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First Attempts at Background Washes in Coloring Books (FAIL)

I follow a number of incredible artists on YouTube and their work has inspired me often over the years. One such time was when I discovered the wonderful art done by Dede Wellingham. I’ve binged many of her livestreams and she’s as sweet and funny as she is talented (which is a lot).

The first video of hers that really got me revved up was “Color Washes in Imagimorphia AdultColor book by Kerby Rosanes Pt 1 of 3“. Adult coloring books were starting to become a big thing in the creative world (back in 2016) and something I’d come to late since I usually focused on fiber- or food-based arts. It hadn’t occurred to me to mix media in the ways Dede demonstrated and I could NOT WAIT to try it out. And I… well to say I missed the mark would be an understatement.

It started out so promising! I collected an assortment of my coloring books, some acrylic paint, my Neocolor II watercolor crayons and my Inktense water-soluble pencils (neither shown in pic).

Problem # 1 – using the wrong materials

Dede uses a number of media in her books, including pan pastels, paint, pencils, markers…but in particular the video that inspired me was based on using acrylic paint to drop in washes of color onto your pages. This has a two-fold effect: 1) it gets color down on the page and fills in the tiny detailed areas, making it easier and less intimidating (and faster) to color in with other media later, and 2) it creates an incredible base for colored pencil as adult coloring books are usually printed on paper that’s relatively smooth but pencils benefit enormously from a paper with more tooth. The acrylic paint gives the paper the missing tooth.

Unfortunately neither the Neocolor IIs nor the Inktense are acrylic paint.

Neocolor II dry in imagimorphia
Neocolor II wet
Neocolor II dry in imagimorphia
Neocolor II wet
Inktense dry in imagimorphia
Inktense wet
Inktense dry in Doodle Fusion
Inktense wet
Neocolor II wet in Doodle Fusion

Looking back, even though I like some of the colors I’d chosen, I’m not happy with the results. I don’t like how all my random scribbles show because I hadn’t put the color down evenly, and I’m disappointed that I completely messed up on the entire “adding tooth” benefit.

Problem # 2 – using the right materials the wrong way

The remaining pages that I’d painted were all done with acrylic paint. That means they must be good, right? No, actually. Not at all. Some of them (the underwater ones in particular) look better in person than in the images below, but none of them are “good”, because I missed the mark again. I was so focused on getting a spread of color onto the page that I didn’t think I had to try and do it nicely. I’m embarrassed to admit it really didn’t occur to me that that it was more than a matter of simply splashing water into paint and wiping it across the page a few times. In most cases below I did a horrible application, and in the one or two that aren’t too bad, I used too much water and so the resulting color doesn’t have the tooth either. (And in the final case, I’d used much too much water and caused the marker on the reverse to completely bleed through).

Acrylic paint in imagimorphia
Acrylic paint in imagimorphia
Acrylic paint in imagimorphia
Acrylic paint in imagimorphia
Acrylic paint in Doodle Fusion
Acrylic paint in The Time Garden
Acrylic paint in The Time Garden
Acrylic paint in The Time Garden
(the next page that bled through to the one above)

Problem # 3 – choosing the wrong pages

I think this was the worst mistake I made out of all of them – I chose the wrong pages. With one exception, I’ve never really wanted to color ANY of the images above. Rather than pick pages that I looked forward to, instead I thought I could “cheat” my way into getting pages “done”, and done “faster” by slapping color down to make the final coloring quicker and easier. Instead I now have pages I still don’t want to do, just now they have some color on them.

So why am I bringing this up now? Well Dede’s videos have come back into my recommendeds and I’ve begun binging again, and once again am completely hooked. On THIS TIME I’ve learned from my mistakes!

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Following Sarah Renae Clark’s “5 Easy Tips to Improve Your Coloring (Instantly!)” Video

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I personally don’t believe in waiting for a special day to start the changes we want to make, and numerous times I’ve made a public declaration of “this year I’ll ____” only to have my interest, enthusiasm or time dwindle until said thing is forgotten completely. My track record the last few years is spotty…I’ve completed a full year of the Create This Book challenge with Henri in 2020, but failed miserably at both my “19 for 19 WIP-to-FO” challenge in 2019 and my daily doodle self-promise in 2021.

So this year I’m not setting a resolution, but rather I’m choosing to make time for the things I want to achieve. In particular this year I want to focus on improving my drawing & coloring skills, so instead of forcing myself to do a set routine daily (which can become a chore) I’m going to simply allow myself to enjoy the process by doing what excites me.

Just before the holidays I’d discovered the YouTuber Sarah Renae Clark, thanks to a collab she did on Jazza’s art channel. I enjoyed their joint challenge so popped over to her page to take a look and wound up binging a ton of tutorials, one of which prompted today’s post.

For those who don’t know, I do have a background and education/experience in drawing, painting, sculpture and the like as one of my degrees is in Creative Arts. Because I have a “professional” education I often get stuck in practice… feeling like I can’t just color something (for example) without “doing it right” and making sure it’s an accurate representation of my skill. It can be rewarding when the result matches my intent, but it sure puts a lot of pressure on when all I really want to do is chill on the couch with a cup of coffee and an adult coloring book! I’ve shown some pages I’ve colored here on the blog before but even those often feel inadequate for what I know I’m capable of, so improving my techniques in a way that makes them feel more natural has been a long-time desire.

And then I watched Sarah’s “5 Easy Tips to Instantly Improve Your Coloring Pages” video and an idea quickly formulated.

I decided to follow the 5 steps myself, not as an abstract concept but in actual practice. I would select 5 coloring pages, designating one for each of the tips, and hopefully come out of the process feeling like I’d levelled up… even if only a little bit.

I rewatched the video and took notes on each step (although the same information is also in her related blog post) and set about choosing pages that would be ideal for this purpose.

I went with 5 pages in my Daler*Rowney Art Therapy: Utopia book. I have 4 of these little books and they’re quite cute. I’ve worked in this book quite a bit already and while the subject is a bit quirky, I like that the book is small enough to not make each page take forever. (It’s only 5.75″ wide by 8.25″ high). Also, the pages are 1-sided, so I could use media that might bleed through. Bonus- this book series has a built-in page protector (the back cover folds out to go under the page you’re working on) which came in incredibly handy during this process.

The first of the 5 steps Sarah lists is to incorporate shading and blending. I focused in particular on using shading to create depth, and so chose this “slide” page as I thought it would be easy to darken the lower layers and give a sense of perspective.

My plan was to give each page an underpainting with Spectrum Noir alcohol markers and then go back over it with Prismacolor Premiers for the shading and details.

