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  • Express Yourself: Light Box, Letter Board, Planner & Journal

    It's a new (school) year and kids of all ages want to express themselves - their clothes, accessories, make-up, elective classes and extracurricular activities. Generally speaking, kids usually want to share with others what they're thinking -- and so do adults! Let Leisure Arts help everyone to express themselves with these fun and creative supplies!  

    Everything we do is a means to express ourselves. Every choice we make defines part of us. So let's make a statement! I remember an accessory people wore to help tell others how you were feeling. If someone couldn't guess by your actions, then they could see what mood was displayed if you wore a mood ring. A funny little piece of jewelry that told others how you were feeling -- generally speaking!

    Mood Ring - Original style from the 1970s found for sale online. Mood Ring - Original style from the 1970s found for sale online.

    A more modern approach is to light up a statement -- announce it for all to see. The Cinema Light Box is great to welcome new students to your classroom or visitors to a business.

    Illuminate your feelings with Leisure Arts' Cinema Light Box (item 48586). Illuminate your feelings with Leisure Arts' Cinema Light Box (item 48586).
    Great way to meet school kids, classmates or colleagues! Leisure Arts' Cinema Light Box (item 48586). Great way to meet school kids, classmates or colleagues! Leisure Arts' Cinema Light Box (item 48586).

    For a smaller, hands-on approach try the Cafe Letter Board for multi-line sentences -- even add some color and script with either the Gray and Aqua or Blue and Coral expansion sets.

    State your purpose with Leisure Arts' Cafe Letter Board (item 48583). State your purpose with Leisure Arts' Cafe Letter Board (item 48583).
    Announce what's going to be happening around the office in the near future! (Leisure Arts' Cafe Letter Board [item48583] with gray letters from item 48585 - Cafe Letter Board Accessory Set-Gray & Aqua). Announce what's going to be happening around the office in the near future! (Leisure Arts' Cafe Letter Board [item48583] with gray letters from item 48585 - Cafe Letter Board Accessory Set-Gray & Aqua).
    And don't forget that you can incorporate your love of coloring and organization with either The Art of Planning Kit or The Art of Journaling Kit. There is one accessory set to be used for either kit, too.

    Make a plan as with this page from Leisure Arts' The Art of Planning Kit (item 48579). Also see The Art of Journaling Kit (item 48578)[not pictured]. Make a plan as with this page from Leisure Arts' The Art of Planning Kit (item 48579). Also see The Art of Journaling Kit (item 48578)[not pictured].
    Plan more details for specific days (48579 - The Art of Planning Kit). Plan more details for specific days (48579 - The Art of Planning Kit).

    The pages in either of these kits are perfect for those of you who love to doodle and color but don't have the time to do a detailed page from a coloring or sketch book. You will find designs to color and/or embellish throughout each. I have had a lot of design fun with the new watercolor colored pencils Leisure Arts now carries! The 30-Pack set includes a paint brush, too; just add water!

    Add a little color to your Planner with Leisure Arts' 30-Pack Watercolor Colored Pencils (item 48582). Add a little color to your Planner with Leisure Arts' 30-Pack Watercolor Colored Pencils (item 48582).

    Have Fun • Be Creative • Tell Your Story!

    Martha

  • Retro Christmas Cross Stitch

    Retro Christmas Cross Stitch Christmas is a super fun look at retro Christmas designs that will inspire thoughts of Norman Rockwell paintings and episodes of Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy!  We love the throwback cross stitch designs so much that we invited today's guest blogger, Lee Fisher, to talk about the inspiration for her fabulous designs in Retro Christmas Cross Stitch. Welcome Lee!

    Who doesn’t love Christmas?! The colorful lights, the sound of old familiar carols being sung, the stockings hung on the mantle above a crackling fire, the fragrant aroma of turkey or ham filling the house as one by one friends & family arrive. Gathered in the living room with the Christmas tree all a twinkle & trimmed with decorations that span the years, inevitably the conversation will turn to Christmases past and the memories of childhood.

    These were the thoughts running through my mind as I created the designs for Retro Christmas Cross Stitch. I wanted to capture those images which seem so familiar to our own childhood and the Christmases of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

    Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher

    When I was growing up we had a big, fat, floor to ceiling artificial Christmas tree with tons of decorations but among my favorites were the frosted gingerbread houses. I remember staring at them & being amazed at how real they looked…I wanted to reach out & taste the frosting! With that in mind I designed “Home Sweet Home”, the sweetest little gingerbread house on the block with its peppermint flowers & frosted gumdrop bushes all topped with a bright red cherry. What a wonderful treat for you to enjoy…and guilt free with zero calories!

    screen-shot-2017-07-19-at-3-42-46-pm Home Sweet Home Gingerbread House Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher

    A personal favorite of mine is “Let Heaven and Nature Sing” because this design is also taken directly from my life. I am pleased to present…my children~ Brandon, Shannon & Natasha. When they were little we often went caroling for the neighbors with the three little ones bundled up in their little onesie snow suits, caps & mittens absolutely butchering all the traditional Christmas carols at the top of our lungs. But our neighbors were gracious…they always clapped when we were done.

    Let Heaven & Nature Sing Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher Let Heaven & Nature Sing Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher

    In the past, as it is now, traveling was always another important event during the holiday season. Going to Grandma & Grandpa's house, visiting friends or even heading out for Christmas Eve services, being all squashed together in the back seat with siblings and packages was just another part of the excitement of Christmas. On these trips I spent my time looking out the window, wide eyed, taking in all the sights & signs we’d pass. I particularly loved the very colorful & graphic advertising designs of the atomic era. These memories were the inspiration for “Happy New Year” and “Eat Drink & be Merry”.

