Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Paging Martha Stewart

Alright, remember how I just said that crafty blogs are totally not up my alley? And nevermind that I went and fell in love with a vintage Valentine wreath craft. Well, I am just wondering if any of y'all are crafty. I know some of you are. Like I said, I am not a big fan of most kids' crafts. It seems like you have to help them a lot to create something that has no use and may or may not look like anything in the end. On the other hand, I am a sucker for homemade Christmas ornaments, leaf rubbings or the iron-y wax paper-y leaf things, and anything with pom poms or clothespins or pipe cleaners and googly eyes. Well, maybe not anything. What I am not a big fan of is most things made with adhesive foamy cutouts, most hats (because do we have to keep it with the toys and watch it get smooshed and trampled and eventually void of any resemblance to the original project before we can finally throw it away?! why yes, we do! i realize that only takes like three weeks, but it still bugs the tar out of me), anything made with toilet paper tubes, or things that are trying hard but mostly look like trash (like things made with toilet paper tubes). And I abhor clip art! I want them to do it themselves. But I want it to be simple enough that it can still look nice- like watercolors. Watercolors always look great! Even a two year old's watercolor is perfect. In the same way, Martha Stewart's foamy cutout picture frame would not be cute. Because foamy cutouts are ugly. And the pipe cleaner/pom pom craft is so classically kindergarten, how could you not love it? See, it's the medium, I think. 

I loved art as a kid. I begged my mother for art lessons regularly. One of my more memorable art projects from when I was Amabel's age was one where we dropped a really long, wadded up piece of string and placed a piece of paper over it and did a crayon rubbing. We then had to find a picture using the lines from the rubbing as our outline and color in the appropriate spaces to make an image. I enjoyed it quite a bit. I did two, "A Lady Yelling" and "A Duck on a Stool." They both made it into the art show! We also made candles in sand with melted down crayons one time. My class made purple ones, but I felt bad for Rachael's class, theirs were all a nasty brownish green. Anything that later went into a kiln was also great fun. But there were definitely some lame ones. I think it depended on the school. I went to six different elementary schools, meaning, of course, that I had six different art teachers. I had Mrs. Husband at one point, who somehow made pillows with first graders! The pillow is still at my parents' house, and while I don't remember the classes in which it was worked on, something tells me all we did was put in the stuffing. Later I had Mrs. Short, who often let us work with clay or oil pastels. She was awesome. She was also responsible for the string art and another project where we did a sort of Word World type thing (twenty years before Word World) and made the letters of our chosen word into the image. Being the brilliant, abstract thinking eight year old that I was, I chose the word "broken" and carefully cut each letter to look like a break would in some sort crackable pottery, and then also arranged the letters so that the word looked broken. I know, it was genius! I got that one in the show too! 

Now, lest I sound like a horn tooter supreme, let us not neglect the fact that in the ninth grade, I enrolled in Mrs. Henderson's art class and had no idea what I was in for. I, naturally, sat between two of my best friends in the class, Matt and Evie. And if you know Matt and Evie, then you are already laughing. Because Evie is a professional artist and art educator now, and is more gifted than you can imagine. And while Matt has chosen to pursue performance arts by trade (after scholarship and education and um yes, Broadway), he is no less of a visual artist. These things often surface in high school, and I had the pleasure of sitting between the two as their genius became widely known, whilst my attempts were routinely (and good naturedly) ridiculed by one and all. It was quite humbling to go from having been the star in elementary school (or at least I felt that way) to the absolute worst in high school. But it is no one's fault- except maybe my mom's for not giving me those lessons! (wink) I did turn out a rather lovely oil pastel rendering of Georgia O'Keefe's Red Poppy with Matt's helpful suggestions, but I do not know what has become of it since. I also managed to sneak back into an art class during my senior year, after making sure it was one that Matt and Evie had already breezed their way through, of course! 

Anyway, all of that is to say that I enjoy art. I truly do. But I have not mentioned some of the more dreadful "crafts" I endured in the name of art. Most of the really bad ones were done all at the same school, a school I only attended for one semester... but the artwork was so bad that it seems like an eternity. (Y'all know I'm kidding with that line, right?) We did one where we traced our hands on construction paper and then also made our faces out of construction paper. We then glued our hands over our faces with a Kleenex in between. What?! Who thought of that?! We also cut out construction paper penguins and glued them on light blue paper. Then we cut up styrofoam coffee cups to make an iceberg for the penguin and glued them flat on the paper as well. That was it. I mean, y'all, that one is bad. Once we just cut up magazines, only they were more like catalogs for SMC (you know, the Tom Bosley knick knack pyramid scheme thing), and glued the pictures we liked on construction paper. It was all like porcelain statues and flowers- maybe a wishing well here or there... I can't be sure. 

Point (of this post) being, I don't want to do 90% of the junky crafts on the internet, because most of them are not even as good as the coffee cup iceberg one. But I don't have time to sort through them all to find the really cool ones. If you have all quite forgiven me for my jabs at crafty blogs from before, I would love your help. Here are my upcoming units that I would love to work some sort of art project into. I promise I won't make fun of your suggestions (well, at least not to your face or on my blog-wink-please tell me the winks are understood without having to be printed by now!), so let me know if you have any cute ideas. If I use yours, I promise I'll make you cookies! Ooooh, or biscotti! Thanks!

Birds- oh man, anything birdish would be great! 
American Icons/ Presidents- Uncle Sam, Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty, Flag, Mount Rushmore, George Washington, Abe Lincoln, etc.
Groundhog Day (shadows, not groundhogs, but I am thinking of doing something with sausage. you know, because it's ground hog? hee hee!)


annie said...

Anna Maria Horner and DesignSponge have crafts sometimes. Have you checked for Martha Stewart Kids magazines? I've had a few of those in years past and they had great recipes and good ideas for seasonal crafts/experiments for kids. Maybe they even have stuff online.

I avoid kid's crafts like the plague.

wp said...

we made these birds and they were easy and fun...

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