I am in the midst of gathering gifts for my niece Grace. I’m trying to buy as little as possible, not because I am a tightwad (although I am) but as a matter of principle. I’m disheartened by how much our society purchases and how little we actually make. William Morris had concerns that the Industrial Revolution would destroy the craft spirit and I fear he was, once again, right on target. What is particularly perverse was my instinct to run to the local craft store to BUY craft materials in order to make home-made toys. Madness.
I did succumb (thus far) to one purchased gift, a book (actually several, but books are exempt from my embrace of stoicism).
It is a charming book , called The Art Room, it’s meant for children my niece’s age, kindergarten through 1st and 2nd grade. Lots of funny craft ideas such as making your own throne *(everyone needs a throne), imaginative button crafts and refashioning junk shop frames into gilded masterpieces.
What I loved was that most projects started with materials culled from the trash bin and the recycling can. I wanted to make sure Grace would have as little trouble as possible following the instructions so I tested some of the projects in my studio, mostly wooden spoon/junk drawer puppets and what the authors called Portrait Plates-chipped chinaware tarted up with paint and glitter and silliness.
The following are the three puppets I made for Grace, The Trashcan Trio:
The point of the puppets was to use only what I could find in the jumble of my garage and studio, I rummaged through my fabric box, my toolbox, my holiday wrapping center and the garden shed. Fortunately I have a lot of crap and was able to rather quickly cobble together this trio. I think they are funny and I hope Grace gets a kick out of them. More importantly I hope she is inspired to make her own.
I also followed directions for a portrait plate, the authors were channeling Picasso’s wonderful ceramics and I’m going to pop a small volume of the master’s work into my niece’s gift box. Never to young to meet Pablo.
This is a lot of silliness, but I hope Grace has fun with it.
She is quite the budding artist, my sister Kat is drowning in her “masterpieces”- that is what my niece very immodestly calls everything she makes. I envy her hubris.
My thought was if Grace had actual examples she might be inclined to craft her own. I hope so.
I will be shipping it all out at the end of the week to Philadelphia, I wish I could be there and have craft time with her personally. This will have to suffice.
I have , after taking Clive’s lead, carved a bookplate for Grace. I will run an imprint in the a.m., eager to see the result.
Until next time,