Craft projects don't always seem to fit into Colorado's blue-sky agenda. Outdoor recreation takes the cake in this sun-drenched mountain oasis, but waking and waning daylight hours also can be coveted with a touch of creativity.
"Drawing and painting outside in the summer is a great way to get fresh air and find inspiration for landscape paintings," said Lauren Merrill, owner of Alpine Arts Center in Edwards.
Children and adults can set aside some time to find their artsy sides this season, with projects to keep hands full and minds engaged.
Merrill recommends a couple of crafts from the Alpine Arts Center that will help to keep artist of all ages involved and inspired.
"This project can get a little messy, so going outside and working at a picnic table covered with plastic or newspaper is the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors and create your craft," Merrill said.
You will need: glass container, tissue paper, glue-water mixture or Mod Podge in a small cup and a paintbrush.
• Choose a glass container of any size and shape.
• Rip or cut tissue paper of all different colors into small pieces -approximately 1 inch in size.
• Coat the outside of the vase with glue-water mixture.
• Stick your tissue paper to the outside of the vase, one piece at a time. After applying a piece of tissue paper, use a paintbrush to apply more glue-water mixture on top of the tissue, smoothing the paper as you go along. For older children, suggest using two or three coats of tissue paper to create bright designs of overlapping colors. You also can cut out shapes such as hearts and stars for the top layer design.
• When finished, leave your vase outside to dry.
Crafts can get even more natural with homemade body products. Harriet Scheib is the owner and creator of Harriet's Little Soap Co., a goat-milk soap and herbal bath product company that is a vendor at the Vail Farmers' Market every Sunday this summer.
"Colorado's mile-high dry climate calls for products that do not dry the skin," Scheib said. "Children like the bath fizzers because they swirl around in bath water."
Scheib said the bath fizzers are a skin conditioner and that if children and adults use them at night, the scent of lavender is very calming.
What you need: baking soda, corn starch, citric acid and essential oils.
• Add enough water to 1 cup of baking soda, a half-cup of corn starch and a half-cup of citric acid to make the ingredients feel like wet sand. A spray bottle works best.
• Add a small amount of essential oil and melted cocoa butter to the mixture.
• Mold into balls, but they don't need to look perfect.
• Let the bath balls dry overnight. If you get bumps, you have added too much water.
"This landscape project is an easy way to make a successful painting with kids at any age," Merrill said.
You will need: Crayons or oil pastels, watercolor paper, a clipboard or hard surface to draw on, watercolors and a paintbrush.
• Gather your materials and find a nice place to paint.
• Plan out your design using crayons or oil pastels to create an outline drawing for your painting. Make sure to leave spaces between your crayon/oil pastel lines so you have enough room to paint.
• When you finish your outline, you can begin to paint. With watercolors, paint right over the crayon or oil pastel lines to create your resist painting.
Scheib said combining natural body products, such as bath salts and a hot bath, is a great way to relax tight muscles after mountain exertion.
"Bath salts are a great way to relax after a day of hiking, bike riding or playing golf," Scheib said.
You will need: regular salt, Epsom salt, baking soda, favorite essential oil fragrance, such as lavender, chamomile or calendula.
• Pour 1 cup of regular salt, 1 cup of Epsom salt and 1 cup of baking soda into hot bath water.
• Add a little cocoa butter to the mix, but be careful, since this will make the tub slippery.
• Add a few drops of your favorite scent to your bath salts. Scheib recommends a mild essential oil - lavender, chamomile, calendula - and then blend according to personal preference.
Bringing the outdoors in may be one of the best ways to take advantage of the summer season. Paige Anderson, co-owner of Sweet Pea Designs of Vail, has been drying and pressing flowers for more than 30 years.
"There are several different ways that I have preserved flowers," Anderson said. "The first and the easiest way is to air-dry them."
You will need: bundle of fresh flowers, pins for hanging.
• Cut the flowers about four days prior to their peak of blooming.
• Hang a bundle of flowers upside down in a cool, dry and dark place.
• Allow flowers to dry for two to three weeks until they are completely dry.
Anderson recommends drying flowers with more defined petals for best results, including roses, hydrangeas and larkspurs. She said certain types of delicate flowers, including columbines, are more likely to shatter when they are dried.
"Drying flowers led me to attempt to do some gardening so that I could grow some of the things I could dry myself," Anderson said. "This activity gets children and adults in touch with nature and helps them to understand the intricacy of flowers."