With that in mind I colored the page. I started with bright colors for the slides to help bring them forwards visually and tried to pick darker ones so the background would recede. I also tend to default to using the same colors so I tried to pick ones I rarely reached for (which is why it’s so chaotic!).

In my head the lower levels would be full of shadows from the upper tubes and I was hoping it would get super dark, to where it almost looked like a really long drop. Unfortunately this was a case where I was unable to execute my vision.

This was after my first pass with the colored pencils. I quite like the shadows I added under each figure…but that’s about it. I don’t feel that any of the other shadows really work. I was able to make the teal tubes look round but I don’t get a sense of depth with any of the others, and I don’t find that the slides look concave at all.

Rather than continue to fuss with it in frustration, I took a break and moved on to coloring the under layer of the next image – the orange scene below. I was still intending on finishing all of the pages in pencil, but by the time I’d started coloring what was meant to be an underpaint on the 3rd image I realized the paper was handling the alcohol markers REALLY well, and that I was enjoying using them. I don’t reach for the Spectrum Noir’s too often because they bleed through most books (and most aren’t one-sided) so having an opportunity to put them to work was really enjoyable. There’s also a really big instant gratification difference in seeing large areas of color completed in minutes vs hours.

At this point I decided to come back and give the page one more go with my markers. This is the final result. Am I happy with it? No. Am I happier with it? Yes.

Mostly I’m happy that I tried. None of the 5 tips are particularly hard – in fact they’re called “easy” right in the title. And for the most part none were ones that I didn’t already know. The point of this exercise, to me, was to actually put them into practice. I did many art theory classes, I know light theory and shadow values and the difference between form shadows and cast shadows etc. But since I rarely apply those principles I don’t have the muscle memory to use them in the way I’d like (unlike something like knitting where my hands just know how to do things without much thought). Tip #1 showed me that this is something I need to work on, which is great because it gives me somewhere to focus and one day see improvement. 🙂

Tip #2 (actually tip 3 in the video but I worked out of order) is about incorporating black into your coloring pages. This can be large areas like backgrounds or by using a fineliner and adding details or extras to the page that weren’t there to begin with, like dots or designs in the background.

I admit I cheated a bit with this one! I forgot to take a pic before I started coloring, but except for the oranges, this is what the image looked like before I started coloring. The Matrix-esque dots in the sky were already there, and the city silhouette was just asking to be a solid black, so it didn’t take much work or thought on how to incorporate black into this image. Still, I liked it, and chose it for this particular challenge.

The circles felt like oranges to me so that’s what I went with for coloring. I used the same gray on the robots (androids?) as for the previous pic, and a Sharpie for the city. My markers are old so there was a bit of dry-down causing patches of lighter areas (especially visible in the green and blue areas) but it didn’t bother me enough to do a second layer.

Finally, I added a bit of shading (pulling in Tip #1) in the areas the oranges and branches overlapped, as well as some (failed) shading on the robots. I’m not happy with some of the placement nor how blocky it looks. I added a neon glow off the tablet and around the radioactive oranges, and boosted the black background with some colored pencil. The final touch to include a bit more black was to add fine Micron dots to represent the pitting in orange peels, and some faux screw-heads in the tree’s bumpers.

Overall I’m happier with this one than the previous, though I don’t think it has anything to do with the tip or my follow-through. I really do love the idea of not being afraid to make changes to your books, though, and hope to get comfortable enough to add characters and designs of my own to some of the pages with lesser detail.

Tip #3 (really tip 2 in the video) is to add white for highlights. I’ve used this technique a bit but always been afraid to push it too far. So I chose this fish page deliberately so the bubbles in the water would give me plenty of reflective services to which I could add a shine.

Once again I forgot to take a pic before starting to color, oops. The jellyfish were quickly colored in shades of pink and for the fish I copied a color scheme I’d used on another occurrence of the same fish in the book. Trying to keep working the shading tip, I did add a slightly darker green on any of the intersections between layers of seaweed, but I’m not sure it’s visible in the finished image.

I wanted to give the background a gradient from lighter, closer-to-the-surface water up top down to murkier depths below. To achieve this I colored the background with 2 shades of gray; the first, darker one was applied to about 1/2 the page, and the second, lighter one filled in about 2/3 of what remained. I left the top 1/3 of the water area uncolored. I then went over the entire background with blue, coloring in small overlapping circles.

I outlined each bubble with a colorless blender. It didn’t remove the color completely but just enough to give each bubble a slight halo.

Finally I added highlights to the bubbles, jellyfish and fish with a Sigma Uniball UM-153 white gel pen. I don’t think the fish normally would have highlights but in my head they’re robotic just like all the people in the book. I also added some extra little white dots for oxygen bubbles coming up from each fish’s mouth as well as in the tangle of jellyfish legs.

Am I happy with it? Yes. I could have done better on blending the background and I wish my markers weren’t so old that the alcohol evaporated in patches causing the streaky look, but overall I’m quite happy with it, especially the shine on the fish. I could still use some practice though, and I think getting better at where to put the highlights will come hand-in-hand with getting better at where/how to place shadows.

Tip #4 (but actually #5 in the video) is to use a color palette when deciding what colors to pick. This is actually something I’ve struggled with sometimes, as I gravitate to the same colors that I like, and when I stray I can land in some weird territory (see: the slide pic above). There are many online color palettes available but Sarah offers her own and on a whim I decided to spring for it. I do so many different types of crafts, cakes, coloring, etc that having help for what colors look good together will only be an asset.

Once again I forgot to take a “before” pic until after I’d already started.

Her palettes are really well organized into clickable PDFs that you can search by keywords, themes or specific colors you want to use. I’d chosen this beach-looking scene as a test page, so I searched by “beach” keyword and decided to use palette #9 since it gave me options for the sand and water along with pops of color I could use for the umbrella and beach chair.

Something really fantastic about the Color Catalog is that she not only gives you the hex, RGB and CMYK color codes for each color in the palette, but there are also companion charts available that will tell you exactly which color she’s mapped to each from many of the most popular brands of pencils and markers. I was able to use the Spectrum Noir companion chart to find the exact SN color numbers and pull my markers without having to manually compare swatches to the samples. It’s really great!

This page probably took me the least amount of time to work on, but felt like the longest when coloring in each individual cell in the umbrella. Overall I’m pretty happy with this page. I didn’t add any white highlights and I’m not sure my laptop glow is in the right shape, but I am happy with the umbrella’s shadow on the ground and cutting across the stand (though looking back now I probably should have had the circle continue on the other side of the chair as well). Still further proof that my shading needs work. This seems to be a running theme!

