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Leisure Arts Blog

  • Coloring Decor for Christmas

    Many of us here at Leisure Arts have been coloring because we truly enjoy it. In preparation for our annual Christmas Celebration Luncheon, we talked about tabletop decorations. As part of our discussions, I'm sharing with you a great idea that combines coloring with the spirit of the holiday season!

    Christmas trees are part of many traditional household Christmas decorations. Many stand-alone trees in yards and inside homes are shining brightly with illuminated lights and ornaments. Smaller ferns, trees and other greenery are incorporated in the seasonal decor that adorn tabletops during family meals and other social gatherings.

    Sprucing up the tables for Leisure Arts' Christmas Celebration Luncheon was discussed as part of the preparation -- and using some coloring book pages to help with the decor seemed like a natural thing to do, too. 

    To start, choose a page from the stash of coloring books, and color it. You would be surprised at how many pages come to life after they are colored. Look at the difference coloring made in the before and after pictures below. I like the design "before", but wait until "after" it's colored... 

    Kaleidoscope Wonders     Kaleidoscope Wonders  (Click photos to enlarge.)

    The page has come to life! This page comes from Kaleidoscope Wonders; it was colored by my co-worker, Marsha. It looked like Christmas ornaments to my other co-worker, Tina, so she decided to try out a decorating idea that she had.

    A tabletop Christmas tree could be created by using layers or rows of strips of paper; it was an idea similar to the Ribbon Tree project found in the leaflet Crafting with Buttons and Ribbons. Tina experimented with a selection of materials. Once Tina decided on her material choices, she then got everything prepared.

    Kaleidoscope Wonders Coloring Crafts  (Click photo to enlarge.)

    The supplies included a floral foam tree shape (7" tall), strips of paper (a page from Kaleidoscope Wonders) plus solid and patterned paper (all strips were 0.5" w x 6" long [or shorter, as needed for design]), straight pins, Snow Writer by DecoArt (for the decorative snow at the top of the tree), and a star ornament (with its hanging bell removed).

    After all of her strips of paper were cut, Tina started by securing each row of paper to the foam tree with straight pins; Tina started with the bottom layer first and worked her way up to the top of the tree.

      (Click photo to enlarge.)Kaleidoscope Coloring Christmas Tree

    The beauty about using straight pins to hold your strips of paper into a foam shape is that you can reposition the strips if necessary. Or, you can swap out an entire row changing from one color to another all together!

    Tina worked quickly once she decided on the placement of her colors. Near the top of the tree, she cut her strips of paper in half to 3" long -- use your judgment to decide what length is right for your size tree. Then, the star ornament that had its bell removed, was jabbed into the top of the foam shape. Once the star was in place, Tina added Snow Writer by DecoArt (the dimensional snow) and let it dry for at least 24 hours -- please read the label for full instructions.

    I've never seen a tabletop tree quite like this one; it's beautiful! Coloring can be incorporated into your home as part of a 3D project. Now my coloring book pages take on a whole new future -- glass plates, book covers, furniture... What will you do?

    Kaleidoscope Wonders Christmas Tree  (Click photo to enlarge.)

    Special thanks go out to Tina and Marsha for this piece of holiday decor. Merry Christmas!

    Martha

  • 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!

  • Jack-O-Lantern Dishcloth

    I love Halloween. It is my favorite holiday. I love all the decorations. I like to drive around and look at everyone else’s decorated yards. I leave my decorations up until the day after Day of the Dead. I was looking for something quick and easy project to do. Something that I can work on in and out of the car this week while waiting in the carpool line at school or while waiting on after school activities. I went through all of my Leisure Art Books and found this cute Jack-O-Lantern Pumpkin dishcloth in a book called A Dishcloth a Month.

    I was just finishing tucking in all my ends when my friend asked me if it was a new coaster for our table at the new knit shop. I said I had not planned on it but why not. It is slightly big for a coaster but it is really cute idea for decorating a table. So I am in the process of making a few more for our knit/crochet table. I am even going to crochet some without the Jack-O-Lantern face. You just follow the pattern and as if you had changed your color from orange to black. My favorite part I will only have four ends to run in or tuck in. Whichever way you want say it. You can even use brown for the stem instead of the green. Since it is fall I can keep the ones without faces through Thanksgiving. It’s a win! Win! I hope that you have had as much fun with this Jack-O-Lantern pattern as I have. I used 100% cotton. I am going to check and see if Sugar n Cream has a variegated fall colored yarn for some of my solid pumpkins. I think that would be really cute.

     

  • Pumpkin Hat

    100 Hats to Knit & Crochet

    I love Halloween. It is my favorite holiday. I have a friend with a new baby. So, I thought I would crochet him a cute little Pumpkin Hat. I used Crème de la Crème 100% cotton. I used three different colors orange, brown, and green. This pattern will fit an infant/toddler. I didn't get this pattern from a Leisure Arts book. 100 Hats to Knit and Crochet has hats that you could modify to work for your needs.

