DIY Custom Play Mat

Crafts ’n things Craft of the Day


Kids will enjoy this fun-and-easy project which allows them to incorporate their favorite toys during play time. Use Sakura’s Permapaque dual-point markers which contain a durable ink that goes on smoothly like paint.


  • Vinyl (may also be called “faux leather”, “naugahyde”, or “marine vinyl”)


Basic Supplies

scissors, newspaper (to cover work surface)



Cut vinyl to preferred size.


Create design for mat. If your child is old enough, have them draw their own design. Involve smaller children by asking what they think should be included.


Outline design using fine point of Permapaque marker.


Use various other shades of markers to create background items, such as small town, field of flowers, or farm with animals. Use the chisel tip edge of Permapaque marker to fill in larger areas of play mat. Finish coloring design, including background area.


Spray light coat of clear finishing spray on completed mat in well-ventilated area. (Note: Only adults should use spray cans.)


Roll up the finished play mat and secure with an elastic band for portable playtime.


  • Sakura’s Permapaque dual-point markers contain a durable ink that goes on smoothly like paint. It dries almost instantly so there are no worries about smearing. The broad chisel point is ideal for coloring in large areas. For this project, the entire background was filled in without stopping, and the color stayed consistent the entire time. Visit Sakura’s YouTube Channel for a video demonstration of this project.

 About this project

  • The play mat is a portable play space for your child to use while also protecting furniture surfaces. But, just how durable is this project? The Permapaque ink stays put pretty well, even when rubbed with a damp cloth. After a couple weeks of intense playtime, there may be some minor scratches from car wheels. It can be prevented by spraying a light coat of clear finishing spray on the completed mat. This spray can be found in the fine art section of the craft department, typically by the paints. Since multiple brands of sprays react differently with fabrics and inks, it is recommended to always test your specific fabric type prior to final application. Always use sprays in well-ventilated areas.

by Maureen Wilson for Sakura of America (

Baby Jar Animal Favors

Crafts ’n things Craft of the Day


These baby elephants, giraffes, and monkeys are ready to help celebrate the arrival of your little one!


  • Baby food jars, three
  • Felt: 9”x12” sheets: yellow, blue, brown, tan
  • Fiberfill stuffing
  • Curling ribbon: 12” lengths, three each: blue, yellow, pink
  • Thread: black, white
  • Black seed beads, six
  • Assorted plastic baby trinkets
  • Candy


  • Sewing machine
  • DecoArt Antique Lace No-Prep Metal Paint
  • Powdered blush
  • Chenille stems
  • Adhesives: Beacon Adhesives Gem-tac Permanent Adhesive, glue gun and sticks

Basic Supplies

scissors, sponge, needle, newspaper (to cover work surface)



(Note: Materials listed are for set of three.)

1. Remove labels from baby food jars; wash and let dry. On covered work surface, sponge lids Antique Lace; set aside.

2. Cut out patterns and felt as indicated. (Note: The blue word “patterns” is a link. To access these patterns, select the link, then download and print patterns.) Machine or hand stitch coordinating pieces together with white thread, leaving small openings for stuffing. Stuff pieces; stitch openings closed. (Note: Stuff body pieces firmly in order for characters to stand upright.)

3. Use black thread to sew beads to faces for eyes and monkey’s nose. Apply blush to animals’ cheeks and monkey’s ears, hands, and feet.

4. Use glue gun to adhere the following: elephant’s ears to head and arms to body; giraffe’s neck to center back of arms. Use craft glue to adhere body and feet to jars. Wrap chenille stems around body pieces to hold in place while drying. Adhere spots to giraffe’s neck.

5. For each jar, tie center of three ribbon lengths together and curl ends. Tie trinkets to ribbon centers; adhere to jar lids. Fill jars with candy.

Baby Shower Games

Check out the list below for a few fun games to play at your next baby shower.

  • Measure the Mother-To-Be: Place spools of ribbon and scissors at tables. Ask guests to each cut a length that they think will fit perfectly around the mom-to-be’s belly. The closest length wins.
  • Diaper the Baby: Divide guests into pairs. Provide each pair with a baby doll, diaper, and doll clothing. The teams must diaper and dress the dolls using only one hand. The fastest dressers win.
  • Candy Count: Fill a plastic baby bottle with small candies. Have guests guess the number of candies in the bottle.
  • Stork Bingo: Photocopy and pass out blank bingo cards. Have guests fill in squares with items they think the mom-to-be will receive as gifts. As gifts are opened, guests mark items on cards until someone marks off a row (Bingo).
  • New Wardrobe: Place a onesie or baby shirt at each place setting, and fabric paints in center of table. Guests decorate a new “wardrobe” for baby. (Insert cardboard between layers of clothing to protect back sides while painting.)
  • Baby Name Race: Provide guests with paper and pen. See who can come up with the most names in one minute. Do girls’ names, then boys’ names.
  • Advice for the New Mom: Decorate a sheet of paper with a “baby theme” (footprints, duckies, etc.). Have guests write advice to the new mom. Place all sheets together in a nice scrapbook for her.

by Debbie Kolehmainen

One Design = Many Projects

Once I get started making a project, I seem to always have a lot of excess “stuff’ on my desk. If I am making elements for a card or cutting up felt for a project, I usually end up with pieces cut out that are all ready to use – but they are more than I need for this particular project. I have learned over the years that stopping at the end of a project is the wrong place to stop. Now I finish when I have used the materials on hand. That way I not only stretch my creativity to find new uses for the project or materials, but I also end up with embellishments and items ready made for future projects. Sometimes, as a bonus, I end up with multiple finished projects all from a single idea – some for me to use and some to give as gifts.

