The Bearded Iris

A Recalcitrant Wife and Mother Tells All

The Best Family Craft We Ever Made (and Survived)

I don’t enjoy crafting with kids. Especially groups of kids. Especially MY kids. I know it is wrong to feel this way and I don’t care. When I craft, I craft alone.

Allow me to elaborate.

Crafting with kids is messy. This creates more work for me. I have enough cleaning to do without purposefully adding to the colorful array of permanent stains in my home.

Crafting with kids is frustrating. The kids never do what I want them to do with the materials and I have a problem with that. (Can you say “control issues”?)

Crafting with kids is too time consuming. Especially when you factor in the time it takes to remove something like decoupage medium from clothes, hair, and walls.

Crafting with kids can be expensive and wasteful. How many times have I shelled out moolah for kid-friendly knitting needles, latch hooking kits, sock monkey making supplies, an authentic full sized weaving loom, etc.? It would be one thing if they ever actually completed one of these crafts. But have they? Ever? No. No they have not.

Crafting with kids is bad for the environment. See above. Do we really need more nylon potholders, paper machéd Mardi Gras masks, or sock monkeys in the landfills? In addition, the amount of kid-generated dust-catching clutter in my home is surely not good for air quality.

Crafting with kids can be dangerous. Did I ever tell you about the time that Mini-Me ran my sewing machine needle right through her finger tip? No? Well that’s because it hasn’t happened yet. But it totally could if I ever got my sewing machine out of the closet and let her use it with me, which I never will because it is too damn dangerous.

There. Have I made my point?

Alas, being a crafty woman myself (as in one who likes to craft, not one who is clever and calculating), I do feel for my children when they get that urge to make stuff. And sometimes, when the stars align, I actually break down and do it.

One day last summer we spontaneously decorated a vinyl table cloth and it turned out to be the best family crafting experience we ever had.

Here, take a look:

family craft idea: painted table cloth

Isn’t that fabulous?

It was ridiculously easy too. And not too messy. Or frustrating. Or bad for the environment. Or dangerous!

Here’s all you need:

As you can see, I have absolutely no brand loyalty or preferences when it comes to acrylic paint. Use what you have… it will be fine. For some reason, acrylic paint bonds to the vinyl and doesn’t wash off, even when you are scrubbing melted wax or dried up three-day-old marinara sauce.

That two yards of marine vinyl will run you about $20 if you accidentally leave your 40% off coupon from Joanne’s Fabric at home like I did that day. Story of my life. Anyhooo….the reason I like this fabric is that it is very thick and heavy and doesn’t slide around on my table. Plus, it is waterproof, light-fast, antifungal, and antimicrobial! Shit, I should make play clothes for the kids out this miracle fabric. Oooh, slip covers for the couches! One word of warning – this fabric will melt if you put a hot pan or casserole dish on it, so don’t. Or if you do, just cover that melty spot with a pretty potted plant like so:

So here’s how we did it, step by step:

1.) Pick a palette of colors that YOU like. This is important. Don’t let the kids pick the paint colors or your tablecloth could end up looking like a Tampon Box went to the circus and got its face painted by drunk color blind clown with daddy issues. Trust me on this one. I’m sure the proper way to do art with kids is to let the kids choose the colors, but no, sorry, not gonna happen at my house.

2.) Using the main color (of your choice), paint big bold swirly tadpole-like shapes all over the cloth. I was trying to create a funky paisley print. But if that’s not your bag, I think big circles of various sizes would look very cool too.

3.) Let these shapes dry. That’s important. It doesn’t take that long. Go fold some laundry, or stir the stew, or eat some bonbons and take the Dr. Oz quiz of the day.

4.) Once dry, let each of your kids pick a shape to paint. I gave each kid a styrofoam meat tray and a few blobs of each color and just let them go to town… in that very small defined swirly tadpole shape. One shape at a time. Evenly divvied up between the three kids. We left a few shapes blank on purpose. Sometimes less really is more.

And that is it!

As you can see, I let them totally express themselves and didn’t try to micromanage how each finished paisley shape turned out. But that wasn’t stressful for a control freak like me because ultimately, I set the tone of the tablecloth with the color palate and the pattern.

My two boys each wanted to make one of their swirls into a whale… or maybe those are sperm. Sperm whales? Whatever. So cute!

Also, this project worked because each kid could do as much or as little as they wanted. The big kids could take their time and really enjoy making several different painted shapes, and the three year old got to briefly participate and then walk away as soon as it got boring. All I had to do (after painting the outlines) was wash brushes, refill paint blobs, and help with the hand washing at the end. Not bad.

I have to say, I love the way this project turned out. And no children or pets were harmed in the process which is also a bonus. As soon as I can find that Joanne’s coupon, we might make a few more so I can change things up with various seasons or holidays. This would also make a really nice gift for the grandparents to protect their beautiful antique table when the kids come to visit.

Make one and send me some pictures!

Happy crafting!


© Copyright 2011, The Bearded Iris.

2 comments on “The Best Family Craft We Ever Made (and Survived)

  1. laura lee
    January 22, 2011

    loved! that’s all i have time to write as i need to go pee-pee now

  2. segmation
    January 22, 2011

    Nice article. I like painting as well. Please check my blog out and enjoy! Thanks!

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This entry was posted on January 22, 2011 by in crafty and tagged .
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