    Happy New Year Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher Happy New Year Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher
    Eat, Drink & Be Merry Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher Eat, Drink & Be Merry Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher

    Christmas is always a time when we remember loved ones both near and far. Another tradition many of us like to observe is the sending of Christmas cards. In my home as a child, every card that came in the mail was treasured and put on display. Some setting on shelves, mantels and hanging on the wall strung on colorful ribbon. I remember some as having the cutest pictures of baby animals in the snow, like my design “Hello Old Friend” seeing his reflection in the Christmas ball. Others were decorated with glittering ornaments and candy cane like our “Merry Christmas” design. And some came with a single, simple sentiment like “Warm Christmas Wishes.”

    Hello Old Friend Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher Hello Old Friend Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher
    Merry Christmas Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher Merry Christmas Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher
    Warm Christmas Wishes Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher Warm Christmas Wishes Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher

    Of course one of the most enjoyable things about Christmas as a kid was…the gifts! Oh the colorful packages piled high and overflowing with spiraling ribbons & bows. And the excitement of checking all the tags to find your very own name. I remember some of these tags being just as ornate as the ornaments on the tree and always wanting to keep them. With that in mind I wanted to create a design that would be perfect for gift giving and “For my Deer Friend” was born. Finishing this one out as a gift bag or wine bottle bag is perfect and adds a delightful touch of whimsy to the occasion.

    For My Deer Friend Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher For My Deer Friend Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher

    One of the most magical memories of my childhood was a snowy Christmas eve when I was drowsily tucked up in bed dreaming of Christmas morning, when all of a sudden I heard bells…Jingle Bells!! I ran to the window and swiped away the frosty fog and down below in a swirly mist of snow were two big brown horses in jingle bell harness trotting down the middle of the street pulling a real sleigh and inside was Santa himself bellowing out “Merry Christmas, and to all a good night~ ho-ho-ho!” Over the years there has been a long running debate as to who it was. But to those of us who believe….there is no question about it and so I honor that memory with “And to All a Good Night”.

    And to All a Good Night Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher And to All a Good Night Design from Retro Christmas Cross Stitch by Lee Fisher

    I do hope you enjoy all of these designs as much as I do and that you too will cherish the memories of your childhood. I wish you and yours a wonderfully Retro Christmas!

    Lee Fisher ~ StitchyFish Designs

  • LED Candles for Every Season

    We've all seen color changing LED Candles by now.  But if you're like me, you might be wondering how to fit them into your home decor and if you'd want to use them outside of the holiday season.  I challenged myself to use the Leisure Arts LED Candle Set in my own home for every season of the year.

    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.

    Here are the results of my experiment incorporating the LED Candle Set into my home for a year.  I hope you'll find some inspiration!

    First up is Valentine's Day. I incorporated the LED Candle Set  into my tablescape with red tulips and a wooden sign.  Color-wise, I found red and white worked well for the candles.

    LED Candles at Valentine's Day LED Candles at Valentine's Day

    For Easter, I went in a more fun direction using hydrangeas and Peep Easter Eggs into a flower arrangement.  I used pink, green and yellow for the LED candles and brightly colored Easter eggs in jars to finish off the decor.

    blog2 Easter Decor with LED Candles

    For early summer I opted for a simple flower arrangement and green, blue and white candles.

    blog3 LED Candles in Summer Decor

    For the Fourth of July, I went with the classic red, white and blue candles and used a fun Patriotic planter to highlight the season.

    LED Candles for Independence Day LED Candles for Independence Day

    At the onset of fall, I incorporated a wooden carved owl and a real leaf themed candle into my decor and went with a classic white look for the candles.

    blog7 Fall Decor using LED Candles

    For Thanksgiving, I moved the candles into a cornucopia display and kept the classic white candles.

    blog8 Thanksgiving with LED Candles

    I used my candles a couple of different ways for the Christmas season.  One, on the dining room table in a classic white surrounded by oversized ornaments.

    blog9 Christmas and LED Candles

    I also used them in the living room surrounded by all the classic symbols of Christmas including  Angels, Santa, and more.

    blog10 Classic Christmas with LED Candles

    Finally, for New Year's Eve I went with a fun pink, blue and green color combination, and surrounded the candles with beads, hats, noisemakers and, of course, Chex Mix™!

    blog11 Ringing in the New Year with LED Candles!

    During the year, we also redecorated my 13 year old daughter's bedroom and got her a set of the candles.  The LED Candle Set is great for teenagers.  The candles present no fire hazard and teens can change the colors whenever they please!

    blog6 LED Candles Make a Great Accent for a Teenager's Bedroom

    I hope you've been inspired to play with decorating your own house with LED candles.  Show me what you've done in the comments, or tag Leisure Arts in your Instagram posts!

    Happy decorating!

    Veronica

     

  • Letter Magnet Boards: DIY from Oil Drip Pans

    I was so inspired by two pins on Pinterest creating magnet boards from an automotive oil drip pan or other sheet metal, and two craft leaflets using letters (or initials) to decorate as part of a craft project, that I combined my ideas into one blog post. I hope you enjoy my latest creative adventure!

    I had the new Leisure Arts book Initial It! (item #7077), a papier-mache letter, and my clothespin magnets that I recently made for younger kids and older kids/adults. Now I needed to incorporate them all together. I wanted to display my letter and clothespin magnets, but what would be new and exciting to do?

    7077 - Initial It! Leisure Arts presents simple techniques to embellish letters, symbols and accents. 7077 - Initial It! Leisure Arts presents simple techniques to embellish letters, symbols and accents.

    I had seen smaller versions of creating a magnet board from metal pizza pans but this pin from Smart School House nudged me towards trying it as my next DIY. Since I wasn't going to use my oil drip pan like Smart School House (as a teaching tool in conjunction with learning the alphabet for a toddler), I thought I'd like to decorate it similarly to the edged cookie sheet magnet board seen in a pin from Sadie Seasongoods. Okay; I had my idea(s) collected -- off to the stores for my supplies!