This is what happened with the “great mushroom project.” I was playing around with AMACO Cloud Clay which is an air-dry clay that comes in great colors, mixes well with itself and with acrylic paints, and  is great to work with. I was thinking miniatures as I love making cute and tiny things.

I was thinking earrings at the time, and with the clay colors laid out in front of me, the red, white, and green were demanding my attention. I immediately thought about mushrooms with white stalks, red tops dotted with white dots, and green grass around the base. The project makes for really cute earrings. Here’s what you need:

  • AMACO Cloud Clay: Red, White, Green (This is a great project for the Assortment Pack which includes 1 oz. each of Green, Red, White and Blue clay.)
  • Scissors
  • Non-stick work surface
  • Acrylic roller
  • Ranger Glossy Accents (optional)
  • Earring findings: headpins, jump rings, earring wires, tools

To make the mushrooms, pinch off pieces of Red, White, and Green clay and work each color in your hand to soften and condition it. I like to pull the clay out to a longish piece, fold it in half and in half again, and then repeat. In a few seconds, it is smooth, warm and pliable.

Roll some White clay into a teardrop for the stem of the mushrooms. Roll a sphere of Red for the tops, flatten it a bit and push onto the mushroom stem. While these pieces are drying a bit, roll some Green clay flat using an acrylic roller. It needs to be pretty thin – set it aside to dry.

Pinch tiny seed-size pieces of White clay and roll into balls. Press on the top of the mushrooms.

Once the Green clay is dry enough to handle – this will take a few minutes – cut it into a strip of grass using the scissors. Wrap the grass around the base of the mushroom. If the clay is having problems sticking to itself, dampen it with a little water and it will stick tight.

Once the pieces are dry, you can push a headpin vertically through each mushroom from bottom to top, wrap the end into a loop, and attach an earring wire using a jump ring.

So far so good, but why stop at one set of earrings? Once you’ve made a couple of extra sets for gifts, it’s time to think outside the box. I upped the ante to make a pencil topper. Simply make a larger-size mushroom – or two side by side – and push the piece onto the top of a regular pencil and leave to dry.

To make this pencil topper more robust, coat it with Ranger Glossy Accents – this is a glue as well as a glossy cover coat and it helps not only to protect the piece but also to stick it firmly to the top of the pencil. I also like to use Glossy Accents on the earrings too so they last really well and it also gives them a great shine.

I made a few extra mushrooms to sit around on my desk – you never know when they might come in handy. And I finished off with this “oh so cute” tic-tac-toe game board in green and white – complete with mushroom playing pieces in red and purple.

Next time you’re crafting, challenge yourself to think out of the box – what else can you do with your design and your supplies? Pieces of paper left over from a scrapbook page can be affixed to a tag for gift giving or used on a card. Clay designs can be used for all sorts of purposes and extra pieces from a jewelry project look great dangling from a mini scrapbook or made into a barrette.

by Helen Bradley (

Tic Tac Snow Game

Crafts ’n things Craft of the Day


Craft a little winter fun with Midwest Products’ wooden shapes, paint, and a foam snowflake stamp.


  • Midwest Products Co., Inc. Wooden Items: Craft Plywood, 1/4”x12”x12”; Basswood Sheet, 1/4”x3”x24”; Basswood Economy Bag
  • Midwest Products Co., Inc. Cellfoam 88, 1/8”x11-1/2”x11-1/2”
  • Wiggle eyes, 20
  • Button magnets, 19


  • Midwest Products Co., Inc. Easy Cutter Tool
  • Snowflake foam stamp
  • DecoArt Americana Acrylic Paints: Ultra Blue Deep, Orchid, Jack-O’-Lantern Orange, Snow White, Lamp Black, Winter Blue
  • DecoArt Glamour Dust Glitter
  • Beacon Adhesives Kids Choice! Glue

Basic Supplies

hand saw, paintbrushes, fine-tip black marker, craft knife and cutting mat, pencil





1. Use saw to cut ten 1-1/2” squares from basswood sheet. Use Easy Cutter to clip corners of each square.

2. Pull several 1/4” strips from Basswood Economy Bag. Cut six 3” lengths; leave two additional 1/4” strips uncut.

3. Paint five 1-1/2” squares Snow White. Using photo as guide, paint remaining squares Lamp Black on edges and Snow White in centers for penguins. Paint all 1/4” basswood strips Ultra Deep Blue. Paint plywood square Winter Blue. Let all pieces dry completely.

4. Print, cut out, and trace patterns onto Cellfoam as indicated. (Note: The blue word “patterns” is a link. To access these patterns, select the link, then download and print patterns.) Cut out pieces with craft knife.

5. Paint noses Jack-O’-Lantern Orange; let dry. Paint snowflakes Orchid; sprinkle paint with glitter while wet. Let dry.

6. Stamp Snow White snowflakes randomly over plywood square; let dry.

7. Adhere wiggle eyes and noses to game pieces, and use marker to outline pieces as shown.

8. Adhere 1/4″ basswood strips to board in grid pattern. Adhere snowflakes to board between strips. Adhere magnets to snowflakes and to back of each game piece. Let dry completely.


  • Paint the game pieces to look like zoo animals, dinosaurs, or anything else your kids love!

by Melony Miller Bradley for Midwest Products Co., Inc. (