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story.lead_photo.caption Unique Creations displays examples of designs done on the pottery available. This display shows a heart-shaped plate that was clearly decorated by someone far more talented than I. Madeleine Leroux/News Tribune

The new normal means more time at home for all of us, and many may be searching for more productive ways to pass the time than another binging session on Netflix.

Crafts are a great way to more productively, and enjoyably, pass the time. If you're not normally a very crafty person, there's a lot of ways to try out smaller projects or activities.

Try an adult coloring book — it combines the serenity of childhood coloring with the obscenities of adulthood. I have a few of my own and tin of colored pencils and markers on hand; it's a surprisingly stress-reducing activity, something a lot of us could use more of right now.

Plus, you don't have to be a good artist to enjoy it.

I've always loved painting but have absolutely zero talent for it. When local shop Unique Creations began offering take-home DIY kits with everything needed to paint your own pottery, I quickly decided to try it out.

The shop at 120 E. High St. offers a wide variety of items to be painted, from plates and bowls to decorative statues and piggy banks. As public health concerns kept more people home, the shop altered its offerings and began putting together kits with different pieces of pottery to be painted.

I picked out a kit of a heart-shaped plate, small dip bowl and two fun signs. With the kit came six small cups of paint in colors I was able to pick out at the store and three brushes in different sizes. The overall cost for all four items and everything I needed to paint, including any applicable sales tax, was $49.55.

The instructions were clear and simple: When painting, apply three coats to achieve the desired color; use water to rinse the brush in between colors; and if the paint doesn't go on glossy, you have not put enough paint on the brush.

Over the next few days, I spent time on each piece. Not being particularly talented in this field meant I had to adjust during the process. (I originally thought I would put a miniature heart inside the heart-shaped plate. I tried to make my own stencil out of some heavier paper from a political ad mailed to my apartment. It went so much worse than I thought. I had to color the entire inside of the plate dark magenta to cover up my unpleasant center blob.)

After all the pieces were finished and dry, I boxed the kit right back up and dropped it off at the shop to be fired in the kiln and returned to me later.

Unfortunately, I can't show you the finished products. Returned kits are left to sit for a few days to help decrease the chances of any active virus still being on the items when shop employees begin to fire them in the kiln. And Unique Creations had to temporarily close its doors last week until at least April 11 as we all continue to social distance and try to slow the spread of COVID-19.

What I can say is the project helped give me something totally new to do, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the final versions. I know they won't be the prettiest pieces, but they will always remind me of this strange time in our lives.

For more projects that can be done with children, check out the JC Parks Facebook page and the Missouri River Regional Library Facebook page, as both organizations have been offering virtual programs. JC Parks has held several digital events that provide activities centered around a different subject, such as rainbows, farm, travel and Disney.

For more news about the COVID-19 coronavirus, access the News Tribune Health section.
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