    I found an oil drip pan very easily in the automotive section of my general merchandise store. It seemed a bit narrower than the one shown in the pin mentioned-above, but I was thrilled to snag it.

    This large oil drip pan measures 47" x 25". This large oil drip pan measures 47" x 25".

    I inadvertently threw away the empty spray paint can of Blue Ocean Breeze, the Krylon color used for my FIRST magnet board. Here are some of the other supplies I used.

    Supplies used for the oil drip pan magnet boards. Two colors of spray paint were used: Vintage Blush [satin] and Blue Ocean Breeze by Krylon [not shown]. Supplies used for the oil drip pan magnet boards. Two colors of spray paint were used: Vintage Blush [satin] and Blue Ocean Breeze by Krylon [not shown].
    I cleaned the oil drip pan, then applied Rust-oleum's Clean Metal Primer under the spray paint. I applied two coats of spray paint to get an even layer. I wanted to decorate my magnet board with some fabric swatches, so I cut out different sized circles from a cute bicycle print.

    Working outside on a beautiful day, I'm trying to decide where to place the different sized fabric circles before using Mod Podge®. Working outside on a beautiful day, I'm trying to decide where to place the different sized fabric circles before using Mod Podge®.

    I adhered all my fabric swatches with Mod Podge® - the fabric acted like a sponge so make sure you have plenty on-hand! I discovered the difference in magnets and discussed in my two clothespin posts (linked above); see the photo below as a reminder.

    Close-up: the difference in magnet buttons clearly shows the difference in thickness. Close-up: the difference in magnet buttons clearly shows the difference in thickness.

    If you are making your own magnets, because there are several layers of Primer, paint, fabric, etc., I encourage you to use the magnets without the adhesive backing and just glue them on yourself.

    Bicycle Magnet Board is done and hanging up vertically in a narrow space in my office. Bicycle Magnet Board is done and hanging up vertically in a narrow space in my office.

    Here's a close-up showing more details of the final project...

    Here's a close-up of the Bicycle Magnet Board hanging up! Here's a close-up of the Bicycle Magnet Board hanging up!

    For my second magnet board, I focused on using my papier-mache initial, the letter M. I decided to try using wrapping paper over the spray paint color, Vintage Blush by Rust-oleum. While the Vintage Blush was drying, I also spray painted the letter a deep turquoise.

    Papier-mache letter sprayed painted a deep turquoise color. Papier-mache letter sprayed painted a deep turquoise color.

    I checked the oil drip pan and the second layer of spray paint was dry; I could start to adhere the wrapping paper. It was a little cumbersome to work with such a large piece of paper and Mod Podge®. You might want to try using smaller pieces to create a collage effect. I think I got lucky; the paper didn't rip while I was manipulating between paper and "glue". I used a brayer to assist removing most air pockets and wrinkles, but again, the task became more difficult because of the size of the project.

    Applying Mod Podge® to adhere the wrapping paper to the spray painted oil drip pan. Applying Mod Podge® to adhere the wrapping paper to the spray painted oil drip pan.

    I thought of the projects in Initial It! and decided how to decorate my papier-mache letter without weighing it down. I used some of the wrapping paper at the bottom of the letter, and mimicked the polka dot pattern by painting some dots from the base upward. Here's a close-up of the finished letter on the magnet board.

    Floral Polka Dot close-up of papier-mâché embellished letter and metal 'happy' sign on magnet board. Floral Polka Dot close-up of papier-mâché embellished letter and metal 'happy' sign on magnet board.

    I found the saying, 'happy' in a decorative metal script. It was a stroke of luck that I had purchased this weeks before I knew I was going to make magnet boards! Here's the final Floral Polka Dot magnet board; I am very pleased with the end-result!

    Floral Polka Dot - Wrapping paper adhered over spray paint. It's my second finished magnet board made from an oil drip pan. Floral Polka Dot - Wrapping paper adhered over spray paint. It's my second finished magnet board made from an oil drip pan.

    In the opposite corner from my initial, is a coffee filter flower (a project from an earlier post), and other clothespin magnets.

    Floral Polka Dot close-up of some clothespin magnets on the magnet board. Floral Polka Dot close-up of some clothespin magnets on the magnet board.

    Both magnets boards were hung in my office using Command™ strips; I used several not because of the weight of the oil drip pans, but because of their size. I wanted them to remain steady and secure to the wall on all sides.

    I look to be ready to remind myself of upcoming events, showcase special memories, or assign myself tasks both electronically and now in-person. I hope you can be inspired by this and share with us your projects!

    Have a great time exploring new ways to express yourself; enjoy!

    Martha

     

     

     

  • More-to-Explore Clothespin Magnets to Paint, Color & Glue

    Enjoying craft time is fun for older kids and adults when making clothespin magnets. Decorating can be easy to more complicated by using mixed media such as painting, coloring and gluing paper, fiber or other embellishments. This is one of those "more to explore" projects that can grow from simple to more advanced -- enjoy!

    I loved using large, wide wooden clothespins so much for the younger kids' project (see the egg carton flower clothespin magnet in the second image), as described in my blog post on May 18th, I wanted to expand my decorative uses for the clothespins while still making them into magnets.

    Remember, here is what the large clothespins look like before decorating them:

    Large, natural wood clothespins measure approximately 2.875" long x 0.625" wide; four per pack. Leisure Arts item #48165. Large, natural wood clothespins measure approximately 2.875" long x 0.625" wide; four per pack. Leisure Arts item #48165.

    And here are some of my finished, decorated clothespin magnets (I even included the younger kids' version of the egg carton flower clothespin magnet -- pictured in the upper left-hand corner of the image]).

