stash! This cute woven basket on the front cover of Leisure Arts' item 6758 - Yarn Crafts, looks perfect for some discontinued yarn I gathered from my yarn stash!

    Reviewing the directions in the leaflet, I decided to add some coloring to the cardboard base of my basket. After reviewing my various coloring book choices, I chose a page from Leisure Arts' item 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone.

    I have chosen the page I want to color for the cardboard base of my basket. The page is from Leisure Arts' item 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone. I have chosen the page I want to color for the cardboard base of my basket. The page is from Leisure Arts' item 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone.

    This added step of coloring a page to add to the basket's cardboard base was not the hardest step, but it did take the most time!

    After reviewing the steps on how to weave the Yarn Basket, I decided that my piece of cardboard used for the basket's base would be covered by a coloring book page. After reviewing the steps on how to weave the Yarn Basket, I decided that my piece of cardboard used for the basket's base would be covered by a coloring book page.

    Of course I wanted both the inside and the outside of the basket's base to have a colorful design, so I colored the whole page. I used markers for this part of project, then sprayed acrylic sealer on the page after it was colored.

    Oh, yes; adding my colored sections from a coloring book page will be the perfect addition to the cardboard base (two circles, one for the inside and the other for the outside of the basket). Oh, yes; adding my colored sections from a coloring book page will be the perfect addition to the cardboard base (two circles, one for the inside and the other for the outside of the basket).

    Once my colored pages were cut into circles the same size as my cardboard base, I glued them to each side of the cardboard using a spray adhesive. Next, I used a sharp needle to puncture holes through the paper (that would be the inside of the basket) into the cardboard. Remember my earlier picture showed the cardboard already had the punctured holes; this was done before I made a final decision to add some coloring to my project. After the colored circle was glued to the cardboard, it was easy to puncture a new "layer" of holes going through just the coloring book page into the prepunched cardboard.

    Following the directions outlined in the Yarn Basket project found in Leisure Arts' item 6758 - Yarn Crafts, I inserted toothpicks into each hole and used hot glue to hold them in place. Some toothpicks would not stand straight up so I amended the directions by placing a pony bead around each toothpick. Then I added a different glue that would remain flexible after drying; I used E6000.

    Following the Yarn Basket's directions, 37 toothpicks have been glued into holes into the cardboard. I chose to add pony beads thinking these might add extra stability. (My cardboard example has been covered with a coloring book page). Following the Yarn Basket's directions, 37 toothpicks have been glued into holes into the cardboard. I chose to add pony beads thinking these might add extra stability. (My cardboard example has been covered with a coloring book page).
    Here's a side view of the toothpicks glued into the base cardboard. Most stood straight in place. Here's a side view of the toothpicks glued into the base cardboard. Most stood straight in place.

    I gathered three different bulky or super bulky weight yarn skeins. All three colors used were from partial skeins of discontinued colors. I began weaving - it was so easy and the pattern developed so quickly I wished I had more 'reeds' as my toothpick frame was quickly becoming a recognizable basket. I decided to quit for the night and had no worries regarding "where to start" in the morning.

    The first stage of weaving. A third color has just been added to the basket's body or frame. The first stage of weaving. A third color has just been added to the basket's body or frame.

    I changed colors as often as I liked; I didn't have a master plan. TIP: It was very easy to unweave rows when I decided to change colors at a different location. That's a great bonus - especially if you run short on a yarn color since you might be using up your stash of partial skeins! HINT: As you are weaving, gently push the yarn down each toothpick sliding it as close as possible to the woven row below it. This was a technique taught during my Girl Scout basket weaving experience and I started doing this automatically when weaving my current project! Following this technique gives the yarn basket a compact and tightly woven look.

    After the weaving is completed, a finger crocheted chain was added to the top of the basket. I placed the back ridge of each chain around the tip of each toothpick. Use some glue to hold in place as necessary. Here's a close-up showing both the top and base of the basket. The top shows the crocheted chain in place and the cardboard base with some toothpicks and pony beads still visible.

    A sideview close-up of the basket almost finished. I decided to add E6000 glue (over the hot glue); E6000 remains flexible. A sideview close-up of the basket almost finished. I decided to add E6000 glue (over the hot glue); E6000 remains flexible.

