Fail Notebook

Shortly after I got my adorable little die cutting machine last year, SeaLemon posted a new book binding tutorial on her YouTube page.

I wanted to combine making it with using the die cut machine, and I had a perfect idea.  I was going to use a glitter washi tape rainbow card I’d made while messing about with tape ages ago, and a unicorn die cutter.  I’d cut a unicorn shape out of a piece of pretty card and use that over the washi to create a rainbow washi unicorn silhouette.

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However I encountered a few problems.  I used A5 sketchbook paper for the inside of the book, and it was too big for my little machine.

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Which meant that I couldn’t stick an A5 piece of card in the machine to cut out a unicorn shape from.  Okay, fine.  Well I’ll leave a rainbow border then.  Except that I couldn’t find an orientation that would get the whole rainbow inside the unicorn shape.

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Right.  Well, what about a rainbow cover, with just a unicorn silhouette then?  That’ll work. I’ll use the cutout from the first attempt.

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I folded the signature and trimmed the edges so it was flush.  I copied the nice neat corner folding from SeaLemon’s video.

And then the glue stick tore off the unicorn’s tail.

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I tried again – using the same paper as the cover so it would match.  And when I flipped it to glue to the back I must have put it down on some glue somewhere, because I managed to tear the colour from his nose and lose his back hoof.

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Right – just rainbow it is then.

I used duct tape for the binding tape, and then quite frankly it got put in my To Do pile and forgotten about for months.  

When I finally got around to finishing it, the rubber band I’d used to hold it together had dented the duct tape spine a little.

But I carried on regardless.  I used my awl to poke out holes for the stitching.

I grabbed the cord I keep with my bookbinding pieces and pulled some through the wax.

I threaded my bookbinding needle, started stitching, and encountered the next problem.  My curved needle was the wrong shape and/or too big.

So I switched to a straight needle and stitched the notebook.  I did a saddle stitch, because by this point I had completely forgotten that the whole point of this project was to do that pretty chain stitch.

It’s very messy, and it doesn’t close properly.  But it’s a completed notebook, and it has a glittery rainbow on it.  And in the end, isn’t a glittery rainbow all that matters?

I will do that chain stitch.  As well as the other very pretty stitch that SeaLemon just released a tutorial for.  At some point.


Random Bits from AliExpress

AliExpress is one of those websites where you can buy pretty much anything, for really cheap prices, but you have to wait ages for shipping.  I do quite a bit of my shopping on there.

I have a craft challenge post that’s been in the works for a while.  And I’ve got a Wish vs AliExpress art challenge blog series that I started writing years ago and haven’t finished yet.

But I don’t think I’ve done a haul post yet.

These are not so easy to do with sites like Wish and Ali.  You see a lot of YouTubers do them, and they start off with a big pile of unopened packages.  I do NOT have the patience for that.  I tend to tear open packages as soon as they arrive.  But I figured I could set up a draft blog and add to it occasionally as things arrive – eventually resulting in a blog post.

First up is some markers.  One of my favourite Ohuhu markers is dying and I’ve been trying to find a colour match for it, because Ohuhu are silly and don’t sell individual markers.  I ordered two markers each from two different ranges – even though the Touch markers are all essentially the same.




The first set arrived, and I have no idea which set they are.  They are labelled neither TOUCHFive or TouchThree.  In fact, they’re each labelled differently.

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But they’re cheap, and they’re pretty and purple, and I suspect that one of them is the closest I’m gonna get to colour matching my Ohuhu.  So whatever.

I also got this very small but very cute Pikachu diamond painting kit that I might get around to soon.  Alternatively it might go on one of my many project piles and get forgotten about.  This cost me £1.95.  With most diamond painting listing on Ali you have a choice of sizes.  The smaller the canvas you get, the lower the resolution but the cheaper the cost.



I got some binder ring things, because they’re really useful.

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And tiny ducks.  Because tiny ducks.  I may or may not have a plan for some of these.

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A letter die cutter, hopefully that’ll be a little less fiddly than the last one I bought.

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Some very yummy looking stickers.

A die cutter for lots of little circles.

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Some little clear boxes that I’m going to use to display my favourite dice sets, like so.

A whole bunch of cute puffy stickers.  Can you tell I love stickers?

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Letter dies in two different styles.  It really drives me nuts that the set on the right isn’t in order, but I’m going to be pulling them apart soon anyway.

Some black sticky notes, for doodling purposes.

Some plain round stickers, also for doodling purposes.  These were a little smaller than I’d imagined, but they still work.

Another cutting die.  I have an obsession.

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Speaking of obsessions, this one combines two.  Unicorns and stickers.

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Resin molds are really hard to photograph.  This one is a pyramid shape.

And this one is a bookmark.