    A variety of clothespin magnets painted and decorated with embellishments. A variety of clothespin magnets painted and decorated with embellishments.

    Now, grab your paint -- I used either spray paint or acrylic -- and start by placing at least two layers of paint on your clothespins. While you let the paint dry in between each layer, start gathering your embellishments: wrapping paper, coloring book pages, mini paint canvases, buttons, beads, artificial floral items and markers.

    These uses of other embellishments can be as simple as gluing an artificial flower to the end of your painted clothespin, to the more complicated use of mixed media with multiple steps as seen by adding a mini canvas to a clothespin.

    Paint and other embellishments are added to clothespins that older "kids" and adults can make; magnets can be added to the backs. Paint and other embellishments are added to clothespins that older "kids" and adults can make; magnets can be added to the backs.

    If you decide to use mini canvases to attach to your clothespin(s), determine the size clothespin you need. My mini canvases were so small, that I actually used a smaller 1.5" clothespin as its backing. I used a coloring book page from the Art of Coloring Vintage as part of my canvases' decor; read about it here from an earlier blog post.

    The daisy page was cut into 2" sections. The design was placed "en pointe". Glued onto the backside of each canvas panel, was a painted clothespin and magnet. The daisy page from the Art of Coloring Vintage was cut into 2" sections. The design was placed "en pointe". Glued onto the backside of each canvas panel, was a painted clothespin and magnet.

    I also learned that there are BIG differences in round magnets sometimes called 'button magnets'. I didn't remember that my first purchase of magnets had no felt backing. I quickly grabbed a package of adhesive-backed magnets that were in the same area as the acrylic paint; I thought this would save me the step of gluing.

    The difference in magnet buttons: thickness and adhesive backing! The difference in magnet buttons: thickness and adhesive backing!

    But I didn't like the weaker strength of these adhesive-backed magnets and ended up using two per clothespin. I much prefer the strength of the plain magnets that needed to be glued onto my clothespins. See the image below for a visual comparison.

    Close-up: the difference in magnet buttons clearly shows the difference in thickness. Close-up: the difference in magnet buttons clearly shows the difference in thickness.

    I thoroughly enjoyed using these larger wooden clothespins as part of another art project -- it was fun to do while I was making them, and upon completion the clothespin magnets are useful to me at home and office!

    Have fun exploring; let me know what embellishments you used when making your clothespin magnets!

    Martha

  • Clothespin Crafts from Kids to Adults: Egg Carton Flowers & Scented Caterpillars

    I was amazed at how many clothespin crafts for kids to adults there were available when researching on Pinterest. But, as always, Pinterest searches open a treasure trove of information. How to cull it down is the key. What really caught my eye were some creative uses of fairly common materials in kids' crafts: egg cartons and pom-poms. Include some clothespins, and an additional magnet, and many hours of crafting can result!

    The wide, wooden clothespins carried by Leisure Arts are fabulous for painting, gluing and decorating. The smoother and larger surface area make it easy for younger and older crafters to create.

    Large, natural wood clothespins measure approximately 2.875" long x 0.625" wide; four per pack. Leisure Arts item #48165. Large, natural wood clothespins measure approximately 2.875" long x 0.625" wide; four per pack. Leisure Arts item #48165.

    The younger crowd, with some assistance, can make egg carton flowers. I loved these cherry blossom flowers because of the incorporation of make-believe egg carton flowers with the real branches. Since I wanted to use the materials I had, I decided to make the flowers with the egg cartons and then glue them onto my clothespins.

    If assistance is needed, it may come with the formation of the flowers' petals. The flowers do not have to be exact or perfect; the petals are formed by tearing the shapes. However, depending on the age of the child, your youngster may need assistance with this step.

    Cardboard egg cartons; each section separated and "petals" are formed by tearing. Cardboard egg cartons; each section separated and "petals" are formed by tearing.

    The fun comes with the painting! Most kids can do this on their own with some guidelines regarding usage and cleanliness -- what they may/may not paint! Use your judgment when it comes to your choice of medium and make adjustments as needed. I used acrylic paints to paint my egg carton flowers.

    Acrylic paint applied to cardboard flowers. Some flowers will be glued onto large, natural wood clothespins. Leisure Arts item #48165. Acrylic paint applied to cardboard flowers. Some flowers will be glued onto large, natural wood clothespins. Leisure Arts item #48165.

    I started preparing for my next craft: pom-pom caterpillars. Why was I excited about these so much? I was blown away with the ingenious use of essential oils and pom-poms to scent the air in a car; I just had to try -- especially since I only recently purchased three essential oils to make shower melts and hand scrub, I was looking for more uses!

    The large wooden clothespins by Leisure Arts are 0.625" wide - that's like a mini palette! Kids can paint, glue and decorate more easily using these! So, I gathered my paints, pom-poms in various sizes and textures, bought some wiggly eyes and was set to go!

    Collection of supplies for clothespin crafts for the younger kids to make. Egg carton flowers and pom-pom caterpillars will be glued to clothespins. Collection of supplies for clothespin crafts for the younger kids to make. Egg carton flowers and pom-pom caterpillars will be glued to clothespins.

    I don't have white School Glue so I substituted E6000 glue; again, use your judgment according to the age of the group of kids or other individuals with whom you are working!

    Egg carton flowers can have one or two layers of "petals". Add a pom-pom or other embellishment(s) to center. Glue some to clothespins backed with magnets. Egg carton flowers can have one or two layers of "petals". Add a pom-pom or other embellishment(s) to center. Glue some to clothespins backed with magnets.