Finally, step 5 (the 4th step in the video) is to add textures to your page. I chose to use this telescope page for a very specific reason: it would give me a chance to practice with this texture book I bought SPECIFICALLY to help me color more realistically.

The book is fantastic, showing you how to replicate each texture in short, step-by-step blocks. The only problem was it didn’t include brass, which is the look I’d wanted for my telescope. D’oh! (It has hammered brass, but that’s not quite the same thing). I could have used the references for silver or pewter and simply changed the colors, but instead I decided to find a reference image.

I could not find any telescope images in an upwards angle like the coloring page so I made one myself! I found a sample image of the exact antique brass look I wanted to go for, and saved it to my phone.

I then used my phone’s built-in photo editing tools to flip it and skew the angle until it was as close as possible to what I needed. It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely close and was a really big help as a reference.

I was really nervous about this one because I had such a specific idea in mind and I’ll admit I was worried I wouldn’t be able to execute it. I almost gave up and was going to pick a page to try out one of the other texture ideas (eye shadow) instead but I’m really, REALLY glad I didn’t. I LOVE how it turned out!

In fact, I was so happy with it that I decided to pull all 5 tips together into this one final image.

I went back to the Color Catalog to find a color palette that would work with the copper/bronze/brass colors I already had, and this one with the bright pop of pink really charmed me.

I really tried to make sure I used all 5 tips in this one. Texture? Check. Adding white? Yup- I added highlights throughout including some shine in the brightest areas of the telescope. Adding black? Oh yes – I added extra lines in diminishing circles in the planet to try and give it a sense of depth, with the lines being more concentrated closer to the viewer and moving further apart the further away they got. Color palette? Sure thing – I used only the colors listed. And finally for shadows I got creative and added the shadow from the telescope, although I wasn’t paying proper attention to the actual shape of the telescope and didn’t do the best job.

This was the finished result…and I just did not like it. I actually put it aside for a few days to think, because I was so happy with some parts but couldn’t help thinking it looked so incomplete. I debated adding some darker grays to the sky so they’d still be in the same family as the palette, but wasn’t sure I wanted that look. I was stumped. I’d followed the rules, and yet I wasn’t happy with the result. So what did that mean?

It meant that sometimes, it’s ok to break the rules. There are no coloring police! Plus Sarah’s tips are just that – tips and suggestions on how to improve your coloring results, that you are free to incorporate (or not) but they’re not hard and fast rules. She’s not saying “this is the ONLY way”, she’s saying “if you’re stuck, why not try this? It couldn’t hurt, and it might help!” And they did.

And not being limited meant I could come back to it later and add completely new colors into the background, to give it a sort of galaxy look that I didn’t even know I wanted until I’d achieved it and it was just perfect.

I went over the original gray with two shades of purple, blending them together where (I imagined) the planet’s light met the night sky. I also blended the main purple into the pink halo off the edge of the planet. I then traced over every start and (bubble? pearl?) with the white gel pen to remove their black outlines, and deepened the telescope’s shadow and refined it as best I could.

I am SO happy with the finished result! I’m really proud of this one, and really, really glad I embarked on this challenge.

I’m really glad I took the time to go back and rework something I wasn’t happy with. This makes me feel excited and hopeful about doing more coloring and testing and learning. And having gone through this exercise I can now pinpoint which areas need more refinement, and seek help for those things specifically (like improving my shading!!).

I think this was a great project to start off my year. If it’s something you might like to try for yourself, here are the links again to Sarah’s video and blog post. She’s got a TON of other videos and posts, and whether you’re a beginner, average or expert colorist, if you’re interested in adult coloring I definitely recommend checking her out.

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Project Memory Jars

As last mentioned in my plastic canvas wall hangings update, back in 2019 I’d given myself a pretty ambitious resolution: a challenge to turn 19 “works in progress” into “finished objects”. The first project added to my “19 WIP-to-FO Challenge” was my wall of Project Memory Jars

I’ve had a longstanding tradition of keeping a little length of yarn from each knitted and crocheted project I’ve made (later adding plastic canvas projects as my fiber hobbies crew). It started as keeping a bit of yarn in case there was need for repairs, but other than mending some knitted socks, it didn’t really wind up being a useful hoard item. That said, I have a strong visual memory and it was lovely to look back at the various yarns and remember the projects I’d made. The small colorful scraps would often bring up vivid memories of the gift recipient or technique I’d struggled with or laughter with crafty buddies in a workshop.

Originally these remnants were rolled into a ball and tied on one after another. It made them easy to store but impossible to see all the yarns on the inner layers.

My first “solution” was to make them into something tangible. They’d still have the same memory placeholder and all would be visible. Back in 2012 I eagerly cast on for a crochet granny square and made a few large blocks, intending to one day sew them into a large scrappy blanket.

This worked…fine actually. It was a chaotic mess and I knew I’d love the resulting blanket. The problem was that it would never be finished. I’d be storing a bag of 12″ granny squares for decades because even though I work on 50-100 projects yearly, the amount of triple-crochet stitches I’d be able to get from a few yards of leftover yarn was minimal.

So I thought about it and came up with a different idea. A silly little memory wall that makes no sense to anyone but me, but makes me smile and remember all the projects I put my time, effort, energy and care into.

My project memory jars

The shelves and brackets were extras from my previous job, so luckily I had those already on-hand.

I bought the jars at my local Dollarama in but if you can’t find them near you then these jars paired with these label packs would be a great substitute. Instead of using the white chalk that came with each jar I wrote on their labels with chalk markers.

Now that the wall was ready it was time to fill the jars. Which meant finally getting around to undoing the granny squares. Since it was the first item on my 19-for-19, it made sense to start with that one first.

1. FO Project Jars

What I said: I need to rip out all the individual lengths of yarn (1-10 yards long, each), match them up with what project they were from, and put the separated yarn into jars designated for each year.

What I did: basically exactly that. Only what took one sentence to type took hours to actually do. Frogging the granny squares was easy work, but before I could start I had to look at the center stitches of each block and figure out what project that was from, so I could put the blocks into a chronological order. (Luckily I take detailed project notes and my Ravelry page is mostly up to date!)

Once I’d figured out which blocks went where time-wise, I ripped them back and rolled them back into one big ball as I went, so the newest yarn was on the inside. Once everything was frogged I was able to start with the oldest scraps and begin to sort.

