Arts and Crafts for Senior Citizens

Senior painting a canvas

Seniors have more free time to spend on leisure activities, both to rediscover skills or find new hobbies. There are so many options it's hard to find a starting place. Arts and crafts that fit your ability level and interests are the most enjoyable.

Easy Drawing

Artist drawing

How to draw a rose features less than 10 steps to follow in making a pencil drawing of a vase filled with roses. All you need are a pen or pencil, and a blank sheet of paper. The slideshow tutorial walks you through each step from drawing the vase to roses that are more closed and in full bloom. Anyone able to hold a pencil can complete this project.

Easy Painting

Painting projects completed on canvas, paper or fabric allow you to explore more colors and textures than drawings. If your freestyle skills aren't great, or you've got shaky hands, consider a fabric painting project as mistakes are less noticeable on wearable art. Three fun fabric paint projects helps you create modern patterns on everyday linens. The Chevron Stamped Scarf project uses cut makeup sponges to create the angular shapes featured in this popular striped pattern. You can also try your hand at an ombre painted dish towel or a stenciled onesies.

Try the techniques on other items such as:

  • T-shirts
  • Reusable bags
  • Pillowcases
  • Table linens
  • Dish towels

Polymer Clay

Working with polymer clay is an optimal choice for seniors who suffer from limited dexterity. As seniors work and soften the clay, hands and fingers exercise while creating useful or decorative objects including:

  • Vases
  • Pins
  • Beads
  • Bowls

Use polymer clay patterns for step-by-step instructions to make fun, useful items. Use a rolling pin and biscuit cutter to make simple circular pendants. Create a textured pattern in your pendant with a fabric like burlap, then monogram it using a foam letter. Make your new pendant into a necklace or hanging ornament.

Mosaic Designs

A mosaic is made from any material broken into small pieces and can stem from a planned or freestyle design. Depending on your level of dexterity, work with small or large pieces to enhance eyesight and fine motor skills.

  • Use different colored squares of wax as you learn how to make mosaic candles. Purchase or cut different colors of wax cubes and place in a pattern in a candle mold. Pour another colored melted wax over your design and allow it to dry. The finished candle has a mosaic effect. This project is perfect for those with limited dexterity.
  • More hand control is required to create a pattern on the flat surface of a wooden tray using old, broken china and grout for DIY mosaic trays. The base tray can be old or new as can the mosaic pieces. Glue down your unique design before covering with grout. Seal the finished piece for use at home or as a gift.

Photography Crafts

Get up and moving in the great outdoors with photography. You can take pictures of anything you have access to. You don't have to be a tech expert to learn digital camera basics like the lingo for buying and operating a DSLR. Photography is great for crafting as it provides unique materials for other projects like scrapbooking, calendars, cards and gifts.

  • small postcard
    Make your own postcards using this handy template and some personal photographs. You'll need basic computer skills to finish this project. To complete the project, download the small or large template, add a photo from your computer and address details, then print on cardstock. These unique postcards help you keep in touch with loved ones and show off your new hobby.
  • Craft projects using pictures allow you to do more than hang photos. For example, make bottle cap magnets to display on the fridge. Cut wallet-size photos of family members to fit inside an old metal bottle caps. Glue the picture in place and a magnet on the back and you've got original fridge art. Due to the small scale of the project, crafters need expert hand control to complete it.

Jewelry-Making

Jazz up your personal style and use up some of those old items like keys and buttons you've been saving for years by making jewelry.

  • This beaded antique key necklace tutorial helps you showcase an old skeleton key with beaded accents. Find an old key you like and clean it up. Follow the step-by-step slideshow tutorial to create a unique beaded necklace then hang the key from the center.
  • Those with beginner crochet skills will love the simple crochet bead bracelet pattern. You can choose from three easy patterns incorporating beads and chain stitches. The center beaded bracelet uses a chain stitch, single crochet, double crochet and a few small beads to create an embellished woven look.

Sewing Projects

Sewing crafts often have specific instructions making them great for those who thrive on following directions. These projects require some background knowledge of sewing techniques and moderate dexterity.

If you have access to a sewing machine try to sew your own heating pads to soothe aching muscles. Fill your favorite fabric with rice in a flat back pad using simple stitching and folding techniques. You can also make a rounded neck pad by filling a sock with rice and sewing the ends closed.

finished book cover

Another project seniors might enjoy is learning how to sew a book cover. You'll need a thick-weight fabric, some ribbon, math skills and a sewing machine to transform your book collection into a protected, beautiful work of art.