    As adults, we can over-think too much, even when it comes to fun crafts. I almost fell into this trap regarding the pom-pom caterpillars and their looks; then, I laughed out loud! Most little kids won't be self-criticizing. Let them have fun with different colors and sizes of pom-poms. I even had some pom-poms with a few extra-long shimmery fibers which added a nice touch (literally and figuratively) to the caterpillar.

    Caterpillars get wiggly eyes added either to the clothespin, or to the first pom-pom. Magnets can be added to the back of the clothespin. Caterpillars get wiggly eyes added either to the clothespin, or to the first pom-pom. Magnets can be added to the back of the clothespin.

    Leave room at the end of the clothespin for the wiggly eyes if you decide to glue them there. After the glue is set, place one or more drops of essential oils onto one or more of your caterpillar pom-poms.

    Extra versatility to these caterpillars: add a few drops of an essential oil to one or more pom-poms. Attach caterpillar clothespin to a fan for soothing aroma-therapy! Extra versatility to these caterpillars: add a few drops of an essential oil to one or more pom-poms. Attach caterpillar clothespin to a fan for soothing aroma-therapy!

    You may prefer less of a scent if planning on using your aromatic caterpillar in a car attached to the air conditioning vent, rather than attached to a room fan.

    A fan gently distributes Lavender's essential oil's scent from the pom-poms throughout the air! A fan gently distributes the scent of Lavender essential oil throughout the air; one drop of Lavender was placed on each pom-pom.

    Older kids and adults can be creative with these large natural clothespins, too. Extra detailing using paint, buttons, brads, coloring book art, artificial floral and fauna all are great to add a special theme to the clothespins.

    Paint and other embellishments are added to clothespins that older "kids" and adults can make; magnets can be added to the backs. Paint and other embellishments are added to clothespins that older "kids" and adults can make; magnets can be added to the backs.

    Gathering my clothespin crafts and other items that I want to make into magnets; this adds versatility for my clothespins.

    Younger kids can make egg carton flower clothespin magnets and pom-pom caterpillar clothespin magnets (*adults can add a few drops of an essential oil to one or more pom-poms and attach to a fan). Younger kids can make egg carton flower clothespin magnets and pom-pom caterpillar clothespin magnets (*adults can add a few drops of an essential oil to one or more pom-poms and attach to a fan).

    All magnets are not created equal; even when they are the same diameter. Here are packaging examples of three magnetic "buttons". The magnet strength nor thickness/height are list; only the diameter as 0.75 inches. I chose to use the ProMAG Ceramic Magnets (the yellow packaging pictured in the upper right-hand corner of the image).

    The difference in magnet buttons: thickness and adhesive backing! The difference in magnet buttons: thickness and adhesive backing!

    Here's a close-up of the magnets themselves.

    Close-up: the difference in magnet buttons clearly shows the difference in thickness. Close-up: the difference in magnet buttons clearly shows the difference in thickness.

    Now to decorate! But I think I'll need more room than one portion of my refrigerator's side. I don't have anything else that is readily available; do you? If not, stay tuned for my next installment and what you can do to create a board for your new clothespin magnets!

    Bye for now,

    Martha

  • Thoughtful Shawls

    Crocheted Shawls are classic additions for your wardrobe. We love all the stylish and cozy shawls in Thoughtful Shawls so much that it's hard to pick our favorite. Today's Guest Blogger, Michele Maks, is here today to talk about the inspiration for her fabulous designs. Welcome Michele!

    Welcome! I’m Michele Maks, designer of the patterns in Leisure Arts' recent publication, Thoughtful Shawls. Though I’ve been designing professionally since 1985 , I still LOVE to crochet!

    screen-shot-2017-05-11-at-10-21-40-am Thoughtful Shawls by Michele Maks

    Shawls are such versatile garments, and since there is very little shaping in the designs, they make excellent projects for beginners, or someone who is looking for an easy, don’t-need-to-think-too-hard-about-it stitching experience.

    Hudson Shawl from Thoughtful Shawls Hudson Shawl from Thoughtful Shawls

    Hudson Shawl: My inspiration for the Hudson Bay Shawl was in both wanting a simple stitch sequence, suitable for beginners, and the look of traditional North Woods blankets.  You don’t have to be at a logging camp to enjoy this one- imagine it cozying your shoulders as you safely watch a few episodes of Frontier in your apartment!

    Granny Square Shawl from Thoughtful Shawls Granny Square Shawl from Thoughtful Shawls

    Granny Square Shawl: Granny Squares are traditionally used for afghans, but I love them so much, I decided to create a shawl using basic granny techniques. What could be cozier and more open to interpretation than this? How many different color combinations can you imagine? Bet you can’t make just one!

    screen-shot-2017-05-11-at-10-23-41-am Stripes Stole from Thoughtful Shawls

    Stripes Stole: Similar granny styling is used for the stole version of this piece, but this time the colors are determined by the self-striping yarn. Just choose your favorite colorway, and most of the work is done! The yarn and the stitches will flow through your fingers like magic. Again, it will be hard to create only one.

    Patchwork Shawl from Thoughtful Shawls Patchwork Shawl from Thoughtful Shawls

    Patchwork Shawl: Patchwork  is both fun to stitch and fun to wear! Combining your own favorite colors will allow this project to be completely your own!

    Meditation Shawl from Thoughtful Shawls Meditation Shawl from Thoughtful Shawls

    Meditation Shawl: Simple combinations of basic stitches make the cover shawl both a pleasure to stitch and to wear. Your morning yoga poses will never be chilly again when you have your Meditation Shawl with you.

  • Textured Super Scarves

    Crocheted Super Scarves are all the rage and our favorite Super Scarves designer is back with a sequel!  In Textured Super Scarves, we see our favorite scarves with creatively delicious twists. Today's Guest Blogger, Bonne Barker, is here today to talk about the inspiration for her fabulous designs. Welcome Bonnie!

