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Holidays

  • Bountiful Pencils

    My favorite time of year is here -- sort of; fall is having a difficult time arriving with above-average temperatures and little rain! So to encourage all things autumnal to surround me, I pulled out my Bountiful Wonders Color Art for Everyone coloring book (one of my favorites) to decide which page would be my next to color.

    Blank page of pumpkins and gourds to be colored using Premium Colored Pencils (48581) and Watercolor Colored Pencils (48582) by Leisure Arts. Blank page of pumpkins and gourds to be colored using Premium Colored Pencils (48581) and Watercolor Colored Pencils (48582) by Leisure Arts.

    Coloring is so much fun especially when the design is themed around something you love. So coloring a fall-themed design was easy for me. I've been using and loving the new pencils Leisure Arts has to offer. There are two choices; they are the 30-Pack Premium Colored Pencils and the 30-Pack Watercolor Colored Pencils. Both of these new sets of pencils give an extra "wow" factor to a picture!

    As with most pictures I color using colored pencils, it is the layering and blending of colors that bring an image to life.

    Close-up of the colors and blending started on a section of the page from Bountiful Wonders (6993). Close-up of the colors and blending started on a section of the page from Bountiful Wonders (6993).

    Think outside-the-box when it comes to your color palette; don't think you should only use the "traditional" or "natural" colors for the pumpkins and gourds.

    Larger section showing traditional and non-traditional colors chosen for the leaves, pumpkins and gourds (from 6993 - Bountiful Wonders by Leisure Arts). Larger section showing traditional and non-traditional colors chosen for the leaves, pumpkins and gourds (from 6993 - Bountiful Wonders by Leisure Arts).

    Another step to my creation of a 3-D look to a 2-D drawing is the use of a second medium. To aid in this dimensional effect, I introduced some watercolor pencils to my coloring.

    Adding the watercolor colored pencils over certain sections of the premium colored pencils already rendered on page. Adding the Watercolor Colored Pencils over certain sections of the Premium Color Colored Pencils already rendered on a page.

    The final incorporation of both the Premium Color Colored Pencils and Watercolor Color Colored Pencils comes after the water-dipped paint brush blends those layers together. After the pumpkins and gourds are colored, I move on to coloring the falling leaves. I will first use the watercolor pencils on a few of the leaves and highlights on some pumpkins and gourds.

    After the water was added to blend the layer of watercolor pencils over the already existing colored pencil colors. After the water was added to blend the layer of watercolor pencils over the already existing colored pencil colors.

    Working on my page for a little while every day was very convenient for me; morning coffee and coloring. I always enjoy seeing an image come to life with each added color!

    The combined effects of using both the Premium Colored Pencils and the Watercolor Pencils to the page from Bountiful Wonders (6993 by Leisure Arts). The combined effects of using both the Premium Colored Pencils and the Watercolor Pencils to the page from Bountiful Wonders (6993 by Leisure Arts).

    Here are some of the selected pencils that I used on this page. In the below image, the silver pencil shafts are the Premium Colored Pencils on the left, and the gold shafted pencils are the Watercolor Colored Pencils on the right.

    I am very pleased that I used both the 30-Pack Premium Colored Pencils (48581) and the 30-Pack Watercolor Colored Pencils (48582)! I am very pleased that I used both the 30-Pack Premium Colored Pencils (48581) and the 30-Pack Watercolor Colored Pencils (48582)!

    All I have to do is find a nice frame in which to place my completed page. I very much want to keep this page protected, yet share its bounty with my guests.

    Page of pumpkins and gourds from 6993 - Bountiful Wonders Color Art for Everyone by Leisure Arts. Page of pumpkins and gourds from 6993 - Bountiful Wonders Color Art for Everyone by Leisure Arts.

    Happy fall decorating using Bountiful Wonders Color Art for Everyone!

    Martha

     

  • Pom-Pom Halloween

     

    The uses and appearances of pom-poms have expanded from winter gear and sports’ embellishments to include year-round home decor. See how simple pom-poms can become part of your Halloween-themed decorations.

    Pom-poms were frequently only seen on winter accessories, or worn by a team’s cheer squad. It's wonderful that the uses for and appearances of these puffy mounds of yarn have been greatly expanded! Beautiful household items are crafted with pom-poms such as wall hangings and wreaths!

    Halloween is coming in a few weeks and I wanted to get ready with some pom-pom décor. Getting a lot of ideas from Pinterest was easy. Look at this cute mantle garland and another version for one's vertical porch decor; both are awesome! Using these two Pins as my guidelines, I began making pom-poms with an end result in mind.

    Since I had many pom-poms to make in varying sizes, I took the advice of one of our designers and purchased Clover Pom-Pom Makers. To reinsure that you're using your pom-pom maker correctly, watch a video in less than five minutes.  I gathered several yarn weights with different textures. One of my favorites for this project was Red Heart's Reflective yarn. The reflective yarn has a thin gray strip that reflects the light; reflective does not mean glow-in-the-dark.