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I got some tiny lights to hopefully embed in a resin piece, inspired by something seen online somewhere.

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I got a couple of spare styluses, because I’m always losing the one I use for digital art.

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A whole bunch of bath scrubbies.

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A bag of hair ties.  I bought a pack like this earlier this year and they’re really good, so I bought more because hair ties is something I will always need more of.

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Some curtain lead weights that I plan on sewing into the hem of my skirts to stop my unflattering Marilyn Monroe impressions.  This is just a short length for testing purposes.

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And some Lego bits.  Because Lego.

I’ll stop now.  I could go on forever.  I have a constant stream of packages coming from AliExpress.  There are currently about four more on their way I think.  But if I don’t stop now this post will end up being waaayyyy too long.  It’s probably already too long to be honest.  Well done you if you’re still reading.


“Sharpie” Art Challenge

I did a haul post recently of things I’d bought from The Works. In it I hinted that I had a project in mind for the off-brand Sharpies. And here it is!

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Also in that haul I’d bought another one of the A4 blank covered sketchbooks I like, and a pack of foam board. My intention was to do art on one of these, with the off-brand Sharpies.

The markers are very much like Sharpies. The barrel is the same shape and size, but without any information other than the brand name.

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I swatched them out…

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…Did a quick video to show you how neon that orange is before it dries…

…Took an out-of-focus photo of the nib of one of the two black ones – is this deliberate, or a dud marker?

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The description doesn’t say anything about it.

The light brown was a little dry, but I wasn’t too fussed. It wasn’t one of my favourite colours, and they cost 16p a marker.

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Swatching is really important, especially with cheaper markers. And here’s why. Sometimes the colour will match the lid, and sometimes it really won’t.

Of course, it’s also important to swatch on the actual material you’re using. I wasn’t working on paper, so I had to swatch on the notebook (I actually did it on the back of the last one I got), and on the foam board.

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On these you can see that I also testing smudging after different amounts of time, blending, layering, blurring, and erasing sketches.

I’d bought the notebook and the foam board intending to use one of them for the project, not both. I swatched just to see which would be better. Sketching on the foam board left a dent, but I think the colours were ultimately brighter and the ink laid more fully on the foam board. So I decided to go ahead with the board.

Next up was figuring out what to draw. I’d had this image on my phone from Pinterest for a while.

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I’d planned to draw something similar but with monsters, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  I sketched out an idea…

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…And meticulously did math to work out dimensions and such.

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Then, when I finally got around to doing it, it was going to be at my boyfriend’s house and I wasn’t sure the foam boards would transport safely. So I went with the notebook after all.

I worked out the slightly different measurements, and got to drawing out the boxes. It’s not exact, but it works.

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I used the black marker to draw the box borders that wouldn’t be crossed by monster bits.

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I did a quick swatch on scrap paper to remind me what the markers were like. In the six or so weeks since I’d swatched them last the dark red died. I haven’t used them. They’ve been sat on my desk waiting for me to get around to this project. I did find out later that it worked semi-okay on the slippery surface of the notebook.

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And then I got drawing. I didn’t sketch them out, because it would have meant more to erase later. (Spoiler: I forgot to erase the pencil from the borders in the end, and you can’t really tell.) I had my plan in front of me, and knew what I was doing.

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I tried to do it a little like watercolour – not doing sections that touched right away, giving the marker a little bit of time to set.

I found I was getting this weird texture.

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I tried adding another layer a little later but it mostly just moved the bottom layer around and made the texture worse.

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But I kept going, and eventually I had a completed piece.

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It’s a little messy – colouring around the black eyes and things wasn’t easy. Perhaps I should have drawn those on afterwards.

I don’t have any actual Sharpies in colour, but I do have a black one. I did a little test on the back of the notebook and found that the actual Sharpie layered a lot better. Maybe one day I’ll buy some Sharpies and redo this.

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When I got home a few days later I tried adding another layer to one of the monsters, just to see what happened.  It didn’t really make much difference.

Also at home, I decided to do something with the foam board, since that was what I had initially planned. I didn’t want to redo the whole piece, so I did something different.

I tested sketching on the foam board again, and erasing left a real dent.

So I tried colouring a section, then outlining it and just covering up the pencil anyway.

I did yet another swatch.

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Now, what to draw?  Well, a recent shape challenge from Studio Tea Break had just spoken to me.

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Turn it upside down, and what do you see?

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Well I saw a rainbow-tailed random fluffy beast.

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There is still a little bit of texture, but in the smaller sections it barely shows, and in the main body I took advantage of it to make hair/fluff.

The ink doesn’t layer over other colours too great.  I wish I’d decided to do a fluffy overlap before I coloured in the legs.  But it’s lovely and bright and vibrant.

