Sign Up to Receive Exclusive Email Offers:

Blog

  • Wildflower Seed Bombs, Gnomes & Fairies!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The basic steps are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Welcome spring; bring on your color!

    Martha

     

     

  • One-Skein Baby Projects

    Please welcome our Guest Blogger, Sharon Silverman.  Sharon is the author of Crochet Refresher, Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets, Tunisian Shawls, and most recently One-Skein Baby Projects.  Her very popular Heirloom Frame Crochet Blanket ePattern gets rave reviews on LeisureArts.com.  She has two brand new ePatterns that you can be among the first to download.  They are a Mosaic Blanket ePattern and a Lacy Crescent Shawl.  Sharon is here today to tell us about her latest Leisure Arts Book: One-Skein Baby Projects.  

    “Good things come in small packages,” the saying goes, and that’s certainly true for babies and for crochet projects.  My goal for One-Skein Baby Projects was to create adorable designs that crocheters could whip up for a special little baby without a large investment of time or money. I’m delighted that Leisure Arts was on board with the concept and gave me the go-ahead.

    Photo 1, book cover One-Skein Baby Projects book cover.

    The first part of my design process was to decide what items to focus on, and to select yarn for each project. I was inspired by Bonbons and Vanna’s Palettes. Both are mini-skein sets from Lion Brand. So cute to have all of those colors in one package! Those seemed ideal for toys.

    Photo 2, Pretzel Rattle Pretzel Rattle

    I used Vanna’s Palettes for the Pretzel Rattle. Why a pretzel? I should probably confess that pretzels have fascinated me ever since I wrote a travel guidebook about my home state, Pennsylvania Snacks: Your Guide to Food Factory Tours. I learned that Lititz, Lancaster County is home to the first commercial pretzel bakery in America, and that the history of the pretzel extends as far back as 610 A.D. That’s the first documented instance of European monks rewarding children who had memorized their Bible verses and prayers with a pretiola, Latin for “little reward.”

    A pretzel-shaped rattle has other advantages, too: lots of places for baby to hold on, and holes that are perfect for peek-a-boo.

    Safety is always my top priority when designing baby items. For the rattle, I used an unopened tube of beads completely encased in clear, waterproof packing tape. It’s positioned in the middle of fiberfill stuffing so it’s completely hidden from view, from feel—and from little teeth. Unless an elephant steps on the rattle and then a tiger rips the packing tape and the bead tube to shreds, the beads pose no danger.  (If you are in regular contact with an elephant and a tiger, omit the bead rattle—although a choking hazard may be the least of your worries.)  

    Bouncy Block uses Lion Brand Bonbons for a bright-colored, highly textured cube that’s fun for little hands.

    Photo 3, Bouncy Block Bouncy Block

    I think crocheters will enjoy making this because each side is different. Instead of fiberfill stuffing, I used washable cotton batting because it is denser and keeps the block nice and plump while retaining its shape.

    Every baby needs a “lovey” to cuddle and snuggle with. The Snow Bear Lovey (Bernat Baby Sport and Patons Astra) is a sweet bear-and-blanket combination. I chose a textured stitch pattern on the blanket to keep it interesting for crocheters and for babies. The head, muzzle, nose, ears, and arms are made separately, then assembled and attached to the center of the blanket. The ears are definitely my favorite part of the Snow Bear’s head. Something about them makes me go, “Awww…”

    Photo 4, Snow Bear Lovey

    Once the toys were finished, I worked on baby garments from head to toe—literally!—the Bubble Hat (Red Heart Anne Geddes Baby), Ribbed Vest (Caron Simply Soft), and Booties for Cuties (Red Heart Baby TLC).

    My own children are in their twenties now and hence no longer suitable models for baby gear, so it was thrilling to see the smiling little boy wearing the Bubble Hat and the Ribbed Vest in Leisure Arts’ photos. Way to make my work look good, buddy!

    The hat is sized for 0-3 months, 6 months, and 12 months; the vest is sized for 0-3 months and 3-6 months.

    Baby Bubble Hat Bubble Hat
    Baby Ribbed Vest Ribbed Vest

    Booties for Cuties are designed to keep little tootsies warm. High cuffs cover the ankle and keep the footwear right where it belongs. This project is sized for 3-6 months and 6-9 months.