    Hello all you wonderful crocheters! My name is Bonnie Barker and I am so very thankful to have the opportunity to design for Leisure Arts, a company whose leaflets have been a part of my crocheting life since I was just a kid! Textured Super Scarves is my newest leaflet, and the second booklet on Super Scarves. Most of my designs incorporate crocheted cables in some way, so when asked to design without cables, I jumped at the opportunity to explore other fun areas of crochet.

    Textured Super Scarves by Bonnie Barker Textured Super Scarves by Bonnie Barker

    What makes a scarf SUPER?? Each super scarf is approximately 10’ long and 14” wide! When I was first asked to design scarves with these dimensions, it made me laugh out loud and say, “REALLY?” But after making a couple of these extravagant pieces, I wanted to keep them for myself instead of sending them in for publication! These aren’t just “scarves”. Yes, you surely can wear them as a scarf, but they also become a wonderful wrap that can be worn in a number of different ways! I’m not a size 4 model (never have been and never will be!), but that didn’t keep me from having some photo fun, and yes, in the middle of the summer too!

    Bonnie Barker Models a Super Scarf Creation Bonnie Barker Models a Super Scarf Creation

    The cover photo of this booklet features “Cascading Lace”, which features an open lace-like pattern with some surface texture.  The ends of this scarf is trimmed with classic crocheted pineapples.  I had used this lace texture in a small handbag design and thought it would look lovely in a long scarf.  What do you think?

    Cascading Lace Super Scarf Cascading Lace Super Scarf from Textured Super Scarves

    The Woven Plaid Super Scarf was an experiment in color, something I rarely do when designing cables. This stitch uses front post double crochets and front post treble crochets, both of which are easy to learn. (I have free video crochet tutorials on my Bonnie Bay Crochet Youtube channel to support many of the stitches used in my Leisure Arts patterns. You can find them here: https://www.youtube.com/user/BonnieBayCrochet.)

    Woven Plaid Scarf from Textured Super Scarves Woven Plaid Scarf from Textured Super Scarves

    I was particularly drawn to these colors after seeing another of my designs crocheted by my friend Mary Greene Cheripka. Her color selection was stunning, so I took the liberty to follow her example in my color choice for this scarf. Be sure to have a yarn needle on hand and a sharp pair of scissors. You’ll be hiding a lot of strands on this one, but it will be worth the effort. I also have a video to help you do this on my above mentioned channel!

    Bobbled Beauty Scarf from Textured Super Scarves Bobbled Beauty Scarf from Textured Super Scarves

    Bobbled Beauty was totally inspired by Premier’s Puzzle Yarn while shopping at a local craft store. I had never seen this yarn before and was determined to do something fun with it! I loved the longer color and texture changes. There won’t be any changing of yarns with this design since the yarn does all the work for you! This is another easy pattern, made up of double crochets, chains, and big bobbles.I also love how this scarf looks as if you had to change yarn for each row - but we can keep this as our little secret, ok? Premier’s Puzzle yarn offers a variety of color combinations to suit your personal preference.

    Maple Leaf Scarf from Textured Super Scarves Maple Leaf Scarf from Textured Super Scarves

    I saved my favorite design in this leaflet for last. (This is probably the most challenging design in the leaflet, but still very approachable, even for confident beginning crocheters.) I could not help but to have fond thoughts of my Canadian friends as I crocheted each maple leaf that appears as surface texture in this design. I originally designed this raised texture using front post stitches while making a blanket for a charity gift in remembrance for a young Canadian man who unexpectedly left this world way too soon. The maple leaf isn’t bold and tacky, but subtle.  I love the way the Lion Brand Scarfie yarn makes the leaves almost look like maple leaves in the fall as the color changes gradually.  Here’s a close up photo of the maple leaf motif:

    Maple Leaf Motif Maple Leaf Motif

    The leaves are framed using the double stitch (sc, dc), giving the scarf one of my favorite crocheted textures.  It is framed on both ends using post ribbing.

    If you get a chance to make any of these scarves, I would love to see!  You can always contact me on my website at BonnieBayCrochet.com, or follow me on my Bonnie Bay Crochet Facebook page.  I truly wish you all the best!

  • Easy Afghans

    Easy Afghans provides exciting crochet projects using a variety of techniques to create interesting pattern designs. Read how Guest Blogger, Sharon Silverman, creates unique and easy crochet designs that make her afghans anything other than ordinary!  Welcome Sharon!

    My motto for Easy Afghans was, “`Easy’ doesn’t mean `boring!’” I wanted to create projects that would boost the confidence of newer crocheters and expand their skills, while also providing interesting stitch patterns, techniques, and use of color for crocheters at any level. Leisure Arts was in agreement with the concept.

    Leisure Arts' item #6725 - Easy Afghans, by Sharon Silverman. Leisure Arts' item #6725 - Easy Afghans, by Sharon Silverman.

    Variety was important to me, so I started by choosing yarn for each project. I selected a solid color for two afghans, “Snow” Bernat Satin for Icefall and “Pistachio” Lion Brand Babysoft for Green Willow.

    Icefall. Icefall Afghan from Easy Afghans
    Green Willow. Green Willow Afghan from Easy Afghans

    Each of those projects can add a new technique to a crocheter’s bag of tricks. For Icefall, it’s filet crochet, which combines open and filled squares in a mesh pattern used for lacy items. Charts show how to use chain stitches and double crochet to create the two filet patterns used in the project.

    The solid color for Green Willow is a great way to update a classic look. Anyone who is new to making motifs will master the two styles used here in no time. Clusters and openwork highlight an “X” shape on half the squares and an “O” theme on the others. Maybe I should have named it the Tic-Tac-Toe Afghan! Chunky tassels decorate the corners.