It was slow work but I moved through the yarn, cutting away the knots and putting a few inches of each yarn into the relevant year’s jar. Since the jars aren’t huge I only kept a bit of each and had a colorful pile of spaghetti left over at the end, which I later separated by length.

Anything that was a yard or more I rolled up and added to my mini ends bin, for use as waste yarn, stitch holders and row counters, or random craft projects.

I only undid knots for the cotton scraps because I had plans to re-use those. Every time I got to cotton yarn I added it to this growing ball, which I later turned into 2 scrappy dishcloths for my kitchen, using my own perfect, lay-flat, knitted diagonal garter dishcloth pattern.

I used about half of the scraps to make a smaller cloth with a hanging bit on the end, and then used up all the rest for the 2nd cloth. (The pattern is knit like a diamond so all you need to do to use up every bit of yarn is to find your center…work half the cloth until you hit the center point and then start the decreases to work the remaining half).

With all the jars filled and the extra bits used up, that officially marked the first of my 19 completed WIP-to-FO projects for my challenge, and now I have a silly bit of wall décor that confuses everyone who comes into my home office. I get to look at it and reminisce about all the people I’ve knit for and all the yarn-related creativity that moved between my fingers.

Here’s looking ahead to 2022 and all the projects it will bring.

Happy New Year!

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How to Make Plastic Canvas Gift Tags

Looking for a different way to label your gifts this holiday season?

These personalized plastic canvas gift tags are quick and easy to make and are reusable as charms after the wrapping paper’s been recycled.

You only need a few supplies to get started:

  • plastic canvas – I used 7-ct but if you have a more complicated design that you want to fit into a small area, you can use 10-ct or 14-ct. (The “count” is how many holes per inch).
  • plastic lobster hooks – metal will work just as well. You can even cannibalize hardware from broken keychains or charms you already own
  • yarn – scraps from other projects will work great for this
  • yarn needle
  • scissors

The first step is to choose your designs so you can create a chart. My example tags were made for a young boy whose name starts with a “B” and was really into Minecraft, and a young girl whose name starts with “K” and was really into Monster High. So I decided to put their initials on one side and something iconic from each theme (Creeper & Skullette) on the other.

I used Excel to create my charts but you can just as easily use graph paper. If using Excel resize your cells into squares and then use the color fill to draw your designs, 8-bit pixel-style.

For the Creeper tag I went with a square shape since most Minecraft mobs have square heads. I then “drew” a capital b in a grid of the same size as the Creeper face. I decided not to do the typical blend of colors for the Creeper since this was just a quick add-on to the birthday party gift we were giving, but you can get as creative as you’d like!

For the Monster High tag I found a free-use Skullette chart and used the size of that chart as a basis for my “K” chart, which I drafted in a font similar to that of the Monster High lettering.

You have freedom to design anything you’d like for your tags! Your only limit is the total size you’d like your tags to be, as the bigger your design, the bigger the results.

The next step is to cut out plastic canvas pieces the sizes required for your tags. Remember that it takes 2 holes on the diagonal to make 1 continental or cross stitch with plastic canvas, so if your grid is 10×10 pixels then you need to cut out a piece of plastic canvas 11 holes x 11 holes, etc.

Stitch your pieces as desired. I used continental stitch (half of a cross-stitch) and did the green background for each piece first, leaving one piece with a tail about 3-4 times as long as the full perimeter. This is optional but by leaving the seaming yarn as your tail it’s one less end to hide later.

After the green I filled in the spaces with black for the “B” and the Creeper’s face.

I followed the same process for the other tag, working from background first to the details last, so the details would remain sharp and not risk getting fuzzy at the edges. First I did the white background (flipping Skullette so the bow would be on the right since the original chart was for Perler beads which get flipped after ironing), then the purple (as I didn’t have pink scraps handy), and finally the black, which I also used to backstitch some shading under the “K”. I didn’t do the tail trick for this one as I wanted to seam it with a different color.

To seam, hold the pieces with wrong-sides together and go from back to front through the first corner 3 times. Next whipstitch around the first side and when you get to the next corner, go through it 3 times again, and continue this process around. When you get to the corner where you’d like to put the hook, do the first corner wrap, then wrap twice while also going through the hook’s jump ring, then go through the corner alone once more.

After all 4 sides are fully seamed you can skim your needle through one side’s wraps and pull the yarn through, for about an inch, then trim the excess as close as you can.

These little tags are under 3″ making them perfect to clip onto a schoolbag or tote.

They really add a personal, handmade touch to a gift without taking too much time or costing the bank.

Have fun creating your own!

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Glow Effects with Gel Pens

Today’s post is a little tip on how to use gel pens to get a special effect in your coloring book pages. In honor of Walt Disney’s birthday this week* I’ve used a page from my Art of Coloring: Disney Villains coloring book.

This is the original page. It’s slightly warped because on the back is a page I colored fully with my Inktense pencils and it was saturated over and over. While I do keep this book clipped shut (as shown in this post with my hanger tip) I’m still impressed at the thickness of the paper in this book. It’s definitely better than most of my coloring books!

As with many of the coloring books based on movies and tv shows, the scenes in this book are often pulled directly from a still from the original source material. In this case you can see the above image is nearly an exact copy of the second image from the movie, below. It looks like the book artist added a background detail and the mist with the llama above in order to make it more interesting as a coloring page.

While I did use the still as a reference for the characters, I took creative liberties with the color of the potion as I wanted to see if I could achieve a glowing affect and thought the contrast with a yellow glow would stand out more than pink.

This is a super easy effect to achieve, and takes materials you’ve probably already got on-hand! All you really need is a gel pen in your desired bright color! I’ve also used a water brush for convenience, but you can swap in a regular paint brush and small cup of water and get the exact results.

You have to work fast so I wasn’t able to pause and take a step by step. Outline the area you want to have the glow, and then immediately while the gel pen ink is still wet, use a water brush or water-dampened paintbrush to blend out the gel ink.

The glow areas in this image are too large to do all at once as the gel would dry before I could get to it. So I worked in small sections, tracing just inside the lines of the swirl and blending the wet ink inwards. For the glasses and potion bottle I only traced on one side so there wouldn’t be too much ink. I then scribbled some of the ink on a piece of scrap cardstock (the shiny kind like used in consumer packaging) and diluted it with water to make a paint for the glow around the bottle.

That’s it! That gives a really cool glow effect that you can achieve super-simply, in almost any coloring project. To see the glow really pop, let’s finish coloring the page!