    I made another finger crocheted chain and glued it to the base's ridge. I wanted to conceal the pony beads as much as possible; these were used as structural support rather than as embellishments. A piece of single strand yarn was used to wrap around the basket near its top. As shown in 6758 - Yarn Crafts, I filled my basket with a variety of whole nuts.

    Woven yarn basket is finished and sitting on my countertop! Woven yarn basket is finished and sitting on my countertop!

    What a perfect container for a small space -  but this one little extra container will add definition to any side table, countertop or shelf. I hope to have this basket for years to come. Oh, by the way; I still have that Girl Scout basket I made all those years (decades) ago in summer camp! Fiber art lives on to tell us stories and create memories. Make some art today - enjoy!

    Martha

  • Celebrate National Coloring Book Day with Us!

    Let’s Celebrate National Coloring Book Day together!

    In honor of National Coloring Book Day on August 2nd, we are hosting The Ultimate Coloring Giveaway.  You can win 10 Coloring Books, Colored Pencils, Markers & Gel Pens.  That's a $100 Retail Value!   Show us what you’ve colored and enter our Ultimate Coloring Giveaway.

    coloringbook-page2

    There are four ways to enter:

    1) Post a Colored Page (We’d love to see pages from Leisure Arts Books, but it’s not required) on Facebook using the hashtags #NationalColoringBookDay #LeisureArts.

    2) Post a Colored Page (We’d love to see pages from Leisure Arts Books, but it’s not required) on Instagram using the hashtags #NationalColoringBookDay #LeisureArts.

    3) Re-Pin our Happy National Coloring Book Day Graphic on Pinterest

    Happy National Coloring Book Day 2016

    4) Answer the Poll Question on Rafflecopter below.

    Choose one method or do all four! So start coloring and let’s see those pages!

    Winner will be picked on August 2nd, National Coloring Book Day!

    Enter and you will have a chance to win:

    The Ultimate Art of Coloring Value Pack (10 books)

    72 Pack Leisure Arts Colored Pencils

    60 Pack Leisure Arts Double-Ended Markers

    36 Pack Leisure Arts Gel Pens

    Enter here:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • Coloring a Father's Day Frame

    Touch Dad's heart when you make a simple wooden frame an extra special remembrance by decorating it with coloring book pages and other embellishments. Dads have special places in our hearts. Kids share special moments with their dads no matter what the age of the child or father. Dads fix things. Through many electrical, mechanical, artistic or scientific projects, creations or experiments, dads are there. If they can't fix 'stuff', they are there standing by your side. Dads are the best support to help mend broken hearts and thwarted dreams. Nothing says, "Thanks Dad, you're great!" better than a handmade gift that is full of memories.

    Begin by thinking of things that you as a family, or individual, have enjoyed doing with your dad. Your special times could be based on a theme or an event like camping fun, or relaxing on a vacation. Once you have an idea in mind, choose the pages you would like to color from one or more of your favorite coloring books.

    For my two themes shown, I imagined family-time spent relaxing at the beach or in the woods. My coloring pages are from two books from the Color Art for Everyone series, 6703 - Ocean Wonders Color Art for Everyone and 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone. The frames I chose to decorate were unfinished wood frames with flat surfaces. I decided to paint my frames first and add the coloring pages to enhance both the frame and the memory of the photograph it would hold as Dad's gift.

    A plain wooden frame painted with acrylic paint, a wooden anchor, and colored pages from 6703 - Ocean Wonders Color Art for Everyone. A plain wooden frame painted with acrylic paint, a wooden anchor, and colored pages from 6703 - Ocean Wonders Color Art for Everyone.

    As I was coloring, it dawned on me to add more than colored pages to give my frame extra dimension, as well as, personality. I added some other embellishments including a wooden anchor and letters, stickers and other shadowbox or scrapbook dimensional embellishments perfect for father's day.

    A detailed close-up of the painted wooden anchor. Silver gel pen ink is applied over the paint in small sections; while wet, the ink is spread using a dry stiff bristle brush. A detailed close-up of the painted wooden anchor. Silver gel pen ink is applied over the paint in small sections; while wet, the ink is spread using a dry stiff bristle brush.

