Let's get crafting - “Mum, can we do painting?”
When you hear those words spring from your little darling’s mouth, do you reach for the brushes before the words are through? Or does your heart sink with dread. Crafting with children certainly seems to split people in a way that makes politics and savoury spreads seem uniting. But if you are a naysayer, a reluctant maker, a paint-phobe, there may be ways that keep you in your comfort zone while you satisfy your child’s creative desires.
A good place to start is with what you enjoy doing yourself.
Are you a baker? Making cakes with the kids can seem filled with potential for everyone to start crying over spilt milk, but with some forward preparation, you can minimise the mess. Make your life easy, get all the ingredients and equipment out on the work surface before you start. If you realise you are missing a vital ingredient for your Unicorn Rainbow Honey cakes, try to sell them the Chocolate Sprinkle Mud Muffins instead!
Who among us yarny art lovers have stashes of impulsively purchased wool balls we would love to put to good use? Snipping yarn is fun for someone getting used to using scissors, and simple activities such as wrapping bright wool around a stick make for a surprisingly attractive decoration and great to add to the ‘Precious Stick Collection’.
For those parents who enjoy crafting with their kids, the sky is the limit. Local Rutland artist Sally Renner has two children who get to try out all manner of crafts that would give other mothers palpitations.
You might expect an artist to be good at this stuff, and Sally certainly is. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t learnt some lessons the hard way. “When they were little I used to decide what we were going to make or do, but now they are older they ask me for something in particular and sometimes I think, ‘Oh, really?!’ but it usually works out ok!” Sally is an advocate of getting things ready first. “Preparation is key!” she says, “I put a bowl of soapy water and a towel nearby before we even start, and the kids wear an apron, and so do I!”
Her biggest success, measured by the kids’ enjoyment and engagement, was a Roald Dahl themed table with a range of activities, like making snozzcumbers, filling dream jars and creating labels for small bottles of Frobscottle (recipes online!). “The children loved it and keep asking for us to do again, which we have a few times!”.
Sally’s artwork of paper layered drawings are usually black and white and very precise, with imagery inspired by the local wildlife and nature. So how does she manage with glitter and general chaos that children can generate while they create? “I see it as a process, that while they are younger it is not about the end creation, but about exploring the materials and building their confidence.
As they develop and learn there might be more to show for the efforts but playing around with it all that is valuable in itself. Also, I often invite a friend over with their kids, and then there’s someone to chat with while we tidy up!”.
Another tip she gives is to keep hold of packaging that might be good for junk modeling, such as egg cartons, tubs, and prettily patterned cardboard. “Then when they suddenly ask to make something I don’t have to rifle through the recycling bin!”
Sally overflows with ideas; “Plaiting bread dough or making monkey bread (recipe online), or using brush pens which feel like painting but don’t make a mess and make them feel grown-up.
Unrolling a roll of brown paper and covering it in painted footprints is a good outside activity! You can then use it for wrapping paper. Even dried lentils on a tray can occupy a little one as they push them into patterns, or a toy car on a plate of flour which they pretend is snow.”
You can find Sally and her beautiful Rutland-inspired artwork on Instagram @SallyRoseRenner
Author Lucy Tervet