Switching to my beloved Inktense, I outlined the misty sections with a few shades of green. I didn’t record my colors but there was definitely #1400 (Apple Green) and I believe some #1520 (Hooker’s Green). If you look in the mist closest to the llama, you can also see some #0100 (Sherbet Lemon) to amplify the glow and pull the yellows into the mist.

With Inktense the rule is always “a little goes a long way” so I only needed the barest of color application to get the light wash you see in the image on the right. To blend out you can use a water brush or regular paintbrush with some water and moisten the drawn lines just like those old coloring pages in kids’ activity books.

Next I did the same for the background behind the mist, first filling it in with a super-light application of #2020 (Indian Ink) and then deepened up the borders with #2200 (Ink Black).

The main background first had a layer of the same Indian Ink followed by #750 (Dark Purple) since purple is the complementary color to green (opposite on the color wheel).

The last step was to finish the characters with a bit of #1800 (Baked Earth) and #1740 (Saddle Brown) for Kronk and #760 (Deep Violet) for Yzma, and #1210 (Dark Aquamarine) for the teal bits.

I love how this page came out! I’m continually impressed at the paper quality of this book. Having now done a fully water-saturated coloring on both sides of this same page, I’m amazed that there is no bleed-through or tearing. I love the bright glow of the gel pen against the ink, and especially the reflected glow in the goggle lenses.

I hope this tip helps you use your gel pens in new ways!

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.

*December 5th


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Crafting With Kids – Easy Photo Ornament

It’s December 1st, and although stores have been in Christmas mode since even before (American) Thanksgiving, we’re now “officially” close to the holidays. Here’s a quick holiday project that’s easy enough for kids to make (with minor supervision). These easy photo ornaments are a great way to share cute images and make great gifts for grandparents. They can even be used as gift tags!

I used extras of my kids’ Santa’s lap pictures, but you can use school photos, family portraits, even pet pics!

Materials needed:

All materials as shown were found at my local Dollarama, though I’ve linked Amazon’s versions for delivery convenience.

For an ornament style, have draw or trace a circle around the desired part of your image. You aren’t limited to circles, of course, and can draw any shape you like. Cut out your shape and outline it with your choice of glitter glue. You can add other embellishments if desired, can trace only the outline as above or a later pic below, or fill in a part of the image as seen in the following images. Set aside to dry fully – at least a few hours, or overnight.

Prepare your tulle or ribbon as follows: make one large bow, one small one, and then tie two bells onto a 10″ length of tulle/ribbon, leaving about 3.5″ between them. You can trim the tail ends later. If unable to thread the tulle/ribbon through the bell’s loop, a yarn needle can help. You can also use the yarn needle (or the scissors or a hole punch) to make a small hole in the top center of the image.

Stack the small bow on top of the large bow and use the tulle/ribbon with the bells to tie them together, allowing the bells to dangle below. Cut all tails to desired length.

To assemble: Cut a 10″-12″ length of yarn. Loop through the hole in the ornament. You can use the yarn needle to thread the yarn ends through the knot of the large bow, or tie the yarn directly around the center of the bow bundle, between the two bells. Knot the two ends of the yarn together to create a hanging loop.

These hold up pretty well! While the step-by-step images were taken in 2017, the photos from here onward were taken in November 2021. This is an early, more simple version I’d made in about 2015.

The example ornament has the center spot in our wreath and it’s lasted quite well. I’ve written the date and kids’ ages on the back, and they create a nice memory during the holiday season.

Happy holidays!

This post may contain affiliate links. This means I might make a small commission on purchases made through the links, at no cost to you.


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YarnCanada.ca Giveaway!

Have you ever done any charity knitting or crochet? There are so many ways to give back to your local community or to help others around the world. I’ve done a lot in the past…through the Montreal Knitting Guild, my local hospital or volunteer Facebook groups, my friends and I have made everything from Teddies for Tragedies to chemo caps to birds’ nests for Australia. Most recently the Warm Hands Knitting club from my local Federation CJA spent last winter making hats, scarves, and slippers to keep our elderly community warm.

It feels great to give back and YarnCanada.ca is giving you the chance to get the yarn for your projects donated to you, free of charge.

Yes that’s right – they’re giving away yarn for FREE!

They’ve just started their 4th annual event of giving yarn to individuals and groups who knit or crochet for good causes!

In partnership with Bernat and Patons Yarn, they’re giving away $4000 (!!) worth of yarn to 12 different charitable individuals/groups. The hope is that the yarn goes to wherever it can do the most good.

And even better – this opportunity is open to both Canadians and Americans! Yes that’s right – they will ship the free yarn to the US!

To apply all you need to do is click the image above (or click here), fill in the form and tell them your story. Let them know what you will use the yarn for, what impact this or previous projects have had, or anything else important to your story. You can even attach photos to show them past charity projects you’ve done.

You have until January 13th 2022 to apply. Good luck!


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Kansas City Cowl & Noro Kureyon Review

Over the last few years I have occasionally been reached out to by YarnCanada.ca and offered yarn to review. Unfortunately life got in the way and my projects and posts were delayed. Here, then, is the first of such reviews.

The yarn I was offered this first time was Noro Kureyon. I was familiar with it, having worked with it in the past when knitting my mom’s Booga Bag as well as for my Tasha Tudor shawl. (Remember when those patterns were huge?? I think EVERY knitting blogger was making them. Both are free patterns, and both are enjoyable knits. Here are the links to the patterns: Booga bag by Julie AndersonTruly Tasha’s shawl by Nancy Bush.)

I’d knit the bag in 2004 and the shawl in 2005 so I was curious if the yarn was still as good as I’d remembered.

As per YarnCanada’s description, “Noro Kureyon is one of their higher-end, “indie” yarns, known for its artistic colors and hand production process. It’s a hand-dyed, 100% wool that comes in variegated colors that self-stripe as you knit. A wide range of accessories and garments can be knit with this yarn.” I was offered my choice of color, which was a hard decision to make! As you can see below the yarn comes in a TON of beautiful shades, each more gorgeous and interesting than the last.

I wanted to choose a pattern before selecting a yarn, as the colors would be the prominent feature. The yarn colors do sell out fast, and in fact my first choice color at the time had sold out before I was able to decide on a suitable pattern! In the end I chose color 368, and they sent me 3 balls.

Note: it looks like this color is currently not available on their website. This is what it had looked like at the time:

And this is how it looked when it arrived.

Aren’t the colors stunning?? I was swayed by the contrast of the bright blues, greens, pinks and orange against the more muted neutrals.

(Disclaimer – the images in this post from here until the mannequin were taken a few years ago with an old iPhone 4 that had a cracked lens – hence the purple halo in most pics. I cropped out and tweaked what I could, but I can’t go back and account for bad composition or staging, unfortunately).