    Pumpkin Crochet Hat

    With a size G hook. Chain 60 stitches. Join in the round with a slip stitch. Be careful not to twist!

    Row 1: With main color (orange) chain 1, single crochets all the way around, and slip stitch into the chain 1. Row 2: Chain 3, double crochets all the way around. Continue Row 2 until the hat is about 3.25(3 ¼) to 3.50(3 ½) inches tall.

    Decrease is chain 3, 7 double crochet, and crochet 2 together, then 8 double stitches and crochet 2 together. You are going to continue decreasing by 1 stitch until you finish the chain 3 and 3 double crochet and crochet 2 together, 4 double crochet and crochet 2 together.

    Color change/Stem: To join the brown yarn slip stitch where you slipped the last stitch, chain 2, double crochet around. I didn’t crochet 2 together on the first round, because I did 2 regular double crochets into the next two stitches. The 3rd and 5th stitch a double into the middle of the lower stitch, and the 4th double crochet I went into the lower stitch. Continue this all the way around. The next round start your decreases chain 3, 2 double crochet and crochet 2 together, 3 double crochet and crochet 2 together. Continue decreasing by 1 stitch until you get to six stitches left and do double crochets until you get the stem length that you want then crochet 2 together 3 times.

    Green curly cue: Chain 35 stitches or however many you want to do. Do 6 double crochets into the 2nd stitch and 4 more stitches into ever chain stitch. Bind off when you get to the end. With a darning needle or crochet hook attach where ever you want it.

  • Coloring a Little at a Time

    I'm coloring another page in Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone.

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    It's a little surprising to me that this page is from the same coloring book as this one:

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    But I like that!  The different pictures allow for very different coloring styles.  Or just different moods.  Sometimes you want to color large floral patterns and big, bold leaves when you're playing around with natural wonders and sometimes you might feel like coloring in teeny tiny spaces and thinking about the little shifts in color you see on a feather.  I liked the big patches of blank space for my colored pencils last time, and I'm liking the small spaces to add little dots of color to this time.

    I'm enjoying myself so much, in fact, that I've been working on this page for nearly a week and a half--and I don't know when I'm going to finish! There's a lot here to keep me occupied, and I'm really in no hurry to finish it.  It's like a treat I save for myself to enjoy in small doses.

    003

    This past weekend I colored a few more places with reds and yellows and blues.  I'm a little appalled at how far outside some lines I am getting, but I hope that coloring in these small spaces will help me build a little control.  Goodness knows my handwriting could use some help, and it's a fun way to 'work' on my skills.  I added more colors and details to the page while listening to my daughter chattering in the kitchen while she helped my husband bake some gingerbread.  She even took some breaks to help me!  See if you can spot her handiwork:

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    She drew one of the squiggles as a smiley face just for me.  It was a pretty darn perfect moment with the coloring and the happy child and the familial baking.  But moments that good don't tend to last very long.  Which is fine because that's what makes them so special.  I know better than to try to make them last longer.  So after a nice spell of coloring, I stopped when my eyes got tired.  Coloring is kind of odd for me because it's so different from knitting or crocheting.  This isn't a present for anyone.  There's no need to finish this, and there's especially no need to finish this in a hurry.

    I'm going to keep this on hand, to color in little fits and starts whenever the mood strikes.  I think this is going to take me a while.  I'm excited about that.  006

  • Coloring Books, Coloring, and Colors: Oh my!

    Hi!  It's me, Jen.  I used to write posts for Leisure Arts for a couple of years, mostly about crocheting and knitting. Recently my buddy at Leisure Arts asked if I'd be interested in writing a few posts about their coloring books.  I was pretty tickled because it's nice to talk to you and because, what do you know, I already had one on hand to write about!

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    Or in my hand.  Whatever. I had actually picked up Natural Wonders Color Art for Everyone a few weeks ago when I was Michaels.  I have some coloring books of geometric patterns that I've played with since I was a teenager, but I like the new adult coloring books I'm seeing pop up everywhere these days--they have small spaces to color and swirling lines and are generally patternless so you can work on them however you want.  Some of them are designed specifically for people who feel anxious and some are for people who just like the soothing repetition of moving their hands back and forth over the paper while they choose what colors they want set out together. There are days when I want to knit something and just don't know what.  So sometimes I just pull out my yarn and look at it.  Sometimes looking at the different textures and colors together gives me an idea for a new project, and sometimes it just makes me happy.  Coloring is like that for me as well.

