I’ve always been rubbish at craft. If I’m honest I lack in most skills mothers through the ages have had in their arsenal – cooking, cleaning, and patience. But I’m particularly crap at craft. The best thing I ever made was this rustic layette:
But it took the whole nine months of my pregnancy with Rufus, and two virtual reknits by a very talented knitter friend. Needless to say I didn’t bother to make any special heirloom knitwear when I was pregnant with Zadie.
And since that knitting extravaganza, I haven’t produced any noteworthy craft. Recently the kids and I were drawing together, and Rufus stuck one of my sketches of a “dog” on the fridge out of filial pi(e)ty. When Joel came into the kitchen later that day he said “Hmm, I think Rufus is falling behind his peers in drawing animals.” FOR REAL.
Today, though, was a good craft day! Zadie woke up at 5.45am, her Sunday specialty. It hurts every week. Three hours in, it was raining lightly, and I was flagging. The kids were ramping up into full maniac mode. I let them ride their bikes outside on the slick tiles, all the better for me to sit on an outdoor chair. The little one wore odd accessories of her own choosing.
After quite a few catastrophic Fisher Price vehicular write-offs, I nobly rallied the energy to organise an inside activity for them. I had remembered a fantastic blog post I’d seen about upcycling kindy art, and nowhere is such a project more needed than in our house. Ru has been going to kinder five days a week for the 18 months we’ve been here, and brought home a few paintings nearly all of those days. He also has a weekly art class that he brings paintings home from. And I am a hoarder (and also have a guilt complex about not being good enough at craft to do crafty things with him), so I’ve kept every single one of his art works. The current favourites are hung with pegs on a string above the play area in the loungeroom. The rest are stuffed into bags and stored in the little room under the stairs, at the expense of all sorts of other stuff we have to leave lying around the house instead, like our doonas in their vac-shrinking bags so they don’t get mouldy through the long humid summer, and Joel’s tool collection. Remember that this is the most expensive city (for housing) in the world. So filling up a valuable storage area with plastic bags full of scribbles and pipe cleaners is the probably the biggest waste of square-footage in the entire region. And it’s nearly full to bursting. Sometimes I venture in there to look for something and when I open the door, little clouds of glitter puff out. It’s actually quite magical!
So you can see why I was interested in doing this project – (a) it would kill the rest of the time until Zadie’s nap; and (b) it would get rid of at least 50 of Rufus’s paintings. Mother of the year right here.
We began by opening a few random bags of paintings and selecting a mix of colours and painting techniques. That’s one of the good things about using kinder paintings for this project. They’re always painting using forks, dry pasta, rocks etc to “explore the environment through texture” or some shit (or save on paintbrushes?).
Rufus was very sweet. Some of the long-forgotten artwork was taken up to his room to go on the shelves behind his bed, where all his best treasures live: “Mama, let’s not cut this one because it’s very special to me.” There were heaps of exciting finds, like these binoculars made out of toilet rolls:
I then hastily cut the whole lot into little squares and rectangles before Rufus could change his mind. Or before Zadie could execute any more of her own “artwork” as seen here all over the back of the goddamn couch.
Next up was gluing it all together. We found this blank canvas at the dumpster a while ago and the kids brought it home and painted a “masterpiece” on it together, which they have insisted on leaving in the loungeroom, even though it’s REALLY UGLY AND SHIT. I was able to easily convince them that this new project was going to be way better, and they agreed to repurpose the canvas. ANOTHER WIN FOR THIS PROJECT.
If you can believe it, we also had the right glue (obviously not in my “well-stocked craft cupboard” but for some handyman project Joel must have had to do one time I guess). Naturally it would be too much to ask that we would have the appropriate paintbrush. After turning out the actually quite scanty craft cupboard, which usually at least harbours a couple of paintbrushes among its piles of cotton wool, coloured paper and crayons, I was a little annoyed to find this handle-less paintbrush was the only painting implement of any kind in there.
This minor requisitions set-back may have given pause to a more crafty mum, who would have called off the project until she could obtain a better glue-spreading implement, but I’ve never let the wrong equipment hold me back before, especially when doing so means changing out of my extremely comfortable house attire as pictured above. The good thing about being shit at craft/creating is you can have really low standards, do everything in a completely ad hoc fashion, and then either meet your own expectations of mediocrity, or surprise yourself with a smashing victory. YOU CAN’T LOSE.
And in this case, we didn’t. I tipped the glue straight onto the canvas in big fast-drying pools, then smushed it around quickly with the “paintbrush” as the kids completed the arrangement of coloured squares. You can see in the original link for this project that it took that lady a whole evening. We took approximately 48 minutes and I reckon ours looks almost as good! Clearly we didn’t bother with the final step of applying a light lacquer; that would be just too semi-professional. And their arrangement of squares looks rather more planned out. But all in all, I couldn’t be much happier with just about every aspect of this project.
Behold 18 months of kinder paintings created into one pretty sweet collage. I call it ‘Space Time Continuum’ in a nod to both the space it has saved in our house, and the time that has passed in the production of its constituent pieces:
Come back next Sunday when I set the kids to crocheting tea-cosies for all our relatives in preparation for our trip back to Australia shortly. Or else manage to convince them to watch Disney Junior for two hours so I can nap on the couch. Either or.