Overall conclusion?  You kinda get what you pay for.  For a £4 pack of “Sharpies”, you can get a semi-decent result.  And they work better on foam board than they do on the cover of those sketch books.

Learning to Use a Water Brush

I wrote recently about making my own watercolour palette. At the end of that I said “If only I could use a water brush, then I’d be really mobile.”

I want to be able to use a water brush, I really do. They’re clever and convenient, not to mention less messy. And look how neatly one fits in the space in my palette.

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But I just couldn’t get to grip with it. I had trouble controlling the water, I couldn’t pick up the paint, I couldn’t get a smooth stroke. It was frustrating.

Then SamBeAwesome asked me what brand I was using. Well… I wasn’t really using a brand. I was just using ones I had acquired. All off-brand ones.

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So I got myself a Pental Aquash.

And oh my goodness. Suddenly I can use a water brush! Look how less messy it is. It’s so easy to clean out.

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I tested with monsters, obviously.

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And then I did some cute fat birds, inspired by an image found on Pinterest.

 Plus, it fits just as neatly in my palette.

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I don’t think I’ve used a normal brush since – until the April Scrawlr Box anyway.


3/4 View Faces

I draw a lot of monsters. But I do also draw the occasional humanoid. I like drawing them, and I want to draw more. When Appleminte posted a tutorial recently on how she did portraits, I was inspired.

I loved the idea of just doing the bust. And I was intrigued by the 3/4 view face. I’ve done that angle a few times, and they aren’t great.  Like these.

I could definitely benefit from some lessons. So off to Pinterest I went. First I tried this one from

Then this one from @ishel_art

And then I looked for a YouTube video and did this one from Zyra Bañez.

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After that I had a go at drawing my own, using what I’d learned. They still aren’t perfect, but they’re better than they were.

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Finally, I sketched out my art work. For this piece I was working on my 1980s girl for Saturday Scribbles.

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I wanted to do it digitally, but I’m not so good at sketching digitally. So I took that photo, opened it up in the app I use to draw and got going.  

I also used a lot of new techniques on the app – Ibis Paint X. New brushes, some textures and things. I’m very proud of how she turned out.


Symmetry Tools

When I do my digital art I do it on a program called Ibis Paint X. It has about as many functions and tools and things as Photoshop, but it’s free, and available on my tablet. There is a manual/tutorial thing, which I fully intend to work through one day. But I’m mostly discovering new things gradually as I play around with the app.

One of the things I discovered recently was the Symmetry Rulers. So much potential for fun!


With the Rotation Ruler you can set the number of divisions, and where they start on the sheet. So you can do one doodle and it recreates the same doodle in increments for you.


There’s also a Kaleidoscope Ruler, which does a reflection for you.

I could do this all day long. It’s so addictive.

I coloured in one as a pastel rainbow, because I love rainbows and I’m really into pastel at the moment.


I coloured one in my boyfriend’s favourite colours.

I coloured one in a palette I had saved on the app.

And then I coloured in the fourth one in a “funky” colour palette for a Saturday Scribbles.


I need to avoid doing this too much. It’s very very addictive. Although maybe I could make a series to release as a colouring book? What do you think?

Endless Card

I got inspired again by one of my favourite sources of ideas. Megan Weller on YouTube.

In one of her Creative Things To Do When You’re Bored videos, she cut and glued a sheet of paper in the right places to make an endless card. You can fold it open, fold it open, fold it open, fold it open, fold it open, etc etc.

The video below should start at the right place.  If I messed it up somehow, the Endless Card begins at about 5:00.

She covered hers with animal prints, but naturally I decided it would be a good idea to do monsters. Because I was going to use my alcohol markers I took a piece of card stock, cut it to size with my trimmer, and got folding and cutting.

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I used a tape roller to glue the appropriate squares and ended up with this.

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It doesn’t lie completely flat because it’s really thick. But I sketched out some monsters anyway.

Maybe it was my folding – we all know I’m not very precise – or maybe it was the card stock. But there were lots of bits where it overlapped and lots of little gaps. But I carried on regardless.

 I started colouring the first one…

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…And hit the problem I’d forgotten about. Alcohol markers bleed.

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So I carefully pried apart the glued sections and unfolded the card.

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I used the position of the monster halves as a template on two square sheets of normal printer paper.

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I coloured these in separately.

Then I used the tape roller to glue the two sheets together, and did the folding and cutting.

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It’s not perfect. It’s still thick because it’s two sheets glued together. But it’s cute and clever nonetheless.

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It is hard to demonstrate the endless unfolding in photos though, so I took a little video to show you.


June Scrawlr Box

The June Scrawlr Box (I haven’t forgotten May, it’s still sat on my desk waiting for me to muster courage), was one that had me swatching and arting within minutes of opening it.