    Baby Crochet Booties for Cuties Pink Booties for Cuties - Pink
    Crochet Baby Booties for Cuties Blue Booties for Cuties - Blue

    One other garment, the Hibiscus Top in Lion Brand LB Cotton Bamboo, has very recently been published as a stand-alone ePattern by Leisure Arts on its website.

    Crochet Hibiscus Top Hibiscus Top

    Every parent will tell you that you can never have too many bibs or washcloths. The final three projects in the leaflet are two bibs and a set of washcloths.

    The Bright & Easy Bib (Patons Grace) is worked in single crochet so it’s nice and dense. The ties are worked as part of the neckline so there’s no chance they can come loose.

    Crochet Bright & Easy Bib for Baby Bright & Easy Bib

    The Pullover Bib (Bernat Handicrafter Cotton) has a stretchy neckline that makes it easy to get on and off. A variation on single crochet produces a tight weave to keep messes from getting through. This bib is sized for head circumference 14” and for 16”.

    Baby Pullover Bib to Crochet Pullover Bib

    Sunshine Washcloths (Lily Sugar ’n Cream) brighten up baby’s nursery or bath. Thick and thirsty cluster stitches make these quick cloths pretty and practical. Make a few, roll up and tie with ribbon, and pop them in a basket with baby toiletries for a charming shower gift.

    Baby Crochet Sunshine Washcloth Sunshine Washcloth

    It was a pleasure working with Leisure Arts on One-Skein Baby Projects. 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. In the past I’ve written Tunisian Crochet Baby Blankets, Tunisian Shawls, and Crochet Refresher for Leisure Arts; another leaflet, Easy Afghans, will be published this spring. They also offer some standalone ePatterns of my work on their site.

    My hope for One-Skein Baby Projects is that relatively new crocheters will find easy items to suit their skill level, experienced crocheters will enjoy exciting stitch patterns and techniques to hold their interest, and that the finished projects will put a smile on the faces of babies and their parents.

    One-Skein Baby Projects Table of Contents Table of Contents

    To tell you a little bit about me, I’m a lifelong crafter who switched gears from travel writing to crochet design after I rediscovered my love of crochet about ten years ago. 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 out. I love to travel and explore the outdoors, especially with my husband, Alan, and our two grown sons. So far I have visited 48 states, 5 Canadian provinces, and 9 European countries. You can find me on Facebook and Pinterest at Sharon Silverman Crochet; on Ravelry at CrochetSharon; and on my website, www.SharonSilverman.com. I would love to hear from you!

    Happy crocheting!

    Photo 14, Sharon Silverman Sharon Silverman
  • Five Things to Look for in a Coloring Book

    Five_Things

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

    1. Fantastic Designs

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

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

    2. Made in USA

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

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

    3. Premium Paper

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

    Art_of_Coloring_Flowers Flowers from Art of Coloring Flowers Coloring Book.

    4. One-Sided Designs

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

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

    5. Perforated Pages

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

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

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

    Enjoy and Happy Coloring!

    Veronica

  • Coloring Books Make Easter Egg Artwork

    During early spring, the elliptical egg shape represents Easter better than none other. I have baskets, decorative eggs and ceramic bunnies, but a simple egg shape in springtime colors was lacking in my home decor. This void gave me further inspiration to find new ways in which to showcase my love for coloring!

    I knew I wanted to use an egg shape and pages from my coloring books. Now the decision was to find the right project. I was inspired by this Pinterest project Paper Strip Easter Egg Art  but wanted to use my own interpretation of the project to make it in my own style. I loved how this project kept evolving during my preparatory steps; here's what I did.

    I gathered my supplies. I used lightly painted coloring book pages instead of scrapbook paper for the paper strips. To assist in applying a thinner coat of acrylic paint to the pages, I first dipped my sponge brush into water, then blotted the excess water from the sponge. Blotting prevented the paper from getting too wet. To prevent the pages' corners from curling while drying, I held them in place with wooden clothespins. I repeated the painting procedure for the back side of each page, too.

    Preparing and gathering supplies. Coloring book pages painted using various acrylic colors. Cellophane tape and spray adhesive (not pictured) were both used later in the project. Preparing and gathering supplies. Coloring book pages painted using various acrylic colors. Cellophane tape and spray adhesive (not pictured) were both used later in the project.

    Here is how the coloring book pages looked once the paint dried.

    Pages from 6705 - Living Wonders Color Art for Everyone, 6707 - Kaleidoscope Wonders Color Art for Everyone, and 6806 - Art of Coloring Flowers. Pages from 6705 - Living Wonders Color Art for Everyone, 6707 - Kaleidoscope Wonders Color Art for Everyone, and 6806 - Art of Coloring Flowers.

