It started with a quiet, stirred excitement. Appetizers and drinks were ordered, and as we sat around the table at Stumble Inn 2 in Plainview, there was a mixture of elements—small, low chatter interspersed with laughter, sometimes two or three conversations layered and overlapping and colored Sharpies being shared among us all. 

“Who has the purple marker?” someone asks, glancing up from her coloring.

COLORING OUTSIDE THE LINES

The objects we colored were a bit unusual from what might normally be used at a coloring party. They are not the typical pages from the adult coloring books seen in bookstores. Instead, we attended a Thirty-One Gifts party led by independent consultant, Amy Kastler. Our project for the party was a small, canvas container or tote called an Oh Snap Bin. 

The canvas container has a black background with a white pattern that is designed to be colored. Each tote has a slightly different outline, so each one will be individualized to the person coloring it.

“These are so useful. It’s not like regular coloring on paper. It’s purposeful and productive,” Gina Ihrke, one of the guests, says. 

The black background soaks up any imperfections, making the project surprisingly forgiving. “You don’t even have to stay within the lines,” Marie Zabel says. “You can’t mess it up.”

At first, it seemed as if working with the totes would be awkward. They are three-dimensional objects, after all, and not a flat sheet of paper. It turned out to be an easy task, as most of us placed one hand inside the tote for stability and colored happily away with our marker in the other.

COLORING FRIENDSHIPS

Over and over I heard my friends tell one another how much fun they were having at the party. What makes coloring so relaxing and fun? “It does release endorphins and slows your mind down,” Liz Bechel, our resident art therapist, tells us. 

Just like friendships, our coloring party allowed us to relax with one another. We discussed what it means to be a good friend. To one, it meant honesty. To another, loyalty. 

“This is something we could do all winter long,” Sue Sandberg Tangen says, as she contemplates planning a coloring party for children at the library where she works. 

Rachel sits down with Amy to plan the next party that she will host. We all hope we can attend the next one.

COLORING FOR A CAUSE

Joanne Melbostad first started coloring to relax. She bought several books such as “Color Me Calm:  100 Coloring Templates for Meditation and Relaxation” by Lacy Mucklow and Angela Porter and a package of colored pencils. This was the beginning of her coloring journey. She enjoyed how freeing it felt to color. 

“It doesn’t have to be totally perfect,” she says. “I just like to have fun with it.”

Then she wondered what she was going to do with all the colored pages that had helped her relax. Her answer was to give back this calming gift to others in the form of “cheer cards.”

Cheer cards are pages of coloring that Joanne adheres to cardstock. She cuts out the colored portion and turns the pages into cards. She works with her church congregation and makes about 10-15 of these a month. In essence, Joanne is coloring the gift of friendship—a gift that always
gives back. 

Kim Zabel, a Plainview-based freelance writer and photographer, is a musician, artist, Zumba instructor and lover of the land here in Minnesota.

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