Use your Cricut cutting machine to make colored pencil art easy for seniors living with dementia.
Art creation – with results she is happy with – is one of those things dementia has stolen from Mom. Simple adult coloring books have their place, but sometimes it’s fun to do something a little artsier.
Fortunately, the magic of Cricut (or another cutting machine) can make artsy art creation possible for some seniors who are beginning to struggle with fine motor skills and concentration. This project consists of creating a design template to color by cutting simple outlines out of vinyl and then transferring them to watercolor paper or canvas. The vinyl is slightly raised and makes perfect borders to help shaky hands stay inside the lines. The result is a piece your senior is sure to be proud of! My mom was.
For this project, you’ll need a simple art design, cutting machine, vinyl, colored pencils, watercolor paper, and a few other Cricut-related tools and supplies (a complete list is below). Even if you just got a cutting machine (or you’ve had it for a while and it’s still in the box – ahem), you can cut this out! This makes a great beginner Cricut project.
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How to Make a Colored Pencil Art Template Using Your Cricut
Easy Colored Pencil Art for Seniors starts with a simple dementia-friendly art design in a file format you can upload to your cutting machine software. (If you’re new to the world of cutting machines and that sounds hard, don’t panic. It’s not.) I found an outline on Design Bundles ( a marketplace with tons of Cricut-friendly designs) I thought would work. This design is a little more complex than things I usually choose for my mom, but since she would be using colored pencils for this one (which gives her a little more control), I decided to give it a try. Your senior may need a design that is less busy or may be able to handle a more complicated design depending on their functioning level.
I chose Spring Papercut Monograms by Tatiana Designs.
I was able to use this design as-is with no modification other than adding the correct monogram. Love it when I find stuff like that! Design Bundles is a great place to find inexpensive and free ready-to-go designs. I use them all the time.
Since this cut file was ready to go, I just uploaded it into Cricut Design Space, added the monogram, and cut it out with my Cricut Maker. Then it was time to weed and transfer the design to watercolor paper. That’s it! The design is ready for your senior to color!
The vinyl did a great job helping my mid-stage Alzheimer’s Mom stay inside the lines, and the thick watercolor paper and nice colored pencils gave it a real artsy art vibe. Mom loved it and asked me to make more for her.
So here’s how to make this!
EASY COLORED PENCIL ART FOR SENIORS: DEMENTIA CRICUT CRAFT
- A Cricut, Silhouette, or other craft cutting machine
- An SVG file of a simple art design conducive to coloring (I used this one from Design Bundles.)
- Vinyl compatible with your cutting machine (I used Cricut Removeable Matte Premium Vinyl.)
- Transfer tape (I used Cricut brand)
- Watercolor paper (We used this paper. It’s super thick which I think really contributed to the project looking nice and giving Mom the feeling this was “adult art”.)
- Colored pencil set
- Cutting machine – I used the original Cricut Maker, but any cutting machine will do as long as it will cut a project the size you would like. (The Cricut Joy has a maximum cutting width of 4.5 inches. A design this size would probably be too small for my mom but might work for your senior, especially if she is in the early stages of dementia.)
- Cricut Standard Grip Mat 12″ X 12″
- Weeding tool
1 Find and download an SVG cut file design. Design Bundles has low cost and free designs. I look for simple black and white line designs. Stay away from designs with tons of lines and tiny sections. When you find a design, ask yourself how hard it will be to weed. The easier the design is to weed, the better it is for this project.
2 Upload your SVG file to Cricut Design Space and add it to your canvas. Sometimes designs come into Cricut Design Space gigantic. Be sure to resize it to fit your watercolor paper or canvas. Make any edits your design needs. Mine just needed me to add the monogram.
3 Select all layers and click attach.
4 Apply a piece of vinyl to a standard grip mat. Your vinyl should be large enough for your design.
5 Click Make It, then Continue. Load your mat into your cutting machine and start the cut. Now sit back while Cricut works her magic. Mom loves watching the Cricut cut.
6 When the cut is complete, remove the mat. Now it’s time to weed. If you’re new to cutting vinyl on a cutting machine, weeding is the process of removing the extra vinyl once the design is cut. For this project, you’ll be removing the vinyl from the areas that will be colored. Some people like to remove the vinyl from the mat before weeding and others like to weed it on the mat. Do what works best for you! I’m usually an “off the mat” weeder.
Some people LOVE weeding!
Some do not. 🙋♀️
Depending on the intricacy of the design, and your senior’s fine motor skills and safety with the sharp weeding tools, weeding might be something your senior could do. My mom can’t really see well enough to weed, so I do this for her.
7 Once the design is weeded, transfer it to watercolor paper using transfer tape.
8 It’s ready! Give your senior a nice set of colored pencils and let her create!
If you try a Cricut coloring craft with your senior, I’d love to see it! Post it in our dementia activity group over on Facebook! Not a member? You can join here: Alzheimer’s Activity Zone FB Group.