    There is some variation in depth of color due to the application of the acrylic paint. You will cut varying widths for your strips from each page so a little striation of color will not take away from your final project.

    Close-up of painted pages; 6705 - Living Wonders Color Art for Everyone, 6707 - Kaleidoscope Wonders Color Art for Everyone, and 6806 - Art of Coloring Flowers. Close-up of painted pages; 6705 - Living Wonders Color Art for Everyone, 6707 - Kaleidoscope Wonders Color Art for Everyone, and 6806 - Art of Coloring Flowers.

    I prepared my paper strips by cutting them between 0.75"w - 1.5"w. Next, I arranged them in a color pattern that I liked on top of a piece of 12"w x 9"h construction paper.

    Various paper strip widths cut from painted coloring book pages; 6705 - Living Wonders Color Art for Everyone, 6707 - Kaleidoscope Wonders Color Art for Everyone, and 6806 - Art of Coloring Flowers. Various paper strip widths cut from painted coloring book pages; 6705 - Living Wonders Color Art for Everyone, 6707 - Kaleidoscope Wonders Color Art for Everyone, and 6806 - Art of Coloring Flowers.

    Next, you will have to decide on the size and shape of your ellipse or egg-shape. During my painting, I decided to cut my sample egg-shape from a piece of paper in landscape mode, instead of portrait mode. I used my precision single-edged blade to cut my final egg-shape from my practice piece of paper when it was turned to measure 11"w x 8.5"h.

    Egg shape cut from blank paper; choose a size for your project. Egg shape cut from blank paper; choose a size for your project.

    After viewing my strip pattern through the egg-shaped cut-out, I firmly decided to use another coloring book page as the top 'layer' or mat over the cut strips. Just to make sure, I made a sample of the coloring book page.

    Testing a coloring book page as the top mat from which to cut my egg shape; 6806 - Art of Coloring Flowers. Testing a coloring book page as the top mat from which to cut my egg shape; 6806 - Art of Coloring Flowers.

    I definitely liked the potential of this design! Once I made the final arrangement of the cut strips, I taped the ends of each strip to the construction paper. I started coloring a few of the flowers on the coloring book page that would become the top mat. The flowers were colored using colored pencils and markers; 6806 - Art of Coloring Flowers.

    Thinking about the life and use of my future-finished project, I considered laminating the completed art pages together. Lamination would allow me to use my project page as a placemat or other table decor that would not get harmed by the elements or by frequent handling. But just in case I wanted to hang my project, I looked for a smaller egg-shape allowing extra space around the edges of the coloring book page as margins for a mat and/or frame.

    After the final egg-shape was cut from the finished coloring book page, I applied spray adhesive to the back of the coloring book page and mounted it over the painted paper strips onto the construction paper base. I trimmed the excess construction paper away from my coloring book page. Now I'm nervous -- it's time to laminate! There's no going back after this step. I have to understand that if I make a mistake, to accept the project as is; I can't undo lamination.

    Yes; I decided to use a coloring book page as my top mat over my painted strips of paper. I held the painted paper strips in place with tape on a piece of construction paper as my bottom layer. Yes; I decided to use a coloring book page as my top mat over my painted strips of paper. I held the painted paper strips in place with tape on a piece of construction paper as my bottom layer.

    YEAH; the lamination worked well; the page looks great! Notice below how I placed my laminated project page on top of a blue linen so that viewing the margins between the coloring book page and the edge of the laminated cover would be visible.

    Use an adhesive spray to mount the coloring book page on top of the paper strips/construction paper bottom layer; then laminate. Use an adhesive spray to mount the coloring book page on top of the paper strips/construction paper bottom layer; then laminate.

    I placed my finished, laminated page in a frame with a mat. See the close-up of the finished product.

    Close-up of laminated Easter Egg Paper Strip Project. Close-up of laminated Easter Egg Paper Strip Project.

    Save your leftover painted pages for another project.

    Leftover painted pages will be upcycled for another use. Leftover painted pages will be upcycled for another use.

    Shred the excess pages. Now use the paper shred around a potted plant as filler, or...

    Here are the leftover painted pages - their new use is as shredded paper as filler for baskets or potted plants. Here are the leftover painted pages - their new use can be as shredded paper filler for potted plants.

