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Avoiding Chores with Coloring!

Did you know that today, April 7, is National No Housework Day? As a crafter, I’m ALWAYS looking for reasons to get more time in with my hobbies, so avoiding housework to spend that time doing things I love sounds like a FANTASTIC idea.

I can’t pretend this is the only day I’ve ever put off housework in favor of a project or seven though… Most recently I took advantage of a lazy weekend afternoon to do some coloring and try out a new background technique in a coloring book page. If you’d like to celebrate the holiday today by doing the same, read on for more info!

After going through my coloring book stash to see what fit my mood, I went with the super rad Like, Totally 80’s coloring book and picked a new page instead of working on one of the pages I’ve already prepped.

I wanted the quick satisfaction of using markers and this page had just the right mix of small details and elements. This book is single-sided which is great as you don’t have to worry about ruining an image on the back of the page.

To make things even more mindless, I gave myself a limited color palette. I found an 80s-inspired palette of these 6 colors:

…which I then matched in my Crayola SuperTips.

It was mindless, for sure, but I forgot that coloring is rarely quick! So I had no choice but to spend even more evenings avoiding housework.

Once all the small sections were complete all that remained was the background. It was too much to fill in with the markers so I reached for my Prismas instead.

First I filled in the entire background with a light gray (not shown). Then, using 3 colors that matched 3 of the marker colors, I went over the background again, doing large, irregular sections of color.

Next I went over the whole thing with a layer of black. My goal was to have the different shades give the black some dimension while subtly tying in the bright 80s tones.

The final step was to go over the entire background one last time, this time with my Derwent Burnisher. You can see the massive difference this makes in the image above – the background below the blue squiggle has been burnished, while the area above has not. There was no additional color applied; I merely flattened the layers of color using the burnishing pencil.

I really like how it turned out! It’s a silly, chaotic coloring book page but it was fun and I really enjoy the subtle depth the black background has by having the other colors underneath.

Looking back now I prefer the original background but at the time I’d felt it wasn’t bright enough to really SCREAM “80s”. I decided to outline everything (and also add random dots around the edge of the page for some reason…?) with a white Posca paint marker. These markers are great with colored pencils as they go over it beautifully without skipping, and once dry you can tint the paint with your markers or pencils.

To beat back the white glare I did just that. Using the same 6 SuperTips I went over the white paint to give every item an outline “glow”.

In the end I’m not mad at the final page (above), but I do prefer it pre-paint. That said, it was a lovely excuse to get out of housework for a bit and do something (relatively) mindless.

I hope you get to use today as an excuse to put down the vacuum or laundry and do something fun that makes you happy!

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Crafts with Kids: How to Make a Talking Card

Did you know that February 21st is “Card Reading Day”? According to Checkiday.com this is a day for reading and enjoying cards that you’ve received over the years, that you’ve held on to for sentimental reasons. Here’s a quick and easy card project you can make with your kids to give others something they can hold on to and re-read on future Card Reading days.

To make a talking greeting card you will need:

  • paper or cardstock
  • scissors (plain or with a creative edge)
  • bone folder (optional)
  • pencil
  • supplies of choice for decorating (markers, colored pencil, construction paper, glue, etc)

STEP 1- with your paper placed vertically in front of you (taller than wider), fold the top edge down to meet the bottom edge, then press fold flat

My kids decided to try out this project, so I talked them through it while making my sample and let them have full creative control over their own.

STEP 2- unfold your paper and this time fold it vertically, so the left edge goes behind and under the right edge.

I’d first learned this card at an art class when I was a bit younger than my boys are now, so it was cool to be teaching it to them now, and passing it on.

STEP 3- orient the card so the fold is on the right. Figure out where you want the mouth to be and make a straight cut.

Your mouth can be as high or low on the card as you would like, but remember that you will be folding the edges on the diagonal, so if you want to place it closer to the upper or lower edges, you will need to make your cut shorter. (So you don’t surpass the upper or lower edge of the inner card face – this will become clearer after the next step).

Henri and I used regular scissors for a straight cut, and Jakob chose ones with a pinking blade to get a zigzag edge to his mouth.

STEP 4- fold either side of the cut edges up, and press firmly. Repeat the same folds to the other side. If you think of the mouth as a bird’s beak, you are folding at the beak’s outer edges.

Our examples are shown with the folds at roughly 45 degrees but you can get creative with this. With a shorter cut you can fold at 45 degrees for a smaller mouth or you can fold at a narrower angle for a bigger mouth (with a small opening).

STEP 5- once you have folded the cut edges to both sides of the card, smooth them flat then fold the top half of the card down to the back.

This puts the 2 solid faces on the outside for the front and back of the card and the mouth on the inside.

STEP 6- use your fingers to tuck the mouth/beak folds outwards while keeping the card folding inwards. Then press the card flat and smooth over it a few times, to “set” that fold.

This is the mouth that will open and close as you open and close the card, making it look like your card is “talking”!

STEP 7- the final step is to use a pencil to lightly trace the inside mouth corners to mark off the boundaries of where you can put your “spoken” message.

You want to use a pencil for two reasons: 1) a pen or marker might bleed through your paper to the outside faces of the card, and 2) you can erase the border after creating your message, for a cleaner look.

From this point on you can decorate the card however you like!