Those without a sewing machine can learn how to sew using hand-stitching techniques. An old sweater or some ribbon and a simple hand-stitch are all you need to craft a fabric flower brooch. Cut flower shapes out of your favorite fabric, baste them together and sew a pin on the back. Experiment with different fabric textures and flower sizes.

Knitting Patterns

If you already know how to knit, keep your hands busy with projects intended to keep you warm.

  • With knit slipper patterns you can create cozy footwear for yourself, your friends, and even the tiniest members of your family. These warm slipper socks are perfect for wearing to bed on cold nights.
  • More skilled knitters will want to try the free knitted wrap pattern to create a one-of-a-kind shawl. To start, you'll need to download and print the free wrap pattern. Based on the size of your finished project, you'll need anywhere from 350-700 yards of yarn.

Paper Crafts

Paper is one of the easiest materials to come by in crafting. Everything from newspapers and magazines to paper bags and cardstock finds a use in paper crafts. People of all skill levels can work with paper easily.

  • Homemade thank you cards with embellishments like a paper pinwheel, washi tape heart, or photo frame are easy to make. All you need is paper, a pre-made card base, and a glue stick to tack fun adornments to basic cards.
  • Create a faux-leather covered box, faux-metal leaf charm, and other paper bag crafts with a few choice materials. Use Mod Podge to cover a shoe box with the paper bag material, leaving a faux-leather look. Grab metallic acrylic paint and a silk leaf to make a metal-like decoration.
  • If you're more experienced, take the challenge to learn how to weave a paper basket in around 10 steps using any paper you have on hand. Using a cereal bowl as your template, weave strips of paper in rows following illustrated step-by-step instructions. Add a strip of paper to the top edge and a handle for a functional basket.

Seasonal Projects

If you like to change your home décor to match the season, these crafts are for you.

  • spring wreath
    Make a seasonal decorative wreath that moves from spring through summer to fall and winter with a few detail changes. Start with a pre-made grapevine wreath for a timeless look. Add artificial daffodils in spring, a bow and roses in summer, artificial leaves in fall, and pussy willows in winter.
  • Snowflake craft projects capture the spirit of winter weather in beautiful decorative pieces. The lace snowflake decoration requires cutting designs out of lace and hand-stitching them together to form an elegant applique or hanging decoration.
  • Celebrate autumn with 15 fall centerpiece ideas inspired by flowers, gourds, apples and pears. Create a chrysanthemum pumpkin by sticking flower buds into small holes made in the outer part of a whole pumpkin. Make rustic candleholders with glass canning jars decorated with raffia. Line the bottom with walnuts, fill with water and add a floating candle to complete the project.

Outdoor Crafts

Enjoy the sunshine and spruce up your garden with some fun and easy outdoor crafts.

  • DIY garden markers made from sticks and rocks are simple to make and look adorable. Use waterproof markers to write plant names on shaved sides of small branches to use as vegetable garden markers. A little exterior latex paint dresses up rocks that serve as garden decorations or planting markers.
  • Get crafty with plants and accessories indoors by creating a terrarium. Any clear glass, plastic or acrylic container works for this project. To start, line the bottom of the container with layers of sand, gravel or glass beads. Add in some easy-care plants like succulents or cactuses to finish off the living mini landscape.

Holiday Crafts

Make the holidays more festive with homemade gifts and decorations. Crafts for large holidays, like Christmas are easy to come by. Projects for less elaborate holidays provide a unique perspective.

  • For Valentine's Day and other holidays including those you love, like a grandchild's birthday, learn how to make a beaded heart. Excellent dexterity is a must for this small project. You'll need some wire, round nose pliers, and pink or red seed beads to make this simple heart-shaped pendant. Turn the heart into jewelry, an ornament, or use it to embellish gift wrapping.
  • Send out spooky Halloween cards you print and fold featuring a ghost, Frankenstein, or pumpkin. Download the free templates and print on cardstock to use. Add paint to enhance colors or small embellishments for a more finished look.

Explore Creativity

Arts and crafts projects pass the time in an enjoyable way that will also last beyond those moments. Creativity is an individual experience whose exploration is often more coveted than the final project.

Arts and Crafts for Senior Citizens