    ...as Easter basket grass!

    Finale - Easter egg coloring book paper strip project. In the foreground: unused painted pages shredded for use as Easter basket grass! Finale - Easter egg coloring book paper strip project. In the foreground: unused painted pages shredded for use as Easter basket grass!

    Enjoy making something new this season; wishing you hoppy days!

    Martha

  • Coloring Paper Strips Make Shamrocks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Enjoy your spring; erin go bragh!

    Martha

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Have fun --

    Martha

     

  • A Medley of Colors in a Mandala

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

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

     

    So I went with all of them!

     

    006

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

    008

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

    009

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

     

  • Heart Basket Using a Coloring Book Page

    Love is all around us - but more so this time of year with Valentine's Day fast approaching! You may share your love, appreciation, kindness and friendship with others by giving them a special handmade paper heart basket. An especially personalized feature would be to use one of your favorite coloring book pages to make a heart basket. Here's how to do it...

    You will make your heart basket from two folded pieces of paper. So your initial step is to choose two pieces of paper. My suggestion is to choose one page from a coloring book and the other from solid colored papers such as construction, writing or printer paper. Papers have different weights, so you may have to decide which works best for you. My coloring book page came from the Art of Coloring Patterns. I then used red construction paper purchased from a craft store chain as my solid color.

    6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns

    Make a decision whether or not you want your coloring book page to remain as a black and white patterned page, or colored with some portion of the page colored. I chose to put a little color randomly on the page.

    Add a pop of color here and there to the page, from 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns. Add a pop of color here and there to the page, from 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns.

    Next, I chose two solid colors: red and black are perfect complementary colors!

    Experiment with solid colors to be used with coloring book page from 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns. Experiment with solid colors to be used with a coloring book page; this page from 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns.

    After choosing your papers, fold each page in half lengthwise. Each half of the basket measures 2.25" wide, each with three strips for weaving. Each strip measures 0.75" wide x 2.5" high (not the entire height of the folded piece of paper).  Measure along the folded crease and make very light pencil marks to assist you when cutting.

    All pages have been measured and marked; let the cutting begin! (Hint: see how the coloring book page was temporarily turned inside out for measuring, etc.) All pages have been measured and marked; let the cutting begin! (Hint: Temporarily turn the coloring book page inside out for measuring, etc.)

    Now is a good time to erase any pencil markings. Turn your coloring book page right side out with the printed side visible.

    Cut all the halves and each strip for every basket; erase any pencil marks. Turn the coloring book page so the right side is facing out (from 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns). Cut all the halves and each strip for every basket; erase any pencil marks. Turn the coloring book page so the right side is facing out (from 6808 - Art of Coloring Patterns).

    Select the two halves you have chosen, and turn the folded edges away from you. Work with each half at an angle as you begin weaving.

    Choose two halves, face the folded edges away from you and start weaving. Choose two halves, face the folded edges away from you and start weaving.

    I learned how to make Norwegian Baskets like this one as a young girl sitting next to my Grandmother. Since we can't sit next to each other, watching this YouTube video will be most helpful since the written instructions can get cumbersome.

    Each folded strip is woven this way: Looking at the example, start by weaving the inner most strips first; you will always work with two strips simultaneously. Because you are weaving, each strip of one color/side will pass through the inside, or around the outside of those strips of the opposite color.

    For instance, weave the first red strip and the first coloring book strip: the slightly 'opened' red strip is on the outside going around the outside of the first coloring book strip; then the first red strip goes through the inside middle coloring book strip; and finally, the first red strip goes around the outside of the third coloring book strip.

    As you are working, slide the woven strips towards the top of the cut strips making more room for the next strip to be woven.

    Start weaving the second red strip in an alternate pattern from the first red strip. For instance, weave the second red strip through the inside of the first coloring book strip; then, around the middle coloring book strip; and, finally, through the third coloring book strip.

    The weaving alternates with each strip; you will see the pattern develop as you progress. The weaving alternates with each strip; you will see the pattern develop as you progress.

    After all of the strips are woven, you will be able to open your basket. If you can't, then an error has been made in the weaving. Try undoing carefully and start over. Now get a sharp pair of scissors.

    When your weaving in complete, turn the heart basket around with the point facing towards you. When your weaving is complete, turn the heart basket around with the point facing towards you.

    Round the square edges by gently holding the two halves together while cutting; this will create the heart shape. From your saved 'extra' pieces of paper, cut a folded strip to use as the basket's handle. Remember, a handle is optional.