    Before: Parts to make Halloween characters. Small pom-poms (1.625") and pipe cleaners cut in half. Before: Parts to make Halloween characters. Small pom-poms (1.625") and pipe cleaners cut in half.

    Of course, my Halloween pom-poms were going to include a pumpkin, a spider, and a ghost. First would be the pumpkin. This would be fairly easy to accomplish: one pom-pom with a curled pipe cleaner as its stem.

    My second figure was the spider. Again the main part was the pom-pom as the spider body. Then, I added six pipe cleaner legs. I even challenged myself to make a red spot to indicate a Black Widow spider. I followed color pattern suggestions as found on the back of the Clover Extra Large Pom-Pom Maker's packaging.

    Added a little more drama to the spider character; here's a Black Widow! Added a little more drama to the spider character; here's a Black Widow!

    The last Halloween figure I needed to make was a ghost. This appeared more challenging than I thought. My final decision was to make a pom-pom for the ghost's head and attach it to the loose yarn strands to represent its body. I made three ghosts; each received an added yarn embellishment giving each one its own personality.

    After: Halloween characters include a spider, ghost and pumpkin. After: Halloween characters include a spider, ghost and pumpkin.

    I was ready to display my characters at home and office so I needed both a wall/door decoration, as well as, tabletop decor ideas. I wanted to incorporate extra color into my display and the perfect complement was Leisure Arts' Jute Twine (item 48526)I chose to use three of the six colors.

    Planning my display; love the colored jute! Planning my display; love the colored jute!

    My colleague found the perfect fallen branch from his hickory tree. Upon its arrival in the office, it quickly became a character itself and given the name, "Old Hickory". The branch had so much character with its craggy texture, knuckled sections and lichen patterns, I didn't want to cover all of it.

    Halloween pom-pom characters suspended from "Old Hickory" as door decor. Halloween pom-pom characters suspended from "Old Hickory" as door decor.

    Here are my extra pom-poms used for some added character for one of the most-anticipated days to celebrate around the office.

    Other Halloween decor using pom-poms in two sizes. Other Halloween decor using pom-poms in two sizes.

    I hope you enjoy making pom-poms and  decorating for Halloween; happy haunting!

    Martha

  • 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

     

  • Coffee Filter Flower Baskets

    I enjoyed making my coffee filter flowers so much, I was positively anxious to try making coffee filter flower baskets! This project sounded perfect for some seasonally-appropriate fun now that Spring has sprung and Easter is just around the corner.

    There are a few supplies needed, and none are expensive. You may already have the supplies on hand. What a deal! I was inspired by this flower basket pin by Urban Comfort.  I wanted to try using water based markers as a second coloring technique on the coffee filters. I already had flower stem wire  and food coloring left over from my earlier project and coffee filter flower post, my craft collection included water based markers, and my party supplies had some plastic nut cups. Okay, my supplies seemed to be in order.

    I was quickly reminded that sometimes you just have to figure things out or use your best judgment when creating. The plastic nut cups I had on-hand were too small and would have been devoured by the flower petals. I quickly went on-line and had to "guesstimate" on the size I would need for this project. Many nut cups are also called candy cups - so read descriptions carefully. To assist you, here is a link to the specific nut/candy cups from Outside the Box Papers that I used for this project.

    My second coloring technique: use water based markers. The Easter coffee filter flowers are made by using 4-cup size coffee filters. Color each flower with water based markers. The polka dotted paper cup will be the basket; it measures approximately 2"W x 1.375" H. My second coloring technique: use water based markers. The Easter coffee filter flowers are made by using 4-cup size coffee filters. Color each flower with water based markers. The polka dotted paper cup will be the basket; it measures approximately 2"W x 1.375" H.

    Dying the individual coffee filters with water based markers took longer on the front end because each filter got colored by markers. As opposed to dying the coffee filters by placing them in food coloring dyed water to soak for 30 minutes to several hours. Just think of the preparations this way: the time you spend coloring the individual filters is your creation of individual palettes of color; just like each flower is different from another.

    The second coffee filter coloring technique I am trying: water based markers used to color individual coffee filters, draped over inverted glasses, prepped for water! The second coffee filter coloring technique I am trying: water based markers used to color individual coffee filters, draped over inverted glasses, prepped for water!

    Have fun with your patterns - but remember, every mark will bleed once water is applied.

    The marker colors show an immediate watercolor effect. See the colors spreading and dripping once water is spritzed onto them. The marker colors show an immediate watercolor effect. See the colors spreading and dripping once water is spritzed onto them.

    Although some of the demarcations were indistinguishable, I really liked the color intensity the markers produced!