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Inside were some Derwent Inktense blocks, a Caran D’Ache Prismalo pencil, a Seawhite synthetic round brush, a white Gelly Roll, and some 350gsm Seawhite watercolour paper.


There was the fabulous art print from Hullo Alice…


…And of course the zine and the sticker – I love the colours on this one.

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First up, swatching.  And testing the Inktense blocks in all the ways the zine described.

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I did my usual little monster.  Except this time I did four, testing different techniques.

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I didn’t really have a main project in mind.  I just started playing with the colours.


It ended up very soggy and very messy, so I took another sheet of the paper and pressed them together to absorb the excess

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The imprint looked really good.  I could do something with that.  I’d have two pieces!

Except… well, I made a total disaster of the original piece.  I’m not even going to show you the mess.  I really should have had some idea of an idea.

For the imprint, when I looked at it, I kinda saw a skirt floating away.  So I decided I’d draw a torso, arms and head.  I made a fatal error though and didn’t use a reference.

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So I decided I’d take a photo of the imprint and try something digitally.  More on that later.

In the meantime, I still needed a piece.  I really liked the effect of the green monster in my testing, so I decided to make a rainbow of those.  As I worked on the first few though I smudged the outlines for the others, so I ended up on separate sheets and cheating by using the green testing monster.


They came out ridiculously cute though.  And although I hadn’t even noticed the Scrawlr Challenge, I think messy, colourful, rainbow monsters are pretty perfect for my spirit animals.

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As for the digital one, I collected a few silohuettes from Pinterest…


…and tested them against a cleaned up version of the “skirt”.

I liked the first one best, so I traced that out.  Yes, I traced it.  I don’t care.


Also, when I was cleaning it up I accidentally made a pretty abstract piece.  Bonus.




April Scrawlr Box

The April Scrawlr Box was one of those that I didn’t get started with right away. Mostly because I was bedridden with a sprained ankle at the time, and the supplies would have involved water and needed desk space. But it was definitely a box that intrigued me.

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Inside were some Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolour Markers, some watercolour pencils from the same range, a Pro Arte Polar Series 31 paint brush, a Derwent Sketching Pencil, and a thin pad of watercolour paper.


And of course the Scrawlr Box sticker and the new zine.

With a very striking art print by featured artist Angelika Schulte.


After I’d swatched everything and tried using the watercolour implements in different ways…

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…I tried mixing to see if I could get a rainbow, which I could. I tried a few more ways of using the watercolours, tested the pencil for smearage, and moved on to a monster.

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For the monster I put some of the blue marker at the bottom and some of the yellow at the top and tried blending them. Although the blend isn’t too bad, the blue totally dominated and there isn’t much yellow left.

In terms of an art piece, I started off wanting to mimic a new artist I’ve found – full blog post about her coming soon – but I basically made a mess. I don’t know if it was the supplies, or just me, or maybe a combination. But it was really untidy. And whilst the muted coloured created a pretty effect, it wasn’t what I was looking for.

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So I moved on to what I was comfortable with. A monster.

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The colours really are very pretty. But I struggled with layering and getting things looking smooth. Again, it was probably just me.


I outlined in the brown watercolour pencil, and attempted to blend that out a little bit.

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It’s cute, but I wasn’t entirely happy with it.  To test whether it was the supplies, I tried recreating the piece with my normal watercolours. The mistake I made here was attempting to do the outlines with paint and the brush – my brush control is not that good.

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I also took the muted watercolour circle and added another layer of colour, before doodling over the top of it.

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I’d made an attempt to dab the markers onto a wet circle to create a tie dye effect like the zine mentioned, but that failed as well. So I doodled on that one too.

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It was a fun box, but I don’t think I’ve been persuaded to move away from my palette paints.

More Saturday Scribbles

Since discovering Saturday Scribbles I’ve continued following their Twitter account.  Not every theme has appealed to me.  Like “lighthouses”.  Sometimes I plan to do a piece, but just run out of time, like “hearts”.  But I’ve done a whole bunch of them.

When all this lockdown palaver started they did a “thank you” theme, and I did a watercolour monster.

I was especially proud of my “numbers” piece – I overlaid all the numbers and created a monster from the shape.

Jasper helped me colour that one.

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For the “fruit” theme I hid some tiny monsters in a fruit bowl.

For “funky” I got my mandala on.

“Space” had to be a little green man.

One week the theme was “unicorn”, so I obviously did that one.

And for “1980s” I did this 80s girl complete with scrunchie, super high ponytail, and a shell suit.

If you don’t already follow Saturday Scribbles on Twitter I highly recommend it.  Every week they run a poll so you can help pick the theme.  It’s lots of fun 🙂