A popular outlet for kids and adults, crafting is a healthy activity that provides multiple benefits, from the way it engages an individual’s creativity and imagination to the sense of pride and accomplishment it delivers. In fact, CNN reported in March of this year that experts think crafting can help reduce anxiety, depression and chronic pain and may also help ease stress, increase happiness and protect the brain from damage caused by aging.
Those are some pretty impressive benefits. I’m not a big crafter but do love the way those creative pursuits happily engage my kids while providing them with an opportunity for self-expression. Busily working on an activity, they lose themselves in the inventive process and for an hour or so they’re often quiet little worker bees. In fact, from my experience, it seems crafting is almost meditative, totally engaging the crafter mentally, ensuring he or she is “in the moment.” It’s an awesome mental respite that perhaps explains its many emotional benefits. And, when it’s all done I don’t need to ask the kids if they had fun; the proud and happy look on their faces speaks volumes.
Summer is one of our favourite crafting times and is a great way to fill a rainy – or polar vortex – day. We try to keep them simple – as I said we are not big crafters – but even the quick and easy crafts provide loads of benefits. Pinterest, which is awash with crafty ideas and lovely pictures of fait accomplis, is the place to go to stimulate your inner Martha Stewart. Check it out and before you know it you’ll be wrapping wool around a balloon or making a quilt from old sweaters. YouTube is also so a great DIY resource, providing detailed instructions plus visuals. Next on our craft list is basketball-sized paper flowers.
My daughter and her pal recently came across the DIY Sharpie coffee mug craft, which was a huge success! My kids and some of their buddies recently did it at the cottage on a rainy afternoon and they were busy for at least an hour, first working on designs on paper and then actually executing their artistry on a cup. There was a definite boost to their sense of self-efficacy – which parenting coaches say is so important to building resilient kids – and they were all so thrilled with the end result!
Here are our instructions for the DIY craft:
- Either purchase a mug or use an old mug that you feel needs to be perked up. We purchased plain white mugs at KitchenStuff Plus but we’ve seen lots of coloured mugs used on Pinterest. It depends of course on your marker colours
- Make sure you purchase oil-based paint Sharpies and not regular Sharpies. The oil-based ones provide a much better finished product, more opaque and more resistant to fading. We bought ours at a craft store called Deserres
- We wiped the outside of the mug with rubbing alcohol, a tip we got from Pinterest. Doing so is supposed to help the paint to stick to the mug. Make sure it’s dried though before painting on the mug.
- Keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol on-hand with Q-tips to quickly and easily correct mistakes
- Practice your designs on paper before committing to the mug. It’s best to have a good sense of the pattern or picture you want to draw before putting marker to mug. Also, as a word of caution, I wouldn’t paint inside the mug only because, since the paint is oil-based, I wouldn’t want it to somehow seep into the beverage being contained
- Once the drawing is complete, let it sit for 24 hours so the paint can cure
- Once the paint has cured, place the mug in an oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes
- Remove from oven with oven mitts and place on counter to cool
Super-simple and fun, the craft is a true winner. My kids can’t get enough of their mugs and the beautiful thing is they wash them after each use so they’re ready for the next time they’re needed. That’s right I said they wash them….on their own! It’s the little things that make you want to say “hurrah!”
Give it a try and let me know what you think!