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    Coloring doesn't accomplish a whole lot, but I think that's kind of the point.  I started this page last week after mortifying myself at work in front of several different people in multiple ways.  After putting my daughter to bed, I shouted some things at my husband (mostly to let him know about the mortifying things I'd done. None of those things were his fault, but I couldn't stop myself from shouting), and then I flipped through the coloring book for a nice page to color.   I also went ahead and shouted at the guide at the front of the book offering up helpful advice about color wheels and tones.  There were some excellent points in there, but I was apparently in a mood to sass a coloring book about how I was a grown woman who could put clashing colors together if she chose to do so. That also doesn't accomplish a whole lot, but I was already on my way to feeling better.  After an hour or so, I was pretty happy with my fall leaves.

     

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    I picked up this page again over the past weekend when my daughter had a nasty cold and I was stuck inside on one of the most beautiful fall weekends I've seen in quite some time.  The coloring eased my self-pity a little bit and kept me entertained while she napped.

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    My final touch was to fill in the background with brown.  It just seemed like a good idea.  It was the only space left on the page and I still felt like coloring for a little while longer.

     

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    Natural Wonders has coloring sheets for leaves, flowers, mushrooms, and some cute pages with birds and flowers.  There are even owls!  I think I'll probably try one of the bird pages before I get in a grouchy mood.  And I think I'll use markers next time.

  • Crochet Fingerless Mittens

    Hats & Handwarmers for the Family

    I crocheted these Fingerless Mittens for a friend’s birthday. The colors reminded me of a new box of crayons and she loves lots of colors. I didn’t get this from pattern from a Leisure Arts book. But here is a Leisure Arts book that has a great pattern. It is Hat & Handwarmers for the Family. That you could modify to make it look like the one in the photo. Just crochet to cover the palm of the hand and if you don’t want to crochet the thumb then don’t that is your call.

    Fingerless Mittens - Crochet

    This is how I made my Fingerless Mittens:

    With a size H crochet hook I chained 28 stitches. (If H is too small or big you can go up or down a crochet hook size) I joined it in the round with a slip stitch. I made sure not to twist it. Use a place marker so you know where you joined in the round.

    Row 1: single crochet.

    Row 2: single crochet into the back stitch and repeat for 16 rounds.

    Increase rounds: crochet two single stitches into the stitch before your place marker and into the stitch on the other side of the place marker. Your next round is a single crochet into the black stitch. Continue these two rows four more times until you have 38 stitches.

    Thumb and palm: crochet until 4 stitches before the place marker and chain 3 count four stitches past and crochet. Use a place marker in the second chain so you can keep up were you joined it in the round. You should have skipped a total of 9 stitches. (The last stitch before the chain I did a single crochet through the whole stitch and also a whole stitch when joining the thumb hole. This makes it stronger.) Then single crochet into the back stitch for 8 rounds.

    Fingerless mittens are a great gift idea for birthdays, Christmas, or just because you want to do something for someone special.

  • Day of the Dead

    A lot of people think that the Day of the Dead happens on Halloween. But that is not true. It is a couple days later. I believe it is on November 2nd. It is a day of celebration of the dead that started in Mexico. It will still get you in the mood for Halloween. I love the Day of the Dead art work. I was really excited when I saw that Leisure Arts had a new series of coloring books and one of them was a Day of the Dead coloring book.

     

    FullSizeRender (38) I used color pencils, markers, gel pens, and a paint pen.

    This is what I like about this book it has several examples of the coloring pages done to show what different types of coloring utensils. This book shows what gel pens, markers, and color pencils look like. It gives you helpful blending tips. I never thought to use my gel pens to color with. I have even used my new box of crayons and a couple of my paint pens to color. You could use a clip board to hold your coloring pages. I use a piece of Masonite board and a clip to hold my coloring sheets. The books have easy tear out pages and I find it easier to color.  I like pull my coloring books out at the end of the day and it helps me unwind. The stress of the day just melts away.

    I cannot decide which new coloring book to get the Abstract and Geometric Designs or Folk Art.

  • Boot Cuff

    Cool-Weather Family Fashions

    I needed a quick project to take on the go this week. I looked through all my Leisure Arts books and I saw these really cute Boot Cuffs in Cool-Weather Family Fashions. I used a bulky wool yarn. I have no idea what the name of this cream colored yarn is. I hate when my labels fall off. It was a yarn that I had in my stash.

    FullSizeRender (36) Use a place marker on the knit row side. This is the right side.

    Finished Cool Weather Fashions Boot Cuff

    I knitted the Boot Cuffs on size 11 straight needles. I love the pattern that this makes. It is quite a lovey stitch. One row is a rib stitch and the next row is a knit. I’m going to do a scarf or a cowl next with this stitch. If you want to knit this and you don’t like sewing up the sides you of your projects. You could cast on the number of stitches that you need for the size you require onto double point needles. Join in the round making sure not to twist. I know that is what I’m going to do next time I knit these. Remember Christmas is just a little over 3 months away. These would be a quick and easy project for someone who loves to wear boots.

    Boot cuffs as ear warmers Or a boot cuff for a dog cowl or earmuffs. Just kidding!!! I am not that bad!

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