Wednesday, November 14, 2012

holiday crafts you can do with kids, part 2

this is another one i sorta made up as i went along: a papier mache snowman!  and bonus, this one isn't so christmas-oriented.  i was very aware during the parade we were in last weekend how excluded people of different faiths must have felt.  santa hats for everyone!  except, you know, a lot of people.  most of the crafts i'll be posting here are non-denominational, 'cause that's mostly how we heathens roll.  (although i totally realize that a snowman is excluding any australian readers, who are just entering summer now...oh lord, you just can't win.)

this craft took place over the course of three different "pwoject" sessions, each one a good small length of time for a little one's attention span.  (i find that some of the more elaborate projects we embark upon sometimes end in me getting frustrated with sho and finishing it myself, which is basically the opposite of the point of making art with your kids.)  it started when shosh was running around like a bored madwoman one night and i said, "sho, i'm about to introduce you to a glorious thing called papier mache.  it is super messy."  actually, this entire (kind of ugly but rather dear) decorative craft involves a lot of messy, beloved-by-kids steps, in three easily do-able steps.

1.  blow up some balloons in small-medium-large sizes (we originally did three, but the smallest one was mysteriously lost along the way).  shred up a bunch of thin strips of newspaper.  mix together flour and water until it becomes a gloppy paste.  set the balloons in small bowls or cups for stability, then dip the newspaper strips in the flour/water mixture and place all around the balloon, until it's entirely covered in newspaper.  then, set it aside for a few days.  lose the head somewhere.  once it's totally dry, pop the balloons and pull them out, leaving only the papier mache shell.

2.  rummage around to find some sort of base to anchor the snowman to - i used a leftover slate tile from my parents' bathroom, but a flat scrap of wood would work fine too or really anything sturdy and flat.  get out the hot glue gun (woohoo!), and glue the biggest sphere to your anchoring device, with the hole from the balloon facing down.  continue in this fashion until everything is glued together.  then dig around in your basement until you find a bucket of old white house paint.  chip away at said rusted bucket until it finally pops open, revealing rock-solid paint from the clinton administration.  go back into your basement to find another slightly less-old bucket of white paint.  repeat, this time with better results.  (note: you could also just use ordinary white paint, if you are not a hillbilly.)  give your kid a paintbrush and let them go to town!  the fact that they are using super-permanent house paint will give this phase of the project a thrilling sense of imminent danger.

3.  let the paint dry for a couple days, then collect some odds and ends from around the house and yard to decorate the snowman with: a scrap of fabric for the scarf, some black felt for the hat, branches for the arms, ribbon, yarn, buttons and stones.  shoshi had a lot of fun picking these out, and i let her choose whatever she wanted.  sometimes it's hard not to get all control-freaky about projects like this, because you are (probably) much more capable of making an extraordinarily artistic papier mache snowman than your toddler, but try to reign it in and embrace the sweet ugliness of what they create!  it's much better for everyone this way.  get out the hot glue gun, and glue the buttons and eyes and such wherever your kiddo wants you to.  i made a top hat by cutting out a large felt circle, gluing a rectangle of felt in a circle inside it, and placing a smaller circle on top of that.  the whole time we were doing this, we used the spanish words for the parts of the body we were adding to the snowman.  educational!

so you know, the end result is probably not going to make it into martha stewart living, but holy heck did sho have fun making it, every step of the way.  and she was so proud of the finished product.  total cost: nada.  

i was such a "project" kid myself; my mom still teases me about it.  that has kind of given way to sewing and occasional design-type stuff, like cards and other words, the two art forms that i'm the best at.  it feels good to revisit the days of just making things for the basic fun of making a big mess, and turning a pile of scraps into something you made - perfectly beautiful or not.

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1 comment:

  1. i love that last picture! definitely martha stewart worthy.