    Seaview. Seaview Afghan from Easy Afghans

    Next I used four solid colors, “Silver Blue,” “Dusty Blue,” “Bright Blue,” and “White,” all in Lion Brand® Vanna’s Choice®, in the design for Seaview. The stripe sequence and the shell pattern are reminiscent of sea and sky. I love the way one row of shells nestles in the middle of the next row.

    Hearthside Coziness. Hearthside Coziness.

    Solid color stripes have an added twist in Autumn Ridge: simple crocheted mesh background is then woven through with individual strands of yarn to create a large plaid afghan perfect for snuggling! Fall colors in Patons Classic Wool Worsted are “Burgundy,” “Pumpkin,” “Winter White,” “Chestnut Brown,” and “Sunset Gold.” Corresponding color fringe is added to the top and  bottom. The effect created by weaving yarn “in and out the windows” is really cool, and elevates this afghan from a plain striped project into one that’s a lot more exciting. The weaving is also something a school-age child can help with. Get ‘em started young!

    Chetwynd Miters. Chetwynd Miters.

    A solid yarn (Red Heart Super Saver “Lavender”) is the perfect counterpoint to the vividly variegated “Sherbet Print” in Chetwynd Miters. Mitered squares look complicated but are actually quite simple to make. Using variegated yarn with a contrasting solid balances the colors and emphasizes the right angles in this square afghan.

    Arundel Castle was inspired by a visit to that English site in the summer, 2013. Look at how many shades of off-white, tan, beige, ecru, and brown are in the stones.

    Interesting stone walls. Interesting stone walls.
    Arundel Castle. Arundel Castle Afghan from Easy Afghans

     

    Red Heart Boutique Unforgettable in “Cappuccino” captured all of those colors in a variegated yarn. The two-row pattern repeat is easy to master. Gradual color changes keep the project interesting, and the yarn does all the work!

    The other project in the booklet, Hearthside Coziness, uses a simple peek-a-boo chevron pattern in warm tones of bulky weight yarn, Patons ColorWul “Jardin.”

    Hearthside Coziness. Hearthside Coziness Afghan from Easy Afghans

    It was a pleasure working with Leisure Arts on Easy Afghans. Along with doing the editing and photography, they added helpful video links to the patterns. What a great way for crocheters to learn something new or to get reacquainted with a technique they haven’t used in a while.

    My hope for the leaflet is that relatively new crocheters will discover easy items to suit their skill level (and maybe learn a few new things along the way), experienced crocheters will find the stitch patterns and techniques fun and interesting, and that the finished projects will delight those who make them and any lucky recipients who get these afghans as gifts.

    As for my professional background, I am the author of more than a dozen crochet books (14 so far!) and a private line of patterns. I’m a professional member of the Crochet Guild of America and a design member of The National NeedleArts Association. I was a featured guest on HGTV’s fiber arts program, “Uncommon Threads,” and have been interviewed on numerous radio podcasts. Recently I expanded my crochet work to include large-scale museum installations, indoors and outside.

    My inspiration comes from diverse sources, everything from the beauty of nature to the stunning creations of architects and furniture-makers. Because I live near Longwood Gardens, a horticultural showplace in the Brandywine Valley west of Philadelphia, I get a lot of ideas from their amazing flowers and plants. You can find me on Facebook and Pinterest at Sharon Silverman Crochet; on Ravelry and YouTube at CrochetSharon; and on my website, www.SharonSilverman.com. I would love to hear from you. Happy crocheting!

    Designer, Sharon Silverman. Designer, Sharon Silverman.
  • Get Slimed - Learn How to Make Your Own Slime!

    Slippery, gelatinous slime has been all the rage lately; now you can make your own with easy to find supplies! Then add a few extra ingredients to each batch of slime to achieve a multitude of textures, colors and visual effects. Pliable and stretchy, slick slime is now a commodity! 




    When I think of slime, I envision a gelatinous, gooey mess found on a garden slug! I've never worked with slime before, but there's so much more to slime than being a slippery substance. If you want to get creative with your slime, check out our all-new release, Slimed DIY. I read all of the helpful hints, dos and donts as outlined in the leaflet before I got started. Everything I used was from my local grocery store.  You can use more exotic ingredients, but I kept it simple. I started with the basic recipe called, Simple Slime.

    Simple Slime Simple Slime




     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Always measure, don't guess. Even then, you may have to measure twice and reread your instructions, as well as, the order in which the ingredients are added to the recipe. This is science; it's all about chemical reactions.

    Simple Slime ingredients; from Leisure Arts' item #7191 - Slimed DIY. Simple Slime ingredients




    Definitely use food coloring! It adds more mystery to your slime -- and if you make different batches, it helps to segregate them in your mind to help determine which slime version you liked the best!

    Adding liquid food coloring to first batch of slime. Adding liquid food coloring to first batch of slime.




    I liked the mixing and watching when the physical structure of my liquid ingredients started changing. I can see why so many enjoy this. Look how quickly glue, liquid starch and water transform into a pliable mound of slime!

    See how the slime develops once liquid starch and water are added to the glue / food coloring mixture. See how the slime develops once liquid starch and water are added to the glue / food coloring mixture.




    I scooped my Simple Slime from my mixing bowl and placed on my plastic lined table. My hands were definitely moist while kneading this slime. Other than the moisture, my hands were not sticky. The slime was very pliable and easy to squish.

    All right; first batch of slime! Continue kneading until smooth. My slime remained moist and slick. All right; first batch of slime! Continue kneading until smooth. My slime remained moist and slick.




    On to my second batch of slime, Glitter Glue slime.

    Glitter Glue Slime. Glitter Glue Slime.