    To give a heart-shaped appearance to the basket, round the tops by cutting away square edges. An optional handle is cut from the extra solid paper; secure it with tape or glue. To give a heart-shaped appearance to the basket, round the tops by cutting away the square edges. An optional handle is cut from the extra solid paper; secure it with tape or glue.

    Secure your basket's handle with tape or glue. As a young girl during Christmas, I would make these Norwegian Baskets annually from the opened presents'  wrapping paper. As I got older, these baskets were fun to make for college friends, then I taught Girl Scout troops how to make them and my women's group to make as part of a service project. Now I am sharing both my heritage and love for coloring with you. Relax, enjoy, color and create!

    Happy Valentine's Day --

    Martha

     

     

     

  • Mandala

    Stuck at home today due to snow storm. I think it will melt by tomorrow so I will not go stir crazy. To help the day move along faster I covered up under my favorite fleece blanket, pulled out my stack of Leisure Arts coloring books, and colors. I chose the new Mandala coloring books that Leisure Arts just released. I used my florescent color pencils, metallic color pencils, and glittery gel pens that I found at Barnes and Noble.

    IMG_8825

    The Mandala is very therapeutic. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (and this is abbreviated), the Mandala is a Hindu or Buddhist graphic symbol and it is often a symbolic pattern usually in the form of a circle. When coloring a Mandala, I like to pick 7 colors and repeat them in order. I find that when I color it relaxes me.

    The hardest part in coloring is picking colors and deciding what materials I want to use to color: color pencils, color pens, crayons, and color gel-pens. I will tell you this, I used a violet shade color pencil to color a part of this Mandala and I had difficulty keeping it sharpened. My lead kept breaking because I had dropped the pencil and it broke the lead into several pieces inside. So try not to drop your colored pencils. One more thing, when coloring a Mandala work inside out so nothing smears. So go bring out your inner child and color. Ask your friends over for a coloring party. Put on your favorite music and get your coloring on. Have fun playing with your box of crayons!

  • Stash-busting and Stash-building with Dishcloths

    This week I crocheted four dishcloths from the pattern booklet Dishcloths by Candi Jensen.

    095

    FOUR dishcloths for my gift stash!  Excellent.  These are all patterns I've made before, but when I like a pattern I tend to come back to it over and over.  And I'm a big fan of some of the patterns in this book.

    The first dishcloth I made was the Variegated pattern.

    091

    My little gift-making adventure got started with this yarn:

    002

    It was on sale, it had colors I liked, and it didn't work in any pattern I tried or with any stitch. Seriously, I was a little spooked.  I didn't like it in garter stitch (what variegated yarn looks bad in garter stitch?!).  Or seed stitch.  Or single crochet stitches.  I reached a point where I just wanted this out of my stash so I could stop wondering what to do with it.  I flipped through Dishcloths, realized there was a pattern called 'Variegated' written for variegated yarn, and went to town!

    The Variegated pattern uses about 45ish yards, so I had about half of a skein left.  So I made the Granny Border dishcloth because that's probably my favorite dishcloth pattern of all time.  I found some white scrap yarn and used that for the border.

    092

    While I was looking through some of my cotton yarn scraps, I realized I probably had enough pink and green bits to make a dishcloth and I'd recently seen the Striped Hexagon pattern on Ravelry.  Seeing it had made me want to try it again, so I made this with one less stripe (because I ran out of yarn.  It's about 7" across as is, so I think it's fine. These things happen).

    093

    I loved putting scraps to good use, so I figured I had enough of them for one more dishcloth.  So I made the Diagonal Stripe pattern!

    094

    The Diagonal Stripe pattern calls for just two colors, but why stop there?  You can use all kinds of colors!  This is a little crazy -looking, but I think it's cheerful and the colors look good together.  I'm sure it will fit right in at someone's kitchen.

    All of these patterns call for worsted weight cotton yarn and an I hook, and that's what I used. I know some of the stitch patterns look a bit open, but I've used dishcloths like this at home and also know that repeated uses and washings (and dryings) can shrink the crocheted fabric so that it's denser and better at soaking up spills and scrubbing away messes.  I'm pretty pumped to get these yarn scraps out of my stash and I'm even more excited about having these pretty dishcloths in my gift stash.

    095

21-30 of 162

Please wait...

Copyright: © 2020 Leisure Arts. All Rights Reserved.