As mentioned, I’d selected a pattern first: the Kansas City Cowl by Kim Guzman. (Free on Ravelry).

I thought it would be really cool to see the colors stripe vertically while the dropped stitches ran horizontally. Being one who gets cold easily, I also liked the idea of having a versatile garment that could be a scarf when on the go but then be pulled down into a shoulder-warming shrug/poncho when necessary.

I hadn’t read the pattern details initially so it wasn’t until I went to get started that I realized I wouldn’t have enough yarn. The pattern calls for 338m and the Noro was labeled as “plus or minus” 50g to 100m. I figured I’d knit the middle size and hope I’d have enough, but then common sense took the better of me and I decided to wind the balls up and run them through my yardage meter at the same time so I’d know for sure. I was hoping there would be an extra yard or two in one of the balls and I’d find myself luckily closer to my desired yardage.

To my surprise each ball was excessively short. Each was supposed to be “around” 100m, but I didn’t get anywhere close. I even wound each ball twice – once to wind into a cake and then a second time into a new cake so there wouldn’t be tension causing any issues. When I saw there was a rather large discrepancy, I also weighed the 3 balls.

These were my results:

Ball 1 – 263 ft or 80 m – 50g

Ball 2 – 257 ft or 78 m – 46g

Ball 3 – 262 ft or 80 m – 40g

I have no idea why the last ball was so much lighter than the first one which had the same yardage. The yarn does slightly vary from thick to thin so it’s possible there were more thin sections. (Note: it’s not a slubby yarn… it’s just occasionally not spun as tightly in spots).

Now knowing I was pretty short on the 340 m yardage my desired pattern required, I riffled through my yarn stash buckets and find something that would match.  There was some brown wool left over from a Sylvia Olsen workshop that matched in look and color…except it was leftovers, so there wasn’t much.  I measured that to be sure and had 88 ft (26.75m).  Armed with that, I formulated a plan.

The pattern starts with the cabled center section, and then stitches are picked up from it to work the body.  So my loose plan was as follows: pick the ball of yarn that began with the colors I wanted for the cable.  Then divide my brown yarn in half, and work as many rows as I could with it, and made a note so at the end I could work the same number of rows with the remaining half so it would create a matching border on either side of the cable. Then, in between, I would work as many rows I could as possible with the Noro.

Happily enough, it worked!

I knit the cable with one skein’s purple-to-black transition and then pulled the same color section from a second ball but reversed it for black-to-purple.  As the yarn is 100% wool I split spliced all joins for a seamless knit.

Then I divided my 88ft of brown in half, and used one half to pick up the stitches on one edge of cable, picking up inside the edge stitch for a nice border.  I’d marked off the middle of the half of brown, and had originally planned to use a full half on each side but after the pick-up row and 4 more rows it was already pretty wide.  I didn’t want 2″ of brown on either side of the cable so chose instead to cut the yarn there, reserving the same amount for the other side, and omitting the rest unless I absolutely needed it.

Next I took the two balls I’d cannibalized the purple/black from and matched up their colors, re-winding one in the opposite direction so that the front would be mirrored. The plan for the third ball was to find its center and reverse half so the entire cowl would look like one long repeat that went from the cable to the center back then reversed to the other side of the cable.

It worked great for the first two balls. I wound them off exactly as described. The one with the working yarn I wound around the cable & needles to keep it neat and out of the way. The other end I wound into a ball starting with the added brown that would be the final bit of knitting, and wound in the reverse direction. These two balls happened to be #1 and #3 and had such similar yardage and colors that it was super easy to wind one from front to back and the other from back to front and get a nearly mirrored result.

The middle, shortest one, wasn’t so easy.

I spit-spliced one end of ball 2 to the free end of each of the 2 wound balls and tugged off a few yards from either the outside or inside of the cake and wound it up onto ball 1 or 3. Looking down into the wound cake of the middle ball I could tell it didn’t have the exact colorway of its brothers, but it seemed to have an even repeat – raspberry to teal then green then the dark blends, then back to raspberry to teal then green then the dark blends. I figured it would be easy enough to split it into two equal repeats then reverse one for the center mid point of the back. I wanted the brighter teal coming first because both wound balls already had dark tones near the joins. It worked… until I got near the middle.

This is the only place, not counting reversing direction or adding in brown, where I’ve played with the colorway as dyed, and I’m telling you this so there are no questions as to why my colors don’t match any skein you might buy (though if this color is discontinued by now this won’t matter). Clearly the colors don’t make a repeat that I can just reverse, so I ended up cutting and spit-splicing to make my own sorta-repeat that I was happy with, that would form the middle of the cowl back.

Planning out the colors was by far the hardest part. Once my yarn was turned into one large frankenskein the project practically flew off the needles.

I did stop often to admire the color transitions. Noro yarns truly are gorgeous, and I’m always charmed by the interplay of colors I wouldn’t have thought to pair together.

The cowl is knit in stockinette with stitches dropped at the end before you seam the BO row to the opposite side of the cable. Besides the color play, the only modifications I made were to knit my length based on how much yarn I had left, and to not apply the pattern’s suggestion of slipping the first stitch of every row as I found it made the edge way too tight for my liking.

I couldn’t wait to try on the cowl as soon as I’d finished weaving in the ends! You can tell how long ago this pic was taken by the color of my hair at the time 😉

Because of my camera limitations at the time I’ve scrapped my other images and took new ones to do the project and yarn justice.

Here is the finished garment. I love the blend of colors so much!

One of the really cool things about Noro Kureyon is that you get these gorgeous color transitions but, because they’re 100% wool, you have the option of changing things up if you want to.

For example, instead of having a mirrored transition like I did here, if color blocking is more your style you could splice the balls together lengthwise, matching up the colors like with like, so as to end up with only one wider section of each color.

I couldn’t resist a detail shot of these vibrant jewel tones. There’s no color editing at play – this is just the yarn in all its glory on a sunny day.

For transparency, as mentioned above this brown section on either side of the cable is the only yarn not part of the Noro Kureyon skeins. It is very similar to a brown that appears within, and is also 100% wool, but is slightly thicker.

I haven’t knit more with Kuryeon over the years. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it was the price factor? At $10.95CAD per ball I simply haven’t had a project that I thought worthy of spending the money on. Not for myself at least, and the gifts that I make typically have had other requirements, like needing 100% cotton for dishcloths or superwash for baby garments that can be thrown into the machine. However knitting it with it again has reminded me just how much I enjoyed it.

