I am anti-craft. I don't mind saying it. The thought of gathering a fistful of pipe cleaners, glue, wobbly eyes, and children all in one place and then encouraging them to interact is just... brrrrrr. Sounds scary and sticky and nerve-racking to me. I have friends who are good at that stuff. Also, there is school, and camp, so my children are not craft-deprived in sum. I know my strengths, and I abdicate my areas of weakness.
On the other hand...
This year, my sons decided they wanted to make Christmas tree ornaments for their friends and aunties. I do not know where that came from, but it was their idea, and so I was game. We planned, we purchased supplies, we executed this craft in stages. Sketch, background, final design. (And yes, that's a polyhedral die in the lower left - the greeting "Merry Christmas" has been replaced in my house by "Roll for damage.") My husband walked in on our little painting workshop, literally gaped at me, then zipped out of the house as quickly as he could. It was possibly the first time paint had been intentionally placed in the hands of my children under my roof.
I was reminded of making Christmas cards with my dad when my brother and I were kids. We did linoleum block prints - it was easy, and the cards turned out nice. And sure enough, my friend Cole's family did just that for their cards this year. They turned out nice too!
This new book provides easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions for about 30 specific projects, each using a specific printing technique, from low-tech potato printing to inkjet transfer. The projects are neat - a key holder solar printed with silhouettes of keys, a placemat stenciled with a blocky place setting, a hand-printed deck of cards. I love that deck of cards.
The thing that's nice about printing is that the talent threshold is low - a kid doesn't have to draw like Rembrandt to make a cool stencil or rubber stamp and achieve a satisfying result. I think that's what gives me the heeblies about crafts the most - all that work and then that crushed look on a kid's face if the result is not what he or she had envisioned. With printing, some of that expectation can be managed, and in fact, the end result can be more interesting than the original concept.
Printing is a great winter weekend activity, too. Once the basic techniques are understood (and they're pretty basic), one starts looking at household items in a new way. Pencil erasers! Old candles! No surface is safe!
Nonfiction Monday is hosted today at Charlotte's Library.
Whenever I'm thinking about printmaking, I always like to link to my friend Sarah's work. See where messing around with art can get you? :)