    Some of the finished results reveal that these colors are vibrant. My earlier method let the coffee filters sit in water dyed with food coloring; that earlier method produced lovely pastel colors. Some of the finished results reveal that these colors are vibrant. My earlier method let the coffee filters sit in water dyed with food coloring; that earlier method produced lovely pastel colors.

    The third method of coloring coffee filters is created by applying food coloring in specific dots or short lines directly onto two or three folded coffee filters. A quick dunk in-and-out of some water, with a gentle squeeze to drain the excess water, is all you need to do to successfully dye your coffee filters. As before, unfold the coffee filters and drape them over inverted glasses to dry. Remember, I sped up the drying time by placing my coffee filters under a ceiling fan.

    All the flowers colored by placing dots of food coloring onto folded coffee filters before dipping into water. All the flowers colored by placing dots of food coloring onto folded coffee filters before dipping into water.
    Different floral effects can be made by the pattern cut into the coffee filters, as well as, by the coloring method. The coloring technique here: food coloring placed directly onto the coffee filters before water was applied. Different floral effects can be made by the pattern cut into the coffee filters, as well as, by the coloring method. The coloring technique here: food coloring placed directly onto the coffee filters before water was applied.
    Intense colors were achieved when drops of food coloring were applied directly onto coffee filters before a quick dip into water! Intense colors were achieved when drops of food coloring were applied directly onto coffee filters before a quick dip into water!

    I referred to the original pin by Urban Comfort to read about their construction of the coffee filter flower baskets. I did not have any glue dots as outlined in their description, so I used hot glue to attach the floral wire to the paper nut/candy cups. I also used hot glue to attach the nut/candy cups to the first coffee filter layer, and in between each layer thereafter.

    Floral Stem Wire (20 Gauge) hot glued to paper nut/candy cups to make coffee filter flower baskets. Floral Stem Wire (20 Gauge) hot glued to paper nut/candy cups to make coffee filter flower baskets.
    Coffee filter flower baskets get transformed into Easter baskets once filled with candy goodies! Coffee filter flower baskets get transformed into Easter baskets once filled with candy goodies!

    Preparing the coffee filter flower baskets to be used as centerpieces, or with tablescapes and serving pieces for display, helps to generate the mood for springtime frolics and Easter Sunday gatherings. I used artificial shrubbery to help show off some candy, as well as, a platter to display all of the baskets.

    Here is one close-up of the completed Easter coffee filter flower baskets colored using water based markers and sprayed with water. Here is one close-up of the completed Easter coffee filter flower baskets colored using water based markers and sprayed with water.

    One whimsical idea is to incorporate your coffee filter flower baskets with other fantasy-themed items such a woodland creatures and fairies.

    I am starting to create an imaginative Easter garden centerpiece. In addition to my coffee filter flower baskets are pieces from the Woodland Garden Kit (#47858) and the 4 Pack Resin Fairies (#47962)! I am starting to create an imaginative Easter garden centerpiece. In addition to my coffee filter flower baskets are pieces from the Woodland Garden Kit (#47858) and the 4 Pack Resin Fairies (#47962)!

    As you set the table, you may decide to decorate everyone's place with an individual coffee filter flower basket and a garden fairy.

    A single fairy with a coffee filter flower basket filled with treats become Easter baskets ready to be placed at every place setting as part of your table decor! A single fairy with a coffee filter flower basket filled with treats become Easter baskets ready to be placed at every place setting as part of your table decor!

    Another option is to use a platter for easy distribution of the coffee filter flower baskets as your guests' take-home gifts.

    So pretty--So pretty! Coffee filter flower baskets adorn a spring platter; keep it simple, or add more... So pretty--So pretty! Coffee filter flower baskets adorn a spring platter; keep it simple, or add more...

    See all of the components to each of Leisure Arts' Fairy and Gnome Garden Sets to help you plan your themed decor.

    Help keep the youngsters entertained during the day. Here are the fairies coming out to play with your guests as part of your Easter activities. Help keep the youngsters entertained during the day. Here are the fairies coming out to play with your guests as part of your Easter activities.
    Nestle some fairies among the candy goodies in and around the Easter coffee filter flower baskets! Nestle some fairies among the candy goodies in and around the Easter coffee filter flower baskets!

    Have fun with these dying techniques; they each produce wonderfully vivid results! I think these coffee filter flower baskets are great for many uses: use with name cards and other place setting decor or place ordinary salt and pepper shakers in them (maybe omit the handle) for your dining table; or, for play time use as an accessory with a doll's outfit, or plan a garden party with a raffle drawing and each basket could hold a secret number under some nuts!

    Even if you don't drink coffee, and however you decide to use these flower baskets, you just might want to invest in some coffee filters - there are so many crafting possibilities!

    Until next time - have fun!

    Martha

  • 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

     

     

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