    I only wanted a small batch of Glitter Glue Slime, so I halved the recipe found in Leisure Arts' item #7191 - Slimed DIY. After re-reading this recipe's instructions, I read the Tip to use borax, instead of liquid starch, to make a more transparent slime.

    Glitter Glue slime using Borax instead of liquid starch. Glitter Glue slime using borax instead of liquid starch.




    The first thing I would change in my process: if I want to halve a recipe, get enough ingredients to easily portion out into a mixing bowl. I bought exactly half of the glitter glue needed, a 3 oz. bottle. I found it impossible to squeeze out a good portion of the glitter glue from its bottle. As a result, I cut the plastic bottle in half to scoop out the remainder - what a MESS!

    One small container is half the recipe - but what a mess! I had to cut the container because a fourth of the glue would not dispense! One small container is half the recipe - but what a mess! I had to cut the container because a fourth of the glue would not dispense!




    Following the steps using borax, the glitter glue slime came together very easily. Then I thought I should add more water because I had so much remaining, and - failure! My slime turned to liquid.

    My slime looked great, but I didn't leave well enough alone and added a little more water. I ruined the proportions - it's all about measurements. My slime looked great, but I didn't leave well enough alone and added a little more water. I ruined the proportions - it's all about measurements.




    I tried adding a little more borax, but that didn't work. Maybe a little more - oh, well; my proportions were all off. I could not start over from the beginning because I only purchased just the right amount of glitter glue to halve the recipe one time.

    Next up, Fluffy slime.

    Fluffy Slime Fluffy Slime




     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This slime version had twice the number of ingredients than the previous two slime versions I tried. I wanted to get as many ingredients measured - but I made a fatal error that I discovered later in the process. What is nice about this Fluffy version, the slime book noted that this recipe can be doubled if desired.

    Fluffy - Attempt 1: I can't wait to feel a different texture of slime! Ingredients are ready! Fluffy - Attempt 1: I can't wait to feel a different texture of slime! Ingredients are ready!




    The slime is developing by getting lumpy. But it just seems too gooey. The slime is developing by getting lumpy. But it just seems too gooey.




    After re-reading the instructions, I realized after-the-fact that I added the foaming hand soap by pouring it from the bottle, not pumping it as a foam into a measuring cup. Well, I can't undo what I had done so instead of getting too frustrated,  I just kept mixing...

    My first attempt at Fluffy Slime didn't seem quite right. It did peel off of my skin easily enough, but it remained sticky and gooey. My first attempt at Fluffy slime didn't seem quite right. It did peel off of my skin easily enough, but it remained sticky and gooey.




    My pink Fluffy slime never did recover from my error. It was still an interesting substance, but not a desirous outcome.

    I was bound and determined to try making Fluffy slime the next morning. I reviewed the images and instructions from item #7191 - Slimed DIY to ensure that I had enough of each of the ingredients to attempt making a second batch.  I also needed to make sure that I had taken all of the steps in their correct order.

    Second attempt at Fluffy Slime: All the ingredients are ready and measured! Second attempt at Fluffy slime: All the ingredients are measured and ready to be mixed!




    I was happy to see an immediate difference in the yellow substance forming in my bowl compared to my first attempt done the day before.

    The glue, shaving cream & foaming hand soap are combined, followed by cornstarch. Watch as a ball develops when a small amount of liquid starch is added. OOPS; I forgot the food coloring mixture! The glue, shaving cream & foaming hand soap are combined, followed by cornstarch. Watch as a ball develops when a small amount of liquid starch is added. OOPS; I forgot the food coloring mixture!




    I got a little nervous when I realized that I had mixed the liquid hand soap, hand lotion and food coloring together but had not [yet] added it to the first mixture of glue, shaving cream, foaming hand soap and cornstarch. I added a little of the yellow food coloring mixture and hoped all would remain intact!

    Phew; adding the food coloring mixture out-of-order didn't ruin my slime. My fluffy is a little puffy. Phew; adding the food coloring mixture out-of-order didn't ruin my slime. My fluffy is a little puffy.




    Can you tell I'm pressing down into my Fluffy slime mixture? It felt cool, smooth and pliable. It was not wet or sticky, but very putty-like. It was great that my second batch of Fluffy slime allowed me to mash it, ball it, and stretch it without spreading any residue all over.

    My hands are basically clean; I like this! My hands are basically clean; I like this!

    I liked the elasticity and texture of Fluffy slime as an all-around tactile toy. I didn't need to purchase any unusual ingredients; all materials could be purchased at a brick-and-mortar store, or its online equivalent.

    Oh, how much fun is this! I'm so glad I made a second attempt at the Fluffy Slime - it's stretchy, soft and cool to the touch! Oh, how much fun is this! I'm so glad I made a second attempt at the Fluffy slime - it's stretchy, soft and cool to the touch!




    HINTS

    1. Purchase enough ingredients to make several batches.

    2.  Definitely buy a discardable table cover of thin plastic. Most slime is SUPER EASY to clean up; except if your slime is too gooey. If your slime attempt turns into a slime failure, and you have a gooey mess, just cut your plastic table cover with the mess and throw away.

    3. Remember DO NOT pour any batches of slime down the drain or flush down the toilet. But it does clean up from measuring cups, mixing bowls and utensils (plus floors, chairs, phone cases, and hands) very easily using warm soapy water.

    4. Follow all instructions, guidelines, safety tips, usage instructions and tips outlined in Leisure Arts' item #7191 - Slimed DIY or your desired recipe and listed on all other ingredients used while making your own slime.

    Crafting can be fun and instructive. Definitely use slime for interactive fun at home, added as part of school projects, or to demonstrate the scientific properties of chemical reactions when substances meet.

    Slimy Fun! Slimy Fun!




     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Enjoy some slimy creativity!

    Martha

     




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