Sunday, February 17, 2013

There are always exceptions....

Gal pal, Chinamommy and I were talking about how good parents let their children fail.
That's right.  You don't learn a lot if you don't ever encounter challenge.  And those that are afraid to fail never really challenge themselves to exceed expectations.  Yep.  Makes sense to us, right?  But not when it comes to art class.
Case in point.  This is a Valentine box.  Kayla's class was challenged with the task of creating a 'creative' container to hold their Valentines.  "What are we going to do?"  She asked.  "I don't know what YOU are going to do but you better get on it!"  I said.  Days went by.  "Why don't you tell me some of your ideas." I said.  They were insane.  Huge ideas with no concrete plan.  "And do you have some ribbon?" she asked.  "And do you have feathers?"  "Can we go buy some?"  "No, I don't have time to take you to buy things and I am not spending ANY MORE money on you until we go shopping for a prom dress.  I am not made of money and I am not the Bank of America.  So you had better figure out how YOU are going to do this project." 
Blank stare.
That's it.  I am the meanest, smallest person in the world.  Plus, ideas are popping into my head.  I fold.  But I shush my ideas and at least say "Draw me what you are thinking."  (A concept- right?  Educational- right?)
Well, strangely enough this was the second thing she drew me.  We can do this.  I can show her how to do paper mache.  If I can restrain myself, I can even have her do the bulk of the work.  This will make both of us grow.

It started out to be paper mache that she would paint and then cover (or goop up) with all kinds of ribbon and feathers and jewels.  You get the idea.  
I got out some chicken wire.  Everyone has chicken wire hanging around, right?  I showed her how to push and pull on it to shape it.  Then I let her take over and make the shape.  It was hard.  She didn't do it right.  Ok, she didn't do it my way...but I let that go.  By letting go I mean that I showed her a barbie doll and said- copy this- and then I left for a few minutes.  Man, it is hard to separate oneself from someone else's art and still .instruct.  Then I showed her how to mix flour in with white glue and we started draping paper towels over the frame.  This was so much easier for me as there really is no right or wrong way about that part- just drape it on the frame and let it dry.

The next day it was dry and she was pretty geeked about it.  So we moved on to the paper mache portion.  I showed her how to mix it- trickier than it may sound- when I was new to paper mache it took me a few times and some calls to Chinamommy to get the consistency right.  "It says it should be the consistency of toothpaste.  Is that how you do it?"  I would ask.  "No, more like oatmeal."  She would say.  "And its ok if your oatmeal has fruit and raisens in it.  Just keep working it until they go away."  Then we would discuss oatmeal vs. Malt O Meal and which one our Mothers made us eat..which would lead to questions like "Hey- remember Tang?  That was good stuff!"

We actually did a pretty good job of working together.  I showed her how to glop on the mache and smooth it out and smooth it out and smooth it out.  We discussed how big the boobs should be which was funny. 
'Mom!  You are making them too big!"  "Hardly," I said, "hardly.  Wait till we make the butt cheeks and they won't seem so big."

Then we left it to dry.  Three days later it was still not dry and  it became obvious we would not have time to paint it.  I explained to Kayla that the paint would trap moisture in the paper and eventually it would mold.  Black, deadly, killer of small children everywhere mold.  Our only choice to make the deadline was to ......DECOUPAGE it!!!!!  Yay!!! I tell ya...when you are as busy as I am and you long to make art but you know you don't have time to go to the really nice restaurant you only have time to go through the drive thru....decoupage will satisfy the hunger.


And Kayla really did do most of the decoupage herself.  Now, that's not to say I didn't touch up a few areas when her head was turned.  I did glue on the tulle because smart mom's don't let their kids use hot glue guns.  (Falls under the category of gun control and gun safety even if it doesn't use bullets.)
And don't you think that the first question out of my mouth wasn't "Did you win?" because you would be wrong- it was.  Turns out the third graders voted it 'Most colorful".  I'll take it- any kind of a win is a win.
Well, so much for letting your kid learn the lesson of failing.  I'm sure there will be other chances for her- like algebra and physics.  I'm learning to say "Ask your Father, he's smarter at math than me."  That works, believe it or not because what man wants to admit he's really not that smart?  And after that we can always rely on Google.  YOU can Google anything....amazing, but true.
Ok, folks- still no dollmaking going on here, but I do have some ideas popping in from time to time.  And in the mean time.. getting a little art therapy in the form of glue, tissue paper, napkins and markers.  Can't complain about that!



  1. LOL I loved it!! My boys are now 14 and 24 and I have been through this, it's not easy!! Our last project was a Spartan paper mache went about the same as yours above ;) We did get an A on the project LOL.

  2. I love that dress, the design is a true work of art.


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