    I needed to finish my prepping and gather the rest of my supplies for father's day: three colors of acrylic paint, a sponge brush, acrylic spray sealant to use on the completed colored pages, Mod Podge® for adhering my colored pages to the frame, and E6000 glue for the wooden pieces. Now it's time to color!

    A close-up showing the colored waves cut out from page; deciding on placement of overlapping layers. A close-up showing the colored waves cut out from page; deciding on placement of overlapping layers.

    For the ocean waves, I used lots of markers in multiple colors. Sometimes I colored sections in solid marker, in other areas I used markers with colored pencils. The use of different media, in addition to the change of colors between blue and green, helps to give the waves movement. I cut the waves out in sections and overlapped the sections when I was adhering them using Mod Podge® to the frame. To give more emphasis to the ocean's depth, I added fish and seashells near the top of the coloring book page's waves and the edge of the frame. The solid blue color of the frame is still the ocean's water, it's just not as defined as the waves seen at the bottom of the frame. The anchor reinforces the idea of the bottom of the sea.

    The silver gel pen ink has been completely applied to the top of the anchor. The silver gel pen ink has been completely applied to the top of the anchor.

    When looking at the leaves, I wasn't sure how I wanted to give some of the leaves more "pop" than others. I wasn't pleased with the brown oak leaf because it seemed too dismal even for fall. I left it alone and started on another area in the picture. It was after I started on my second leaf that I decided to give the effect of the leaves moving in the wind by using highlighters. Why highlighters? Their colors are not as bold or opaque as the other media used. The colors of the highlighters will lend continuity to the theme, but appear secondary to the leaves colored with markers or gel pens.

    I grabbed a green highlighter and quickly drew horizontal lines randomly spaced across the page. Then I used a yellow highlighter to color only the background spaces. I think this added the perfect depth of field for the leaves which I was coloring with markers and gel pens. I found a sleeping bag sticker in my stash which I thought was perfect for a woodsy theme.

    The second plain wooden frame painted with acrylic paint, a wooden letters, stickers and colored pages from 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone. The second plain wooden frame painted with acrylic paint, a wooden letters, stickers and colored pages from 6704 - Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone.

    I cut out a few leaves and placed them over other leaves as if blowing or falling around a campsite. I am glad I didn't throw away that brown oak leaf with orangey highlights; it became the perfect counter-balance to the orange sleeping bag in the frame's adjacent corner. A lightly colored leaf was a great backdrop for the dark blue painted wooden letters; they are glued using E6000 and Mod Podge® painted over all.

    Here is the Mod Podge® used for this project. Please ensure that you choose the correct sealant for your individual projects. E6000 is an industrial strength clue used to adhere the wooden anchor and letters in each of the projects. Here is the Mod Podge® used for this project. Please ensure that you choose the correct sealant for your individual projects. E6000 is an industrial strength clue used to adhere the wooden anchor and letters in each of the projects.

    What fun I had coloring and building my themed frames! There are multiple steps, but many individuals of different ages and abilities can participate. Experiment with using the Mod Podge® over markers. I did NOT use permanent markers.  Because I used both markers and pencils, I did lightly spray my page with an acrylic sealant (NOT pictured) before using Mod Podge®. I did notice some of the markers colors smeared a bit [I think I forgot to spray my fish with sealant!], but the blue of the waves did not appear to bleed or blend like water color paints. But be cautious if you used markers to color your picture using light and dark colors.  TIP: Always read the instructions for your products carefully; a well-ventilated area is a must!

    All done with the frame's embellishments -- now to choose the picture. All done with the frame's embellishments -- now to choose the picture.
    Frame ready for its photograph! Frame ready for its photograph!

    Here they are; photographs inserted into finished frames. What fun the steps were as I created the backdrop for images of fun times; the frames only enhance such great memories!

    Cooling off; even a beautiful day at the beach needs some out-of-the-sun time! Cooling off; even a beautiful day at the beach needs some out-of-the-sun time!
    The fresh air is great; relaxing by spending time outdoors with family! The fresh air is great; relaxing by spending time outdoors with family!

    I hope to do more mixed-media projects like this one in the future. Share some of your ideas on our Facebook page. Don't forget to join our Color Art for Everyone  Facebook group; great ideas and encouragement are found there. Enjoy your days and memories spent with Dad; Happy Father's Day!

    Martha

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