It's prime time for summer fun with arts, crafts

S. Derrickson Moore
The Daily Times

LAS CRUCES — School's been out for a while. The days are long. Kids are getting bored and many adults are in the mood for some creative fun, too.

It's prime time for summer arts and crafts projects.

What's hot this year? A little bit of everything, creative consultants report, including some retro skills and multi-media projects that can transcend summer camp basics and even move into the realm of fine arts.

Friendship bracelets remain a staple, according to Yvette Hassell, operations team leader for Jo-ann Fabric and Crafts in Las Cruces.

And some kids are going back to the basics, showing an interest in some old-school skills that may not have reached this level among youths since the days of their grandmothers or great-grandparents.

"A lot of girls want to learn how to sew. They're making beach bags and fabric bags," Hassell said.

And the boys have some surprises outside the traditional toolbox, too.

"We just had a group of boys interested in quilting. They were with a 4-H group," Hassell reports.

At Hobby Lobby in Las Cruces, associates say that sales are brisk in every department of the arts and crafts emporium and there are no particular stand-outs like last summer's plastic circle friendship bracelets and patterned duct tape crafts.

Many customers in a crafty mood seem to go for a creative browsing strategy, like Las Cruces artist Kathy Morrow and her granddaughter Nikki Orispaa, 18, who is visiting from Espoo, Finland.

Orispaa had her eye on a set of high-end colored pencils and was also checking out small charms and doo-dads in the jewelry aisle.

"Last year, I made fairy bottles, using baby oil gel and figurines I made out of polymer clay," Orispaa said.

Some crafters come in knowing exactly what they have in mind for a summer project.

"I draw a lot. Now, I'm going to put Pikachu on my shoes. I came to get fabric paint to draw the Pikachus on the top part of my shoes," said Daisha Irvin, who is now grown up, but, like other Millennials, still retains a fondness for the popular Japanese animated Pokéman character her generation loves.

Whether you're a beginner or a pro, fabric paint projects offer fun with a wearable art payoff.

You can start with your own shoes, clothing and accessories or experiment with thrift shop finds.

Chain arts and crafts emporiums and sometimes crafts sections of superstores offer lots of paint-ready items, including canvas shoes, T-shirt shirts, purses, tote bags, hats, aprons, pillow cases and more.

Low-mess, easy-to-use options include paint pens and small squeeze bottles of dimensional fabric paint. Special soft fabric paints can be used with brushes or stencils.

More adventurous artists can try fabric paints in spray bottles, available as singles or in kits in vivid neon or jewel-tone primary colors. Work on a protected surface. To avoid color bleed-through, place a large piece of cardboard inside a T-shirt or garment, and work with stencils, folding or crushing techniques or free-hand designs.

Or go outside and go wild. Dress in or anything you don't mind getting splattered with paint and spray-paint your masterpieces with your friends. Make sure you've chosen water soluble paints and consider wearing safety goggles and gloves. Experiment with short bursts and long arcs with your spray bottle, and don't worry about being perfect (a few smears will add to the handmade, artsy effect). Follow paint manufacturers' directions to dry and set paint.

If you'd like to try a new medium, art form or craft, kits offer a chance to experiment in everything from jewelry to clay sculpture without making a major investment. Instructions are usually included for simple projects to get you started.

Local arts and crafts stores also have free project sheets located in departments throughout each store, near materials you'll need.

For more ideas, do an online search for videos and instructions for projects, such as "seashell crafts," that interest you.

There are also several sites that specialize in crafts for kids, such as, which offers fun and educational projects like rocks painted with letters of the alphabet, windmills, toilet paper flowers and water bombs made from sponges and, which includes a list of 62 easy crafts for kids.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450.