Yes it’s 100% wool, but this is not scratchy stuff. It is soft and quite lovely. Sure you can use this for felted bags and slippers as it felts beautifully, but this is one of those few wools that I think is welcomed even against the skin.

I definitely recommend using it for your knitting or crochet projects. The only con would be the short yardage as mentioned above, but as long as you prepare and buy enough for your project, I don’t think it should deter you from trying Noro Kureyon for yourself. Also, this review is based on yarn received in 2017 so it’s possible that this is no longer an issue.

Stay tuned for a huge announcement from YarnCanada.ca coming later this week!

If you would like to pick up some Noro Kureyon for yourself, please visit YarnCanada.ca here. You can also find their full selection of Noro yarn here. All orders ship from Canada to within Canada only (sorry to my US and International followers!), with free shipping on orders over $85.00!

*Note: I received this product for free in exchange for an honest, unbiased review


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How to Enlarge Pattern Charts Physically and Digitally

It’s been almost 2 years since my Order of the Phoenix blanket was published in the Knitting Magic book. 

There it is on the cover!

The Black family’s ancestral home played a huge role in the source book (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoneix) so in honor of today being Sirius Black’s birthday I’m going to answer the number one question I get asked about my pattern: how to enlarge the charts.

In case you missed my previous post about it, The Order of the Phoenix blanket is a circular throw that features motifs representing Harry’s scar as well as phoenix feathers and flames to represent the phoenix’ rebirth. A primary feature of the blanket is the text “The Order of the Phoenix” that goes around the center.

As the book is under copyright I’m not allowed to share a digital version of the charts when people request it, nor use that as my example here in this post. Instead I’m going to use my Lullaby baby blanket pattern for reference as they are both similar in having a charted band of words going around the center.

Lullaby was originally published in the Spring/Summer 2010 issue of the now-defunct St-Denis magazine, that supported Veronik Avery’s yarn line of the same name. It has a deep border of garter feather-and-fan lace and features the words HUSH * BABY * SLEEP * BABY * around the center.

Using my hand for scale you can see that the charts are of relatively similar size between the two pattern books:

Obviously I had to blur out the charts themselves but you can still see the suggestion of where the words are and so the instructions I give for Lullaby will work just as well on Phoenix or any other chart by any designer.

There are a few different ways you can enlarge your patterns, depending on if you start with a physical or digital pattern, and on the result you want (physical or digital enlargement).

How to enlarge a PHYSICAL pattern (book, magazine or printout)

There are 2 options for enlarging a physical pattern.

Option 1: home scanner/copier/printer

Most home printers these days have a built-in copy/scan feature. If you scroll through the copy settings you can find an “enlarge” option that will allow you to increase the size of the chart in the printout.

You can also use the printer’s scan function to get a digital copy of your pattern that you can enlarge with any of the following digital methods.

Option 2: public photocopy center/machine

You can find both self-service and with-service public photocopiers at commercial copy centers like Staples. You can also often find public photocopiers at your local pharmacy or library.

This is a direct photocopy from my pattern. My hand is provided for scale.

This is an enlargement of the same page, made using the photocopier’s built-in enlargement option. Most photocopiers can handle legal and oversized papers. In this case, I used the 129% option to print on the largest size paper available (11″x17″).

You can see the difference between the two sizes.

The HUSH chart, for example, is 1.75″ high by 6″ wide in the original (and copy), and 2.25″ high by 8″ wide in the enlargement. These differences might make printing as-is enough of an enlargement for you, or you can take the enlargement and use it as your starting image to photocopy again even larger…repeating the process as-needed until the resulting chart is of a size for you to work with comfortably.

How to enlarge a DIGITAL pattern

There are many options for enlarging a physical pattern. I will be demoing these methods using my computer and/or an iPad. It is possible to do them all on a smart phone as well but since the point is to enlarge a chart to make it more convenient to work from, I’m going to assume you’re going to be working from your tablet or computer/laptop and not the smaller screen of a phone.

Option 1: from a physical file

Take a picture of your chart with a smart device and then email it to yourself so you have a digital file to work with.

Alternately you can upload it directly to an accessible storage media like Dropbox or Google Drive, or upload the image directly into a data-processing app like Microsoft Word, Excel or OneNote, Google Docs or Sheets, or your favorite annotation app/software. From there you can proceed to the enlargement instructions below.

Option 1b: from a digital file

You would use this option if you already have your pattern in a digital format. In this case I’ll be using the sale pattern version of Lullabye.

Use your favorite screenshot app to take a picture of the chart on your screen. I like Microsoft’s built-in “Snipping Tool” but you can use Snagit or any others including the “print screen” button yon your keyboard. As the “print screen” key method has a few extra steps, both ways are shown below. TIP: enlarge the chart on-screen before taking the screenshot so you are already starting with a larger version.

A) Using Snipping Tool (or other screen-grab software)

Open your pattern document (ie: Word doc, Excel file or PDF) on screen. Make sure the chart (or section of the chart you wish to capture) is in full view, then open your screen-grab software.

Click “new” to start a new screenshot. The software will freeze the entire screen as it currently looks.

As it says on the prompt – drag the cursor around the area you want to capture. Use your mouse to drag a square or rectangle from one corner to the opposite diagonal, making sure your desired image is fully inside your boundaries.

You can see the red boundaries on the image above. I started my capture at the upper left corner and dragged down to the lower right (where the cross is). Everything inside the red rectangle will be part of my screen-grab. I made sure to include my chart’s legend as well as the instructions on the bottom.

After you release the mouse after dragging, your cropped result will appear within the software’s window. If you don’t like the results, or are missing part of your chart, simply click “new” to start over and drag again.

Once you have the results you want, click “file” then “save as” and save the image to your computer. I keep a folder for every project I work on so I would save it in there for easy reference but you can save it to your downloads or anywhere that you would like.

B) Using your keyboard’s “print screen” key

Open your pattern document (ie: Word doc, Excel file or PDF) on screen. Make sure the chart (or section of the chart you wish to capture) is in full view, then tap the “print screen” button on your keyboard. This will take a screenshot of your full screen – everything showing on your monitor.

Open any software that will allow you to paste and then crop an image. I’ve used Word, Excel and Paint regularly with great results, and many other programs will work as well. My example is using Word.

Place your cursor anywhere on the page and use ctrl-v or click file→paste to paste your screenshot into the document.

You can see the image of my screen is now pasted into the Word document – background, taskbar, clock and all.

Click on the image within the document itself.

