And this is how I lured them in…
Rubber stamp carving: not a forgiving project, but if nobody ends up bleeding, I call it a win. The Speedy-Cut rubber blocks were gouged, scraped, picked at, sliced and trimmed with both scissors and knives. Those kids meant business. And as I explained to one of the most frustrated ones, it’s okay if this doesn’t end up being his favorite kind of art. The rubber won’t mind, and neither will I.
I gave a brief safety talk, a bit about positive and negative space (with my samples above showing two different styles of carving), showed them a couple of pictures from Making an Impression: Designing & Creating Artful Stamps by the amazing Gennine Zlatkis, and encouraged them to draw in pencil first, before picking up the Speedball carving tools. There was some sketching on paper and then transferring to rubber, consulting photos online, inspiration from Geninne’s book, and even some moms got a chance to carve. Definitely a win. 🙂
Check out Carving Eraser Stamps: Small but Mighty next.
Sometimes my kids aren’t interested in a Fabulous Exciting Amazing Art Project I think they’ll love. I’m not terribly surprised when this happens. They’ve trained me well. Sometimes they love things I think they’ll hate, and sometimes they hate things I think they’ll love. That’s life, and they have every right to their opinions.
If it’s that Fabulous and Amazing, I’m either already doing it myself, or I’m about to start doing it. There aren’t any “kid’s art projects” around here. There’s just Art, regardless of age, entirely dependent on the artists’ interests and abilities: if you can whittle it, draw it, paint it, go for it. This is great for a lot of reasons—supplies are shared within the family, kids have access to good-quality materials, and projects can be done alongside siblings and adults. It helps young artists feel that what they’re doing is “real” art (if there was ever any question), and I don’t end up painting with crappy watercolors at the kitchen table by myself. I may be painting with really nice watercolors at the kitchen table by myself, and in that case I’m probably having a grand old time. Often enough, seeing me doing a project they previously rejected gets them inspired to try it, or bring a different project to do alongside me. Mail Art, case in point:
I needed to send a small package that had been on my to-do list for at least two months. It contained a couple of old postcards, but required an updated note because it had been sitting there so long. Mail Art I can handle. Getting to the post office, not so much. I wasn’t in much of a mood to write, but doodle? Sure thing. I ripped a page out of a magazine I’d gotten from the library’s free bin (aka “Take This Junk We Don’t Want It”) that was destined for altered book/collage projects, and began sketching, scribbling, commenting, generally enjoying the heck out of myself. My kids wandered by, intrigued. I filled both sides of the page.
In it goes with the old letters, and a tiny hand-bound gift in a tiny package:
It was a few days later that I was going through some mail art samples for a class, when my older kids asked when we were doing Mail Art. I jogged their memories: “You said you didn’t want to.”
They stared at me. “We want to!”
“Okay, then. Tomorrow.”
Make something look interesting by enjoying it yourself, and they’ll probably join you. Be warned about reversing this process: it doesn’t work on ice cream. No matter how unhappy you look while eating it, they’ll still want some.