We all ended up taking inspiration from the mouth looking like a beak, and created bird-themed cards.

Jakob and I went for sweet birthday messages…

…while Henri went a bit rogue!

Reinforcing how well he takes after his punny mom, Jakob made a cute BIRD-day card.

I think it’s really TWEET!

He was so proud he just had to CROW about it. (Ok I’ll stop)

I went for a similar theme with mine.

Because the inside of the card isn’t visible (except for where the message is) you can use alcohol markers or other media that might bleed through your paper. You can avoid the message area or glue in a clean bit of white paper after decorating the rest of the card, enabling you to get as creative as you’d like and not be limited to dry media.

I’m so glad I got to pass on this easy card-making method. I hope you (or your kids) make some cute, creative cards that can be someone’s sentimental memory to look at fondly in the future. ❤


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Create This Book January Challenge

We did it! Coming in just under the wire, here are mine and Henri’s completed Create This Book pages for January.

As I mentioned in my intro post, every month in 2020 my 11-year-old son Henri and I will be completing a challenge from Moriah Elizabeth‘s Create This Book (vol 1). For January we choose the “create an empty setting” page seen here:

Henri used colored pencils for his page, creating a beach scene. He made it a double-page spread, with a multi-colored sunset over the water.

I love the little details I can pick up of how he went about planning his page, like how he clearly sketched out his ideas in pencil before outlining in fineliner…

…or how he blended the sun’s reflection into the water.

For my page, I went with a bit of a more literally definition of a setting – an actual stage set LOL.

First I sketched it out in pencil. Whenever I’m working in a coloring book with regular paper I always use a sheet of cardstock underneath the page. This prevents any impressions from affecting the following pages and ghosting through when I try to color them. This time I used a remnant of bristol board that has seen many, many coloring pages… though most obviously the one where I colored an entire background with black Sharpie.

After that I put on a podcast (HDTGM FTW), pulled out my Polychromos and colored until I was happy(ish) with the image. I did a few base layers of brown and green into the black back wall to prep before going over it with a black pencil, and roughed in the colors for the wooden stage, then later did the same for the red curtains and seats.

I say “happy-ish” because I’m not 100% thrilled with how the lights came out. I’d planned to color the background solid black and then erase the light paths but when I tried it looked just… I don’t know. Meh. I wound up coloring over most of it and leaving only the spotlight on the stage floor.

And there’s my final image. I decided against making it a two-page spread like Henri because I didn’t feel like coloring nearly two solid pages of red. In the end I’m mostly happy with it, though I see a lot of flaws that make me cringe. That said- my goal with this monthly challenge was NOT to create perfect, ideal art. It was simply to CREATE.

Complete list of 2020 Create This Book Challenge pages:

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A New Year = A New Challenge!

Last January I set up a challenge on this blog- to celebrate 2019 I would convert 19 long-languishing WIPs (works in progress) into FOs (finished objects).

This year I’ve set a new challenge for myself, one with a bit of a lighter workload since I’ve got so many other things on my plate.

We’re big Moriah Elizabeth fans in this house (the sprinkle song is our jam!) and while I’ve managed to distract Henri from wanting his very own Pickle plushie, I did cave and buy him Create This Book for Hanukkah.  

I ordered volume 1, and when it arrived I realized I’d accidentally put 2 copies in my cart.  We took a quick household vote and instead of returning it, we decided to keep the second copy for me and Jakob to use.  Thus starts the first monthly segment of our Create This Book v1 adventures.

It’s the 2020 Create This Book Monthly Page Create-a-long!

There’s also a volume 2 but we’ll be starting with the first book and working our way forwards.

Henri picked this page to start with in his book, so to catch up I’ll be making that my January page as well. My goal is to do (at least) one page each month. 12 pages doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’ve got a TON of stuff going on this year and don’t want to over-commit.

I have six days to come up with an idea, draw/color the page and then post it to the blog. The idea hasn’t come yet but the supplies have been decided- I’ll be coloring the page with my adored Faber-Castel Polychromos. I can’t help but hear Mike Myers in my head when I use them because they color so smoothly that it’s just like butter.

By the way – if you’re always in search of new, better pencil/pen cases like me, I can happily recommend the Thornton case pictured above. I own a lot of colored pencil sets with 100+ colors and quickly outgrew the 32, 48, 56 and 72-pc sets I’d invested in years ago. Last winter I did my research and bought a few larger cases in different styles then spent a cozy snowed-in winter weekend reorganizing all my pencils. (Yes, it’s the little things that make me happy LOL). Now I have enough room to store the full 120pc pencil set plus additional tools like a fineliner, stick eraser, my favorite blender pencil, and a white marker*.

Note- in Canada at least, the listing for the empty case itself seems to be sold out. The exact case full of 150 of their own-branded colored pencils, however, is available here.

*Money-saving tip: There are a LOT of white markers out there for adding highlights to your drawings and coloring. Sakura Gelly roll white pens are great, Sharpie paint markers can be fantastic, and many other brands have good ones too. But my favorite white “pen” is 100% the Liquid Paper or Wite-Out corrector pens. They give the most opaque, solid coverage because that’s literally what they’re designed for, and can very often be found in the stationary aisle of your local dollar store. (I get mine at Dollarama).

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.