This will bring up a “Picture Format” tab at the top of your Word window. Click on it.

If you look over to the far right of the ribbon bar at the top, you will see a “crop” option. Click on it and you will see black crop bars appear on the border of your image. We will use those to remove all the excess parts of the image, leaving only the chart you want to work with.

Drag the dark black crop marks to surround only the part of the image that has your chart. As you drag you will see the edges of your image get shaded. Those are the parts that will be cropped out of the final image.

Keep moving the borders from the top, sides or corners until your chart is isolated. Then click anywhere outside of the image.

The shaded areas will disappear and you will be left with your desired chart.

Right-click anywhere within the image and choose “Save as Picture”. Now you can save your cropped chart image anywhere on your computer for use in the following enlargement step. In this example I kept all 3 words and the legend as one image, but if you want to enlarge each word even bigger you can repeat this process 3 times to crop out each individual word and save it as its own chart image.

Enlargement Instructions:

Once you have your chart in digital format enlarging it is really easy!

Option 1: Paint, Befunky or other photo-editing software

Insert or open your saved chart image into your favorite photo editing software and resize it to enlarge. You can save the image in its larger size and print it at home or email it to your local copy center for printing. You might also find that having it large on-screen is enough for your purposes.

Option 2: Word, Excel, Docs or Sheets-type data processing software

Open your favorite processing software and use the “insert” feature to add your digital chart image. Once inserted you can drag on the corners to resize the chart. You can also right-click for more editing options. Once you have the image large enough for your purposes you can use it on-screen or print it for a large paper copy.

Option 3: PDF Annotation Software

There are a number of computer and iPad/Android programs that will allow you to annotate a PDF. To use your favorite one, insert your chart image into Word or Sheets as per Option 2 and then save your file as a PDF. Open the PDF in your annotation software and you can zoom in as well as make notes or highlight directly onto the chart.

My favorite annotation software is OneNote, and I use it daily for making notes, highlights and annotations on PDFs as well as images for all my crafting needs. It is free but since it might not be widely-used I’m putting it as a standalone option below:

Option 4: OneNote

I use OneNote extensively and find it an invaluable tool for any crafter/hobbyist. I love that I can import an image of a chart, blow it up as big as I’d like, and then in draw mode can use my Apple Pencil or finger and the highlight pen to highlight chart rows as I go just as I would on paper. The ability to undo mistakes is a big improvement over paper charts and I can also annotate as I go.

I like to insert my digital chart image into a new page created for my current project.

Tapping on the image will allow you to move it on the page as well as to drag the corners for an initial resize. You also have the option to rotate the image if desired, though as the chart in this case is rectangular I prefer to use the width of my iPad.

You can resize the image even larger if needed. Use two fingers to pinch and zoom out to enlarge the chart to its maximum size.

My favorite thing about OneNote is how I can work on my charts completely digitally. Here I’ve left part of the chart un-blurred so you can see how I use it. It’s possible to make notes about dropped sts, missing yarn-overs or any other reminders for yourself, as well as to switch to a highlighter pen in your favorite color and nib width and mark off your rows as you go. Better than on real paper- if you make a mistake you can easily erase the highlighting so you’ll always be able to keep track of exactly where you are.

I do use the Apple pencil as pictured above but you can do the same with your finger tip or a stylus, including change the pen nib size so everything is clear and legible.

I’ve used this method for everything from complicated cable knits to incredibly detailed 18ct cross stitch and it works perfectly every time. It also syncs to my OneNote account so I can access my chart on the computer or on my phone or even log in from any internet device so I can bring my work with me where ever I go.

I regret that I cannot share the charts for my Order of the Phoenix blanket pattern, but no matter what project you’re working on hopefully the above tips and techniques will help you enlarge your charts into something you can work with comfortably. If there are any other tips or techniques you’d like to learn about, feel free to message me or leave a comment below!


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Easy Jughead Cosplay

There are 4 more sleeps until Halloween, and that’s plenty of time to make most of the costume and prop tutorials I’ve been sharing over the last few weeks. Today’s post is so quick and easy that you can make it in under an hour and probably have all the materials you need already!

Back in 2019 Henri couldn’t wear his actual Halloween costume to school because the Neighbor outfit (from Hello Neighbor) had a mask. It didn’t take any time to come up with a school-safe alternate idea for my little brunette food-machine – Jughead! Henri’s a voracious Archie comics reader and we joke that his favorite food is “food” so combining the two was a no-brainer.

The costume is really simple because you can wear any school-appropriate outfit that a teenager would wear. The main key to get the look is Juggie’s trademark hat, and then as a bonus you can include a burger to really sell it.

We went with the comics version, not the Cole Sprouse version from Riverdale, mostly because I didn’t feel like knitting the whoopie cap.

Step 1: A burger. If we’d had a toy or squishy burger I’d have used that, but since we didn’t I went with an easy thought bubble because Mr Jones is always daydreaming of his favorite food.

You can find free clipart online and prepare the image in any software that will allow you to manipulate images. My preference is Excel but you can also use Word, BeFunky, Photoshop, etc. You can also draw the image digitally in something like Procreate or draw it outright on cardstock and color it in with any art supplies you have already. You want to scale your final image to fit as large as possible on a single sheet of paper (if printing it) or can go as large as you like if drawing it on something larger like a Bristol board.

I’ve included the image I used here as a free download. For best results print directly onto cardstock or print onto computer paper and then glue it onto cardstock or cardboard. A panel from an old cereal box or shipping box from the recycling bin is perfect.

To finish the prop and protect it, laminate it with packing tape! I like to cut the image out first so when I laminate I can have a thin edge of tape just past the paper, so no moisture can get in. Cut out your image and lay strips of packing tape evenly across the front of the image, smoothing down any bubbles as you go. Next, flip the image over and repeat the process. Use your fingers to make sure the seal around the edges of the image is tight, and then trim away the excess tape. Finally, tape a stick of some kind to the back. I used a wooden chopstick from takeout sushi that I covered with white electrical tape.

Step 2: The whoopie cap. If there’s ANY key piece for a Jughead cosplay, it’s his unique hat. Cut a strip of cardboard the height of the cap, and long enough to go around the wearer’s head with about an inch of overlap. If you want to paint it gray do that now, though we didn’t bother. Cut the top into points and then try it on the wearer again to make sure it fits and that the points line up where the seam will be.

Draw or paint on the iconic buttons Juggie always has. I used permanent markers and White-Out. Finally, staple or tape the edges together.

That’s all there is to it! So quick and easy it can be ready for school the next day without keeping you up into the late hours of the night.